Added July 2021
Having arrived in Portugal in time to enjoy the final day of her holiday, Alice has negotiated a stressful journey home to find the place overrun with mindless, flesh-eating zombies. Typical! It never rains, it pours.
Whilst she's been away, a new Zeta Variant of COVID has been incubating steadily within the UK population. The scientists believe that this variant is responsible for the zombie mutation. To prevent its spread, the whole country has been placed under martial law and the army have set up checkpoints at all the major internal border crossings. An emergency refuge has been set up in the Outer Hebrides (Western Isles), as a sanctuary for the remaining few who have yet to succumb to the Zombie Apocalypse. Unfortunately for the army – and for humanity – they're using an adapted version of Bob's COVID vaccine passport app to manage the intercounty borders. True to form, Bob has made one or two minor errors in the programming, meaning that some extra idiosyncrasies have arisen in the app.
Alice's ferry from Portugal has docked on the Isle of Wight. Can you help her get from there to the Western Isles before her brain gets devoured by ravenous zombies? The rules of the new app are explained beneath the puzzle.
Initially, as on Alice's trip to Portugal, borders need to be crossed in the order red → blue → purple; however, there are now some additional complications to confuse you:
- You must start the maze by following the red border (arrow) between the Isle of Wight and Hampshire; you must finish the maze by following the purple border (arrow) between Highland and the Western Isles.
- The app now has three different modes!
- Forwards Mode: in which the original sequence, red → blue → purple, must be followed.
- Backwards Mode: in which the reverse sequence, purple → blue → red, must be followed.
- Sideways Mode: in which you must always cross borders of the same colour.
- If you are in Forwards Mode or Backwards Mode, then you may also cross gold borders. Gold borders can never be crossed in Sideways Mode.
- Crossing a gold border reverses the sequence of colours, switching between Forwards Mode and Backwards Mode. The new sequence continues from (i.e. the next colour after) the colour of the border you crossed immediately prior to crossing the gold border.
- For example, having started the maze by crossing into Hampshire from the Isle of Wight, you might immediately cross the gold border into Wiltshire. Your last non-gold border crossing was red (Isle of Wight → Hampshire), so the border you cross when you leave Wiltshire will have to be purple, since you have now switched to Backwards Mode. The border after that must be blue, then red, then back to purple again.
- If, whilst in Forwards Mode or Backwards Mode, you reach one of the six counties marked with a gold star – Cornwall, Kent, Norfolk, Shropshire, Tyne & Wear, West Yorkshire – then you immediately switch to Sideways Mode. In this mode, all border crossings you make must be of the same colour as the crossing you made to enter the county with the gold star. If you wish, you may leave the gold star county via the same border that you used to enter it.
- Once you reach a different gold star (i.e. in a distinct county from the one where you switched to Sideways Mode), then you change back to whichever mode you were in before you entered Sideways Mode.
- For example, if you crossed the purple border from Surrey into Kent in Backwards Mode, then you must continue to cross purple borders until you reach any of the other five gold star counties. Let's assume that you eventually reach Shropshire. In this case, you'd switch back to Backwards Mode again and leave Shropshire via a blue border.
- The black Cambridgeshire-Lincolnshire and Leicestershire-Warwickshire borders cannot be crossed in any circumstances.
- Be sure not to overlook any of the very short county borders, such as East Sussex-Surrey and Leicestershire-Staffordshire. It may help to zoom in on the map to see these more clearly.
The rules of this puzzle are quite complicated to explain but quickly become second-nature once you've spent a few minutes navigating around the maze.