Greetings from beautiful Czech Republic
Hello everyone!-) I might not have been around for a while but I still find time to go for a walk here, in my temporary exile. I would like to share with you an experience from a walk I did today with a local group in my home town.
Just to explain; No other group organises walks around here other than a pensioners group. My family thought it bit unusual that I wanted to join them: here, there is the custom of Sunday afternoon walk after lunch when whole families go for a gentle stroll but a walk other than that? Unheard of. My Dad warned me: do not go, they are all communists. Clearly, more than 20 years after the revolution, some old wounds are still not healed. But I was determined to go. So 13 hours this afternoon, in blazing sunshine but cold, I arrived nervously in front of the town hall. But there was not need to worry – I received the warmest welcome a newcomer could imagine – although everyone looked amused when I confessed that I was the president of a student walking society; and of course, jokingly, they questioned my pensioner status. I did feel like a true foreigner on an adventure though; having been abroad for more than a decade, I could hardly remember who was who. The topics of the walk were local quarries; both sandstone and granite that were plentiful in my home town’s vicinity. We learned something about the local history; such where one of our neighbours lost a leg during quarrying sandstone operation and that Jaroslav Heyrovský, the inventor of the polarographic method and Nobel Prize winner, has his granite gravestone made out from stone quarried near my home town. The group shared healthy snacks (note: no cakes, dried fruit and fresh vegetables only) and a small glass of sherry was passed around too – certainly interesting ideas but not sure ones that our walking group could necessarily introduce. Overall, it was a lovely afternoon walk in a great company of generous and kind people; I wish more locals would realize how special these walks are and join them next time; as you all know, you do not have to be a pensioner after all, to enjoy a lovely walk.Miss you all and look forward to be back soon. In the meantime, keep on walking -) x Kristina
But before we even set off on this walk in the next couple of weeks or so, there is work that must be done in preparation. What exactly does it involve? This post is about what goes on behind the scenes in preparation for one of our walks:
First, me going into Digimap at my desk, checking various routes and measuring their distances. Then getting a small group together, arranging time and date to meet up one afternoon. So on Saturday 8 October 4 of us – Deborah, Belén, Graham and myself – drove to the location of an outdoor store on the outskirts of Bedford to trial a possible circular walking route there. Going over our maps again, trying to make a final decision about which walking route to pursue. Towards Bedford, north or east? We ended up opting for the eastern route towards the River Great Ouse, mainly as Deborah was familiar with the area. Turning on the GPS and off we go. We stopped on the edge of the village of Willington to admire a Tudor stone-built dovecote there and then headed towards the historical area of Danish Camp.
There we discovered a nice cafe that offers bicycle hire and river boat trips. We continued all the way to the village of Great Barford and its spectacular medieval bridge before heading back. It took us 4 hours to explore this walking route and we covered about 15 km ( 9.4 miles). We were just back on time to squeeze in a visit to the outdoor store before its closing time. Our verdict about the route: it was a lovely walk by the side of the river, with many interesting features along the way. Terrain mostly good. Now back at the university, there are still things to be sorted – transport and its cost, exact timing of the walk, advertising, then adjusting the final walking route to weather conditions present on the day of the walk. We had a long day on Saturday but it was certainly worthy – we now have a very nice walking route planned for one of our upcoming events.
If you like to take part in any future exploration/ preparation walks for the Cranfield University’s walking society, contact Kristina.