There’s rain and then there’s rain. It was hammering it down Noah style and we were as drenched as sorry looking rats escaping a sinking ship. Dry sanctuary lay in the town of Blato a mere 500 metres in front of us.
There was only one problem. Someone had removed a chunk of the hillside with a JCB and the road our path was supposed to emerge on to lay 10 feet directly below us. So close and yet so far. This had not been a good walk and it certainly wasn’t getting any better.
It should have been great, but even before the rain turned the world miserable there was something missing. Korcula is a typically beautiful Croatian island known for its vineyards and as being the (hotly disputed) birthplace of one of the greatest travellers ever, Marco Polo.
The route started at the little harbour hamlet of Grscica – a place that could do with investing in a couple more vowels. It was already a grey day and the sea chopped at the harbour, threatening to overrun it. As the only place to park was quite close to the water, there was an immediate concern that the sea might rise up and swallow our hire car. This was a ‘there and back again’ type of route where the ‘there’ wasn’t the easiest place to get to, so we were relying on the car being there when we got back. Plus, trying to explain to the hire company why we parked the car in a place where the sea could grab it didn’t appeal.
The low grey clouds sucking all the colour from the landscape didn’t help the situation. It’s at times like these you realise how much a bit of brightness can make the world around you perk up no end.
The way was uninspirational for a couple of kilometres and overgrown damp grass spitting at the tops of our boots didn’t help. It just didn’t feel right. We’ve walked in grey damp/wet weather before and although it might not make for the greatest walking, when the route is good it doesn’t steal all the pleasure from it. This felt like a narky route, like it didn’t really want to be a walking trail at all.
Things improved as we ascended onto a flat plain where wild flowers and olive groves managed to inject their livelier shades into the monochrome landscape. Ahead, long grasses swayed with purpose before a small fox bounced onto the path and off again so quickly I wasn’t sure if he’d been real.
It was the highlight of the walk.
After that the rain started, accelerating from spit to downpour in 60 seconds – right at the part where the path decided it really didn’t want to be a path at all. We lost precious ‘dry’ time trying to find where it got over its little strop and started behaving again before, as the heavens were breached, it finally crossed its arms, stomped its feet and screamed ‘I’m not going any further’.
For a few moments we stood flabbergasted that the path had simply disappeared. The scene was exactly the same on either side as far as we could see. There was no detouring to a lower section. The only thing to do was to grab a tree root, shimmy down as far as I could and jump.
Now muddy as well as wet, I helped ease Andy down the slimy bank as she followed suit.
Like dirty, drowned rats we squelched our way into Blato and the nearest open bar, a heavy metal haunt which was preparing to be the nearest closed bar. At least it provided temporary warmth and shelter and they didn’t bat an eyelid at our dirty, sodden clothes as we soiled their nice wooden chairs.
After a brief reprieve and the chance to go from sopping wet to just wet, we were back on the puddle-plagued streets till we found further shelter underneath the arches of the town hall. From our dry position we could see Blato looked like it would be a quite pretty town if it wasn’t so wet and miserable.
We scoured the skies, hoping for the slightest lightening of the grey cover above us, but the rain continued to fall with a consistent vigour. We were five kilometres from the car, the rain wasn’t going to let up, there was no local bus and even if we decided to walk back there was a 10 foot high mud wall to negotiate… and the bars were shut.
We’re normally very lucky. Most walking routes we follow are wonderful, sometimes to the point of being inspirational… even when the weather hasn’t been perfect. I mention this walk because the tendency is to always write about the good ones; the ones with a strong or quirky personality and views to wow. And it simply isn’t always like that.
On the other hand, as we stood counting raindrops and hearing a fictional clock tick down the minutes as we pondered how we were going to resolve our not so great state of affairs it reminded us of one of the wonderful things about walking.
Even poor routes can lead to little adventures and challenges. You never know exactly where that path will take you.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+