When is a 21km walk not a 21km walk? When it's 25km. There was an extra 4km of blister-making detours and faffing as precious beer-drinking time ticked away, thanks to an out-of-date guidebook and a map that didn't quite go far enough.
Even though the guidebook cost half a crown, measured distance in chains and furlongs and featured illustrations stamped on the pages with potatoes, you wouldn't think paths and landscape would change so much. We had access to modern technology including, a GPS, map and combined navigational knowledge of Andrew, Noel and myself, so what could possible go wrong?
We're doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks at the end of September, which is about 42km to be completed in 12 hours if you want the fancy badge to sew to your rucksack, which of course I do, so a training walk was in order. I agreed to find out a long-ish walk with plenty of ups and downs, a pub or two and, most important of all, a greasy cafe serving The Full English Breakfast to start us off and fuel our trekking. Andrew was so excited about bacon, egg, beans, sausage and fried bread swimming in lard, he hardly slept the previous night, getting up with the larks and heading down the M1 to the Peak District withuot even a cornflake to sustain him. We, on the other hand, never miss the chance of breakfast, so we had one before we set off and one when we got there, the full lardy experience.
The walk was (don't snigger) to Cocking Tor, near Matlock, Derbyshire. A tor is a rocky outcrop, I've no idea where cocking comes in, but how we laughed as we headed towards it. Having done the strategic planning, I delegated the navigation to the boys. They can read maps without turning them round to face the right way and have a good idea of directions, which is more than I can claim. But that's where the problems started. Ye Guide Book's potato-printed map was more aspiration than accurate, with written directions such as 'look ye for where the holly and hawthorn meet'. A couple of centuries later and the holly and hawthorn have been buried under the A6. But still, we had the modern map – except the walk meandered off the edge so no amount of GPS co-ordinates could put us back on track. From the top of Cocking Tor we could see where we needed to be – but had no idea how to get there. To cut a long story short, deleting the expletives and setting aside the about-turns we found our way back to Matlock having sat out the rain in the pub and quite pleased with ourselves for doing a longer-than-planned training walk. Thank goodness the Three Peaks is well signposted and is all on one map which is, fortunately, the right way up.