Yesterday afternoon, I went for a walk alongside a stream I hadn't walked alongside before: Alcomden Water, in a local beauty spot. It was horrible.
When I got to the stream, I couldn't work out which bank I was supposed to walk along. I plumped for the left bank, but that turned out to be too muddy. So I went back to the start, crossed the bridge, and headed up the right bank. That turned out to be very muddy too. Then I noticed that there definitely seemed to be a path on the left bank, so I went back to the bridge and crossed over to the left bank again.
But it was awful. I think there might actually have been a path there somewhere—the sign saying Riverside Path was the big clue—but the ground was covered in last autumn's fallen leaves, so I couldn't see where I was treading, which turned out to be a treacherous mixture of boulders, bogs and tree roots. I slipped and slid all over the place, trying to negotiate fallen trees without breaking an ankle or smashing my camera. It was not fun. Not fun at all.
After about an hour, I must have travelled all of 300 yards. I was flustered, totally out of breath, and was starting to get worried that the sun might actually set before I got out of this hell-hole. It was ridiculous. This was supposed to be a pleasant afternoon stroll.
So I turned round, and slogged my way back to the start. Then I did what I should have done all along, and walked along the road which ran parallel to the stream. I felt like a total fraud. I was totally pathetic.
I have to say, though, that my miserable adventure did make me reflect on just how tough the young Charles Darwin and other real adventurers must have been when they fought their way through jungles, climbed mountains, and galloped across the Pampas. Here was I, utterly dejected after an hour flailing around the undergrowth at the side of a stream, while the likes of Darwin just got on with it, miles from help or civilisation.
Big respect, chaps.
I don't think I'm cut out to be an explorer.