Following weeks of heavy rain and flooding in December, The Bounder suggested a walk to see the River Dart in Spate*. I thought this sounded like fun, and ignored the faint sound of alarm bells ringing when The Bounder decided that we should probably leave my deaf, blind, hip-impaired dog at home.
We parked The Beast** in a very civilised car park, which lulled me into thinking that this was probably the kind of walk that Ramblers and day-trippers undertook. Yes, the first bit was boggy, but reasonably flat and, hey, it’s a moor. It was when we reached the edge of, what I can only describe as, a massive ravine that I began to fear yet another gruelling endurance test.
We descended the ravine with no special equipment other than wellies. When we finally reached the bottom, my legs were shaking uncontrollably and a familiar scowl was beginning to settle on my face. Noting my expression, Bounder (I’ve decided to drop the definite article as it makes him sound important) assured me that our ascent would be much gentler.
The sight of the river in spate was indeed spectacular. The rapids looked as though they were part of the Colorado (or some other really big, fast river). The little islands in the middle were completely submerged and clumps of trees poked out. Most surreal was the sight of a canoe up-ended and caught in the branches of a tree. I stood for a while, reflecting on the terrible power and beauty of nature. After I’d done this for a bit, I was eager to get on.
I was not surprised to find that Bounder had lied about our return journey. It was just as vertical, just as scrambly and about three times as long. One of the annoying things about Bounder is that his pace is consistent no matter what the terrain or gradient. Whereas I move like a very fast speed walker along the flat, but I’m more like a little old lady when going up hill. This means he gets to have a little rests along the way. Its hard to convey the pique I experience after staggering to catch up, only to find him sitting on a tree stump, munching happily on a Bounty. As I’m almost within punching distance, he’ll get up and trot jauntily on his way.
After eventually reaching the top of the ravine, squelching across the boggy plateau felt like walking on air. I was euphoric when I spotted The Beast, waiting patiently, never doubting our return. I would have slumped gratefully into it’s scummy seat – if this had not first involved breaking in through the boot and reaching to unlock the front door with a bow saw.
*Since my late conversion to geography, I’m comfortable with terms like ‘Spate’. For less outdoorsy readers, it’s applied to rivers and means something like really, really full.
**The Bounder’s knackered old BMW estate/bin. As well as being crammed with all manner of unnameable crap, the dashboard/nature table is full of shells, stones and dead plants, and there’s some kind of large animal’s shin bone in the passenger footwell.