A sunny September afternoon walking with my sister was the purest pleasure – mixed with a tiny amount of pain from that most annoying occupational hazard, a zingy blister.
Nothing, though, could spoil the joy of hours immersed in sun-drenched countryside in one of the prettiest parts of south Wiltshire.
The terrain was interesting and varied, with a few hills, cool woodland, baking-hot, open fields, narrow paths, village lanes, all of it the very stuff of rural England in the full heat of late summer.
We saw two other people in the whole time we were out: a rider conducting a loud mobile-phone conversation while his horse flicked its ears in contempt, and a man walking towards us through a copse close to our finishing point.
We started at Pitton and followed a map and written directions on a circular route that would take us to Farley and Clarendon Palace before bringing us back on weary legs to where we’d begun five hours earlier.
It was meant to be a six-mile walk. We walked nine miles with several stops, including picnic lunch and a visit to a church, a little blackberrying and a fair amount of “oh, whoops, we’ve gone wrong” doubling-back. We are not good map-readers and we talk so much we rarely stop to read directions.
“I’d planned to go for a run this evening, but I won’t now,” my ultra-fit sister conceded as we trudged up the final hill. “And I won’t be going for my bike ride, either,” I said.
Even we had managed to exhaust ourselves, and that’s saying something.