I spent a few days up in Pitlochry on holiday recently. It’s a lovely part of the world and I’m glad that I’ve seen it but an incident did bring home to me that although I do tend to go on holiday to places where I can walk in the country, I’m really an urban lad at heart.
I found a marked walk that looked fairly easy so bought a map from the tourist office (which turned out to be woefully inadequate) and set off. It wasn’t until I reached the first point where I had to make a decision as to which trail to follow that I realised that I had started off the wrong way down the walk, and the signposts were all one way. Here was my first mistake: I thought, in classic Top Gear style, how hard can it be to reverse engineer the route? It turned out that my map wasn’t detailed enough to let me do so with any accuracy so ended up relying on trial and error (and I only got lost twice or thrice, so I don’t feel completely incompetent).
At one point, I ended up in a field and followed what appeared to be a little trail along the edge of the field rather than going over the bridge where the signpost was. I walked until I noticed that there was a herd of cows at the other end and my first thought wasn’t “oh, I must have taken a wrong turn”, but more “who routed a path through a field full of cows?” I wasn’t exactly thinking clearly at this point, having already cursed the rain and mud gods thoroughly. Half way along the trail, still hoping that there would be a stile or something before I reached the cows at the end, I found a little ruined turret or something that had an information board in it. Apparently this was part of the ruins of the Black Castle of Moulin. I spent a couple of minutes reading the boards but would turn round every so often to try and see where the trail was going, and every time I did so, the cows would have moved closer towards me, but I never saw them move! Eventually my nerve deserted me, and I retraced my steps with some alacrity, escaping from the pack of Ninja Cows by the skin of my teeth.
I eventually found the proper path and followed it through an overgrown section and a field and have never been more pleased to find myself come out to a road. It was at this point that I realised that no matter how much I try and kid myself otherwise, I’m not a child of the country, but someone who although doesn’t mind walking, prefers to do it on a paved path. Not that it will stop me doing something equally daft next year, I suspect.