We took the dogs for a bit of a walk in Tilgate forest today and I got a chance to experience a phenomenon that Jayne told me about last week. I don’t think her description did it justuce, but I don’t think any description could. I think you have to see it for yourself.
As you can imagine, it is a bit muddy and boggy generally in the woods and with the lack of foliage and the number of trees blown down this year it is sometimes difficult to recognise where you are, despite having walked the same paths many times. All of that makes it a bit dis-orienting anyway, but one particular path just seems un-natural.
Last week Jayne described it as feeling like the whole ground was moving as you walked along it, which was a bit scary in itself. And then Noche suddenly sank into it right up to his chin and she thought she was going to lose him, then when she went to try and haul him out she thought she was going to sink. That really does sound like something to avoid – so I had to go and have a look at it for myself.
The best way I can describe it is that it felt like walking on a giant custard with a thick skin on it. On one specific part of one path, when you put your foot down, the surface sinks a little and you can see it rising up everywhere around in slow ripples. The feeling is a bit like if you run up those rubber escalator ramps at Charles De Gaulle airport, except more scary. The sensation is strange but that annoying part of your mind with an imagination throws up a mental image of a couple of metres of liquid underneath that you would plummet into if you broke the surface. I’m sure it isn’t that bad, but you just worry that it might be.
No doubt someone who know about the geology of the are, or just geology generally, would be able to say what is going on, though a scientific explanation might spoil the experience.
If anybody wants to try it for themselves, it is near where there is a crossroads near the new Go Ape facility. There is a sort of totem pole there and a map of the forest. The dodgy path is the one that runs towards the west (I think. Away from the motorway anyway). Enjoy, but perhaps take a friend with a mobile phone just in case