Thursday, February 17, 2011

Some mileage under the belt

            It does seem a while since I wrote about a simple walk, after all tales of bog monsters and gentle strolls used to be the mainstay of this blog. But as regular readers would know (I think that’s at least three these days!) times change, the bog monster has moved on to new adventures and I’ve found other topics to fill the page, which don’t seem to have been received non to badly, thankfully. But as well as change some things do have a habit of coming around after a time. So here I am, legs tired and aching, settling down to the keyboard with a bottle (or two) of Budweiser wondering how to start today’s tale of a walk.
To be honest I have not, ‘not’ been walking lately, but these have been mainly road walks at night or short walks on nearby trails. The whole thing being geared to slowly increase Willow's stamina (and mine!) and bringing her to be able to walk a worthwhile distance without causing her any undue harm, now or in later years. It’s been a steady process and to be honest she’s exceeded my expectations with muscle development and her overall condition coming on in leaps and bounds. So today we headed out to the trails around Moel Famau hoping to clock up a reasonable distance.
As we approached our destination with the fun cruiser’s music throbbing away in our ears (bet you didn’t think that Willow was a sucker for Iron Maiden?), the weather around the upper two thirds of the Famau did not appear too promising. Mist could be seen covering the majority of the hill and it seemed that the walk may well be curtailed a tad. But in for a penny, in for a pound as they say and to be honest I couldn’t think of any where else at short notice to stretch our legs, probably because my brain was still addled from this weeks crap stint at work, oops shouldn’t be writing that bit as we’ve received an e-mail citing that we’re to be charged with mis-conduct if we mention work in a bad light on the internet, well face book anyway. Don’t you just love management that have got nothing better to do than this; rather sort the real problems facing this mis-managed company? (Bugger, done it again and I haven’t a clue where the delete button is!). Anyway back off my soap box and onto the walk, so with addled brain we set off from the car park into the mist, which fortunately for me was none too dense (unlike me) and was also breaking up nicely.

For the first mile Willow followed her now usual pattern of running up ahead for a good way and then hurtling back towards me in what appears to be a demonstration of her speed, and oh boy is she fast now (see no picture), she truly raises my spirits when she’s at full pelt as she seems to change from a clumsy ragamuffin to the personification of speed and grace. I really do not have the words to describe the sensations felt watching her glide over the rough terrain at a amazing rate of knots, its just something that you’d have to see for yourselves (now there’s an open invitation). We found ourselves passing through stretches of mist, none of it dense, and with a wry smile I found myself thinking that my new walking companion had no idea how to play the ‘spook game’ and to be honest I’m quite glad about that as I don’t think my nerves, or neck for that matter, could take much more of that. Walking at a fair pace now I could feel the muscles in my legs (stop tittering in the back there) warming and the pulse of my heart beginning to thump gently in my neck, sensations that I must admit have been lacking for sometime now and it felt good to know that once more I was stretching my body. Don’t get me wrong, the main reason that I walk is for the connection it gives me to being ‘out there’ but I have to admit I do get a buzz from stretching myself and pushing my body a little further. It’s a good feeling sitting here, typing away, with my legs just letting me know that they’ve been used today, but also as I type I revisit the trail and its beauty in my mind as I try to recount some of the walk, hopefully for you to enjoy. Oh I’m going off on a tangent a lot tonight, must be the ale (or lack of it?), well at least I haven’t mentioned the incompetent, self back patting leadership at work yet – I have? – Bugger. Right that’s quite enough of that back to the tale.

Even though I chose the least popular trials when walking, we followed the looping trial without coming across other walkers what so ever, perhaps the mist had put people off. I can’t say that I minded as I’m not the world’s greatest conversationalist at the best of times, especially with strangers and so I do prefer my own company. That’s not to say that I’m a miserable so n so, it’s just that I like to get to know people before discussing war and peace. Which I suppose could be difficult getting to know folk when I’m hesitant to talk to them in the first place (time to put the bottle down I think, just a little bit of a ramble starting here). Willow had now settled into a loping pace as she cris-crossed the trial, nose to the ground. It’s pleasing to see that she’s taking note of what’s around her and several times her sharp senses alerted me to movement well up the trial. Even with the dank conditions, or perhaps because of them we were fortunate enough to spot a reasonable amount of wildlife, to my shame none of which I managed to take a decent photograph off. To be honest though most of it was at range to far for my camera, me thinks that I’ll be pinching Clare’s in the not to distant future shhhhhh.

