Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Walk In The Countryside

After my 7 mile walk out in the countryside yesterday, I wanted to do most of it again today and take some photos along the way.

All my walks have to start by going through my estate (or subdivision as the Americans would say) and most houses are very pretty now with the lawns and flower borders bursting with spring colour.
This is the time I build up my pace from my starting pulse rate of about 60 to around 75 as it's totally on the flat so not very taxing.

After 10 mins, I'm on the edge of the countryside and onto a lovely lane which goes past a golf course. There are a few upscale houses on the right side of this lane with electronic gates to keep out all but invited visitors.

After only a few hundred yards, the houses end and it's pure countryside. It's not uncommon to see wild rabbits scurrying across this lane and at this time of year I love the smells as well as the sights and sounds - newly cut grass being the strongest smell at this early point of the route.

20 minutes into the walk, the lane splits one of the local golf courses with signs warning walkers, cyclists and even drivers to stop and check for members who could be teeing off from the right of the lane.

Considering I only do this walk when the weather is dry and pleasant, I'm amazed that I've still to be stopped by any golfer being anywhere near the hole that the lane crosses. Maybe it's not a very busy golf course during the day.

After passing the golf course, the lane pushes deeper into the countryside and the sounds become richer and more sustained.

Often the trees on each side meet in the middle and form a green canopy which allows some welcome shade on a warm sunny day like today.

There are a few farms along the lane which have long since ceased being farms in the real sence and have been modernised and become very attractive and exclusive residences. All are stone built, of course, and blend in well with the scenery.

I had a bonus today when I came upon a field that in the past was just that - an empty field. Today it was hosting that most English of games, a cricket match.

I waited for a bit of action - which isn't easy - and the photo shows the bowler hurling the ball towards the batsman. The bowler is the one with his right leg still off the ground. Hard to see I know but it WAS a fair distance away and the camera is let down by having a pathetic zoom.

But no time to spend watching cricket..................

The lane meanders on getting further and further away from what I'd call 'civilisation'. There are no car noises, no construction noises and the peace and quiet are only broken by birdsong and the movements of the tree branches.

I usually stop the MP3 player and just walk for a while taking in the sounds of the countryside. It's very relaxing and makes the walk even more enjoyable.

At this point in my walk, about 25 minutes timewise, the paved path becomes an even narrower path - just wide enough for a car but only just.

Thankfully few drivers would risk using this path because as well as being very narrow, it also leads down to a main road and it's a very dangerous entrance/exit. You'd be risking a serious accident by trying to go out onto the road. As a result, I've almost always got the path to myself.

After crossing the main road, my route takes me down to the local reservoir. It's not the most photogenic place in the world but it continues the mood of peace and quiet as cars are not allowed around it - although that doesn't stop a few from trying.

It's an oasis of calm and beauty so close to the bustling city and is a favourite place for cyclists and joggers. It gets it's fair share of wildlife and today there were a few cute ducks enjoying a paddle to keep cool.

And then it's back into the real countryside and the farms and animals that you'd expect to see. I came upon this little family group in the trees and although the lambs were quite old, they were still cute - especially the one with the black eye. I think I'll call it Jenny !!! Hope it's female.

They're not the easiest of critters to get close to and if a lamb did stray from the group and come closer to me, mom would give a warning bleat and Jnr would scamper back to the fold.

It's still best to find a mom and one single lamb. Somehow it has a feel of being 'just right'.

This little fella had just had a good old drink and was happy to pose for the photo. You can see that mom is still keeping a wary eye on me and I knew that any sudden movement on my part and they'd both be off.

It was quite hot by now and mom was shaking a bit under her woolly coat. She's ready for shearing and will certainly feel a lot better for it.

Up till now, I'd been on lanes and paths which cars COULD drive along but few do. From this point onwards, my route involved taking one of thousands of public bridleways which allow serious ramblers and weekend walkers to see some of the most beautiful parts of our country.

Many of these bridleways are actually farm paths but are exclusively for walkers and mountain bikers. In different parts of England they take you through forests and dales, valleys and mountains and even along coastal routes.

This one just took me past farm fields but that was fine too.

I'd taken much longer to get to this point today as I'd been stopping to take photos but when I walked non stop yesterday, it took me 50 mins of brisk walking to get here.

To make it a full hour yesterday, I walked on for another 10 mins before turning round and walking home to make a total of 7 miles in exactly 2 hours. Not a route to do too often, but once a week would be good.

I came upon loads of whin bushes (officially called furze) which are often called gorse bushes. These bushes flower from March - August and the bright yellow buds have a strong coconut smell and as I love that smell, I love whin bushes.

They will always remind me of my childhood in N. Ireland as I spent a lot of those years on relatives farms so whin bushes were everywhere. They are found in remote areas with dry soil and that's where my route had taken me.

And so I came to the field of friendly cows from yesterday. They weren't near the fence when I got there, but a few whistles and claps brought them running towards me as they are such inquisitive creatures.

I liked this one in particular as I'm a sucker for a big pair of eyes and even a white face doesn't put me off. I also liked her choice of ear accessories -very fetching.

Once again they all let me stroke their heads but many of them were dribbling and oozing drool and so that's as much touching as I wanted to do.

I also liked the colour of this one although he (the little horns were a giveaway) wasn't impressed with my opening greeting of 'how now, brown cow' ? The humour went over it's head I fear.

I think there were nine of them in total and at one point they were all lined up facing me waiting their turn to be petted - very cute. If only they knew how much I really like them - medium rare with a baked potato - i'm sure they'd not have been so happy to be close to me !!!

And that was as far as I went today. I headed back and tried to take a few more photos of the sheep but my camera battery ran out and I took that as a sign to get off home. I'd had the makings of a blister about 20 mins after I set off so I decided not to take the same route back and this meant I walked 5.7 miles instead of 7.

It was still enough and almost 13 miles in 2 days is good for me. My feet are sore so I'll probably take the bike if it's nice tomorrow. Think the cows will miss me ?


jen said...

You had such vibrant pictures and descriptions that I feel I was almost there with you! Thank you for sharing!!!

Faewren said...

Beautiful! I only wish I had someplace as lovely to walk. Thank you for sharing. I especially enjoyed the country lanes lined with greenery and of course the sheep, and the white faced cow was precious!

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