Walking in the Parish during “Lock Down”
Most clouds have a silver lining
As I sit down to write this article the radio announcer has informed us that it is exactly one hundred days since “lock down” began. I appreciate that it will be many days before you read this article and the situation may well change. Restrictions are now easing but many of us are still dipping our toes into the water to see how hot it may be before we jump in. We are cautious!
When restrictions were announced we resolved to walk every day, not only to keep fit, but to explore our Parish and enjoy each other’s company. While we have been very aware that many have suffered during this period, we have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to enjoy some of the benefits. We have kept to our resolve and during the weeks of complete lock down we have walked straight from our front door in Hornsby. As the restrictions have eased we have driven just a few miles to explore neighbouring Parishes, their country roads, bridleways and footpaths. Our aim was to walk between five and eight miles each day and I am happy to say that we have been able to stick to our intentions. I am astonished to state that with the simplest of calculations we have walked in access of five hundred miles, knowing that every small journey has begun with just a single footstep.
During this time we have seen winter change into spring and spring change into summer. We have taken delight in seeing our immediate landscape change from the drab colours of a cold season to the bright colours associated with warmer weather. Most of our walks have been in beautiful weather and we have often had to leave very early or very late to avoid the midday heat. However, we could not expect a hundred days of sunshine, and we have occasionally been caught in thunder and lightning storms as well as torrential rain. My wife may disagree with my sentiments, but once I knew I was going to get soaked, I found the experience of walking in the rain very pleasurable. It would help knowing that I have very little hair on my head to get wet!
On a more philosophical note, it has been wonderful to take the time to stand and stare at the landscape. I have always known that the Eden Valley is a beautiful place to live in, but to truly take the time to take in its beauty and rejoice in the knowledge that this is something very special has been spiritual in its nature. On occasions it has been tiny details that have captured our interest, on others it has been the grand open spaces and the high hills beyond.
Over the last hundred days our front door has been locked and no one has entered our home. But we have never felt isolated. On our walks we have had the opportunity to meet so many neighbours across their garden walls. We have caught up with news as well as having the time to learn so much more about the Parish, its history and its geography. We have truly felt that we live within a community of very special folk and we thank you for your company if you are one of those who has taken the time to have a chat. The “Candlestick” walk has been done many times. On some occasions we are back home within an hour and forty five minutes, on others the walk can take us over three hours. That has been the result of the most delightful conversations. As a local would say “the crack has been good”.
Early on, the roads were completely free of all vehicles and we could treat the highway as a footpath. There was a stillness in the air that we had not come across before. The skies were a clear blue without the usual vapour trails left by aeroplanes on their way across the Atlantic. We have never heard the birds make so much noise. Had they too enjoyed a change in the environment or was it just that we were taking the time to listen to them? It has been easy to gain a little height above the river valley and be rewarded with views that take us across the Lake District hills through to the Solway estuary and the Scottish hills beyond. I cannot say that we have been early enough to watch the sun rise, but have certainly relished the most beautiful sunsets.
I feel certain that most of us have resolved to make some changes in our lives after living through this pandemic. We have resolved to keep our walking going, giving us time to enjoy the pleasures of a stunning landscape, the company of each other as well as time to think our deeper thoughts. For us the dark clouds have had a silver lining.