Do the South Downs have the slipperiest mud in the UK?

Can you name all fifteen of the UK’s beautiful national parks?

No cheating!

No internet, no maps, can you name them just using your brain.

I can.

Which is weird because I often can’t remember the word for pasta.

That’s my menopause for you!

UK national parks

National parks of course, are far more spiritually rewarding than pasta. They are also usually better for your waistline (unless you get too fond of pub walks).

It’s the pies and sausages, not the beer!

A few weeks ago a lovely friend and I had a marvellous time exploring a small section of the South Downs National Park.

It was about time.

I’ve walked in almost all of the UK’s fifteen national parks but the South Downs National Park had, until then, eluded me. Now I just have the Broads National Park to go.

My favourite national park?

Don’t ask me which my favourite is.

I would have to say Dartmoor National Park because I know it so well but I would happily revisit any of them to walk longer, higher and further. Not that you can walk higher in Wales than to the summit of Yr Wyddfa, and I’ve done that.

But I would give all the UK national parks a prize.

Some prizes might be more generally recognisable than others. For example I would have to give the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park the prize for beautiful beaches. But hope that Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park would be just as pleased with their prize for the best toilet information.

Because toilet information matters.

The Peak District National Park might be surprised to be awarded the prize for most surprising beach location (Kinder Downfall). But I really don’t feel the Lake District National Park could argue with the Fi Darby Prize for Rain.

Which, after this January’s rather wet adventures, it only won because the Cambrian Mountains aren’t in a National Park!

A prize for the South Downs National Park

Back to the South Downs National Park. I’m sure it deserves many prizes. Perhaps for stunning views, long ridges, or even dykes but I didn’t see any of these on my visit because we spent most of our walk in the mist.

It was wonderful though.

To be up so high but so exposed to the sea. I loved the villages, the wooded paths, and the wide areas of grass. But it wouldn’t be those I gave this area a prize for.

I would award the South Downs National Park the Fi Darby Award for Most Slippery Mud.

I’m not sure if there is a national competition for slippery mud but perhaps there should be. With it’s bogs, Dartmoor tends to offer more sink than slip, so I don’t think it would win. I’ve seen mud in the Cairngorms but more often rocks and grass. I’ve slipped over in the Brecon Beacons but there was snow on that occasion.

I wonder if all muds are made equal.

If mud is a mixture of soil particles and water, can we presume that some muds are more slippery than others? For example, do we use clay to make pots because it’s slippery or because it’s not?

There’s the cohesion to consider.

And that’s as far as my physics knowledge on the topic is currently able to go. Physics is a complicated business, so please feel free to enlighten me.

If you don’t, I’ll have to rely on my own ridiculous theories.

Fi’s Mud Theory One

The South Downs chalk is more slippery than the dark peat of Dartmoor because it’s a lighter colour.

Fi’s Mud Theory Two (I had some help with this one)

The South Downs chalk isn’t actually slippery. It’s just so sticky it fills all the tread on your boots, turning them into short skis.

Fi’s Mud Theory Three

The South Downs chalk is slippery, and that’s because it’s made out of sea creatures. We all know how slimy they can be.

Whatever the answers. Whoever the prize winner. I do know that I was both intrigued and impressed by the South Downs National Park.

Sliding the South Downs National Park

Even the comedy mudslide path through the woods.

I think my performance was actually quite good. I didn’t make too much fuss. I found the mud-weighted boots amusing rather than annoying (honestly they were so much heavier than usual). More importantly, I didn’t fall over.

I think the yoga helped with that.

Not mud yoga you understand. Although now I’ve said that, it sounds appealing. No, I mean that all the yoga I’ve been doing is improving my confidence and balance. More proof that there’s a connection between walking and yoga.

Which is going help if I decide to dedicate my life to mud research.



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