October 5th, 2011

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Waymarking

As a result of Clare, I've recently found myself helping with the Ramblers' Association's Mystery Walker program, in which they send me a grid reference and I go for a short walk starting there and tell them how it went. A few weeks ago, this took me to Quy Fen, and I noticed some waymarks that were not just inadequate but actually wrong (giving the wrong status for several paths). I reported this to the County Council and got a friendly reply explaining that they'd love to correct the problem but had no money. In the meantime, I'd looked up the council's policy on waymarking on their Web site and noticed that they would provide markers to parishes and volunteers on request. So I volunteered.

Thus, I found myself visiting the council offices on the way to work so that a slightly counfused rights-of-way officer could try to work our whether this strange person from the Internet could be trusted with a pile of waymark disks and a bag of County Council nails. After a generally useful conversation, it turned out I could.

Thus, the next weekend I was back on the paths near Horningsea with the council's signs and nails and my own hammer, along with the knowledge that I was authorised under section 27(5) of the Countryside Act 1968 to erect signposts along those paths. A little while and quite a lot of nettle-stings later, and the waymarks were corrected. I returned the spare disks and nails to the council the next week in the knowledge of a job done, possibly even well.

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Hovercraft?

For the last few years, autumn new moons have seen me heading off to Hunstanton to go walking in the Wash taking photographs. This has been a surprisingly enjoyable activity and means that Geograph now has pretty good coverage of the eastern Wash down to Wolferton Creek. But I'm running out of squares. I think there might be one more square that I can reach from Hunstanton on foot, and then I'll have to find something else to do.

The obvious and sensible alternative (insofar as any of this is sensible) would be to try setting out from a different shore of the Wash, maybe between the Ouse and Nene, or all the way around near Gibraltar Point. This would involve quite a lot more travelling, though, and in the former case quite a lot more mud too.

A more technological solution would be to accept that the sea is a silly place to go walking, and that maybe a boat would be a better way to get around. Except that if I'm visiting sandbanks a boat is likely to get stuck, so clearly what I need is a hovercraft. Hovercraft aren't cheap, costing much the same as a family car, but I can afford that, not least because I'm not supporting a family, or a car. A low-end cruising hovercraft will do maybe 30 mph, and has an endurance of several hours, so it's quite a practical vehicle. There's a boat park in Hunstanton it could be stored in, and I could even bring it up the rivers as far as Bottisham Lock (the Conservators won't let hovercraft on their bit of the Cam).

On the one hand, it's clearly utterly ludicrous that I should go out and buy a hovercraft. On the other hand, hovercraft!