A year on, the walk up Horsehold Road felt like even harder work than I remembered! I noted new bollards along the way. We took the small path to the crucifix (a new one this year) and paused a while for views over the valley. We then carried on along the small path, muddy in places. A couple who had passed by earlier, came back the opposite way clutching a guide book. I asked if they were lost. They said they were looking for a climbing rock.
We continued on into the wood, noticing strange dried fungi on a fallen tree (where a year ago I had spotted a growth that looked like a head. Further on, we surveyed the detritus left by teenagers during the Easter break. In places, the predominant reds of the wood had been supplemented by spring greens.
Phil had a camera crisis. While he sorted it out, I perched on a rock, enjoying the sun. I then wandered about looking at strange bits of mould, rotten wood and searching for a stick to use before we got to the dell. As predicted, it became trickier underfoot but passable with care. I gingerly navigated the stepping stone, using the stick to find the safest way across.
On the other side, a dog ran towards us. Straight away, I realised that it had spotted my stick. Sure enough, it bounded up, jumping to try and grab the stick, before bounding a little way off expecting me to throw it. When I didn’t, it came back and clamped its mouth around the stick. Realising it was a Golden retriever intent on retrieving the stick, I let go and the dog ran off. Finally the owners hove into view.
I explained what had happened and they apologised. I remarked that every time I went out these days I had some annoying encounter with a canine. They apologised again and as we proceeded upwards, they called after me to ask if I wanted the stick back. I declined, not wanting to take back a stick covered in dog slaver.
The path round the knoll was very muddy indeed. Phil had found a very large stick, more like a staff and used it to guide us across the safest route. At the ruined house, we noted that someone had made a barrier of stones to make the stream that appeared last year passable.
We continued down to the canal. As we approached, we noticed that the towpath was blocked by fencing for repairs.
Thus after crossing the small wooden bridge, we turned left to Callis and from there, doubled back along the road. I noticed a milestone that might have been there for some time. After a disused industrial unit, we clambered over a strange iron step-bridge and down an alley to get back onto the towpath. We walked along to the stone bench where we paused for a rest.
A lone goose appeared and I threw it some grains that had been left on the arm of the bench.. When the grains had been used up, we made to move off. The goose hopped out of the water onto the bank and hissed aggressively. Phil brandished his staff and said harsh words as we hurried away from the stupid creature. I declared: “That’s gratitude for you… I am never feeding geese again!” Phil said it had already forgotten I had fed it.
Further on, a passing man asked Phil where his punt was. Soon after, Phil’s stick broke and we agreed it was not a very mighty staff after all. Well, I said, we can put it outside for the moss and insects to grow on.