Time after time, I run into this same problem. It’s mid-afternoon and I’m somewhere amazing; any other day I’d kill to be there. It might even be somewhere I’m unlikely to return to. But I’m worn out and can’t summon the energy to explore further.
This happens to me a lot when I’m being a tourist. I spend the morning seeing a place’s main sites; by the afternoon I’ve had enough of beauty, and desire rest more than amazement. (A friend told me that students at the Sorbonne are told to spend no more than two hours at a time in the Louvre to avoid this sort of problem).
The most recent time I dodged something wonderful was when walking the Ridgeway. For me, one of the route’s highlights was the Uffington horse. We arrived there late on a long, hot afternoon. I could have spent hours exploring the landscape – if I’d not been walking all day. Instead I had a quick look at the horse, took some photos, then we carried on walking.
(See that flat-topped hill with a chalky patch? No grass grows there because it’s where at George killed the dragon. Allegedly)
The problem with travel and hiking is that they’re tiring. Yesterday’s trip on the Pennine way was hard work. We saw some amazing landscapes and some odd places, but my pack was a little too heavy.
We’d also been dodging rain all day. There was a shower times just before we left the canal and could hide under a bridge. Long rainy spells came and went as we lazed about in Gargrave’s excellent Dalesman café.
We arrived in Malham tired and damp. I knew that Gordale Scar was about three miles away, but that seemed too much for two weary hikers. As we checked into our home for the night, I asked whether it really was worth the extra walk just to see another amazing view, particularly after a day of them. We were told it was.
I pointed out that the weather looked shifty – was this worth seeing in the rain? We were told it was especially worth seeing in the rain. So somehow we summoned the energy for a last few miles’ walk. The initial omens were good:
We passed Janet’s Foss, said to be the home of a fairy queen. Pretty nice.
Finally we walked along a small ravine. Pleasant.
And then we turned the corner. The photo doesn’t quite do justice to the scale of the looming rocks and the sound of the water. Sheep ate grass at the very edges of the drops. We’d seen some great views but this was the best of the day.
On the way back, we found rotting fallen trees into which people had hammered copper coins.
This reminded me of something similar in Kathmandu – a block of wood which people nailed coins to. According to the guidebook, it was to ward off toothache.
I don’t always summon the energy to go exploring and that’s a shame. Sometimes it really pays off.