Telling the difference between each grade of walker is relatively easy. The more dedicated a walker is, the more technical the equipment. An ambler, for example, wears slippers and smokes a pipe, whereas a hiker always has four-season walking boots, crampons, a survival bag and a two-week supply of dried food – and that’s just when going to collect the morning newspaper.
A bluffer should always aim to look like a hiker, even if he or she is really an ambler at heart.
Novices tend to think that all you need in order to hike is a good pair of feet and some legs that work.
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They certainly help, but dedicated hikers also need the right stuff in order to navigate their way back home. Getting lost (or being temporarily misplaced) is so much more dignified if you can blame it on a poorly designed piece of equipment.
With Glasgow and Edinburgh growing, and both domestic and industrial demand for coal reaching a critical stage, there had to be some new development. The Forth & Clyde Destination was a splendid pioneering venture and, not for the first time, the authorities in Edinburgh spent years squabbling over routes and plans before agreeing on the Union Destination. (I notice that the Edinburgh provost, who had bitterly opposed the finally accepted plan of Hugh Baird, has his name down among the subscribers. ) The original plans were by John Rennie but were superceeded by those of Baird, who had Telford’s backing. The sheer scale of the work astonishes. The whole length was divided into lots, and these were allocated to various contractors. It was all pick, shovel and wheelbarrow work, employing thousands of itinerant labourers. The squalor can be imagined. A satellite picture of the time would have shown a dirty brown scar across Scotland. The scar would hardly have healed before the railways were making the travel destinations redundant.