Or Camouflage Camping, Ziggyzaggy Navigation and a Civilised Cattlegrid…
We walk to Rushley where we pick up the Manifold Way. We pass through a landscape of fields and hills that bear traces of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation and arrive at Throwley Hall, a tiny hamlet and farm that is the site of the ruins of Throwley Old Hall.
All that survives is the east wing of a large Hall built in the early 16th century. The Meverell family held Throwley from AD 1208 until the death of Robert Meverell in AD1626.
We follow the track to Beeston Tor, a limestone cliff overlooking the confluence of the River Hamps and the River Manifold where we stop for lunch. A pair of falcons scream overhead having been disturbed by a couple of climbers. We sit in long, sun dried grass and watch the antics of two ancient walkers. Like us they have crossed the dried-out bed of the River Manifold but one of them, now lost in the reed beds is hacking his way out using his walking pole.
“I didn’t know they were filming ‘Last of the Summer Wine here'”, says Darrell as he watches the elderly’s increasingly frantic attempts to escape.
“Man versus river”, he adds dispassionately; “River wins!”
We walk on down an empty road until we come to a small campsite where the majority of the caravans are painted dark green.
I speak to a lady with a normal, white caravan who is watching the peregrines wheel overhead.
“I’ve been coming here forty years”, she says; “the farmer has got more people here than he should. It’s all going pear shaped and being closed down”.
“It’s Camouflage Camping”, I hear Darrell mutter. “Perhaps they are hoping the council won’t see them”.
We follow the Manifold Way as it crosses and recrosses the empty River Hamps. When I ask Darrell how far it is to Lee House where we turn off he looks at the GPS and says,
“Still some ziggy zagging to go”.
If that’s scientific navigation in action, I think I’ll stick to my maps.
We head up a very steep, muddy hill and suddenly at the top we have connectivity and birthday texts fly in. A few more steps and we hit Tarmac and a cattle grid that’s marked on the map – and that’s probably as good a definition of a return to civilisation as any.
We wend our weary way back over hills until we can see the distinctive shapes of Bunster Hill and Thorpe Cloud.
Dinner is Darrell’s chicken jalfrezi but while it cooks we just have to eat handfuls of birthday jelly babies, we just have to.
We have a very cozy evening in with the curtains closed and the sound of rain beating down on the roof…