Waymarks are for wimps, and signposts are for softies. Expert hikers always know which way to go, and usually it’s any way they like.
A waymark is traditionally a small plastic disc with a coloured arrow on it, reputedly pointing in the rough direction of the right of way. Novice hikers can be easily identified because they are often seen consulting their maps and looking up at the sky. They are not fazed by left- or right-pointing waymarks, but a waymark indicating ‘straight on’ usually points ‘straight up’. Put them out of their misery by telling them that the path upwards is blocked by a particularly nasty cumulonimbus cloud and should be avoided at all costs.
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Traditionally, waymarks are nailed to solid objects that will not move for a while, including:
• tree trunks.
• boulders or stones.
• dead sheep.
Local authorities and landowners enjoy playing games with hikers, the most popular of which is called ‘hunt the waymark’. They have perfected the skill of hiding such directional aids in the depths of flesh-tearing hedges, which prevent well-clad hikers from investigating further for fear of ripping their expensive outdoor clothing. There is little point in buying something with space-age technology if a simple thorn can render the garment completely useless.
By law, all rights of way should be signposted where they meet a road or public highway. Camouflaging them enables the landowner and local authority to comply with the letter of the law, while making it difficult for ramblers to exercise their right to roam.