As we covered more distance we came across a scene that proved that the winds up here have been the strongest for some years, with whole swaths of trees that have stood for years felled across the trail. What at first seemed an impasse was soon breached with some delicate footwork from yours truly! It was only when I looked back to take a final photograph of the carnage did I see the danger that I’d put us under as high above was one last tree at 45 degrees looking ready to topple. Sometimes when faced with a scene that fills the mind with awe it is easy to lose sight of the position that you’re in, lesson taught me thinks.

From this point on the mist lifted to reveal thin cloud, with the odd ray of sun piercing its mantle. We left the forest trials and skirted Frith Mountain, surely named by an English man as tis more a hillock than a mountain to a Welsh man, where we came across a tenacious fellow who certainly seemed more than able to hold his ground.

We looped around and rejoined the woodland trails from the farmland, coming across one or two items worth a photo.

That’s one of the problems with Moel Famau, because it’s a managed forest for timber, the flora and fauna is not that diverse. The majority of fauna keeps at a distance, well away from the trails whilst the flora can at times seem pretty uniform and mundane. Don’t get me wrong, I love it up there and I’ve seen my fair share of the wildlife on offer, it’s just that I’m being a tad selfish I guess in that the more that I’m ‘out there’, the more that I want to see and experience what Mother Nature has to offer. Getting the photograph is not that important, I use this media only because I don’t have the vocabulary to describe the beauty that I see ‘out there’. What is important for me is being able to immerse my senses in all that Mother Nature has to share and I just wish that I could bring half of the joy that I feel when out there to your understanding with my limited use of words. So guess that it'll soon be time to seek out newer and more diverse trails this year, as both our fitness levels are improving it should make for some interesting tales.

As we sauntered back to the car park I realised that Willow has wormed her scruffy way into being an indispensable walking companion, and that her story on the trails is just beginning. Although this post has turned out a little bit rambling I hope that you’ll stick around and follow the little warthog’s development.

Your friend,


RDS said...

Looks a gorgeous walk - My legs would have given out around paragraph one. AMAZING photgraphs and I would have been very scared of that ram!

kmurray said...

Greetings John!

Sounds like a great outing and it seems to me that Willow is turning out to be a wonderful walking companion for you. She sure looks like a speedster standing there, all legs, in that last pic.

As for the four letter word, work, it can really be a bugger when they get all crazy about your personal business. (Granted I can kind of see it from their side too, but only a tiny, tiny bit.)

A friend of mine almost lost her job for saying, "my shift at work sucked" on Facebook. It did suck for her too. She was taken hostage by a wack-a-do on the psych ward floor and she's a secretary! Not in the job description at all.

Anyways, on my own little rant there, it's nice to hear from you as always. Breathe deep and enjoy my friend.

Best Wishes,

Gorges Smythe said...

I'm glad you and willow had an enjoyable ramble through the woods. Pity about all the windfalls. Just for the record, only incompetent managers need to worry about what's said on the internet; good management speaks for itself. As for your use of the language, I've always said that most outdoorsmen are tongue-tied poets. As a result, we can usually read between the lines when necessary, but don't worry; you do fine!

Casey said...

Looks like spring is on it's way over there, John! Lucky you. You'll be hearing the sounds of the toads by the looks of that blob of gelatin. I'm happier than I don't know what that little Willow seems like she may work out. Congrats!

And thanks for taking me on your walk. I could use on open trail in front of me here soon quick.

Take care -


Le Loup said...

Good post John, thank you. Glad to hear the hound is working out okay.

Bob Mc said...

Glad your new hiking partner is working out so well. Many happy trails.

