As we continued to climb, it was Caburn who spotted them first: away on the far side of the stream, and fighting their way up over rough terrain with no paths or tracks to help them, a party of four walkers who could only be Challengers, led by a man in a white hat who could only be Andy Howell. So I told Caburn that they had chosen to follow a route through the pinewood plantations rather than follow the road round to Resipole.
They had been walking faster than me, and I had of course spent half an hour or more in the Salen Oakwoods, but they were now well behind us. And for some reason Kipling's poem "The Way Through The Woods" sprang instantly to mind:
They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods,
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate.
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods ...
But there is no road through the woods.