an idiot in london


Thursday, 13th July.
The Monsal Trail

I woke up facing the opposite direction to which I fell asleep. Hmm. Unrelated fact: The rain had been belting down during the night. Breakfast consisted of some naan bread, cheese, yoghurt, juice and some chocolate fudge cake!

The Monsal Trail is listed as being eight-and-a-half miles long (whatever the hell that is in kilometres) but the start, near Glebe Farm, is several kilometres out of Buxton. Under threatening skies, I set out from the campsite and along the road. Those of you diligent enough to have battled through my tiresome account of the Isle of Wight would remember my dislike for walking on the road. So as soon as I could I got off-road and walked along a path through the fields. Startled sheep fled in front of me ("Don't run away! I'm not from New Zealand! And despite what people from mainland Australia say, we Tasmanians aren't like that!") and did very well not to roll down the steep hill. (My grandmother once tried to tell me that sheep that grazed on hillsides had two legs shorter than the other two so that they could stand upright. Which reminds me of a joke: What do you call a cow with two left legs shorter than its two right legs? Lean beef.)

The long grass was still wet from last night's downpour, and soon my trousers, socks and boots were soaked. Nice. The path then led through a blackberry patch. Saturated, and covered in prickles, I made it to the start of the Monsal Trail. I stopped and took off my socks and boots, wrung out my socks, tipped out the water from my boots, and put them back on again.

The trail itself is based largely around a disused railway line. I was trudging along, whistling my favourite songs from the Mikado (ok, I was actually thinking about footy) when I came to what used to be a tunnel. It was blocked off, and the trail continued down by the river. Rated: "difficult at times". I'll say. First I walked I walked on a path by the river, then I walked on the river's edge, then I was walking on the bloody river!

you are kidding, aren't you?

See those stones on the lower right, at the base of the cliff, in the river? That's the path!

Soon enough I was walking in gluggy, stinking, mud. I was being a bit of a girl about it all, avoiding what looked like deep mud. Then I came to a point where I had no choice, and I had to take my chances on the mud. I went in up past my ankles and yelled out a very rude word. But nothing my Mum hasn't heard before. At that precise moment a school group rounded the corner coming towards me. Turned out they were northern lads and lasses, so their parents would've taught them that word early on, if it wasn't indeed their first word.

One of the lads asked me what the mud was like. Very deep, I replied. Are you from America? No, I'm from Australia. What are you doing here? Very good question. Hey you guys, he yelled to his friends, I've just met an Aus-tra-li-an! I love being such a novelty. In London you can't swing a cat without hitting a bloody Australian. They're everywhere.

Most of the trail I travelled in solitude, hatching plots. And then everyting went terribly wrong. I made it to Monsal Head, and managed to take a wrong turn. Stupid boy. I ended up grumpy and in Ashford. Instead of happy and in Bakewell. I did make it to Bakewell, and sampled a Bakewell Pudding. WEIRD FACT: In Bakewell (pop. not many) there is an Australian Bar Diner. A sign on the wall says "We Welcome All Our Neighbours From Home And Away". Bring me a bucket.

Smelly and tired, I took the bus back to Buxton. The walk up and over the hill to the campsite just about finished me off. I'd trekked for about 20km with my sodding great pack on my back. Not bad for a skinny kid.