I’d like to share with you my independent mountain walking experience at the end of July last year. Daytime temperature was well above 30º but I was itching to try a new walking route so I waited until very late afternoon before setting off up the mountain from Devils Bridge. At first it seemed ever so easy, the well-worn path winding gradually up the mountain that overhanging trees dappled in sunlight. Butterflies flitted alongside me, resting briefly on a variety of wild flowers and birds twittered in the canopy. I could hear small mammals scurrying in the undergrowth as I passed by and saw lots of wild mushrooms. Walking is a great time to think and concentrate on yourself and your immediate surroundings. I was really enjoying exploring new ground and what lay around the corner as I zigzagged up the mountain.
Further up the track began to get steeper and the terrain more challenging, with rocky sections, patches of stinging nettles, fallen trees and shallow streams. I was glad I had waited until it had cooled down as I certainly perspired a bit! The air smelt so clean and I stopped at a water feature to refresh myself and fill up my water bottle with pure mountain spring water Having these stone built watering holes stationed along the track is wonderful. As I climbed, the sun began to dip in the sky and the bullfrogs got louder.
Finally I reached the road that leads to our village. There is no light pollution in the Rhodope Mountains. The remote houses are dotted far apart and the village street lights are few and far between. I was near the top of the mountain and had a clear view across the mountains and saw so many galaxies I lost count. The sun had disappeared over the mountain crest to be replaced by a billion stars. I’d never seen so many and so bright. The moon was hiding that night but the stars lit the way and I only needed my torch when the lane snaked behind clusters of trees. It was so peaceful, a wonderful night to feel a million miles from anyone and to cap it all, Lee rounded the corner in his wagon just as I arrived at the rendezvous point and on the drive home we saw our first wild boar. She was huge, taller than the bonnet of our 4×4 and she glanced over her shoulder at us as she casually trotted ahead for a while and then disappeared into the hedgerow. Magical!
I am gradually mapping out walks as I explore them. You can find out more about the independent walking holidays we offer at http://www.melanya.com/independent_walking_holidays.html