*In which our hero discovers he is a Rambler, but cannot Ramble very well, spends a lot of money on things he does not need and asks you once again to donate to this worthy cause by clicking here *
If I’m being totally honest, I can’t say I’ve ever wanted to be a rambler. Whilst the appreciation of the great outdoors has always struck me as really very admirable, the kit that goes with it really isn’t. If you go up to the Peaks or even round this neck of the woods and walk along any path you’ll eventually find a gaggle of folks dressed head to toe in man-made fabrics, often with bobble hats on, marching firmly toward you in the other direction. Occasionally you may stumble on them consulting a map and trying to discern the correct route before cheerfully moving on. They look so out of kilter with the landscape, and for some reason kit makers seem to want to make all their clothes look as obviously synthetic as they can in bright shades of blue or red or yellow.
It is was, therefore, more than a slight shock to find myself in Cotsowld Outdoors following last Sunday’s first training walk with Andrew and Monica. I had my arms outstretched and clutched in each hand was a rucksack, which I was carefully balancing to see which was lighter, and which I liked the look of better. I’m a terrible nerd, so tiny details please me no end. The one I chose in the end (an Osprey Talon 22 if you’re interested) has a special pouch for your twatpac….sorry… water pack, so that if you suffer a failure it doesn’t lead to embarrassing leakage and wet clothes. Brilliant. The water pack itself comes with a little magnetic toggle thing that you attached to the rucksack too. Allegedly. So far I’ve failed to do this properly so the tube just sort of wafts around in the air a bit like Withnail trying to provide a sample. But aside from operator incompetence the bag is superb – it can be adjusted in all manner of different ways for a comfortable fit, has plenty of room for all the supplies a gentleman walker needs – pouches for the map, a first aid pocket, a place I can slip my hip flask, a water proof cubby for the cheese** etc
Having got home and begun to plan what other purchases I’ll need to make in the months ahead (stick, head torch, jet boil, cheese knife) I went onto Amazon and bought a few different books outlining different routes to try around the Cotswolds. I’ve lived here for more than 10 years and really hadn’t clocked that this is an aknob as we walkers almost certainly don’t say. That’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or ANOB, which kind of proves the point that whilst I was busy judging the Ramblers they were busy appreciating the countryside I took for granted.
I admit to feeling somewhat ashamed of my assumptions. I have a map, I have wet weather gear, I have patient friends who are willing to help and I have the largest area of Aknob in the country right outside my window. All I need to do now is to actually go out there and start walking.
I might pass on the bright yellow hiking trousers for now though
**Everything I know I learned from the best e.g. Monica and Andrew.