Once every few months or so my friends and I (Mark) like to go on long walks. We hop on a train or drive somewhere almost remote, make sure our waterproofs are tightly zipped up and head on out into a field.
We’ve been doing this for a number of years now. As children we would play video games at our parent’s houses, at college watching a film together or at uni grabbing a beer at our local. These days we’ve all grown up and moved away, though thankfully not drifted away. We still chat and play video games together online but there are fewer face to face meet ups. If we are in someone else area then we’d meet up for a pint or two. But we’d still have that freedom.
Since that freedom to move about was removed we didn’t realise how much those little meet ups or gatherings meant to us. They were almost crucial to grounding ourselves. Now that the UK lockdown is easing, at almost the very first chance we got we hopped into our cars and met up in the middle, to finally get outside again and go for a long walk.
We chose to visit Gisburn Forest and Stocks in the Bowland Forest. Only one of us had been there before and even then it was for work and not for a walk. The area itself is home to the Forestry Commission and Stocks Reservoir with many looping walks and trails around the surrounding areas. We decided upon a ‘leisurely’ walk around the reservoir with a little bit of a forest trail tacked on at the end to round it out nicely. This put the walk at a little over 10 miles, which is about our limit for one day.
The walk itself took us around 5 and a half hours, with lunch under a tree and a few small breaks for a bit of crumbling pocket cookie or to sit and admire the view. The route we chose was a circular clockwise route around the reservoir, which whilst marked, was only signposted in the opposite direction (anti-clockwise). This meant we only had a couple of wrong turns and a few check on GPS to make sure we pointed in the right direction.
When we normally plan to head out on a walk, the planning stages are quick and decisive but the weather doesn’t always stay that way we want, we’ve had a few walks in the past that were a complete washout and others that were cold and brisk. This one was a bit of everything, from a brisk sideways wind to a soggy wet middle and a toasty warm ending, I’d say it was almost perfect.
In summary, I’m very grateful to have friends to enjoy these long walks with. But to get off the couch and outside again was a much needed respite in a time when things are not quite normal.