Murphyfish said...

Well hello RDS,
Thank you for your kind words, to be honest there was a fence between the ram and us – you really didn’t think that I was in any way brave?

Morning Kari,
I can see works point of view to a small degree – but only a very small degree. But your right, the best antidote is to get ‘out there’ and breath, leaving all the crap behind. Mind you I thought my days at work suck sometimes, your friends episode really puts that into perspective. Oh and she is certainly ‘all legs’ and is becoming a character in her own right.

Mr. Smythe,
Thanks for the support my good fellow, it is quite funny that management must realise that us grunts bemoan work at times, whether it be verbally or now written on social networks. But hasn’t this occurred since the first boss picked up his whip as we built stone henge? It’s just human nature after all – we’re happier when we’re moaning.
Oh the walk and windfalls - stunning, I just have to remember to keep my wits about me in the future.

Hey Casey,
It certainly does feel as if Spring is sneaking up on us here, although there’s a saying “never cast a clout till May is out”, I’ve known the weather to change for the worst and Winter regain its icy hold well into the year before now. The frogs have appeared in our pond (should read puddle) but no spawn yet.
Willow certainly has filled out, although to some folk she’ll always look on the under fed side. I’m sure that the trials will open up soon over ther my friend, look forward to yours and Trappers wandering.

Hello Keith,
Thank you my friend, still away to go with the little warthog, she seems to be finding her feet now and is showing a little defiance at times, but then again a dog is no good without spirit.

Hi Bob,
That she is Bob, that she is, as I’ve just mentioned there’s a long way to go yet, but her potential to be a truly fine distance dog is there for all to see.

To all,
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, even on a ramble such as this.
Your friend,

Wolfy said...


Nicely done, as always. I'm enjoying "watching" Willow develop, albeit from across the pond

Murphyfish said...

Hi Wolfy,
Thanks my friend, always good to hear from you. She is becoming a bit of a fiend you know....

Damn The Broccoli said...

Glad she is coming along, I'm sure Willow will come up with her own methods of 'spooking' sooner or later but doesn't she look fit to go in that photo.

On the work thing I am fairly certain that in the UK at least companies can't do that. Especially as you do not mention by name anywhere. I'm sure I remember reading about a case last year being thrown out of court because it is private time. It doesn't matter even if it is in your contract because under UK law if a contract is only valid if it conforms to the law, so illegal clauses aren't binding.

Just don't ever be daft enough to do something on work time!

I'll see if I can track it down for you.

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

Willow is a cute little thing....maybe we could see a close up of that sweet face of hers?? Next walk.

Murphyfish said...

Hi Damn,
Mmmmm don't know about spooking me but a bag of rags she is giving me the run around!
As for the work thing any info would be helpful my friend, I sometimes have the idea that the powers that be just try it on hoping that us underlings just except things...

Hi Karen,
You would not have called her cute as she gleefully shredded a door mat, my slippers (yes I wear slippers)and decided that my toes were the tastiest things in the house today - then again maybe you would. Close up pictures in her next post coming up.

Stephanie and Dustin said...

Willow sounds like she was born for the trail. The last snapshot of her is worthy of the mantle, great shot. The mist might have kept people away, but provided a mystical backdrop for your photos.

Watching for downed trees is a must in our region of the U.S.; a pine beetle has decimated the forests in the parks. I always remind myself to look up, but the looking around always is more enticing.

Glad you and Willow are getting out an enjoying the simple things.

My spam filter word below is "joyed"; a feeling I get after reading your fantastic musings. Coincidence, I think not.


BeMistified said...


I ♥ the posts on your walks. I mean really I ♥ all your posts, but with seeing the pictures and the awesomeness, it's, just, well awesome :)

Murphyfish said...

Joyed - I like that, I'm glad that my simple musings make you feel like that. It's always the problem isn't it, you look up you miss the fox, you look down you miss the hawk.

Thank you me dear, as long as I can bring a smile to folk and a sense of of 'awesome' to me that the outdoors is I'll try and keep blogging.