Not taking the easy way home – first published 18 April 2014


My 2014 stint as the Easter Bunny has been less than successful but there was at least wall to wall sun and blue skies, a perfect walking day and it was a pleasure to put the miles in. Once I’d semi-successfully carried out my Easter Bunny duties I set off back towards Lakeside.

18 April 2014

For a while I considered taking a different route home but, as my only options meant either a long detour to get onto the Navigation or walking mostly along roads, I decided against it. I found the footpath quite easily and, when I got to the level crossing, there were lots of people milling about so I guessed there must be a train due.

Once I’d made it safely to the little grassy island between the two crossings I could just about make out a train in the distance so I hung around with the crowds waiting. Before too long the little green train was almost upon me full of happy Bank Holiday passengers. I was in a prime position to get a great shot of the engine with its pile of coal waiting to be burned and the engine driver perched on his seat doing whatever it is steam engine drivers do.



After that it was back to the lakes and more breathtaking views of clouds reflected in water. For good measure I walked around the far lake just in case all the wildlife was hiding out around there. It wasn’t, well not unless you count one duck and a few more fishermen. Feeling a little disappointed I crossed the little bridge and returned towards the coffee shop. A fleeting idea of stopping for a coffee crossed my mind. The paths were quite crowded and as I came up behind a family walking far slower than me the man at the back called out, “mind out power walker coming through!”
Funny thing was I wasn’t even walking particularly fast at the time but it made me smile.



In the end I didn’t have a coffee because I bumped into an old friend. Julie, who used to work with me at Dream Factory was there with her family so we stopped and chatted for a while. By the time I left her it seemed a little late to be stopping, even for a latte, so I made my way back to the road. There was time for a quick snap of yet more blossom along by the airport. Right now every other tree seems to be smothered in the stuff but it’s so ephemeral, here today, gone tomorrow, I’m capturing it while I can. The petals have already begun to fall.



It wasn’t long before I’d reached Monks Brook and I had a decision to make. Should I cross the blue bridge and go back exactly the way I came or double back across the green bridge? Then again I could try the trail running beside the brook. All through the winter it’s been so muddy I haven’t been able to walk it but maybe the mud would have dried up. Curiosity got the better of me and, even at the risk of having to turn back, I took the trail. At least the first part was dry.


Further on, the ground began to get stickier and the soft wet earth was speckled with fallen blossom petals. Towards the end things got muddier but nothing I couldn’t get through, even if my walking shoes weren’t all that impressed. The area hasn’t been immune from falling trees either, one large tree had fallen across the brook. With the sun shining through the new leaves, lighting them up, and bright catkins it made a pretty picture.




Bright yellow flowers lined the boggy path by the water’s edge, marsh marigold I think. Right at the end of the path there’s a big old dead tree, it seems as if there’s less of it now than last time I came this way but I may be imagining it. Across the way there are definitely less trees, the mass of stumps and piles of sawdust tell me the storms have claimed a few more victims. I wonder if the extra light will mean more flowers in the future?




When I turned off onto the trail beside the houses that would lead me back towards Mansbridge I was excited to see a brand new trail. There had been a kind of wobbly path beaten through the grass along there before but this was a proper trail with a gate and thick stone chippings to make a path. Of course I couldn’t resist and I went through the gate.


It was soon pretty obvious this path didn’t follow the route of the old trail, it curved around in a completely different direction and led through the trees to goodness knows where. After a while the layer of chippings petered out, maybe they didn’t order enough, and I was walking on a dirt trail meandering through a small scrubby meadow. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Still I carried on just to see where it would lead me. Through the trees I could see the brook burbling past, how lost could I get?


Eventually I seemed to be turning in the general direction of the original straight path I would have taken, at least I thought so, with all that meandering it was hard to tell. It was quite a relief when I saw another gate and, beyond it, one of the houses at the Mansbridge end of the trail. I’d succeeded in taking a very long and winding short cut. Still why take a straight boring path when you can explore a long meandering one? It does seem as if someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make a nice, if pointless trail, what a pity they ran out of stone chippings.






So I’d returned to Mansbridge once again. Funny how so many of my walks end up there even when I don’t intend them to when I start out. It’s almost as if I’m drawn to the place. The bridge does look much nicer with a bit of blue sky overhead but then what doesn’t? Rain, snow or sun I don’t think I’ll ever tire of looking at it. Maybe it’s all the memories of when I first met Commando pulling me back there over and over.




Back at the other end of the river, close to Cobden Bridge there were small sailing boats on the water. I’d been half hoping the large sailing boat I’d seen on my way out would still be there but these little boats skimming fast across the water sort of made up for its absence. Sailing looks like it might be fun.




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Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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