Thursday, 27 May 2010

Terra Incognita

We have contoured, typographical maps. We have a booklet explaining the byways and turnings of the Two Moors Way in exquisite detail. We have a compass. Both Sue and I know how to use all of these aids. Yet every day, we have gotten lost.

On Tuesday, for example, we missed the crossroad of Two Moors and Abbots Ways. Not until we ended up at Venford Reservoir--nowhere on our guidebook--did we realize that we were astray. After retracing our steps, we found Huntingdon cross, our marker, but we still couldn't find the path! We ended up tracing the edge of a fenced barrow and picking up a disused tin mining road which eventually intersected the Two Moors Way. Relieved, we continued onward only to lose the completely unmarked trail on the steep slope down to Scorriton. We stumbled onto the Way again at the Chalkford footbridge. Thank goodness the walk paralleled the paved road to Holne, where our lodging was booked, from that point onward!

How could it be so difficult to stay on the path? First of all, unlike Hadrian's Wall Walk, the Two Moors Way is not very well marked. "After the stile, walk across the moor," say the directions. When you do so, however, you are confronted with a vast heath with unnumerable pony tracks or perhaps just a greensward. And then there are the misleading sign posts, some of which point away from their destinations. Today, we completely failed to find the Moorgate, in spite of the fact that we followed the sign clearly labeled "Moorgate" until the track petered out in someone's field of cattle.

I'm not saying that these missteps haven't lead interest and variety to our holiday. Sue and I, however, have taken matters into our own hands. After the Moorgate debacle, we backtracked to the country road (in the oppocite direction, mind you) and happily ambled along a stunningly beautiful lane with views of the heather-covered moors and enclosed pastures of sheep or horses or cows or alpacas (yes, alpacas). We arrived at Chagford to our lovely B & B, Farleigh Cottage, just in time for our hostess, Lynn, to serve us tea and lemon cake in the sunny garden.

By great good fortune, one of the other guests staying at Farleigh Cottage, Ann, has been able to tell us from her own experience how to find the Two Moors Way from Chagford for tomorrow's walk. Unsurprisingly, both the map and the directions are quite misleading. We have also found a road to shorten the back end of the journey, avoiding a long diversion up and over another moor, to arrive at Colebrooke at a reasonable hour.

Wish us luck.

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