10 things that are horribly awkward

1 Sharing a dorm with strangers

Either it’s the little guy who snores like King Kong, the smell of unfamiliar sweat, or being in shifty proximity to someone you don’t know when they’re at their clammiest, but a cosily shared domicile always spawns a quiet plummet of dread. And the guaranteed smacked-puppy squeak the door makes for every inch of its swing means that you’ll have to ration yourself to two pints before bed, or hold it. All night.


2 The Lake District

Remember that old biology lesson fact about the tennis-court lassoing length of the uncoiled small intestine? The Lake District road system is a bit like that, too. It’s the only explanation as to why the flying-crow-friendly distance from the M6 to Wasdale is by road roughly equal to the circumference of Mars.


3 Browsing a gear shop when you don’t really want anything

Gear shop staff are good: they could sell a Gore-Tex jacket to a conger eel. Which makes it all the more difficult to extract yourself from the worrying pile of boots, socks, gaiters, jackets, base layers and insoles expertly tailored to you by a discount-dangling salesperson without fessing up that you only came in to kill time while your other half had their hair done. Best just pay the £670 and be done with it.


4 Pronouncing a Scottish mountain name to a local

This is it. Your chance to display your prowess as a regional chameleon, and gain eyebrow-raising respect as you effortlessly convey the enunciation equivalent of a Sudoku puzzle in a few casually drawled syllables. Which makes it all the more crushing when in response, you receive a sweetly patient smile, a shrug, a pen and a piece of paper. And a tissue.


5 Trying to remove waterproof  trousers without taking your boots off

It’s remarkable the extremes to which human laziness will completely ignore logic. Try to remember this the next time you’re sitting on the floor, legs swimming in front of you with your sweat-glistened trousers hanging inside-out off your Scarpa Mantas. Well, it’s the clothing equivalent of trying to get a sofa through a cat flap – what did you expect?

 6 Attempting to make a flagging walker feel better

"Yeah, the first bit’s always the most knackering."
"No, I am tired, honest. I was born without any sweat glands on my head, see..."
"That’s OK, slow and steady is good. Yeah, it’s supposed to be that colour."
 "Course we can stop. It’s good to have a rest every, um, four minutes or so."
"Here. You can lean on my walking pole for a bit."
Beyond this, just shrug and smile. Otherwise it’ll start to become embarrassing.


 7 Trying to add 15m contour lines under pressure

15...30....45...um...65...70...85...no, hang on, that can’t be right. 15...30...45...um...


8 Climbing over a gate

Why is it that hill gates are always rusty, slanted horrors with more gaps than a rugby player’s teeth? And why won’t they open for love or money, but twitch around like a rodeo bull whenever you’re straddling them? Which is usually the moment you discover with shrill horror that some sadistic chucklehead has lined the top rung with barbed wire...


9 Disagreeing with your mate’s navigation decisions

A delicate moment that - if handled clumsily - could result in the sulk from hell. So banish the phrases “dude, you’re wrong”, “it’s obvious, see?” and “north is over there, stupid” and instead use the all-encompassing, map-snatching phrase “give us a butcher’s at the map for a sec, Roy” and quietly assume control of the situation. While making a mental note to never again trust Roy with so much as a mug of tea.


10 Trying to re-fold an OS map

Or: trying to locate the correct combination of creases out of a possible 30,000 that will guarantee the thing doesn’t spring apart like a concertina’d napkin the second you put it down. With the added pressure that if you botch it up, you’ll have probably reverse-ironed the creases that were there in the first place and knackered it good and proper.


More: 10 things...

...that camping brings
...that demand respect
...that are extremely distressing
...that define a walker's winter
...that defy explanation
...every adventurer needs
...to always remember