The Devil’s Punchbowl
Naomi and I went on a walk yesterday…
I say “went on a walk” – when we went out, I assumed we’d have a wander around for half an hour and then head back to the car. Our walks around Windsor Park haven’t been particularly lengthy, and I figured we’d just take in the views and leave.
Apparently not :o)
I think the root of the thing was that we just didn’t bother to turn back. I feel a great aversion to traveling the same route in both directions, so much so that not a single part of my cycle to work from the station in the mornings is repeated in the evenings, except for the first fifty yards to get from the bike docking station to the road itself. So as we were walking along the western rim of the valley, my mind was mostly on the question of “how can I get back a different way to this?”
Turns out, the option never arose, so we never took it. We walked all along the western edge of the valley, down through some woods, and came out among some farms just outside Thursley. We managed to take a diversion down to a little gulley, in which there was a really picturesque stream, so that was rather nice..
Turned out that the gulley was a dead end though, and so we had to go back on ourselves until we found what I suppose you might describe as a “road”. It was appropriate for quad bikes, but probably not a lot else. Anyway, we followed that down to a ford across the stream, over a little bridge, and up the other side of the valley.
By this point we weren’t lost as such, but I’m not entirely sure I knew my way back. So we pressed on. A kindly lady gave us vague directions that we probably would have followed spontaneously (at least once we realised that her garden was not a public right of way), and we started climbing up the other side, which actually is quite tricky when compared to going downhill…
The journey back was made a little better by the fact that, even though it was still a couple of miles away, we could see the car park at the top of the far side of the punchbowl. Plenty more up and down, around which time we realised we could have done with bringing drinks with us, and we were finally on the last leg (and our last legs). Beautiful scenery though, really lovely..
We saw a lizard (the first time Naomi has seen one in this country), plenty of fluorescent butterflies, various birds (finches, tits, I don’t know, I’d need to look them up), and possibly a snake. Possibly. I tried to get a closer look, but possibly not in a polite way, and Naomi made me stop. Sometimes my urge to reach out and grab nature needs to be curbed.
Anyway, the inevitable climb back up to the top finished us off, unfortunately. Turns out, walking up steep slopes with soft paths isn’t the easiest thing to do in ill-fitting socks. Curiously, Naomi couldn’t even see the path, which is odd, and warrants further testing. To me, it was clear as day, I could see where it looped around trees, turned up the hill, and so on.. But she promises me that she couldn’t actually perceive a difference between where I thought the path was, and the surrounding area. This is definitely one for my brother and I to test sometime, you know, for the sake of science. Could it be that I’m actually good at outdoors? That would be weird…
All in all, it was an awesome walk.. It’s been a really long time since I’ve walked quite so far (the map says five miles, but with looping around and hills etc., I’d say it’s more like seven) without any real clue as to where I was, or where I was going. It’s the sort of thing that’s just no longer possible in Oxfordshire, on account of how I know the place like the back of my hand. This was new, and exciting, in beautiful weather, with wonderful company, and it ended without anybody dying in the wilderness. That, to me, is a complete success :o)
So, in conclusion, for posterity and all, this was roughly our walk:
View Devil’s Punchbowl Walk in a larger map
Good times :o)