One problem of finding suitable walks is to try and create a simple circular walk which is not just a procession on forestry gravel tracks, but is also easily walkable. Another problem is keeping the timing right. One of my favourite walks does a complete circuit of Ridley Wood, a small but beautiful patch of ancient woodland in the middle of wide open heathland near Burley. However, it is a bit on the long side for the usual two hour Walking Picnic, so that is why, this morning, I took off over the heather in search of a short cut. The route is marked as a path on my latest edition of the OS map, and, encouragingly, shows a footbridge to cross the stream at the foot of the valley. I was closing in on the footbridge, working my way down a slope full of marshy patches, and keeping, more or less, to the main track, when it happened. I planted my right foot confidently on a smooth layer of light grey sand, and suddenly I was up to the trouser pockets in a bog. What looked exactly like a washed out sandy stream bed turned out to be a thin crust, under which was a pool of thick oozing mud. Having dragged myself out, I squelched slowly onto the footbridge, and wondered how that had happened.
I turned round, walked very carefully back up the slope, and completed the walk, and was nearly dry (but very crusty) an hour later when I got back to the car. And the lesson is ... short cuts very rarely work out.