A bright but breezy start to March prompted us to re-visit another familiar haunt. Getting ready seemed to take ages, making me quite impatient. Finally, we left the house and walked westwards up the main road. Several cars parked on the pavement at Bridge Lanes made me wonder if they had different laws in those parts. Seeing a woman come out of one, I was about to have a go when she said hello. It was an ex-neighbour, laden with groceries, poised to cross the road. On enquiring about the pavement parking, she suggested it was for unloading purposes.
Past the Fox and Goose, the cold wind blew straight in our faces. Feeling buffeted, we wondered how long we would be out. But it eased off as we turned into Church Lane. We took the easy way up to Eaves, via the play park and steps to the bridle track. Already, my legs began to tire. Hearing me sigh, Phil said “don’t start getting grumpy.” To which I retorted, “what do you mean start? I already am grumpy! I haven’t even taken any photos yet!” He chuckled and challenged my claim that I had not yet seen anything inspiring. Then, I noticed reflections in the puddles occupying every pothole. In small watery worlds of black and blue, branches and sky appeared trapped, framed by displaced hardcore.
Cheered somewhat, we continued to Lumb Mill and explored the ceaseless torrents, almost full-to-bursting streams and derelict ponds. Underground gurgling indicated yet more water beneath our feet. We started to climb up to the higher path. Pausing at the top of the small arch, I spotted a smaller path behind the chimney. Having tried it from the top end in autumn, I wondered if we may have more luck from this end. I stepped in the stream without thinking, making the bottom of my jeans sopping wet. The path came to an abrupt end just beyond the chimney where a chunk of earth had fallen. Thwarted, we at least gained a different perspective. Tall thin trees stretching up to the sun way overhead created ebony shadows on the yellow stone.
We returned to the standard route which proved hard going. Large rough stones were replaced further up by the remains of dead trees and deep patches of sticky mud, requiring several small detours off the path. above the glade, we climbed a strange mound which Phil comedically named ‘the ‘escarpment’, for a higher vantage point. Square stones, that had tumbled from the raggedy cliffs opposite, so long ago that they were now adorned with thick green moss, lay stranded amidst a permanent carpet of scrunched copper beech leaves and discarded nut husks.
Proceeding, we descended the steep wooden steps to land in the worst patch of mud so far. Carefully picking our way through the earth and debris, we stopped on the flat rock to fend off dogs while we ate the wraps we’d brought with us.
As it had taken almost ninety minutes to get that far, I guessed we only had an hour of daylight left. We called it a day to get home before dark. It was only then that I noticed that as well as being soaked through, the bottom of my jeans also had gravel caught up in them!
More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti9tvFGnnr5q8QZCxXw?e=Fsf6pZ