Monday, June 02, 2014
The torrential rain and consequential flooding that blighted the start of 2014 may be fading into memory (at least for those of us who did not undergo the trauma of finding their properties under water) but there are still ample reminders in the countryside. Yesterday I walked a near-circular tour through the Ruislip woods and on to the canal at Harefield before terminating at Uxbridge, nearly 10 miles, and time and again was forced to detour from the main paths or face sinking into ankle deep mud. The day was beautifully sunny and warm but we've had a fair bit of rain in recent days; enough to make parts of this walk quite unpleasant. Part of it is the official "Hillingdon Trail" but woe betide any casual walker who blithely follows the waymarked route. On the parts that are also bridlepaths the horses have chewed up the ground leaving huge ruts and puddles. And one section, where the trail links Mad Bess Wood to Bayhurst Wood was so muddy and wet that I had to plunge through the woodland around it and stamp out my own path up to the road. I have never seen the paths in such a bad state. It's a shame that at this wonderful time of the year, with the woods now dense with greenery and alive with birdsong, one's eyes are always on the ground, finding the safest path between the squelchy and treacherous mudpools. And I had to feel sorry for some of the families that I strode past, with their flip-flops and buggies, struggling on in the hope that just round the next corner the paths would be smooth and dry. I knew that the last part of my walk, along the canal, would be just that (and flat into the bargain) but it was a lot of hard work to get there. Anyway, I reckon that's as least as much effort as going up and down the escalators and platforms of the Tube for a week so I can put my feet up now.