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    CHICCHANTAL   29,221
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Best foot forward

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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Well, new year, best to start the way I mean to go forward I reckon. So instead of a lie in this morning, I'm off to Loughton to go for a walk in Epping forest (for a change).

But worry not, for I have a plan. This is going to be a different walk, because I'm heading off toward Beach at which point I normally turn right and walk to Upshire. Today I'm going to turn left, and pick up the path to Chingford. This path ultimately takes me to Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge, and would (if I wanted and trust me I don't) allow me to take the very very muddy walk I did the other week from Leytonstone to Chingford in the other direction. I love the fact that the walks I've done in Epping Forest are sort of linking up now.

I'm feeling intrepid. Instead of stomping up the road to meet the nice gravel track, I dive into the wood by Loughton Brook and start slithering along a track that has fiendishly situated tree-roots in the mud, just so you can slide your boot under them and stagger winningly into the next squelchy bit. The track quickly becomes a series of glades. It being winter, you can see a long way as there's very little undergrowth.

Over in the distance, I can see Staple Hill, where I ended up the second time I walked in the forest. That's some time ago now.

I come to various fallen trees across the path and am about to turn back when I realise that in fact the path seems to continue so I do what everyone else must have done and climb over them.

Emerge, far sooner than I expected, on the main path and note a trifle smugly that I have cut off an uphill walk on the road, a boring bit with a car park and a downhill bit and replaced it with a nice foresty ramble. Just what I wanted.

Stride out briskly. I am keen to up my speed on hikes to about 3mph - it's all too easy to saunter along at a snail's pace taking photos and the purpose is, after all, exercise. It's a beautiful day and there aren't many people about yet, so I'm enjoying the peace and stillness and the views between the trees.

Turn off for High Beach, keep striding, seeing increasing numbers of other people, cross one road, bear left, heading for the forest visitor/information centre.

Get to the pool that is near it, where I was once accosted by a dragon. The dragons are all dead, but there's a family, mum, dad, small boy and smaller girl out for a walk. The girl is fine, she wearing wellies. The boy has trainers on and he is testing their waterproof qualities in a puddle. Dad shouts at him to 'get aht!' Small boy ignores this. There is a free and frank exchange of views and Dad hauls him out of the puddle by one arm. Howls of rage rent the air.

Suspect the trainers were a Christmas present . . .

There's a fab view from the car park, so I walk over to the edge and take a photo of it. I've taken photos of this view from further along the path in the past, but I'm not going that way today.

Hunt for a bench that is not sopping wet and find one. Sit down and consume sandwich (goat cheese since you ask and a bit nasty as warm from being against my back) and drink. There's a trailer selling drinks and butties and I have a shufty at the prices which are impressive . . . 70p for a cup of tea? 60p for a cake? Think I'll plan to eat here next time.

Get out map, looking for new trail. Up until now, I've known the way without looking. I've got a few problems, firstly, I'm on the fold in the middle of the map which is an annoying place to be as it means to look at where I am properly I have to open the map right out. Second, there are loads and loads of trails. Third, I am not entirely certain that I am looking at the right place. The first time I came this way, I got very very lucky and found the route I wanted partly by chance. Now that I want to go the other way, I need to be certain of the path.

Get up and walk round in circles a couple of times looking at road signs, the noticeboard and the map again. Finally decide on a route then decide on a different route and start walking along a road that seems to be the right one.

I don't like walking along roads much so when I observe a path through the woods on the other side of the road, but running parallel to the road, I make for it. This means crossing a boggy bit that goes just over the top of my right boot.

Bleugh. It's cold.

Ten steps later my left foot goes into a second boggy bit and doesn't hit bottom. Mud and water ooze merrily into the top of the boot, making a squidge effect as I heave said boot out of aforementioned second boggy bit.

'Oh dearie me,' I say. 'Goodness gracious.'

Decide to walk along the road anyway. I'm looking for a junction beyond which the trail I want crosses the road. Get to a junction and there's the trail.

Yippee. There's a car park a bit further along that looks to have something going on and I'm tempted to investigate before I realise it's a biker convention. Having two feet rather than a motorbike, I give it a miss. Turn along the trail, which has loads of people on it, and start striding along, enjoying the new scenery, nice gravelly path, etc etc. I can see a road to my right through the trees, and this corresponds with what's on my map. The track is very up and down, short steep climbs and descents.

So, I'm in top gear, stepping out etc etc when I come to a pond on my left.

