I’m having a busy week. I’ve got far too much to do to take a day out walking with friends.
Except that on Tuesday when I woke up, the sun was already bright and the sky was clear. We haven’t had days like that in a while. And John, who always knows a good walk, had planned to take us near Thruscros Reservoir. The jobs could wait.
Here’s the reservoir, offering a home to wildlife, and panoramic views to us, while supplying clean water to the population of Leeds.
We walked through woodland and through Daleside pasture with moorland views beyond.
And at lunchtime, we found a sunny drystone wall to rest our backs against as we picnicked. The local sheep were interested. Picnics mean tasty snacks, perhaps. They organised a mass silent and peaceful demonstration for food. We resolutely ignored them, and finally they mooched off to nibble at their pastureland once more.
The morning had been all uphill, which meant the afternoon was all downhill (well done, John!). Soon we were at the reservoir again. A fine day’s walking was had by all. And my jobs remain uncompleted.
Since writing my last post, I’ve discovered that my friend Janet Willoner has written a wonderful piece describing a murmuration of starlings, in Melissa Harrison’s equally wonderful anthology ‘Winter’. Here’s the link.
I love Colsterdale. It may be my favourite Yorkshire dale. It’s an isolated area, tucked away, north-west of Masham. Not a single main road goes through it. There are no traffic jams here, just local cars (4x4s are useful), vans and tractors.
There are routes though. Ancient routes forged as long ago as the 14th century, when there was a long-gone coal mine here, or more recently by stockmen driving their flocks over the harsh moorland landscape. These days, it’s hikers and ramblers who are more likely to use these tracks. Perhaps they’re completing the Six Dales Trail, or finding out the history of the Leeds Pals. Perhaps, like us, they’re enjoying a walk from Leighton Reservoir, and enjoying long distance views of Scar House Reservoir.
I felt stuck. In my head, I rummaged through my photo collection. I discarded foggy moody atmospheric mornings like this one. I rejected bright summer meadows and crisp snowy winter walks as not quite projecting the ambience I want to think about on this dismal January day.
Here’s what I’ve chosen. It’s an image that’s more than six years old now, but it sums up much of what we loved best about our years in France.
Our walking group had played its part in organising a walk for ramblers from all over the region. We’d arranged signage, helped sponsors set up their stall, marshalled the event, walked ourselves, and handed out certificates at the end before the visiting walkers departed. Now we could relax.
Here we are in the mediaeval town square in Mirepoix, unwinding over a good and copious meal with plenty of wine. The sun is shining. The afternoon stretches lazily ahead of us. We’re among friends. This is an ambiance chaleureuse at its finest.
Google spiders’ webs and you’ll find any number of scientific articles celebrating the resilience of the silken strands that spiders produce Not only is the silk stronger than steel, it’s springy and elastic. The design of the web ensures that even when a strand is broken, the overall formation remains sound.
I found a spider’s web on a recent cold and frosty morning. By rights such a delicate structure should have collapsed under the weight of its coating of thick icy rime. It hadn’t. It’s the perfect candidate for this week’s WordPress photo challenge: resilient.
And here are a few more shots from a cold and frosty morning in North Yorkshire:
On Christmas day I posted a scene from our days living in the Ariège. I felt very nostalgic for the Pyrenees, for snowy peaks silhouetted against clear blue skies, for cold clear air.
Today gave me the chance to remember that our countryside, though so very different, has its own charms and pleasures. We walked from nearby Masham and past the gravel pits of Marfield, now home to water birds of every kind: though only Canada geese and a few proud swans got a look in this morning.
We passed stands of ancient oaks, saw stark lines of skeletal trees marching along the horizon, watched the sky turn from Pyreneen blue to moody grey and purple then back to cheerful blue again. Sheep in late pregnancy cropped the short grass. We stopped to chat with fellow walkers walking off a calorie-laden Christmas. The River Ure was never far away. A pretty good morning’s work, actually.
It’s said that if you walk every inch of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, all 186 miles of it, you’ll have climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest. I can believe it. No sooner have you climbed one limestone cliff than you’re plunging down towards a bay; up again to a volcanic headland; down again to an estuary, or to a beach frequented only by seals and seabirds.
We didn’t do all 186 miles when we were there two summers ago. But we did enough to know that after a hard climb in bright sunshine with the wind behind us, we’d truly relax when we threw ourselves onto the springy turf to catch our breath and enjoy the seascape spread before us.
This week’s challenge is to respond to the word ‘relax’. Look here to see more posts.