It's been unseasonably warm and sunny today.......uncannily like a summer's day.
Whilst walking Small Dog in the woods we strayed from the path in pursuit of newly fallen chestnuts, and within minutes we were completely lost.
Not just a little bit lost.
Instead of doing the sensible thing and retracing our steps, we decided to press on, further into the woodland in the hopes of coming upon one of the many narrow trails which criss-cross the area. However after 10 minutes of clambering over fallen trees, wading through muddy streams and negotiating thickets of brambles and thorns, we had had enough.
Strange noises seemed to press in on us from every side. Startled squirrels, also in search for windfall chestnuts, chattered loudly as they scampered up into the tree canopy.
The sun, which had been glinting through the trees suddenly disappeared and we were plunged into a Stygian gloom.
Small Dog, who had previously been busily scurrying along in front, enforcing her rigourous 'stop and sniff' policy, suddenly re-appeared quietly at our feet, looking up at us with what can only be described as a worried expression.
It suddenly became quite Blair Witch-ish.....
An edge of mounting panic settled upon us. My admittedly vivid imagination produced images of us still lost as night fell, and having to spend the night in the forest till rescue arrived.
Or we were eaten by wolves.
Whichever came first.
I chose not to share these thoughts, but all three of us simultaneously decided to change tactic. As we were trudging along the bottom of a valley, we all thought it seemed sensible to strike out upwards, towards the light, up a very muddy, leaf-lined, slippery slope which we reasoned would eventually lead us back to the main footpath.
A further 10 minutes later, bramble-scratched, sweaty, panting more than Small Dog and covered in mud from the knees down, we emerged blinking onto a path that we thought we recognised and the panic gradually subsided.
Just goes to show that even familiar territory can quickly become unfamiliar territory. In future we will take the geocaching gizmo and set regular waymarks, so that if we get lost again (as if?!) we can easily find our way back.
Just a slightly more technologically-updated version of leaving a trail of bread crumbs...