So, off we trotted from the car park at Turton Towers. (And, remarkably, this time we'd actually managed to park on the SAME car park, unlike the last time we walked in the area. But that's another story.) Sun shining, butties in rucksack, Gail's occasional four legged companion, Scree, doing her usual backwards foxtrot, snapping at Gail's boots (collies, eh?). What could possibly go wrong?
'I presumed you were bringing the map,' I say, 'as this route was your suggestion...'
'Yes,' says Gail, stuffing the map in her rusksack, and I think no more of it.
Until we come to a fork in the path - waymarked to left, not waymarked to the right - so we follow the waymarked route, taking us across the golf course. Wee bit further on and, 'I don't think this is right,' says Gail. So we stop: off comes the rucksack; out comes the map. Er... 'What do we always tell people?' I venture. 'Walk with map in hand, not in rucksack?'
'Yes but I know where we are now... we'll just go up this path here... we're aiming for that lump there... and then we're back where we're meant to be,' says Gail, stuffing map back in rucksack.
Wee bit further on again, we pass a couple of horse riders, and reach a gate clearly marked as a bridleway, beyond which lies a semi-urban sprawl looking distinctly un-moorland-like. Which bothers Gail. A semi-urban sprawl not being expected. Nor a bridleway, come to that.
'This is definitely not right,' says Gail. Off comes the rucksack and out comes the map a second time... And we change direction again, climbing up through the golf course, across tussocks as big as your head, (no path, you'll note) towards the 'lumpy bit' – to a junction of resolutely barbed wire fences. Scree, of course, wriggles underneath to the other side (the other side being where we should also be, en route to that elusive lumpy bit).
Quick assessment of the wriggle route and I'm pretty sure even my slim frame won't fit under the fence. 'Well, we'll go through the gap at the top,' says Gail. 'What?!!' Not convinced the Paramo will survive unbarbed. 'You go first,' says Gail, undeterred, 'and I'll hold the fence...' as she unfolds the laminated map, wraps it round the barbs and lifts it clear for me to clamber through. See: THAT'S why we keep our maps in our hands.
PS. The rest of the walk passed without mishap (I promised I wouldn't mention the compass), a minor drenching, a spot of lunch in the rain by Entwistle reservoir, topped off by a sunny stroll back to the cars. Even managed to say a Mother's Day hello to my Mum, whose ashes are scattered round a very verdant holly bush by the reservoir. Perfect day, I'd say.
What, incidentally has happened to the heron sculpture – which now looks as though it's dipping for fish? Has someone kicked it over or does it come alive when no-one's looking?