It is the pond I was at an hour ago. The dragonfly (in season) pond. No mistaking it.

This is not where I am supposed to be, at all. Examine my options.

The most attractive, that of throwing myself on the ground drumming it with hands and feet and wailing loudly isn't really suitable because the ground's so wet. Else I would, believe me.

Or I can go back and see if there was a path I should have taken.

Or I can simply walk back to Loughton.

Given that I have been walking two hours already and it will take me another hour to get back to Loughton, this is what I decide on. So, 40 minutes later I am getting near the end of the trail when I encounter an exceptionally noisy family with small children, making an awful din. In a fit of rebellion, I leave the trail and enter the forest on the path I started on earlier.

It's not a clear path at all, and I'm quickly using CC radar but believe it or not, after 10 minutes I emerge by Loughton brook, in other words exactly where I want to be. Manage to avoid the muddy bit this time as well.

Am now going to sit down and ask some serious questions of the map.

Weather permitting, I'll be back to do the walk I intended to do today on Saturday.

I didn't get where I am today by not getting lost.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
IMAGINE46 1/2/2013 8:21AM

  Excellent way to start the new year. Thanks!

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    I always like walking with you!

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MIMIDOT 1/2/2013 8:04AM

    Our first trip of 2013. Thank for taking us along. I enjoyed it!

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SHERYLDS 1/2/2013 6:08AM

    thanks for letting us walk with you

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TRYINGHARD54 1/2/2013 5:45AM

    glad you found your way......yippy!

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NCSUE0514 1/2/2013 5:22AM

    Looks like springtime was trying to peek in to your photos today!
Thanks once again for taking us along.

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NASFKAB 1/2/2013 5:02AM

  AWESOME loved it

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GOANNA2 1/2/2013 4:59AM


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LIFETIMER54 1/2/2013 4:24AM


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DANAPRIME 1/1/2013 10:22PM

    I would not have been so gracious about travails with wet feet! Oh dearie me would have been much more colorful!!!! Thanks for the great trip!

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CHRIS3874 1/1/2013 8:50PM

    Wow NO SNOW. (jealous).

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ALIHIKES 1/1/2013 7:26PM

    Loved the views of your serendipitous walk! You keep discovering new trails and new adventures. LOVED the photos!

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LADY_MARIANA 1/1/2013 7:24PM

    What enchanting pictures and narration!

I love reading your blog entries and every word and every image is perfect--even when you have a mishap you can make it fun for the reader (sorry because I know it's not fun for you!)
Happy 2013!

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MARYDSAN 1/1/2013 7:19PM

    I thoroughly enjoyed your walk (especially since I was not the one with a muddy boot!) I, too, loved the photo of the tree reflected in the pond. Thanks for another great walk.

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LINDAK25 1/1/2013 7:12PM

    Even if it wasn't the walk you planned, I think it was a good walk anyway. The forest looks so different in the winter. I like the winter light. The photos with the water reflecting the trees are wonderful. I hope you got home without your feet being too cold and wet from the mud!

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LTMURPHY7 1/1/2013 7:11PM


great walk & pictures

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MARITIMER3 1/1/2013 7:10PM

    Good for you for getting out for a hike on New Year's Day. Love the pictures with reflections in the water, especially the one of the big, bare tree. You didn't mention last night's ballet - which one was it, and did you enjoy it?

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MAMAOWLS 1/1/2013 6:55PM

    Happy New Year!!! Thank you fro another enjoyable walk and lovely pictures. Were you able to get the mud out of your boots?

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MARYJEANSL 1/1/2013 6:54PM

  Enjoyed, as usual.

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LIVEDAILY 1/1/2013 6:05PM

    I love the photo of the tree reflected in the pond. THAT is beautiful!! The calrity of the photo is amazing. You've had another good ramble about! Is your goal to walk ALL the paths on your map??

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DOVESEYES 1/1/2013 5:58PM

    Beautiful photos I'd always get lost as direction finding is not any suit let alone strong suit with me. I lose my car in a parking lot.

Thanks so much emoticon

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NOTSPEEDY 1/1/2013 5:57PM

    Love going on walks with you. Glad it is virual for me, I couldn't ever keep up with you. The picture of the tree reflection in the water is beautiful.

