WALKING TYPES No. 2:
Two Ladies with Walking Sticks
There are always two of them. One is short and chubby, the other tall and thin. They never walk very far or very quickly, but they always have a simply splendid time.
You're a bit worried about broken hips and having to call out the big yellow helicopter when you see them dithering about on the stepping stones at the start of the path, but three hours later there they are, creeping their way over the wee snow field to get to the col and the summit ridge. 'I think if you were just to hold my stick at this point, Martha. And perhaps give me a little push...' and then a fit of the giggles in a slightly dodgy position in the middle of the snow, because they're using four steps someone has kicked to get up the last bit, and Martha's legs are so short she would really need six steps to make it comfortable.
They wear quilted anoraks which look about as waterproof as toilet paper, and often have bobble hats which have surprising things written on them, like 'Eiger Nordwand' or 'Patagonia '73'. They have stout tweed trousers with turn-ups, or moleskin breeches and red socks. Their walking sticks have horn handles carved in the shape of animal heads, or are four feet long with a thumb notch at the top.
They stop frequently, and drink tea from a tartan thermos flask, sometimes using proper china mugs with 'World's Best Gran' written on them. They have brought rain-hoods in case of showers, and they own the last two Pac-a-Macs in the world.
And you find them again, at the end of the day, as you totter down off the Horns of Alligin. The short, chubby one has her boots and socks off, and is steeping her feet in the burn. The tall, thin one is making careful, copperplate notes in her diary. They are giggling like schoolgirls. 'Oh, no,' they say, 'Just the first one. We looked across at the other one, you know, the proper top, but we said No, and we had a nice long seat and a look at the lovely view, then came back down the same way. Have you had a nice day? We have. We've had such a lovely day.'
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