Oh, what a beautiful day we had yesterday. It was completely by accident too! We had intended to go for a walk at the Ribblehead Viaduct. That's not a walk I've ever done before, but my dad recommended it and said it would be fine for the boys. Well, being disorganised and a bit lazy, as we often are at weekends, we didn't manage to get dressed until after 11am. Hmm, not really much point in trying to get to the viaduct at that time. So we went to Bull Beck for a bacon butty. And what a good thing we did. We had a tiny walk around the beck there, and I think the boys thought that that was it for fresh air. They were all for getting back in the car and coming home to play inside. But I could see that Kev was itching to stretch his legs properly, and frankly, so was I. So we decided to go for a little explore, much to the boys vexation. Kev had a book of walks in the car, and found that there was a path/cycle track across the road from where we were. We set off.
There were two directions that we could have gone in. To the left the path was smooth and black, straight and safe. To the right it was rough, more overgrown, and just a little bit forbidding. Of course, we took the path to the right. And immediately it felt like we'd stepped into Lord of the Rings, and I could've sworn I saw some black riders in the distance. And then, despite themselves, the boys started to have fun. They started to collect things, and race each other and sing and skip.
The path actually wasn't very long, and we soon came to a stile. Well, we couldn't go under it, and we couldn't go through it, so we had to go over it. And then we were in a field that the river cut through, and there were cows grazing on the bank. I have an aversion to cows on account of almost being trampled by one when I was about nine :) But I was brave - actually, I think I've grown out of my fear, because I was fine - and we set off along the river, not really knowing how long the walk was and if we'd make it back to the car by nightfall! We were not properly prepared for a walk - the breeze was quite chilly, and we had no coats. Matthew was in his wellies, which were not the best shoes for walking. But we made the best of it. We wandered down to the river bank and skimmed stones for a while, and then ran about the field enjoying the fresh air and freedom. We watched the sandmartins catching midges, and there were a few pairs of ospreys calling to each other and circling. (We think they were ospreys, but we're not entirely sure as they were moving so fast it was difficult to get a good look at them. Try this link to see what an osprey sounds like: RSPB.) It was idyllic, such a pretty day, and such a pretty place.
We came to another stile at the end of this field, and this took us into a field full of sheep. At this point we thought that we were probably quite close to Woody's butty bar - but we were not at all close to Woody's butty bar!! At the other side of the sheep field - through masses and masses of sheep droppings! - we came to a bridge, which was not the bridge we had expected it to be. It was a bridge of huge water pipes and was enormous and rather hostile-looking. Kev and I exchanged a look, but carried on. Now we faced a choice - to go back across the two fields, or to embrace the spirit of adventure and carry on. Of course, we carried on, with barely a moment's hesitation :) And we were glad that we did.
We trekked down the side of the river, through several more fields, and over several more stiles, through bluebell woods and on dusty trails. There were sandmartins all the way down, and we saw a heron too. From just after the strange water-pipe bridge James and Matthew had reached their walking limit, so they hitched a ride on our backs - hence the title of today's blog :) Yes, we ache today - but it's a good ache, one that we've earned! Eventually we made it to Woody's butty bar. And after a bit of chocolate and a cuppa, we got onto the cycle track that followed the river back upstream on the opposite side. We were back at the car within twenty minutes. This cycle track would have been the one we walked on if we had taken the left path at the beginning of our walk - depending on your point of view, it would have either saved us a few hours of walking and hard work, or it would have robbed us of a beautiful afternoon :) I think we were all very glad that we took the right path.
Just before we got back to the car Matthew fell fast asleep in my arms :)
The day before yesterday we made a different discovery. I took the boys, with my mum, to a little play area near our house. It was one that Noomski and I used to go to, with our friend Caroline who lived next door. I didn't know what it would be like now, not having seen it for many years. I imagined that it would be a mess, probably full of broken glass and other nasty things. I had half a hope that it had been restored - but knowing our council, that would be highly unlikely, since they're closing most of the play areas around here!
Well, we had a lovely surprise when we got there. It hadn't been restored, but it was beautiful. It was clean, there was no litter, no broken glass, and the grass had been cut recently. The swings were still intact, and the slide had not rusted away. The only shame was that the big tyre swing had been removed - though its frame was still there, as you can see in the photo. This play area was away from the road, surrounded by trees and brambles (we must remember the brambles when it's blackberry time!), and was just a place of tranquility. The grass was dry, and we sat down to do some sketching - Thomas had decided to bring some paper and crayons and pencils :) It was a morning of beautiful simplicity, of relaxing fun. Is there actually anything better than being a child and sliding down a huge slide? I don't think so.
So, we decided that this will be our place to go when we can't think of anywhere to go - it's just round the corner from our house: I can't believe I forgot about it. We'll remember this place for those days in the summer when we want a bit of fresh air and to stretch our legs, but are too lazy - or too skint - to go further afield. It's a little treasure :) We'll take picnics too.
All that remains is to give the place a name - Hamilton Drive Play Area just doesn't do it for me. Something much more airy-fairy is required, something a bit Anne-of-Green-Gables I should think. I'll let you know when we decide :)
Happy Bank Holiday.