Adventures in Bourne Woods, 21 March. A case of mud.

Adventures in Bourne Woods

by Hilary Lewis

Mud: soft, moist, glutinous material resulting from the mixing of water with soil (Oxford English Dictionary)

Additional appropriately descriptive adjectives: gluey, gooey, slimy, sticky, syrupy, treacly, viscous (Roget’s Thesaurus)


Our walk leader warned us in advance that there were “three or four stretches where it is slippery, wet and very muddy” but offered us a shorter alternative to the given 5.2 miles which “can avoid these muddy bits”.

That was enough of an assurance for a sizeable group of people to sign up, including three returning walkers (one after an absence of 4 years) and two new ones. Little did they know that they were in for a baptism of… mud.

To be fair to the walk leader, he acknowledged at the start that the walk would be a bit of an “improvisation” as he’d not been able to recce the alternative route for which we had opted. He also looked after us extremely well throughout the afternoon, and thanks are due to him for getting us all back safely.

We started off contentedly enough, on a damp but solid track. Thereafter, the circular route required surveying the necessary junction turns and assigning a mud grading to each.

The tracks with grass, grade 9/10, looked more attractive but proved just as treacherous as those with pure mud, grade 10/10. Our leader followed his map and his instincts, the group slithered behind with little idea of where we were heading.

We eventually emerged from the woods and looked down on the village of Edenham nestling some way below us. The route down was more exposed to the wind so was negotiable with relative ease, grade 4/10.  We were glad to sit down on some benches to recover, but not for long, as the afternoon was fast slipping (ha-ha!) away.

Having descended to the village, we then had to regain the height we had lost, but luckily the uphill trek was on a solid road. Once we were back in the woods, it was more of previous, grade 9/10 upwards, until we eventually reached a firm track that took us back to our starting point.

Total distance was 5.19 miles, so technically shorter than the original 5.2 mile route… Safer and less muddy? A resounding No, but a successful walk in that we all stayed on our feet, so returned without mishap.

The adventurous improvisation will, nonetheless, long be remembered by the participants.

Editor’s note: I’ve not received any pictures for this walk, but in case the concept of mud is not clear to any members I added the picture at the top to help you conceptualise the conditions.  Should you be interested there are more such pictures here.

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