The sun was out!
After a period of unsettled weather, the sun shone across the countryside, highlighting the fells and valleys. There was a chill in the air first thing, so The Dog and I waited and had our lunch before heading out.
We parked in the little hamlet of Wrayton in Lancashire and armed with an OS map, we walked through the village to a footpath on the left. It was a narrow, slightly overgrown path – a garden fence on one side and shrubs on the other. Trees had grown on the path, so we had to skirt round them. The garden fence gave way to a field of sheep and shortly after, we clambered over a stile to join them.
We strolled across the field, The Dog ignoring the sheep who watched us warily. Suddenly The Dog barked and a few of the sheep skitted off. Feeling pleased she barked again, despite me remonstrating her. Between us, we managed to spook the sheep and they all took off en masse down to the other end of the field. The Dog wore a very satisfactory look on her face.
We came to a gate and steps in the corner of the field and were burped out by the A683, next door to the road bridge under which the River Greta flowed. A short walk to the footpath opposite, down steep stone steps, a quick check for livestock and The Dog was unleashed. She galloped off straight into the river for a paddle. It was still high and fast flowing after the recent rains. We strolled along a low embankment, following the river on its way to join the River Lune. The Dog was very happy, a big grin on her face. The sun was now quite warm and I was regretting wearing my jacket. It was a beautiful autumn day.
We turned an abrupt left and came up to a stile. I consulted the map – straight ahead. The path went through a small corpse of trees, but on the ground, there was no defining track. It was a mass of mounds and dips. I headed into the general direction, looking for some sort of sign. We headed towards a fence in the distance and ended up on the edge of a rather soggy area. The sun was directly in my eyes. I was juggling a dog lead, a map, my glasses had steamed up whilst on my head, keeping one eye on the dog and squinting at the scene ahead of me. I caught sight of a railway viaduct which we needed to be heading towards as well as a stile. I squelched across the bog, and realised the stile wasn’t actually a stile, but a random piece of fencing and impossible to clamber over. I wandered to the left – nope, there were cows there, so wandered the other way where the path (and The Dog) plunged into a deep body of water. The field in front of us was being liberally sprayed with muck.
I was getting cross and frustrated. Muttering, I declared to The Dog that we were going to retrace our steps and return to the car. I tiptoed across the boggy bit and clambered back up the little bank, where I found a faint path worn into the grass heading to the right. I looked at the map again. I realised then that I shouldn’t of crossed the boggy bit and kept to this side and I was actually focussed on the wrong section of viaduct as well, which hadn’t helped. I followed the path feeling rather silly and it suddenly all made sense. “As you were” I declared to The Dog who rolled her eyes and peed on a nettle.
We popped into a lane lined with hedges. It was heavily used by tractors and other farm vehicles as there were deep ruts where the wheels had sunk deep into the mud. It was still very muddy. My foot sunk deep in the quagmire and there was a brief struggle as it hung onto my boot before I managed to yank it out. I tried to walk on the grassy section, but that was uneven , narrow and gloopy too. It was a bit of a slog. I was glad I had my proper walking boots on.
It was halfway down this lane when I remembered that I had walked this way before. About 4 years ago, this area suffered a lot of flooding. Hubby and I went for a walk one day with The Dog and our daughter’s Spaniel and ended up on this lane. It was full of water, totally flooded. Hubby ended up clinging onto the hedge as he took the edge of the lane. I waded through with my wellies with a stick poking the ground, hoping I wouldn’t disappear down a hole, The Dog was up to her chest in water and the Spaniel just swam. The dogs loved it, leaping around, creating bow waves which crashed against my wellies and threatened to overflow into my shoe. It took us ages to walk through it.
The Dog and I heard a cow moo from the other side of the hedge, and a sound of hooves as cows trotted alongside us. At a gap in the hedge, they slithered to a halt and stared at us as we stared back at them. The Dog woofed and they took a collective step backwards. Then one barged forwards again. They were inquisitive, but skittish. We carried on and the cows followed, chasing us to the next gap. They were comical.
We left our new friends, and went under the railway (ahh, our viaduct) and walked up towards the village of Melling. We patted two horses who had their heads over the gate and walked to the main road. We strolled a few yards and turned off the main road, down a little lane lined with houses and big gardens. We passed the little village school looking for the green lane. We passed a patch of grass in front of a large garden wall which had a sign. “Private Land – no right of way”. I frowned. How territorial. How snobby. It even had white painted rocks on the edge. It reminded me of a little sign stuck in a plant planter in a nearby town “please do not let your dog wee on my planter”. Oh for goodness sake. But then I changed my judgment. It’s not nice having dogs wee up your stuff and perhaps these poor residents had found people picnicking on their land or unwanted cars parked on it. Perhaps they had no choice but to defend it because of other people’s thoughtlessness. I quietly apologised to them and headed on.￼
We followed a tarmac lane before turning off into a field, climbing uphill. On the brow, a wonderful view of the Barbon Fells and up towards the Howgills. It just glowed in the sun. Just gorgeous.
The Dog discovered pheasants in the field and gave chase. She got yelled at, but not before she managed to get them airborne. She went back on the leash as we went into a woodland surrounded by high fencing. Initially I thought it was where pheasants were raised, but think it was deer proof fencing for this little wood. At first I thought it was full of conifers – those dark, dank, creepy trees that overwhelm everything and creak loudly, but it was a mixture of trees and was reasonably pleasant. A bit agoraphobic, but I was too busy watching where my feet went. The Dog, still excited by the pheasants, was on red alert and was keen to seek them out. She was forgetting I was on the end of her leash and didn’t have her four paws or lower centre of gravity for stability. I slithered, squeaking in alarm, through the mud and slime a few times, berating The Dog. It was like waterskiing.￼
We left the little wood behind and strolled along another little lane, with puddles and mud that didn’t look deep, but was. I followed The Dog and watched how far she sunk. We dropped back into Wrayton, opposite where we started. We read the Parish noticeboard before walking back to the car, feeling quite pleased with ourselves. We had found a rather pleasant circular walk (now we knew where we were going) and it would be one we would do again – when it had dried out!