There’s something ridiculously exciting and simultaneously terrifying about moving to a new area.
To explain this statement a little further, back in December we moved house again. This time to a small village outside of Stamford – so not far away – but I don’t know my way around very well. When I move somewhere new it doesn’t feel like home until I know all the back roads and the little paths here, there and everywhere. (You know – so, if the end of the world comes, I’ll be able to make a quick getaway). So this past weekend we set about looking at the map and picking out a path from the maze of green dashes that covered the countryside.
Does it get any better than walking from your front door?
No cars, no driving and no worrying about where to park – or how much it will cost. All we had to do was set foot out the door and so with only pockets stuffed full of treats and the dog on the lead, we set out to explore. We weren’t going far anyway and so we didn’t worry about packing a rucksack full of provisions. It was a grey day but pleasantly warm for January and only one thin layer was needed; hats and gloves were very quickly discarded.
An old railway line had been marked on the map, running its way around the village and we thought that this would be a good place to start. Indeed, this turned out to be a great choice; the path was cut back and clear, following a tunnel of trees and the ground was firm underfoot. It turns out that January is a good time to explore because all the hedgerows are cut back and there’s minimal undergrowth to block your way or obscure small pathways. This, I believe, is thanks to a group of locals, who make sure the paths are well maintained so everybody can get outside and enjoy them. (What a great idea!)
Considering there are no mountains and hills anywhere in sight I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed having such easy walking with no pressure of getting to a summit. It’s always been about getting to the summit for me. Yet here I was, strolling along with no incline in sight. It was calming just to be outdoors and the fresh air was so enjoyable. It’s a huge mood boost when you see how happy a dog is to be outside, too. She was over the moon to be out and exploring new places, too, and every scent she caught took her up and down banks and into hedgerows. Needless to say, a lot of lead untangling occurred.
We could have turned back, having done the loop of the village but we decided to carry on. The path continued into open fields before heading into the woodland. We live on the edge of forestry but this was different; the trees were spread further apart, letting much more light in. Autumn colours still layered the ground, brightening up even this dull day. This was also where the mud began in truth. Slipping and sliding over wet routes and muddy holes we slowly managed to cover our trousers in thick mud. I was extremely grateful for having thought to put on proper walking boots rather than trainers, as we were caked!
Ruined bridges from the old railway were dotted along the line, derelict and crumbing under the pressure of time passing by. It gave it a bit of a Narnia feeling to the place; you could imagine some small talking animal sidling out from behind to watch you as you walked by. Nothing appearing, we continued onwards, re-emerging onto a forestry track. It was one we knew well from cycling around the forestry. We were only a few miles from home. Two or three miles isn’t far away but with the light fading and no head torch to hand we turned homewards rather than continue on our intended route, not wishing to be caught out in the dark.
We tallied nearly 7 miles – a good stint. It did wonders to clear the head and feel like something had been achieved that day.