So, Husband announces he wants to walk ‘somewhere prettier’. We’re on a mini-break in Devon, staying in a cottage practically on the beach, but we haven’t actually seen much of the ‘typical’ North Devon scenery. You know, the rolling hills with tiny fields and lots of green.
I thought our village was pretty perfect, but I try to be accommodating, so I said he could choose. This was a mistake.
Firstly, he scurries off with the map and plans a walk which, for some unknown reason, needs to be a secret. I am to have no input at all as to where we go. At this stage, I thought this was fine, a nice surprise, no danger involved or anything like that.
Then we pack the dog and boots into the car, and off we go, heading towards Barnstaple. After a while, we left the main roads and drove along ever narrowing lanes. When the satnav stopped naming them, and then stopped showing them at all (so it looked as if the car was heading through space) I should have been warned. But I wasn’t (I am very easy-going, cheerfully gullible, things like that.)
We arrived at a carpark. The bridleways beyond were fenced, with gates and styles for access. There were, I will admit, a couple of signs, warning the military used the area. But there were no “Keep Out” signs, no locks on the gates, no signs that said “Danger”. None that I saw anyway. So on we marched.
It was then that I spotted some runners, way off in the distance. They were all wearing white tee-shirts, and I thought perhaps these were the army training exercises. Nice place to run, next to the sea. As I watched them, I realised there was another group, slightly nearer to us, wearing camouflage gear. And firing guns. This felt less safe.
Husband assured me they were probably ‘outward-bound types’ or shooting blanks, and we were fine, we just needed to avoid walking in front of where they were aiming. I sort of believed him. After all, the military wouldn’t shoot in an area used by dog walkers, would they?
A little later, as we skirted the men firing guns, to climb other dunes in our quest to find the sea, we saw some military vehicles. They had their headlights on, and were coming towards us at speed. I wondered if we were going to be arrested. But they zoomed off in another direction before they reached us.
Then we heard machine guns firing. At this point, I got stroppy. I told Husband I was very unhappy and felt uncomfortable about being fired at, and I wanted to go back to the car. He agreed. Trouble was, we were lost.
We had made so many detours, it was hard to remember even which direction we had come from. The area was huge, in different circumstances (ie, not being fired at) it would’ve been lovely. After wandering for a while, Husband looked at phone to see if it had a map. It did. It also showed our position, and where we had parked the car (clever phone).
We made it back to the car, neither shot nor arrested. We did see a few signs that we missed on the way in though….
Thank you for reading.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the rest of our holiday (nothing quite as exciting. Thankfully.)