Copywriter diary: The curious incident of the bog in the daytime

After the previous week’s 37 mile hike from Guildford to Shoreham-By-Sea, last week’s walk was supposed to be short, sweet and devoid of drama. But the best laid plans of mice and men…

Kicking off in Uckfield, just a short bus journey from home in Brighton, we entered the Ashdown Forest with confidence. But then we lost the plot.

Despite a nifty hiker’s SatNav app, an OS map and a great deal of map reading experience, we ended up way off-piste. One minute we’re in a cool tree-filled glade, slightly soggy underfoot. The next we’re thigh deep in peaty mud, falling in and out of horribly deep crevasses hidden between great clumps of verdant, tussocky grass.

The sensible option was to back-track and find the glade again. But for some reason the landscape looked very different. We simply couldn’t pick out the small stand of trees, our last safe haven, so decided to toil uphill instead.

Certain that the further uphill we got the drier the landscape would be, we staggered from tussock to tussock, missing the centre of each with monotonous and scary regularity. Once you’ve fallen into a five foot deep hole and dragged yourself back out ten times in a row, it gets pretty tiring. Especially when you’re weighed down by a rucksack.

Much screaming, swearing and hysterical laughter followed as we persisted with our ill-advised uphill trajectory. A full forty minutes later, exhausted and plastered from head to foot with black mud, we emerged onto a sunny path next to the source of the bog, a small spring from which large amounts of water poured swiftly downhill into the valley, eroding the soil to create a warren of deadly, tunnel-like tributaries.

Typically, the second we reached dry land we felt a lot better. When a perfectly ordinary chap in t-shirt and trainers, leading a tiny dog, walked past in a leisurely fashion as though everything was right with the world (which it actually was!), we felt particularly drama queen-like.

Just like most big adventures, it was only fun when it ended. A week later the whole episode seems very funny indeed. But at the time I was beginning to think we might die out there, a pathetic hundred feet or so from the main route through the forest.

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