Thursday, 25 October 2018

A Weekend Walk at Longshaw

National Trust walks

In plain common-place matter-of-fact, then, it was a fine October morning - so fine that you can almost hear the song of the birds drawing you to the countryside where the air is fresh and the woods are bursting in colours. And it happened to fall on a Saturday, a perfect day for an autumn walk.

The clouds scuttled across the deep blue sky, allowing the sun to break out in bursts as we made our way to Longshaw Estate in the Peak District on a car journey that took us less than 30 minutes from our side of Sheffield.

We've had our weekly helping of the traditional English breakfast from our local pub before setting off but it was only 11am when we parked at the National Trust car park that was already busy with early birds, mostly families with young children and walkers with dogs.

From the car park (where you can pick up a map) we were faced with a choice of two routes to get to the teahouse and we followed the one that led us through the woods by crossing a wooden bridge leading to the stone steps up a hill.

Along the path we found a little village of chopped down trees carved with doors and staircases where boggarts of the English folklore store away their stash of stolen goods, making them look like dried leaves to the naked eyes, or so we imagined.

This is Boggart Rise and in this enclave we found dens made of broken tree branches, crossed a river through a dodgy log bridge and chased dry leaves being blown by the wind where it took many attempts before Isaac managed to successfully grab one. He put them in his jeans pocket ("This is golden money", he says).

Back in the main path, there is a welcome booth directing us to a small serviceable café beside the privately owned Longshaw Lodge with an open view of the moors in the horizon. The lodge was once a shooting retreat for a duke and became a military hospital during the wars. They have now been converted into private flats for those who have chosen the mostly bleak English country life.

There is a path that leads to the three waymarked walks around the estate and we took on the route of the pink arrows, a 1.5 mile circular walk popular amongst families with toddlers.

We followed a corridor of rhododendrons leading us downhill and hidden behind the bushes is Boggart Rise where Isaac played balance beam on a log while we looked out to the lovely view of the pond in the distance, eavesdropping on a mother explaining to a toddler the importance of leaves in the ecosystem (and instinctively smirked at the confirmation that we are with the right crowd).

We carried on to an open field where an herd of sheep are lazily grazing and Isaac excited pointed out to the many different forms of mushrooms and molehills on the ground. We reminded him not to venture off the footpath because we were surrounded by marshland where he can easily disappear on one of the bogs ("Will I go up the sky?", "No, you'll sink underground.").

Before we reached the pond, we followed the sound of children's laughter from under the bushes and discovered Boggart Burrow. On the ground is a clump of bony tree trunks stretching outwards like spider's webs or mangled snakes however you imagine it to be, where we found the little voices we heard jumping from one branch to another, like happy monkeys in the Indonesian jungle before the coconut plantations took over their habitats (but that's another conversation).

Within this realm we spotted a little wooden bridge leading to a tunnel of green we have to crouch to get to the end of and where we were welcomed by a carpet of brightly coloured fallen leaves and more trees spreading outwards. It felt like entering another world, a little version of the enchanted forest kingdom of Terabithia.

After a few moments of climbing around the fragile branches, we managed to drag the little boy out to let other children enjoy the magic. Around the bend is the pond, beautifully reflecting the glorious autumn colours of the trees surrounding it with a flock of ducks waiting on the bread crumbs.

Behind the pond is Granby Woods, where at the root of a fallen tree a den has been created, large enough to play houses or to stop by for a picnic.

We carried on with the walk and Isaac found a tree with a tiny hollow where he could wiggle his fingers towards the other end. Not long after we found an old barn with exhibits about the history and wildlife of the estate but we didn't stay long.

Beside the barn is a road where an ice cream van is strategically parked to tempt little feet to venture further, and that's what we did. The stunning view before us was the flat-topped hills of Carl Walk, a Bronze Age hill fort about 3,000 years old and the gritstone outcrop of Higger Tor.

We followed the path downhill to Padley Brook, which we crossed following a stone bridge instead of the wooden one. On both sides of the stream, few walkers have settled down with their sandwiches, amongst the grazing cattle scattered around the meadow.

The proximity to the enormous beasts has made the little one weary so we didn't stay long. We walked upstream along the side of the brook where at one point the boys decided to play pooh sticks in the stream but alas there were no sticks to be found so they settled for dried leaves. There will only ever be one winner, all the time, so all was well.

We crossed another river and walked uphill and Isaac ran up the rock called Toad's Mouth, like all the other children before us have done.

We were now back to the car park, on a circular walk that took us over two hours with a lot of stops in between. The cafe was getting busy so we did not stop by, the car park was still filling up when we drove away.

We spent two pounds on the ice cream and used a bit of petrol on the car. When they say happiness is free, they must mean days like this - blue skies and chirping birds in the countryside, holding hands.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...