A few weeks ago I was just coming out of the yard, when a couple of walkers said “hello”.  This isn’t strange; if I had a pound for every walker who said “hello” or asked a question about the woodstacks or garden, I’d be a rich man. But the male of the pair said “This is a rather unusual question, but do you have a compass I could buy off you?”.   Remembering that we had a spare one hanging in the kitchen, I said “follow me” and we headed back to the house.  When we got there Sue was just coming out and so joined in the conversation.

It turned out that the young couple were just at the start of a 3-4 day walking holiday in the mountains and to save a bit of time had got a taxi from the station to the Car Park just down the road.  They paid off the taxi, shouldered their packs, got out the map and …. “where’s the compass?”.  It had obviously fallen out of the pocket of one of their rucksacks and was now speeding back to Abergavenny.

Now, many people who go walking round here don’t even have a proper map, yet alone a compass, so we immediately warmed to someone so well versed in country navigation.  It turned out that, Roger (as he introduced himself) had always preferred navigating by compass and losing his was a real dampener on their trip.

Feeling good about them, we let them have our spare, on condition they sent it back afterwards.

Well, a couple of weeks then passed and we were beginning to think that we’d never see that compass again.  Then the postman came on Tuesday and handed over a padded envelope.  I knew immediately what it was.   Tearing open the envelope, I found our compass and this lovely hand-written poem…

Moral Compass

One thing I learned when I was young,
was “never lose your compass, son”.
But as Black Mountains loomed ahead
I turned to Mollie and said,
“get her out, our walkers friend”
but in her eyes I saw the end.
“it’s not here, our compass gone”.
Mountains all around, nowhere to don
a new one and all I can think
is “never lose your compass, son.”

On we pressed, not yet defeated
But my sense of humour’s depleted
I can’t believe it
I should have seen it fall
I squall and moan about the route,
without a compass I can’t compute.

But our brief dispute is mended
when we befriended
our first couple of the day.
Ian and Sue, who
with gentle smiles and garden of beauty
kindly lent us a walkers booty.

Couple, garden and cats behind
we left with compass on to find
our bothy at the reservoir.
Over-excited to reserve our
place of sleep for the night,
after such a day of  plight.

But NO, the enemy’s seen ahead
striding on to steal our bed.
Lo and behold, they’re there before,
seeing us they must deplore

But up a mutual chat we strike,
quickly turns friendly and into the night
we drink, reminisce, confide and talk,
simple things after a walk.

This couple for who earlier we had hate
have given us joy into the late
and even gave us the bothy bed
a cosy hut to rest our head.
Such kind people we’ve met today
when it could have ended in disarray.

Ian and Sue, Tim and Lou
this is for people who
look out for others, take time and care.
For you a little poem I can share!

Roger Dipper

Our faith in human nature is restored.  Thank you so much Roger and Mollie and we hope to see you here again sometime – preferably with your own compass!