A Woodsman’s Trail in Darkest London

Woodmans Trail in Darkest London - Times

I found this newspaper article from The Times about an account of a meeting with the legendary Jim Corbett. I think the best bit is about Jim Corbett getting lost in the urban jungle that is London. He forgets the name of his hotel and uses his jungle tracking skills to find his way back. This is how it goes:

On arriving in London Jim Corbett says “I had an evening meal in the hotel but the buildings were so marvellous that I had to go out and see them. However far I went, they were always different; and so I went on until the streets were empty. There was a policeman so I said: “How do I get back to the Hotel?” “We have a good many hotels in South Kensington”, he said, “but if you tell me its name I can probably help you”. “Oh, I never asked the name.” “Well, what street was it in?” “I’m afraid I didn’t ask either”. “I’m no good to you, then, sir; so good-night!”

The first step was easy; it was to walk back as far as I could see from where I had halted. After that I went slowly, picking up one clue after another – perhaps a broken window upstairs, or a shop sign that had for one second reflected a lamp as it swung. The worst place was where a lot of roads met; I think it must have been Piccadilly Circus. I went a little way down each in turn. One seemed to have too steep a slope, so did the next one. One was too short and one had a curve that I couldn’t recognise.

Finally I found my way; my eye picked out a poster that had one corner torn away. Soon I came to another place with four or five roads leading off it, and here I was almost stumped. But somewhere about there had been a narrow gully between two tall buildings, where the wind had blown on my right cheek as I passed. Sure enough, I found the gully, and the wind was now on my left cheek, so I went on. Sometimes I had to go over the ground twice, but I got back to the hotel, with some part of the night still left.”

Click on the article to view a larger copy and read the rest of the account.

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