The satisfactions of an unsatisfactory walk

I haven’t been on a ‘proper’ walk yet this year.   First it was the ‘flu, and its aftermath.  Then it was rain or snow on the days when I might have been free to get out for a blow in the breezy cold.  And finally it’s the mud.  Mud’s the one that gets me every time, despite having been given a wonderfully efficient pair of walking gaiters among my Christmas presents.  I find it frustrating, pulling my boots from an oozing, slippery, sticky slick of mud only as a preparation for sliding into the next soupy puddle .  It makes for slow walking on days when briskly striding out is what’s needed to combat the cold.

So today, keen to get out for at least an hour or so, and equally keen to avoid That Mud, I ended up on a star-shaped walk. I turned back down every path I started, and ended up doing a zig-zag circuit beyond the edges of the village.

Young kestrel feeding
Young kestrel feeding

I started off by looking for the young kestrel I’ve come across on a couple of days this week.  I had first spotted him in a field near our house, dismembering and eating some small creature just 6 feet away from where I stood staring at him.  He flapped off crossly to a nearby wall when he considered I’d got too close, and it was on this wall I saw him the next day too.  Today he wasn’t there.  I think there were too many dogs out walking their owners.

Beatswell Woods with extra water.
Beatswell Woods with extra water.

Then I went down into Beatswell Woods.  I hoped for buds on the trees, or a few early flowers, but it was wet and wintry still.  Then I walked to the fields, thinking I’d choose one of the paths there to take me in a big sweep round the edge of the village.  No go.  All the paths were muddy, and the horse I stopped to chat to had pretty filthy socks too.  Though there was this rowan, with golden honey coloured berries instead of the more usual red.

Rowan berries against a chilly blue sky.
Rowan berries against a chilly blue sky.

At the village ponds, the drakes and ducks ran fussily up to greet me, hoping for crusts.  When they saw I had nothing, the drakes returned, like a bunch of fourth formers, to teasing and irritating the only couple of  females in the group.

Drakes and ducks hoping for crusts.
Drakes and ducks hoping for crusts.

But it was near the ponds that I had my second sighting of daffodils this year, so very early.  Surely they should wait until the crocuses have put themselves about?  But the crocuses are only just poking the tips of their leaves above the soil, and don’t plan on coming out yet.

Daffodils by the pond.
Daffodils by the pond.

Returning to the woods, I saw the snowdrops.  Isolated patches a couple of weeks ago, now they’re in magnificent great white drifts climbing the hillsides, nestling under trees, even risking everything by straggling across the (muddy) paths.

Drifts of snowdrops in the woods.
Drifts of snowdrops in the woods.

A bit of a curate’s egg of a walk then.  A few frustrations, quite a few pleasures, but a healthy glow on my cheeks, and, just before I came into the house, another treat.  All these aconites, pushing up their bright yellow faces through the soil, bringing with them hopes of Spring.

Aconites near the back door.
Aconites near the back door.

 

16 thoughts on “The satisfactions of an unsatisfactory walk”

  1. I hate mud too! But tomorrow we are heading to Jervaulx Abbey – there’s a good path that goes right through the park (with a side visit to the Abbey). It might be a there and back walk but we won’t get muddy!

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  2. …….daffodills already, how beautiful – splendid pictures – as always, got great pleasure to read your adventures – all the very best, annaxx

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  3. How absolutely amazing to see daffodils in mid-January! Has N. Yorkshire got more than its share of global warming to you think? Haven’t yet seen a single snowdrop here in London.

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    1. I’m a bit puzzled by the daffodils too, though they are isolated examples. Mainly, you can see the top inch of leaves poking through. But snowdrops – I always think of them as a just-after-Christmas flower, so where have yours got to?

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  4. Looks like you had a lovely ramble – why are your spring flowers so early? I heartily agree with you about mud, I’m really getting terribly bored with it now and am sure it’s responsible for the amount of dust in our house. Nothing to do with my lack of effort at house keeping…

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    1. The daffodils are jst freaks of nature I think, but snowdrops have appeared right on cue. I keep trailing mud into the house my accident and I haven’t even got a dog as an excuse. And I’m not a great housekeeper either.

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  5. Greetings from crisp and sunny Bradford, hope it’s the same where you are. Still no snowdrops in E Sussex but I have got two camellia flowers!

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      1. I now have snowdrops but in tight bud. Can’t believe the daffodils. You say freak of nature I suspect plastic!!!!!!! I spent my formative years in Yorkshire so I know what it’s like.

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  6. Thanks for introducing me to aconites – lovely little blooms. Looks like a great walk to me, especially since you avoided the mud. They say there’s a real problem with flowers blooming at erratic times over the past years – they’re not there for the insects that might be around and depend on them later and then the insects aren’t there for the migrating birds.

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    1. Yes, nature really is topsy-turvey at the moment. And you’re right, if it’s unsettling for us, how much more so for the wildlife which is all so inter-dependent. Oh yes, I love my aconites. I’m glad they appeared on cue.

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