Some footpaths are not quite what they seem – first published 30 September 2014

On the last day of September 2014 I went for a short walk while Commando was out for his run. Originally I’d planned something a little longer but, still feeling less than brilliant, I decided against it at the last minute. Instead I thought I’d check out the rest of the footpath I found the other week on my way to West End Copse. Looking at the satellite maps it seemed as if it might be quite interesting. Even though I couldn’t work out exactly where it came out, it appeared to be going in the direction of the river, more or less. This could open up a few alternative routes for the future.

30 September 2014

It was warm and sunny when I set off up the Big Hill. By the time I got to the top my cotton hoodie was wrapped around my waist. I found the first part of the path without too much trouble and set off towards the place I abandoned it before. This time I was walking away from West End Copse and the first part of the path was up hill. This was slightly galling because I’d had to walk down hill quite a way to get to the entrance but I suppose it’s all good exercise.

Of course, I’d forgotten that it turned sharply left and came out in a small street before starting again behind some garages. For a moment I thought I might have dreamed it but, eventually, I spotted the path again. The cut way is in a maze of small twisting streets with woods to one side and the backs of houses to the other. Sadly the woods are all fenced off.

The first part is across a wide expanse of grass. My shoes were wet from the dew and I looked longingly at the fenced off woods wishing I could be walking through them. When I came to a fence it became clear why the woods were fenced off. Behind the fence I could see a shed, some chickens and even a goat. These weren’t woods at all they were part of someone’s garden. This gave me a serious case of house envy even though I couldn’t actually see any houses at all. Imagine having a garden surrounded by trees and big enough to keep chickens and a goat. Eggs and cheese for free.

The woods became thicker, hiding the houses and I found some large and rather ragged looking mushrooms in the undergrowth. A little further on, the path turned sharply left again. This wasn’t what I was expecting at all. The trees that had closed in around me suddenly opened out and I could see I was walking right beside gardens once more. These weren’t large wooded gardens, just manicured lawns and flower beds.

Shortly after this I found myself on a quiet street. How disappointing. A man was cleaning his car and an elderly lady trimming her hedge. Then I noticed an overgrown trail to my right. Maybe this was where the path continued. Trying hard not to get tangled in the brambles I squeezed my way through. There was a rustling in the leaves and a cat sprang out from somewhere, I’m not sure who was more startled, him or me.

It wasn’t long before the trail petered out altogether and I could tell I was on a wild goose chase. There was nothing for it but to turn around and carefully pick my way back through brambles and ivy, ducking under low branches as I did. When I came out on the road the old lady stopped her clipping and looked up.
“Did you get caught in the brambles?” she asked.
“A little,” I admitted, feeling a little silly to be caught out. “I was exploring and I thought it led somewhere.”
“Not any more,” she said sadly.

By this time I was completely lost, I’d turned and twisted so many times and the streets were unfamiliar to start with. Luckily I had WalkJogRun to come to my rescue. West End Copse was just down the road and from there I knew I could find my way home easily. On the bend in the road, right next to a garden fence, I thought I saw something moving in a small group of trees. I could hardly believe my eyes when I came face to face with a baby deer. He looked at me and I looked at him. There was just time to take a photo before he dashed off into the trees.

Maybe there is a narrow trail beside the fence there leading to the copse but I get the feeling it’s probably mostly people’s gardens. Perhaps a baby dear can get through but I’d done enough struggling through brambles for one day and the copse and familiar roads were just around the corner.

On my way home I reflected on what I’d learned. The cut way had never quite lived up to its promise which was a disappointment. Maybe at one time it did lead down towards the river but the houses, most of which were relatively new, must have cut if off when they were built. The old lady seemed to know something about it and I regretted being too embarrassed by being caught getting lost to ask her. Still, I’d solved the mystery and seen a baby dear in the most unexpected place so it wasn’t all bad.

All in all I walked just over five miles. Not exactly a long walk by my standards but a few miles to add to my total for the month.

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Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

2 thoughts on “Some footpaths are not quite what they seem – first published 30 September 2014”

  1. Ah yes. Overgrown paths. Paths that disappear. New developments that either fail to respect footpaths or where the planners have forgotten to insist there should be a footpath. All such a pain!

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