Sunday - oh beautiful beautiful Sunday - you made my heart sing.
The sun was out and rain stayed away.
There was a lot of smiling happy faces in evidence
And we walked a good walk - a great walk - a heart filling, happy making, wonderful walk.
Not a huge one by any extent, round about 16 km.
We started at the serenely quiet 'Mortuary Church' of Dalehead,
the boys know that I love the architecture and history of churches
and benignly allow me to wander through and look for their quirks
and hidden pagan messages,
their history and the evidence of war and peace,
marks in the stones, scratches in to woodwork
and even in some cases repaired cannon shot!
we turned off the little lane into the fields.
Full of grasses and meadow flowers.
The field rose up and began to fill with woodland,
blocking the view..
Which, when we eventually stepped out of the trees
We followed the reservoir to the dam wall then up and over a small ridge,
back down into farmlands.
Where ancient farm halls still dominate the landscape.
Hammerton Hall has an interesting history.
Along the track, evidence of past agricultural activity
now dormant and forgotten.
We were getting closer and closer to the specific fields I wanted to visit.
Officially called 'unimproved grasslands',
they are herb rich, flower filled meadows untouched
or worked in a modern monoculture style
making them some of the rarest habitats in England.
I was rather giddy with excitement.
And as soon as we stepped through this gate,
the flowers and insects were everywhere.
Swallows, swifts, butterflies and hover flies filled the air
and the meadows were glorious tapestries
of herbs, flowers and grasses.
I may have mentioned I was a little giddy with excitement.
Our walk, which had been a steady mile consuming pace,
had now - as Himself calls it - turned into a cat walk.
Have you ever gone walking with a cat?
They stop, stare, sniff the air,
sit down, watch the insects, listen to the birds,
chase shadows (are you getting the drift of a cat walk?)
This was our walk now!
I may have taken a gazillion photos.....
but I could also be underestimating.
I could have spent all day
immersed in the meadows gentle and beautiful grace,
but in the corner of my eye
I could see Himself very slowly (but not as slowly as me)
reaching the end of the meadows.
we walked through the farm that the fields belonged to,
which in itself was a visual delight.
Especially the kittens who initially vanished through their pop-hole
then curiosity got the better and two came out and stared back at us.
We left via a sunken lane,
huge knurled hawthorns bent over, thickened and aged.
Tall, thick girthed ash with twisted exposed roots
lined the track too.
Through the gate at the top of the lane,
over the field, down into a sharp valley,
turn right by a small stony bridge, and we stumbled
across this ...
With a bit of research once home, we found it was
a Nicholsons hay turner, which was just perfect
for working those ancient meadows.
Our tums were rumbling by now,
so we found ourselves a small gill
out of the breeze for lunch.
Moss threw herself down for a nap.
We ate sandwiches
sitting, deep in grasses and sweet smelling herbs.
Then, through another ancient meadow.
We were not the only ones enjoying the wonderful countryside.
At the end of the fields we stumbled into the quiet village of Slaidburn.
Not always this tranquil,
when our boys were very little,
we were walking through when a long line of noisy motorbikes
thudded through frightening my then tiny little blondies
so much we hid in the post office
and watched the loud and scary beasts trundle through.
But today - it was solemnly quiet.
Back into fields and along tracks
taking in the views
Moss persuaded us to stop
so she could swim
and swim some more.
Then, once she had sated her need to be wet,
she joined us for a brew and a biscuit
She is partial to ginger nut biscuits,
crunching them up and chasing any lost crumbs.
She leant up Eldest's back, making him soggy
as she dozed in the sun.
The sun on our backs,
the views filling our eyes
and our hearts.
Then suddenly, we burst out of a thick wood
and found the lane near the church,
back to the car,
Sunday - oh beautiful beautiful Sunday - I may have already mentioned this
but you made my heart sing.