These trails joined back together 100m later on a dirt road which descended fairly steeply. As this was exactly the surface I’d been looking for, I skipped along it, waving at an elderly lady who walked past me, stooped and bent double, gathering firewood and carrying it on her back. I didn’t think much of this until I saw another lady in a similar carpet dress also gathering firewood. By this time I’d reached a quiet village with many rickety cottages, but no vehicles on the dirt roads. The sign announcing the village was written in Cyrillic script and I realised that I must have crossed the border and left
, now being in the Poland . Ukraine
Nobody had said anything to me, or even noticed my presence, but I felt slightly uneasy and headed back the way I’d come, not meeting anyone at all until back to where we were staying. Describing where I’d been to my father and his cousin, they were shocked and alarmed, because not only had I run out of Poland, but I’d run out of the EU carrying no ID and having no way of contacting anyone if I’d got into trouble. They had always been told that people could be arrested or even shot for approaching the border illegally.
To be honest, I thought this was a bit of scare-mongering, so told my dad that I’d show him exactly where I’d been.
The next morning, we walked back up to the end of the road, and my dad explained that all the signs were warning of the approaching border, and that the stripy posts were indeed border markers – 1 in the red and white of
, and 1 in the blue and yellow of Poland . A car had driven past us as we walked, looped round and sped off. This seemed strange, but when a police car then drove up to us, we realised that we had been spotted and reported. It turns out that it we were going to be arrested and fined for illegally approaching the border, but only some fast talking by my father got us out of it (he also had to prove he had a job in the UK, show his British passport and show that he had previous Ukrainian visas). I could not believe how lucky I had been the day before, so that was the end of my running there! Ukraine