Sunday, 25 September 2011

Country Walking: Stick People

One of the joys of Cornwall is the scenery; I love tramping across the countryside. Be it coastline, moor or the truly atmospheric Cornish antiquities, on goes my walking stuff.

My boots are a good ten years old, dubbined until they're like butter. In a sale a few years ago I bought a second pair thinking that eventually the old faithfuls would drop to bits, but they're still a going concern.

Above the boots I tend to wear army surplus stuff. There are loads of pockets for necessaries, and it's tough. Hacking through brambles on Predannack Down may not be your cup of tea, but it would be a jolly sight worse in Marks slacks.

My car's filled with vital equipment. A change of clothes for when it rains.
A map, food, a small pack, a camera, a book. The last doubles as my toolkit - if I break down, I can read it until the RAC arrives.

Walking's a gregarious pursuit. You meet other explorers and people stop for a chat. Often they're middle-aged, but walking is great exercise and many are very fit. Some know about the locality, or have friendly dogs you can make a fuss of. Others can give you directions, which is helpful when the map's wrong (this happens quite a lot). The old campaigners are easy to identify; they use worn-in, battered but serviceable clothing and equipment.

But can someone please explain the current fad for walking with the aid of sticks.

We see this particularly among smartly-dressed walkers, couples with matching cagouls in bright, jolly colours. As well as their new booties and little packs they favour telescopic, carbon-fibre walking-sticks, sometimes just one, often two. To these people, sticks are an indespensible aid to motion.

Couldn't the stick people just walk normally? Sometimes the terrain's perfectly flat; it's never likely to reach the severity of the Matterhorn.
There's no need to push off on every stride, as if they were dragging a laden Arctic sled behind them.

No. Even in the uncomplicated world of walking about, the nurtured need has arisen to accessorise. Megacorp is snaring this simple activity in its loathsome commercial grasp. What further ridiculous embellishments can we look forward to?

Message: don't be a victim, don't buy stupid sticks! They aren't cool, they don't help you to walk; you learned to do that some time ago.

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