Posted by: suzannetakesyouup | May 21, 2010

Ibstone to Turville – as the confounded crow flies

At the start of this project,  this is what I’ve got:

Wild enthusiasm
Legs that have been places


And, on the the other hand:

No walking boots (trainers and high heels only)
An out of date passport
An out of fitness body
The navigational skills of a Bumble Ball


Yesterday I worked on the last two shortcomings and went for a walk in the Chiltern hills near my home. It was a walk of ups and downs in both senses.

I’d chosen one of the more challenging walks from a Pathfinder Guide. I’ve used these books before as they give detailed route descriptions as well as a map of each walk. Instructions like: “50 metres after the Three Cocks pub, just by the cherry tree, take the path on the right that leads downhill through Ramsbottom Wood. You’ll pass bluebells on the left,  a discarded apple core on the right and, where the path forks, 2 badgers who will helpfully point you along the correct path to Buttock Point.”

Determined to get to grips with map-reading, this time I tried to find my way mostly without the instructions.  It was a frustrating and mildly upsetting experience. Again and again I realized I was going in the wrong direction.

However, every time I was on the verge of giving up, something uplifting always caught my eye: a Speckled Wood butterfly landing nearby, a wildflower I hadn’t seen before – Bugle I think (see pic below), or at a point of particular disorientation the aptly named Hell Corner Cottage (also pictured). All of these things raised my spirits and helped me keep going.

My wrong turns (and occasional stops for photos) made the 8 mile walk longer than the 3 to 4 hours it should have taken but I think I got a bit better with map reading.

I couldn’t get worse.



  1. I love the idea of a mountain-climbing blog! Lovely pictures and wonderful, vivid writing. I’ll be checking in frequently.

  2. Hey hun, loving the blog!! I have a few tips and tricks for you, all gained in my years of scouting and cadets and being a guiders son!!!

    No. 1 Don’t give up, no matter how dis-hartened you get.

    No. 2 Remember your doing this for you, and not for your blog readers. (may there be many)

    No. 3 Keep it simple… If you go to Wales to climb a mountain, just climb a mountain….. (I know Wales is not on the list yet)

    No. 4 Route cards & home contacts (speak to me about these as they are VERY IMPORTANT)

    No. 5 Copywrite those photo’s they’re great and I want to be that good with a camera!

    No.6 Ignore most of my comments!

  3. Looks like Bugle to me too!

  4. Map-reading in UK woodlands, despite the brilliance of OS maps is really, really hard. There are the marked paths and then all those smaller paths made by dog-walkers and/or sheep, and there are rarely any visible mountains with which to make a triangulation to work out where one is…

    I know this is an old post and you have obviously gotten more comfortable with your map-reading skills – but don’t be too hard on yourself.

    My partner & I walk a lot and we’ve hiked in Australia (where we’re from and where the maps for national parks are on a scale, at best, of 1:50,000; usually 1:100,000). My partner is an excellent map-reader (I’m a middling to OK one but don’t have to read maps v. often so get lazy…) and navigator but UK woodlands occasionally defeat even him. I’ve even known them to defeat a friend whose walked most of the wilds Scotland, the Alps etc.

    I’m very impressed you’re out there and doing this & look forward to reading more reports!

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