I met up with a couple of friends yesterday for a bit of a walk in the country. We decided on a five mile walk around Great Dunmow, taken from a walking book that I'd found on my bookshelf. I did mention that the book was quite old so some of the footpaths might have altered a bit.
What I hadn't bargained for was the whacking great housing estate that had been built right in the middle of what was described in the book as "a field with an unploughed strip" We did various detours to try and get around it, and onto the original footpath and eventually met a couple of dog walkers who seemed to put us straight, and directed us to a gravel path through the woods leading to Little Easton. They even said "You can't miss it". I guess we must have been chatting (how unusual) because we certainly DID miss it and ended up walking along the middle of a wide road that was not yet open to traffic. Well, I say traffic, it wasn't actually open to the public. I did notice that there was a fence partially blocking the road, and that it was displaying a sign stating "No Entry To Unauthorised Persons" but I didn't mention it to the others. Ramblers have rights of way, don't they - and we were only walking along there to get to our footpath, after all.
However, half a mile further on there was another high steel fence, and this time, no gap. Well, only a little tiny one at the bottom. But having come this far, we weren't going to let a six foot high steel fence stop us.
After that it was fairly straightforward, and we only had to walk through the gardens of two private houses on the route back. Goodness know how far we ended up walking, it took us over four hours, and we were very muddy by the end of it. But it meant we'd earned our tea and cake when we got back. Bit of a transformation from a trio of mature, gentle stitchers into a band of Rebel Ramblers in just one afternoon.
I checked my book when I got home, it was published in 1982. Doesn't sound so VERY long ago, does it?
A Rebel and a Rambler - Due West