Walking For Rescue, Or Rescuing The Walker?

Every May Day Bank holiday Sunday, the East Midlands Social Region of the Irish Setter Breeders Club, hold their Annual Sponsored Walk to raise money for the day to day running of the Irish Setter Rescue scheme. The weather is always just right for both walkers and dogs, pleasant and sunny, but not too hot. This particular May Day was no exception. The weather on the days either side of this event, were questionable as always, but somehow or other, Sybil and Steve Lennox always manage to ensure that we have perfect weather for this event. As this happens with such regularity every year, I become more convinced that they are ‘having help from up there’!

Every year, Sybil and Steve very generously host this event, allowing us to invade thier garden when we’ve finished. To just say thank you seems rather inadequate, but the East Midlands Regional Social Group of the ISBC are extremely grateful for thier continued generosity.

On this particular occasion, I had gone with the express intention of helping in the kitchen, but then had the bright idea, whilst driving there, that I really ought to go on the walk to take some different photos, as we always seemed to have photos only at the start of the walk and in the garden afterwards. I was warned to change into my wellies as it was slightly muddy! I set off full of enthusiasm with the first group of walkers, but by the time I was half way up the first gentle incline in the woods, it was fast becoming clear to me that I was struggling. Being from Lincolnshire, where the land is flat and the fact that I had only helped, not walked , at the previous two walks, was proving to be very telling.

I stopped to get my breath back and remove my jacket, but by the time I had finished, everyone else in my group had disappered. Were they all trying to tell me something? Never having done this particular route before, I had absolutely no idea where they had gone and not a soul was in sight. Directly in front of me was a dry stone wall, which in my wisdom, I convinced myself that everyone must have climbed over. It was only when I actually tried to climb over this wall, complete with heavy camera, camera bag and loose jacket, that I realised, too late, that it would not have been easy for them, or the dogs, to get over. Climbing over a fairly high dry stone wall, is a very precarious exercise, as just about every stone moved underneath me, whilst I tried to clamber over.

Somehow I managed it, only to see a large expanse of very empty field stretching in front of me and still no sign of anyone else. How was it possible for everyone to vanish so quickly and so completely? I set off down the field track, getting about half way before common sense took over, telling me that the others couldn’t possibly have gone this way. So, turning round, I trudged back to the dry stone wall, where I was faced with the same problem yet again……I had to get over it!

At this point I really didn’t know what to do, or which way to go, so decided to stay put and see if the second group turned up. Eventually, after about fifteen minutes, which actually seemed more like an eternity, a group of dogs leapt into view over the brow of the hill and I breathed a sigh of relief. One of the whippets was so glad to be there, that she rolled on her back with her legs in the air. I was helped over the wall, but misjudged the distance down, jumped and a few minutes later, was doing the same as the whippet, much to the amusement of the second group of walkers!

The dogs in this group were definitely characters, especially one, Murphy, who delighted in laying down and rolling in the largest, muddiest, smelliest puddle he could find. By the time he had finished he was dripping black, sloppy, smelly mud from every part of him, apparently trying to turn himself into a Gordon Setter! Amazingly, when I fell over, I didn’t get dirty, but Murphy obviously had other ideas for me, as he rushed up to me straight from the puddle and shook himself hard, splattering me with wet, smelly mud.

Half way round the second part of my walk, it became painfully obvious that my wellies had caused some very large blisters, so I had no option but to remove them and continue in my socks. Walking on the stoney, wooded area was no picnic, as every tiny stone felt like a huge boulder and the blisters on my heels were really stinging. The only way I could manage to walk, was to mince along, taking very tiny steps like some stiletto-heeled bimbo. It was the longest two and a half miles I have ever walked! Other walkers passing us, must have thought that I couldn’t afford shoes. Eventually we reached the road, which although not easy to walk on in my socks, was infinitely more comfortable than in the woods. What I had forgotten, not having done the walk itself for a couple of years, was that the last part involved crossing three fields, one of which was full of cows, which meant that I had to be extremely careful where I trod!! The final straw was when I climbed over the last stile and despite being careful, I managed to spike my hand on the barbed wire fence at the side of it.

I finally arrived back at Treetops, having discovered muscles that I had forgotten about, splashed with mud, bleeding profusely, with sodden, sore, muddly feet, but still being able to say that I had enjoyed myself. Sincere thanks to my friends, who hung back to make sure that I was OK and helped me to struggle on, otherwise I might still be somewhere in that wood. The best bit, as always, came last, when we were all treated to lots of mouth watering, very fattening cakes and sandwiches, washed down by as much tea, coffee and juice as we could drink. Not much good for the diet, but then that can start another day! To top it all, when I got home and went to enjoy a hard earnt soak in bath, I discovered that I was literally covered in insect bites. My crazy idea to do the walk in order to get that perfect photo left me a very itchy legacy for several days.

It was a most enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon, even if I did have to walk most of the way in my socks and I wasn’t even sponsored. Don’t let my experience put you off joining us……I was the only one who managed to get into this state!!

© 2008 Michelle Webster

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