I’ve always admitted I have a hopeless sense of direction and I think I’ve proven it this afternoon by managing to get lost in a tiny little patch of woodland. This patch of trees is less than 200m by 150m. I’ve walked through it several times, always having the place to myself, and always followed a fairly clearly defined path around the woods. There’s a definite end point to the path, which comes out onto an area that used to be a carpark but is now behind a set of locked gates. I’ve tracked my route on previous walks using GPS and been able to identify the two winding paths that mostly skim the outside of the dense woodland.
Today, I used Street Wisdom’s Wandercast audio to guide my walk. It’s designed to be used in an urban environment, but it worked fairly well in a more natural setting too. During the ‘tune up’ exercises, I walked along the seafront, noticing what I was drawn to, slowing down and seeing the beauty in everything. I then started part two, ‘The Quest’, thinking about how I could make a small amount of money from my passions. I ambled along the next part of my seafront walk, noticing ways that I could potentially use my favourite environment as a location for mindfulness and creativity events. I also collected several stones and bits of driftwood that looked as if they had potential for making something.
I then decided to take a short detour on my way home into the patch of woodland. I walked a short distance into the woods, communed with the trees a bit and noticed lots of interesting details – patterns on tree trunks, the way the light dappled, spindly branches, mushrooms, yellow plums…
I thought I had walked in a full circle around a small clearing and I was getting hungry, so I thought I would turn back the way I had come. But as I walked, I started noticing ‘landmarks’ that I hadn’t noticed before. I tried turning back, but it all looked unfamiliar now. My phone wasn’t much help – Google maps showed me being somewhere in the middle of the woods and the compass told me I was facing South East, even when I turned 180 degrees.
I began to get a bit worried at this point, but I decided to follow any path I could find, hoping that eventually it might lead me to the end point and then I could follow the more obvious path to get back to the start. I began thinking about who I could phone to say, “Help, I’m lost in the woods!” This time, I started noticing different details – not necessarily ones that were inspiring, but ones that might be useful to prevent me from walking around in circles. Cider cans, short plants with lots of berries, a dead bird, a bright green bramble hanging down in a straight line, a long feather, part of a wire fence… My beacon of hope became trying to find the yellow plum tree that I had spotted a few metres from the entrance to the woods.
And eventually, my plan worked. I came to a path that looked familiar from my earlier visits to the woods and that I thought would lead me into the deeper patch of woods. I turned around and was able to spot the ‘obvious’ path, which eventually led me back to the start point. I felt such a sense of relief when I finally spotted that yellow plum tree!
The final part of the Street Wisdom audio asked me to consider what I had learnt from my quest. I had rediscovered my resourcefulness and was reminded of my ability to remain calm under pressure and to identify a logical solution. And I learned that sometimes it is good for me to step out of my familiar comfort zone and allow myself to be lost and to find new, unexplored paths and directions! I didn’t necessarily find an answer, but I certainly learnt a few lessons. I was also inspired to find a way to map the paths through the woods, identifying natural ‘landmarks’.
The other thing I noticed lots of on my walk were nuts of some kind, something that looked a bit like the middle part of an acorn (without the cap). I found one on the seafront which looked as if it had been washed up and then several more in the woods. Most were just half a shell, as if something had eaten the softer part in the centre. I couldn’t find any that were still attached to a tree, but I did find a few that were still joined to a green part. Can anyone help me to identify it? Are they hazel nuts? I might have to go back over the weekend to identify the trees that they were underneath!