We walk for exercise and usually choose the footpaths in our own area to avoid travel by car. It was a habit we fell into by virtue of being a dog owner. Sadly we no longer have a treasured pet, but the area where we live is beautiful and an excuse is not necessary to go out and stretch our legs… heavy rain, ice, and an attack of sheer laziness are the only things that 'blot the landscape' sufficiently to cause a lapse of routine and so prevent us from improving our circulation.
It is interesting to note changes over the years: the stream, that once provided power for local mills, has shifted its course; the waterfall — a playground for would-be engineers — is still in the same place but with eroded banks, and the sluice-gate that let the water into the leat from the stream, is devoid of wheel and everything else that could be removed by the 'young engineers'. I might also add the rocks that I took, one by one, to provide stepping stones through the mud at the footpath gate, were also requisitioned by said youths — only this time as weapons of destruction, howbeit not 'mass'. Over the years, seats have been provided and duly smashed, but the Council continues to paint them — or rather what is left of them. Trees were felled over a stretch of bank leaving behind a horrid sense of devastation, but now nature has taken over and the bank is covered with shrubs and saplings. Dog poo used to get spread across the path into a swirling patina by the brushes on the mechanical 'cleaner', but now, dog walkers are more careful and can be seen disposing their knotted plastic bags in provided containers, and fewer dogs are allowed to roam. Youths leave rubbish, but we once discovered a man clearing it away in a black plastic bag, not that he was paid to, but because it was dangerous and ruined the walk. An angel indeed.
Sometimes we take the steep path up to the local monument. It is a pleasant enough walk getting there. but the magnificent views from the top is enough make the effort worthwhile: bay, fells and mountains — caught in the colours of the changing seasons and weather moods. A shaft of light piercing through a dark cloud to illuminate a patch of dark sea turning it into glimmering silver, is evocative of hope in the midst of the darkness of a soul's pain. To look northwards and see the tops of mountains caught in sunlight with passing shadows, or sometimes glistening with snow, we can only stand in awe. And yet, there too, rubbish gets thrown around, although we noted it didn't stay for long. We assumed the Council took care of it. But not so… we found a lady going round picking it up. On chatting to her, we discovered that she had a self-appointed task to walk the paths each morning and clear up the rubbish.
When we moved to this area, some of the first people we got to know were the friendly walkers — with or without dogs — so we are doubly blessed on our walking exercise.
Ah, the sun is shining — time to be off! There are many walks in this area of Furness, South Cumbria — by coast or canal, in woods, up hills. Which one this morning? And will we find another angel along the path?