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IAMWINNING 1/1/2013 4:48PM

    What beautiful pictures to decorate your lovely description of your walk. Some people don't like winter (when trees don't have leaves) but I enjoy it. Good luck finding the exact walk you want for Saturday. : )

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REGILIEH 1/1/2013 4:21PM

    It was so much fun being on your walk! It was lovely! emoticon emoticon

Happy, Happy New Year! I look forward to all of your walks in 2013 and I appreciate getting to tag along! emoticon

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SLIMLEAF 1/1/2013 3:20PM

    Well done for making such a healthy start to 2013!

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TEDYBEAR2838 1/1/2013 3:01PM


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LEANMEAN2 1/1/2013 2:55PM

    Much more color with the sun shining. I loved the pictures.
Thank you so much for taking us along.

Happy New Year.

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IMEMINE1 1/1/2013 2:51PM

    Great walk along. Loved the pictures. emoticon

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LOUISE3518 1/1/2013 2:39PM

  Happy first day of 2013.
You did it again...................... got my feet itching to walk. Chantal, your pictures were magnificent, especially the ones with the reflections in the water. You are good with the camera also :)
So proud of your determination.... and you SO SO INSPIRE ME.
I can't wait to open up your new entry each day I open my computer. CIAO BELLA...
Happy trails to you..... emoticon

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    Thank you for getting us lost again today.
The unplanned for tends to be more memorable... don't you think?
Ah, well, the best laid plans of mice and men,,,,,, and women...

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LINDAKAY228 1/1/2013 2:34PM

    Loved the pics and your descriptions. I know what you mean about getting lost sometimes LOL! I thought of you the other day when I did a hike I posted about, when I went to the ruins of an old fort and wasn't sure I was on the right road and got off track but found what I wanted and found my way back! I also love reading your posts because you have words and phrases we don't use here in the states and it's so fun for me to learn new things. You probably see things on blogs from people here that are different to you too. I love being able to connect here from people all over the world!
Glad you had such a great hike, even if it wasn't exactly where you had intended!

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MICKEYH 1/1/2013 2:08PM

    You've had a great walking trip on your New Year Day!! What a great way to start your new year. Congrats on this beautiful day for you. (^-^)

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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XTINA46 1/1/2013 2:07PM

    Happy New year Chantal!
Loved your blog ..... especially the last sentence, which is pure poetry! emoticon

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40PUDDLEJUMPER 1/1/2013 1:51PM

    another great walk thankyou x

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JESSICABOOTY 1/1/2013 1:46PM

    You are so much fun. I enjoy sitting on your shoulder when you go out.

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DALID414 1/1/2013 1:23PM


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EABL81 1/1/2013 1:07PM

    'Oh dearie me', 'Goodness gracious.'

Really??? What amazing reserve! Not at all what I would have said, after planting my foot in mud over the top of my boot, I'm sure.

But then you Brits are known for keeping a stiff upper lip... I'm sure that explains it.


(Come on, tell us what you REALLY said).

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NITTINNANA 1/1/2013 1:06PM

    I NEVER get bored tagging along with you!

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KIPPER15 1/1/2013 12:58PM

    emoticon for a lovely walk. emoticon

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JACKIE542 1/1/2013 12:41PM

    Wonderful start to the New Year, thank you so much. emoticon

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ALDEBARANIAN 1/1/2013 12:39PM

    Thanks for taking us along on your walk. Now I'll sit a spell to rest and put on dry socks. emoticon

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PATTYSPENCER 1/1/2013 12:38PM

    Love your pictures and how you describe your walk - it's like I'm right there with you every step of the way (wonder if there is a way to count mental exercise?) Thank you for taking me on this hike with you!

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KELLIEBEAN 1/1/2013 12:23PM

    Great way to start the day and new year. Love the pictures! Keep moving forward!


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MILLIE5522 1/1/2013 12:22PM

    Lol "Goodness gracious".....mmm.....exactly what I say when I have landed in the middle of a puddle emoticon

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COCK-ROBIN 1/1/2013 12:17PM

    Beautiful walking trip!

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COCK-ROBIN 1/1/2013 12:17PM

    Beautiful walking trip!

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NCSUE0514 1/1/2013 12:15PM

    Great photos as always
Happy new year!

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JESSIG5 1/1/2013 12:15PM

    Love your photos.

emoticon Keep on walking.

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LIS193 1/1/2013 12:14PM

    Thank you for sharing your walk with us! Great pictures and you had sunshine :)

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NEW-CAZ 1/1/2013 12:01PM

    Another amazing walk! What a way to kick off 2013!
Loved your blog Anne and the pics emoticon

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