Ever wonder where you’d end up if you took your dog for a walk and never once pulled back on the leash? — Robert Brault
In late April and early May, it is indeed easy to be green in England. There’s so much to see—curious lambs, bluebells blooming, sparkling rivers, fence stiles, country pubs, deep woods, wonderful fell views, The Lakes, ancient stone buildings, all of it seemingly divided by countless dry stone walls.
The photo gallery below barely touches on the possibilities. These were taken along the Dales Way, a fine 81-mile path from Ilkley to Bowness, on Lake Windermere. For the best information on walking in Great Britian, I recommend The Walking Englishman.
Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises. —Pedro Calderon de la Barca
Like many places in the country, we need rain. Totals to-date are well below average. So, today, few people will complain as spring closes with brisk breezes and rain showers. But the weather did cause me to think about sunshine, and remember a day in England last year when we walked in the Lake District along the Cumbria Way.
I call it Trail Karma, and it began for us in 2008 when Kathy and I walked the Dales Way, ten days of fine green Yorkshire landscapes that ended overlooking Lake Windermere. We donned our rain gear one afternoon following a pub lunch, but threatening weather passed. And that was it—no rain. Eleven days (we took a rest day in Grassington). Afterwards, in Bowness and Bath, we participated in sudden downpours, but we’d traded day packs for umbrellas by then.
Now, five years later, would our good luck continue on the Cumbria Way?
The footpath offered a variety of surfaces on the first day—simple tracks through sheep pastures, country lanes, rocky sections, boggy farm lots, and muddy bits where the previous week’s rain remained in evidence.
Coniston Water came into view from a sloping hillside above greening woods—not much farther, now. Another dry day, and warm, too. T-shirt weather. Knock on wood.
Continuing my visual reminiscing from England’s Dales Way…we were a short ways outside Staveley when the footpath veered close to the River Kent for a half-mile, and in that quiet stretch we passed a magnificent oak tree at a bend in the path that continued to mesmerize me until it passed from sight. As you see in the picture, trees were thick in that location, but the oak alone had a palpable presence.
I pass this tangle of mixed forest when I go out walking from our house. I don’t pay much mind to it on the downhill side, at the far end of the road, but on returning I slow my steps and wave to the spectators lined up along the route.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~Charles Dickens
“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” ~Hal Borland
Of all the trips my wife and I have enjoyed across thirty years, my favorite is (and will likely remain) our walk along the Dales Way in England, in May of 2008. I’ve probably said this elsewhere but it deserves repeating—that was one time everything came together, just right. And perhaps, because it was during the spring, I’ve lately come to anticipate its arrival with more enthusiasm than I’d mustered in the past. Personally, autumn has always been Number 1—its light attracts my senses in ways no other season does. And let’s face it, green isn’t a unique shade in the Pacific Northwest. Evergreen has real meaning here.
The 2012 edition of spring is shaping up as a slow starter, with winter forecast to hang around for a while. I might have to tune in to the Masters golf tournament in April to see dogwoods. But we had one of those days this week that Dickens described so well, which offers hope that Borland, in his turn, is also right.