The last two days have dawned icily cold but sparklingly sunny. So on Wednesday morning I set off down the Highgate path early, lest I miss it all.
And further across, above the ponds, it was so life affirming that I just had to take you for a longer walk. All very peaceful till I got head butted by a retriever – so apologies for the sudden jump.
So, why the praise for the walking poles? Although I don’t think this is the first time that I have sounded off about how immensely useful they are when walking in any conditions which could be thought of as challenging.
I first used them fifteen years plus ago when climbing in the foothills of the Himalayas. This was not proper climbing but did involve clambering up and down some pretty steep slopes – and having ‘four legs’ was extremely useful. Especially as two of those legs had sharp spikes which stuck in the hillside (or the mud or the ice) rather than slithering over it as even the best boots are inclined to do. They were also very useful when trecking round the vine covered slopes of the Cinque Terre.
However, I had never used them on the heath until I moved to Highgate last winter and realised the extent to which the mud took over our end of the heath between November and March. I must admit that I do feel somewhat of a wuss when I set out with them, but my wuss-itude is then totally justified as I stride across the mud and the ice while others slip, slide and slurp on the ice and in and out of the mud holes. Of course, you a can get over confident and, relying on the sticks, forget to look where you are putting your feet – but even when you do, the poles will usually rescue you. And – when you get tired you can use them as shooting stick to sit on.
You can buy them in any sports shop – or on line – for anything between £20 and £40; they are very light and all fold up so are very easy to carry or pack – once you are allowed to travel once more. If you are walking in even slightly treacherous conditions – or if you are at all nervous about slipping – I really do recommend them.
So, to finish – a view from the climbing tree – with poles.