I know that many of you are recovering from Thanksgiving, are in the final week of preparations for other family get-togethers at this time, or coping with the after-effects of winter weather or fires, but I hope you will accompany me on this week’s walk in the sunshine, take a few deep breaths, admire the landscape and recharge your batteries for a few moments.
I wrote in a previous post about our spooky night-time discovery of the new nature trail around the estate that is home to our National Sports Centre. We first saw it – barely! – in the gloom of the early evening and as I promised, this post highlights the trail on a beautifully sunny autumn day 4 weeks later.
The day was perfect for a walk: crisp and bright, the colours and the light perfect for photographs. It didn’t take long for us to realise that we had previously only experienced about a quarter of the trail, having missed the signs to other parts due to the darkness that had quickly descended.
The ducks look like they hadn’t moved since our last visit!
We visited after lunch and despite the long shadows and bare branches in places, the sun is so full of himself, some of the photos look like they were taken in summer.
The afternoon shadows of the trees stretch across the lush green lawns, but the sun illuminates the bright green trail sign at the entrance.
These next photos are some of my favourites, featuring more grand trees, with the sunlight showing off some glorious reds and oranges against a wide expanse of blue sky. There are several places on the trail where you can’t see around a dark corner and then you are treated to a wonderful view of the estate in the sunlight, or the path ahead is a stunning carpet of red leaves with that lovely autumn scrunch as you step across, or a patch of squelchy soft mud that kids like to stomp about in.
As well as snaking through all the breathtaking grounds by follies and flowers, the trail takes you through dark woodland with lots of nesting boxes for all kinds of birds, bees and bugs, a bug hotel, and boggy areas for amphibians, all well-signed with lots of bright easy-to-see pointers and information boards.
This is the entrance inviting you in to explore the trail, you have no idea where it will take you – the last time we venture in, we disappeared into the dead of night!
Here’s the ingenious bug hotel made from all sorts of natural materials and recycled items.
These next exhibits made us stop in our tracks! Not real unfortunately, although there are several places around the grounds where you can see evidence of their presence.
This one, however, is very real:
Fortunately, we have very mild-mannered snakes here – my niece in Colorado recently posted a picture on Instagram of my recently-emigrated brother and sister-in-law on a hike with her 4 year old son, they were standing in front of a sign advising Caution: Rattlesnake area!
(I have never seen a snake in the wild, despite living in the countryside for most of my life and having walking holidays in Scotland).
The trail would be fun with children, but anyone who is able-bodied would enjoy it. It is a great idea and well set-out. There are tree trunks and fallen tree limbs to scramble over, wide spaces of grass to race about on, while above you stretches the wide open blue sky or the arching branches of majestic trees.
Sometimes you think you’ve come to the end and then you notice another sign on the opposite side of a wide area of lawn or pointing down a narrow track into another part of the woods. But you can exit at any point.
I loved every minute of our revisit to the nature trail, although my husband was disappointed we couldn’t find the way to the café – it was the only part that wasn’t well-signed!
I left one of my stones on a tree trunk near the bug house for a child to find on a future visit.
I hope you enjoyed our walk in the woods for this week’s Monday Meditation.
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Copyright: Chris McGowan