BY JAMES BEMBRIDGE
Regrettably I have come to the conclusion that most ramblers (at least those around here in Buxton and its surrounds) ask for directions simply to make sport of inconveniencing the locals. It is but one method of irritation in an arsenal of many. Others include an obstinate refusal to observe public footpaths, and – encouraged by shows like BBC’s Springwatch which present a dumbed-down and Disneyfied version of rural spaces for dimwits – they seem burdened by the mistaken belief that the countryside somehow belongs to them and so clog paths and damage farmers’ gates by standing, sitting and swinging on them.
Would Wordsworth or Blake have devoted their poetry to this green and pleasant land had they known teetotalers festooned in hideous Lycra and Spandex would one day swarm and pockmark it?
This is an incursion against which country folk seem powerless – there’s only so many times one can plausibly claim to mistake ramblers for grouse before one’s gun license is eventually revoked. (Fear not, those trolls awaiting my descent into malicious communications, I merely jest). If I see another wizened old grandad’s meat and two veg wiggling towards me under Lycra breeches, or the black hole cameltoe of yet another spindly (and occasionally winking) old widow, I shall be forced to throw up my Ploughman’s on them. (It is not that I stare – such horrors inevitably draw one’s gaze like tramps crapping between parked cars or bloody ski accidents on fresh snows).
Who are these ramblers who plague my locality? What hell do they descend from? Stoke on Trent or Derby perhaps? Leek? Have they never shopped for a Barbour? Why do they have to wear the colours of the Teletubbies? Why do they not try to blend into the beautiful environment rather than standing out like rubbery Shoezone brogues at Boodle’s? Visibility you say? It is not as if these bores are worth finding and rescuing if they fall down a crevasse or get stuck up some treacherous crag in the mist.
The rambler around here is the type of amoeba who thinks it is they who should be listened to if only people could suffer hearing them. Once they have exhausted the list of those who can (like teary James O’Brien scanning the cliff fall drop in BARB figures when his LBC listeners have woken up to the fact that Nick Ferrari’s breakfast show is over) they will then search for new ears to assail with their dreary socialist monologues. The most logical step is to then join a rambling group. For out in the countryside, few will hear their victim’s scream.
In the rambling group, the friendless knave, once dressed in Karrimor synthetics and sporting the latest thick socks from Millet’s, has his or her captive audience. A walking partner can hardly fast scarper on a moor. The poor soul will have to suffer hearing about the positive effects of lentils on the pancreas possibly for hours – the only plus, that the knave’s halitosis is drifting in the moor wind into the face of the rambler behind rather than polluting its way up their own runny beak.
Austere and ascetic, it should come as no surprise that the Ramblers Association was the brainchild of the communist party. Ramblers give a benign face to the radicals who wish to repeal the enclosure acts – why else trespass onto private farm land while claiming to have a right to it? They commit these uncivil matters in the knowledge that police are happy to regard them as civil ones – if the police wanted to waste their lives dealing with these weirdos then they could always round up librarians or loiter in Waitrose to arrest the ne’er do wells who buy essential packets of Flageolet beans.
I genuinely do hope there shall be no accidents. But pity the poor farmers (and indeed those pragmatic conservationists) who are put in the unenviable position of having to make sure that when they take the shot, it’s aimed at diseased animals and not at ramblers – a distinction which must sometimes be really hard to make. (Another jest, dear trolls).
While ramblers should be free to shuffle wherever they wish, in their tortuously slow manner as is the nature of Spandex grundies and leggings – their elasticity is quite restrictive (so I am told) – they certainly shouldn’t be encouraged to do so.
The consequences of the spike in ramblers locally are grim. There are now no less than five walking shops in my small rural town and an innumerable amount of public toilets, putting Buxton in danger of descending into a cottager’s paradise. What kind of message does this send? The Romans would never have stood for it (or knelt, indeed).
It’s high time rural places closed their gates to these rambling revolutionaries and clubbed together to send them elsewhere – on a one way #FBPE themed hike around a minefield perhaps? Or why not follow the alleged footsteps of Rory Stewart around charming Afghanistan?
James Bembridge is Deputy Editor of Country Squire Magazine (and an insatiable cottager).