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Welcome to our humble blog that will follow the misadventures of very average camping, hiking/rambling enthusiasts based out of Oxford. We will blog on camping trips, latest hikes, equipment reviews and whatever takes our fancy...

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Walking in Sandford Pit and Parsonage Moor – The Last Hike before the Challenge Begins!

Our last practice walk before the big day and we headed out into the Oxford countryside once again in search of those hidden footpaths and bridleways that offer a glimpse of rural Oxfordshire. We decided on the network of routes in and around Sandford Pit and Parsonage Moor.

Once again the weather was pleasant, if a little on the cold side, and I got the chance to try out my new fleece for the first time (this may not sound exciting but it’s good to know I won’t be shivering by the time we get two thirds of the way up Ben Nevis). Almost immediately we came upon Sandford Pit, which opened out into an oasis of calm with a lily-covered pool at one end, surrounded on all sides by sandy slopes with thick vegetation at the top.

Sandford Pit from above
It was one of the first times on these walks that I felt entirely cut off from the surrounding world, which although fleeting, was an enjoyable experience.

As this was new territory for us we had no definite route in mind so we chose instead to let the routes guide us, which enabled us to be flexible in our approach. The most surreal moment without doubt was when we came upon an area of forest with several large ramps in it. We quickly decided that it must be used by BMX riders and thought little more of it. However, as we moved deeper into the woods things became even more curious as we discovered more and more ramps and about 30 empty bottles of antifreeze. Just to (ahem) ramp up the tension even more we rounded a bend and found ourselves face to face with a hand carved totem pole and skull-like carving.

A conservative estimate would say that in that relatively small area there were in excess of 35 ramps of varying sizes forming an intricate and complex circuit designed (I assume) for very skilled and experience BMX riders. The antifreeze would stop the track from becoming frosted with ice and so treacherous. We all came away with the feeling that we’d just seen something quite special, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be someone waiting to drop in vertically from the starting ramp and then have to take on such a demanding course.

Just one section of course
As we moved further into the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside we found ourselves out of the wind and able to take in the pastoral scenes that surrounded us. Greig even kept us informed of the potential pitfalls and possible dangers of doing the three peaks. Thanks to a quirky book written about the challenge, I have found out that one of the symptoms of hyperthermia is ‘death’. I’m not sure if there’s a cure for such a symptom but the book didn’t seem to offer any suggestions.

So there we were approaching the end of our last practice walk as ‘amateur’ hikers and we all looked particularly attractive in our new ‘Rambling Hikers 2010’ custom beanies (my personal favourite is Rach’s pink one and am slightly jealous that I didn’t choose that colour).
Greig & Iain

Rachel & Greig

And so we waved goodbye (not literally) to Parsonage Moor and took several faltering steps towards this weekend’s epic walk. 26 miles up and down the three highest mountains in the UK…..I can’t wait to get started. (Iain - hiker)

You can see all our pictures from this walk on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rambling-Hikers/135758203132272

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