Saturday, September 29

Duke of Edinburgh Entrants - Lighten that pack load

A quick dog saunter today to exercise the dogs (and my befuddled grey cells) threw up some interesting variations during a shortened route. The reduction down to one of the mutts poor health at the moment. Nothing too serious. Just old age catching up with her. So time to treat the old lady a little more gently at times. Like today.

I entered the southern end of Wilverley Enclosure, near Holmsley TeaRooms. Its been a couple of months since I stopped for more than a quick drink at this spot. And it would seem there's been some change of management with prices now bumped sky high to fleece the unwary. Quite how they will survive the tourist free winter months will be interesting. £6.60 for a soup and a drink! This is the New Forest, not London for gawds sake folks. Get real.

But I digress. As I used the underpass under the A35, now famous thanks to Bill Bailey & TV the lead dog drew near to me, an indication of people ahead. As we left the bridge overhang there was a small group of teenage girls with a variety of packs and bedrolls, not appreciating the challenge of the first (small) rise up onto the forest itself. A quick hello to the ladies gleaned the information that they were on their DOE 15K walk with, I assume, an overnight camp at one of the local offical sites. A quick check around the group as to pack weights turned up the heaviest at 20k. Ever the opportunist that was grounds enough for me to drop off a JH Blog Card and a kindly suggestion to wander around some of the links on this site for advice on how to get that pack weight down (Say to under 10k for the one night trip ladies!) Spread the word!

I guess we spend so much time thinking on these blogs about near ultralight loads, and minimalist approachs that we tend to overlook the rank beginners out there i.e. the majority of people. They are the ones who wander into Millets or Blacks with a bulging wallet and leave weighed down with all variety of gear. Much of which may be needless or eventually left to gather dust at the back of a cupboard.

That's not to say that a typical High Street outdoor retailer doesn't supply a good variety of gear. The problem is having the experience to choose selectively for that which is useful, hopefully serves a multiple purpose, and is not the weight of the proverbial brick.

We all make these mistakes (and sometimes still do) but for someone new to it all a bit of a helping hand can come in useful and save wasting cash (Camping stove toaster plate anyone?)

Moving on, along a shale track. Not my usual route but one that cut a few corners off the larger circular walk. Suddenly I spotted a single deer ahead on the track. We stood and watched each other for a couple of minutes. The deer taking little alarm despite me calling in the dogs, and the busy main road less than 50m behind it. And as I passed the post where it had been - the usual admirable disappearing trick. Its presence melting away into the woodland undergrowth as though it had never existed.

Finally returning back along this track I spotted two toads, both recently dead, at separate points along the way. As the track is closed to public traffic behind padlocked gates its ironic that the cause of the flattened Bufo Bufo would most likely be the very organisations tasked with protecting the localaty's wildlife and fauna, and preventing Joe Public from creating havoc.

A short trip. But a variety of experiences.

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I enjoyed reading this! I hope you offered, in a gentlemanly way, to carry some of their heavy packs for at least a little of the way before giving them your card?
Thought about it, but didn't want to harm their DOE work.
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