Coming home after work early afternoon, I realised what a glorious day it was. After days of rain, wind and wall to wall cloud, I was going to make the most of it.
I grabbed a startled dog from her sleep and we headed out. The colours were gorgeous – there were big fluffy clouds that cast deep shadows across the hills that contrasted with the bright sunshine, the contours of the fells starkly defined. I love days like these.
It was the first real hint of Spring, despite it being early February . Everything seemed bright and fresh. We parked by the bridge near the River Greta in Burton and walked along the single track road. I kept stopping to admire Ingleborough and the Dales. The Dog was not impressed with this stop/starting lark – even though I have to on her investigative sniffing. I didn’t care. I realised, after months of gloom, that I had forgotten to look and observe. (Hood up, head down watching for puddles).
I started noticing all sorts. We turned off down towards Clifford Hall, a huddle of houses and down to the fabrication site. Here The Dog gathered pace as the woods were just around the corner and there were squirrels to seek. There were good views of the village and Dales beyond. The Dog ran around unsuccessfully while I stood and looked. The remains of a tall tree trunk riddled with holes – obviously where woodpeckers came to hone their pecking skills. Another tree, weak and feeble, toppled by wind and gently caught and held by its fellow neighbours. They almost spoke “hey don’t worry, we’ve got you”.
The wood, though in shadow, dark and damp, was quite green with moss draped over trees, branches, rocks and gate posts. It was quite vivid. In amongst it all, was clumps of snowdrops. I was really looking. We normally walk the same way in but today I had reversed it and it seemed a completely different world.
Then I despaired. Man had put his ugly hand in and some one had dumped a machine of some kind in. It had been there for years, rusted and crumpled, nature gradually eating it. But it was still an eyesore, in its bed of brown leaves and woodland debris.
The Dog and I carried on until I spotted something perched high in the woods. I had never seen it before and wondered why I hadn’t. It looked like an electrical sub station, from a distance, surrounded by high metal railings, but was in such a ridiculous spot. I clambered up, slipping and sliding, expecting to fall on my bum in a muddy mess. As we approached the railings, I realised the signs weren’t all about danger of death, but of a hole in the ground. The wood is full of little quarries and is known as a small local coal mining area many years ago. It must of been one of the shafts. I could see why it was cordoned off, hidden in the undergrowth. I could imagine people disappearing down it like Alice in Wonderland! There were no other signs to tell you it’s history which was a shame. The wood is owned by the Woodland Trust and thought they would be more forthcoming. The railings looked pretty recent – maybe that’s why I had only just spotted it. It was intriguing.
We slithered back down – well I did. The Dog with four paw drive made it look easy, watching me grab branches and making ungainly noises. She seems to shake her head in amazement like Gromit. Back on the path, we sauntered back, stopping to admire and take photos.
The church hoved into view, perched high on the hill in the village. About 5 years ago, it had its spire completely reroofed with larch. For about a year, it had this gorgeous deep copper colour that glowed and could be seen for miles. It was fantastic. But now it has weathered in and lost its glory, but it’s still an imposing building.
The sun was gradually sinking and the air turning cold. It had been a great afternoon of wandering around and finding unexpected things. We sauntered reluctantly back to the car and drove slowly home, watching the glorious colours change as the sun slid behind the horizon.