You have to start somewhere
Bruce Lee once said “Practise makes perfect. After a long time of practising, our work will become natural, skilful, swift and steady”. Wise words, if not particularly original in intent. Nevertheless there is something about Bruce Lee’s addition to a simple “practice makes perfect” mantra that rings true to our planned exploits. The best way I suspect to achieve any feat of endurance is to ensure that your work feels natural. That you have balance and rhythm, and that you are steady which will result in you being, if not effortlessly swift, then at least more swift than you otherwise would have been. And the practise to achieve this state? Well nothing prepares you for an event like a proper dress rehearsal, and so other teams have been off on a practise hike up the very summits they hope to attain in May. A reconnaissance with purpose, and a fact finding expedition to pass on wisdom to those other, less fortunate, teams who are unable to do their research and practise walks “in situ” as it were. Teams like us in Team 12 I’m afraid. We’ve very much been limited to practice closer to home. However, on the basis that any practise, no matter how imperfect, is better than no practise at all, we went for a hike in……*ahem* the “Surrey Hills”
OK, I know Surrey does not replicate the Lake District. Surrey is hardly rugged, wild and untamed. Nobody says about Surrey “She be a cruel mistress when the weather be raging!” To be fair I’m not sure anyone has ever said that about anywhere, but still, you get my point. However, Surrey is close, and so Surrey it was.
Surrey on a Sunny Sunday may be no preparation for potentially mountains on a miserable May morning, but my word it was glorious.
The view from Newlands Corner
We set off and were swiftly into our stride. Natural, rhythmic steady, and that was just the routine of insulting each other and reminding ourselves of quite how idiotic each other were at school, and as we did the ground flowed beneath our feet just as the passing of time has between such good friends; easily, comfortably, seamlessly and before we knew it we found ourselves several miles in, just as we have found ourselves several decades into our friendship.
Old friends, in that we have known each other for a long time.....and we're old!
As I say, Surrey may not have the grim rugged surly majesty of the Lake District, but it’s genteel charms on a Spring morning are no less beautiful as the flowers almost unseen begin to emerge on the dappled woodland floor, touched by warming sunlight to entice them onwards.
The budding twigs spread out their fan, To catch the breezy air; And I must think, do all I can, That there was pleasure there.
From "Lines Written in Early Spring" by Wordsworth
Onwards we went too, proceeding through pretty Shere where young families ate cake (as did we) and fed the ducks (a pleasure, alas, we were forced to forego on this occasion). Another mile or so before our only real climb of the day, 300 ft upwards to St Martha’s church on St. Martha’s Hill and a lovely view across Surrey before downhill again and another short climb back up to our starting point at Newlands Corner.
The view from St. Martha's Church
Ten miles and just over a thousand feet of "climbing". Was it challenging? Not particularly. Was it “ideal” preparation for Lakeland214? Again not strictly no, but was it a great catch up with my mates and better than no practise at all? Definitely.
The coming weeks may well see us build on that, but as the Chinese proverb says “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
Step taken, journey begun.