The Krazy Kowleaze Kanter, 2 July 2017

Article and photo by Helen Abbott.

This was another social Kanter from Cowleaze Wood along the same lines of one held last summer under the auspices of the group's 40th Anniversary celebrations. It was still billed as the Krazy Kowleaze Kanter on the handout, so perhaps the moniker has stuck!

This year's full route was an estimated/ideal 24 miles (my version ended up as 25.2) with 3,500 feet of height gain. Anyone aspiring to do the whole distance in the 8 hours especially navigating on their own (me) should take note that this is almost as far and with more ascent than a typical Chiltern Marathon, and that all the small hesitations of route-finding, clue-finding and more (below) add up to a surprisingly large overhead. The route did though allow for cut-offs to shorter distances which not only improved the chances of getting back in time for cake (and the clue answers) but allowed for coffee on the way!

Just plotting 26 grid references in half an hour and having some idea where the route went was a challenge in itself for the inexperienced.

The jury is probably still out on whether a GPS, a phone, an OS map, or expert local knowledge including a large number of short cuts, is the best method. I had the first 3 and plotted the GRs on the GPS as waypoints. A map may have given a better overview but with the GPS on hand to be more precise over the 8-digit GRs and the clues needing the more finely tuned observation skills. Interestingly though the OS map gave less detail of all the tracks within the nature reserve than the devices' Open Streetmap mapping.

Without blaming this for my out of time finish, I did have one of the more bizarre "What are you doing" conversations en route. A resident very rightly was wondering why on one random Sunday morning a succession of people was rushing along, peering intently into his property looking for something to do with an abandoned boat, scribbling something and then rushing away. I desisted from doing likewise and missed the clue, conveniently concluding that the "Row" in Aston Rowant must be the answer, but almost gave up at that point, only half a mile in.

The resident asked whether we were all on a treasure hunt. I think if I had replied, no this was the KKK, the reaction may have been something different.