At the end of May, sinusitis returned rendering me bedridden on the hottest and most dazzling of days so far. Sunday, I felt much better and up for a short walk to stretch my unused legs. The blazing sun and heat was tempered by a bit of a breeze and cloudy spells. This made the walk up ‘Bar Cliff’ more bearable.
A resplendent rhododendron marked the start of the path. Curly ferns provided highlights of yellow against green verges. Small groups of children clutched picnic blankets on their way up to grassy fields. We followed the curves of New Road towards Old Chamber, laughing at local signs telling motorists to ‘turn back’ – very local! At the bridge, we stopped to take in the pastoral scenes. Lambs quickly scarpered across a small field, spooked by a family obviously not used to walking, yelping as they picked their way down the stony path below. “Something tells me that’s a new hobby for them.” I commented. Phil sniggered but I reminded him “there was a time when you considered going to the pub on the canal ‘a walk’. We all have to start somewhere!” At the far end of the field, a brave lamb stared at me curiously over the wall.
At Old Chamber, more lambs were penned into a small triangle. Were they in quarantine? Nearby, a mountain of hardcore was dumped in front of a ruined farm building. On the other side of the valley, a bright yellow air ambulance flew above Midgeley Moor. The honesty box remained open with signs instructing users to enter one at a time. We peered in to see only eggs for sale; sensible to not offer cups of tea right now, I guess.
Continuing to Spencer Lane, house martins flitted between eaves and a pair of kestrels took turns surveying the landscape from treetops before swooping down to unseen prey. Larger fields contained larger flocks of sheep and goats too, with offspring. Close up, I noticed the small kids had tiny horns like little demons!
We skirted Wood Top Farm and turned left onto the beautiful grassy lane to the old quarry. Glade-like in the arid conditions, a variety of implements suggested recent gardening activity. Entering Crow Nest Wood, dappled lighting created a restful ambience. We rested on the almost-dry waterfall where barely a trickle flowed in the brook. Miniscule flowers of white and yellow bloomed beneath fading bluebells. We marvelled anew at the trees simultaneously dead and alive. Probably the case in all woodland, it always struck us particularly in this one; maybe because we knew it so well. Mouldy mushrooms inhabited the rotten lower trunks while new oak leaves sprouted from higher branches. One such tree resembled a wraith performing a dance macabre in the wispy air.
Taking the short way home, we waited for a small family to ascend the dry path, made tricky by a thick layer of last years’ tinder-dry beech nuts. On palace House Road, we noted new traffic lights, explaining the roadworks a few weeks back. The updated controls enabled us to safely navigate the single-file bridge. Phil larked about, insisting we had to pointlessly cross the road. Back home, I headed straight for the bathroom. The dusty dry paths had turned my sandal-clad feet black. We had been saving small pies in the fridge for a longer outing, but justified eating them after the walk – an indoor picnic!