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Friday 9 August 2013

Light Walks Further Afield: The Big Walk!

Along the River Dove, from Milldale to Thorpe Cloud, Ilam Hall and back via Stanshope.

Starting the day with a good breakfast - including the jam we made on our foraging walks last autumn!

Our walks are never solely about exercise or reaching a destination, they are also about exploration, curiosity and engagement with time, place and history. It is easy to race through a landscape or place in a car, missing everything that makes a place special or unique. A walk gives the opportunity to satisfy all the senses and to take time to notice the small things which make the bigger picture.

The mysterious empty building that Carole longed to explore

The guard dog that growled

guarding the grindstone with a tale.

Crossing a field in the early part of our walk Michael earned himself the title of Sheep Whisperer as these lambs were unable to resist his call! 

This hill led to some deliberation, the sure footed raced ahead, whilst the more cautious worked out how best to get to the bottom of this steep hill. 

Team work and lots of encouragement, plus a few novel descent strategies ensured we all reached the bottom without taking a tumble!

We all enjoyed being out the the fresh air.

Walking along the River Dove.

A wild English orchid growing near the River Dove

Tiny flowers spied amongst the fast flowing water

A dabbling duckling in the shade of the wooden bridge where we stopped for a rest.

The Ilam Rock, where we played pooh-sticks on the bridge.

Mysterious wishing pennies lodged into felled trunks.

Natural caves and arches

Crossing on the Stepping Stones

And finally we reached our rather grand lunch destination, Ilam Hall!

Three Light Walkers after lunch at the halfway point

The second half of the walk was on the road and we had the opportunity to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the delicious spread of the landscape we were walking through.

Three struck out in front, three kept pace in the middle and three kept each other company at the rear.

The rear guard Mick, Michael and Carole swapped stories and stopped frequently to rest and admire the fields; the basking sheep seemed to approve!

They even managed to spy skylarks amongst the buttercups.

and took pleasure in sunlight glowing through vermillion poppies.

It was a long walk but Carole and Jo wanted to to show the group as much as possible in the time available and to create a good, long, interesting walk. There were some tricky moments, times when some walkers almost felt defeated but there was also grit and determination demonstrated. True there were some sore feet, some tired legs, some thirsty walkers and some frayed edges, but the day was spectacular and all walkers, regardless of fitness, successfully completed the whole 9.7 miles.

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