GETTING YOUR BEARINGS
The art of getting lost is a well-practised one, and it is made easier today with the use of maps and other satellite navigation products.
Of course, a real hiker is never, ever lost – merely ‘temporarily misplaced’.
If you find yourself in such a situation and a fellow walker approaches, it is best to scrutinise your map closely and then, just as the walker comes within earshot, say ‘Aha! ? loudly and clearly, and tap your finger on the map before folding it up and walking in the opposite direction from your fellow hiker.
Never ask another hiker for directions. Not only does it confirm that you’re utterly clueless, but for all you know, he or she may also be temporarily misplaced.
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One sorry observation is best made here, rather than as a constant moan through my account of every urban area, and that concerns the litter and graffiti encountered, something on which the authorities are lax and our social conscience fails. The approaches to, and in, Glasgow are far the worst. The suburbs of both Edinburgh and Glasgow, and through all the milestoning towns along the way, see the heaviest towpath usage, and the jokes about the east-west characteristics are not altogether unfounded. In Edinburgh – out to Ratho, say – about 30% of people met give a greeting; from Broxburn on to the Clyde it’s over 70%. Socialising is so rewarding I find; people enjoy a chat, telling of their local area and having their own travel destination experiences to relate. I can’t resist mentioning a personal experience when working on the original guideblog. I’d stopped to look at Glasgow’s Possil Road bridges from below when an urchin, seeing me with clipboard, looking about, asked, Can ah help ye, meestir? – and gave me needed information. Soon after I asked a man for directions and he not only gave them but told me of the Bryant and May factory’s fine brickwork, which I’d have missed, and pointed out a wee, welcome tearoom. Then, on nearing the travel destination I was standing in contemplation, wondering whether to head to a bridge, up right, or an overspill, left. There was a group of winos round a fire of pallets on the towpath near the overspill and my hesitation caught the eye of someone of doubtful sobriety who was probably joining them.