Still discovering new skills

Over the years as a family we've done lots of walking/hiking mostly beginning when Jake was little and we struggled to find the money for holidays.  Walking holidays meant that we could be out all day with no temptation to spend which was just what we needed.  We'd be first in the car park, Ash would hoist Jake (in the carrier) up, I'd pick up the rucksack containing the food and off we'd go, map and compass in hand, camera over a shoulder and a bit of a plan in mind.  We covered miles in Scotland, the Lake District, Derbyshire, Yorkshire - almost always north as it was a bit more rugged and felt more like an adventure.  The good thing about the carrying arrangements was that my rucksack got lighter as the day went on and we ate the contents while Jake got heavier as he helped consume the picnic but Ash never minded and it was a real family thing.  As Jake got a little older (ie from about the age of 5) he and Ash would go away on 'boy weekends' when they would hike for miles along narrow ledges, climb rocks, wild camp, all the things that I would have refused to do if they'd been foolish enough to invite me along and they developed a bond which was lovely to see.   Then we began to go away with friends, staying in youth hostels and discovering even more of the countryside but always with Ash in charge of the map and compass.  So Ash introduced me to hiking and camping and having adventures but what he never taught me to do was read that map.  Why would I ever need to learn when he would always be there to do it for me?  Except that now he isn't.  As his confidence has dwindled so has his appetite for adventure and, if he goes for a walk out of the village (a very rare occurrence nowadays), it needs to be on a planned walk, one from a book with a step by step guide on where to go next, how long the walk will take, what sort of paths we'll come across etc.  The sort of walks thousands of people across the country do on a regular basis.  But not us (however much I might have liked the idea).  Apparently it was much more fun to find ourselves unexpectedly in a bog or at the top of a scree slope (I cried all the way down that one even as he held my hand and gently encouraged me to the bottom) or just got lost with only a compass and a map to guide us.  So the thought of map reading for myself never occurred to me until last week when a friend and I went on the walk which was meant to take an hour and a half but instead took three hours.  We weren't lost you understand, I just miscalculated the distance.  Anyway we had such a good time we decided to do it again this week starting in the same place but heading in a different direction, one I haven't been in before.  I got home, dug out the map and made myself 'read' it with the result that we started out today in the rain, found the right footpaths and completed a lovely two hour walk all by ourselves.  At the end of it we headed, complete with map (but no compass, I haven't advanced that far), into the pub for coffee and planned next week's walk.  Watch this space to see how it goes.

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Jane said…
I was pretty pleased with it all and we had such a nice time. Not sure how I'll feel if/when my map reading goes awry though.