Been for a walk today, no idea where as the mist was down. Well, maybe that is bit of an exaggeration because as long as you were within ten feet of something you could see it… just. This was a good example of ‘when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go’, or in other words once a walk is planned it happens, regardless. On Dartmoor the rolling mist has the knack of quietly saturating everything in its path, you don’t realise you are getting wet until you are saturated and this stage is usually heralded by a huge drop of water tumbling into your eyes. The other thing a thick mist does is to exaggerate the size of everything tenfold, gorse bushes look like tors and tors look like alpine mountains. Another facet of a thick mist is that it lets sound travel for miles, I remember once walking across Black Ridge with a mate and we were being rather derogatory about a certain female walker. Two weeks later I got a deserved tongue-lashing from said lady who it happens, unbeknown and unseen to us, was in the Black Ridge area the same time as we were – ‘mists have ears’.
Sadly, I cannot impart any riveting facts or stunning photos from this walk as literally all that was encountered was banks of mist. The dog was there but I don’t think he saw much either, well he did find a ewe with her new-born lamb, but after a good head-butting from the ewe I don’t think he wanted to get further acquainted. But looking on the bright side, the sight of that little lamb did bring thoughts of the impending spring and all the delights that heralds.
I have a fascination with stone walls because sometimes you will find strange artefacts that have been incorporated into them. The old enclosure walls of Dartmoor have this amazing ability to look as if the gentlest of zephyrs could blow them over but year after year they still stand. Take the example in the picture below, the whole section is balanced around the large triangular boulder in the centre but see how precarious the top stones are. It reminds me of when you see circus acrobats building a human pyramid all balanced on the central person.
The biggest danger of the mist, especially when on familiar ground is to leave the map reading until the last moment, by which time you are without landmarks and lost. This happened today and resulted in several embarrassing double takes. “Haven’t we past that gully before?” “Isn’t that where you found that letterbox?” – don’t be so silly. The other dangerous thing to do in a mist is when you finally do dig deep for the map you find you have forgotten your glasses thus rendering the map totally useless. Oh, yes, and another, get (temporarily) lost, forget your glasses AND then produce the new fangled GPS receiver and find that the batteries are flat. Even worse, find some replacement batteries and then remember that you have no idea how to use said GPS because, “they are poncy things that only fairies use.” In fact there’s a better one, then admit that in the desk at home there is an unwatched, £30 instructional DVD on how to use said poncy GPS. If ever you find yourself in such a situation the old, non-GPS, totally un-poncy “aiming off,” technique, never fails. Get out the map, ask someone else to read it for you and find a landmark, then look where the car is parked and find a feature such as a stream, wall, road, etc near to it. Pick left or right and head off until you reach your chosen feature then follow it to the car.
Today, it was just a case of find the above wall then walk due west until the road appeared then choose left or right, if its wrong you can always walk back the other way. So, found the wall, walked due west, found the road, turned left and hey presto the car appears, except it’s someone else’s vehicle, right colour, wrong make. About turn, retrace your steps and eventually the right car looms out of the mist – bonus.
Well, there you have it, three hours spent in a miasma and if you are thinking that the photo’s don’t look very misty I have digitally enhanced them. Right I shall now go and watch the DVD about the poncy GPS thing and recharge those batteries.