Journey to Enlightenment

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hiking Synchronicity

Synchronicity ......... Who would have believed it!

There was probably just over an hour until darkness. I just had time to get out of my work clothes and into some warm casuals. Judith was ready and waiting and we jumped into the car and made haste to get to the other side of Ledbury.

We had never managed to visit Eastnor Castle but the Park Estate and grounds more than made up for it. On previous trips we had seen many animals there including dozens of rabbits caught in the headlights. The road through the lower part of the park meandered across the hillside then down to the belly of the valley beside the lakes, before running a parallel track on the high ground opposite.
One evening we saw a magnificent Stag strutting across the meadow less than 50 yards from us, and we had seen plent of deer. The noise of the geese, ducks and other wildfowl at dusk around the lake sounds like a shouting competition.

Previously we had promised ourselves we would park close to a track rising steeply up the high hill overlooking the estate, and tackle the hill climb.
At this late time of the year, there were no caravans; no tents, and no people... except us.

Tonight we would climb the hill.
A few hundred yards up the track, a sheep fence and gate barred the way. I lazily drove the car up the hill to the fence and parked on to the verge. We secured everything and started up the track with serious intent. However, we had only walked a short distance... just far enough to 'get our puff,' and from nowhere a young sheepdog appeared!

We looked around for its owner and there was no one in sight.
The dog must have escaped from somewhere or was lost.
It seemed friendly and with a bit of persuasion came over to us.
I found its collar was too tight and with the use of a couple of pebbles I managed to bash a looser hole so it could be refitted.
Our animal-protective instincts kicked in and we speculated on what to do!

The nearest house could be a mile or more away... and where?
We knew if necessary we would take it to the RSPCA... but this would involve logistics! The dog was clearly happy to see us. It constantly foraged around but continued to return to us. We decided to walk on for a while and see if it would follow. We looked everywhere to try and see its owner.
We decided if the dog was still with us at the end of the walk we would take it with us to safety.

Up the hill we puffed. Past the huge growing tree stump half way up the hill.
Looking back over the valley and the distant horizon in the late afternoon light the stump made a fantastic shillouette against the crimson dusk sky.

We arrived at the peak of the hill and were greeted by the sight of a huge obelisk marking the highest point.
The dog was still with us. It had found a dead rodent at one point and we had to wait while it greedily chewed it. The dog was hungry. We had nothing to use as a lead and we had no food to offer.
Once, we saw movement just up ahead and spotted deer moving into the tall bracken. The dog had its head to the smells of the ground and didn't notice them at all.
We continued walking. The track dipped toward the following valley and we saw how it curved to the left and made use of the saddle between the hills. It disappeared along the line of the next hill some distance away.

We were in a quandry. We were even further away from civilisation now.
We could see a house on the distant hill. It would be no further to walk toward it than it would be to turn back. There was still some day light and the dog was still bounding about foraging, and using us as its return marker every few minutes. We decided to try and reach the house to make an enquiry.

The track was a lot longer than we thought. We had walked a few miles by now for sure. We would have been pleased to stay on this higher ground to watch the sunset but it was difficult to relax as we became more concerned for the welfare of the dog. If there was no one was at the house we faced the prospect of looking after the dog on the long way back in pitch darkness.

Eventually we arrived on the hill leading toward the house.
The hedges and trees closed in on us from the sides of the road but we were nearly there.

Suddenly the mood was broken by the arrival of headlights and a chugging engine coming up the hill in our direction. I called to Judith to jump clear and signal the driver to stop. I called the dog to me and it obediently allowed me to grab its collar and hold it to the side of the road.

I waved my free hand to the driver and he stopped just a few yards from us. It was a well used off-road 4x4, with blinding lights! We heard the car door and out stepped a countryman. Judith and I both launched into the story of finding the dog.

The odds must have been astronomical! All that way from home on a distant hillside with a stray dog in almost pitch darkness, and the man who just pulled up in a vehicle was the one who lost the dog earlier in the day, miles away.

The dog wasn't even his. He had been minding it for a friend who was visiting from a farm in Wales. The dog was a young sheepdog and he had been searching for it for hours. He was overjoyed and overwhelmed at the coincidence.
In our version we were overwhelmed and overjoyed at the Synchronicity!

We were all happy, including the dog, who was called 'Meg' by the way.
In minutes, man and dog were safely on their way home.

We too began the long walk to our car.
We were well pleased how events conspired to produce the a happy ending. The long way home did not seem so long after all. At the top of the hill the sunset was glorious! Who could have imagined a simple hike would turn out as it did?

PS. Who could have also imagined that 48 hours later we were on a deep forest walk in the Forest of Dean and we rescued another 2 stray Labrador dogs!
But that is another story.

Richard and Judith


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Ross-On-Wye, Herefordshire, United Kingdom
Just a Messenger.. Long term relationship.

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