Now, I am a huge fan of winter (all seasons really!) and I've been super excited to wake up to frosty fields and fall asleep to starry skies but unfortunately in between all the rain and heavy wind it is rather inconvenient to get out for plenty of walks! After having my first DSLR camera drown within a shock summer shower last year, I'm always weary about taking my camera out in the rain no matter how 'waterproof' my bag or protector sprays claim to be, so quite often I tend to leave the house without my camera. I may miss out on some fantastic shots, but given that the downpour which broke my camera happened without warning within summer, I'm not even going to attempt to predict winter!
I am very lucky to have a sprinkling of small, secluded woodlands all within a couple minutes wander from my house, which I adore visiting all year round. In the colder months, I tend to have the woods to myself bar from the odd dog walker, as most people are put off from the large puddle of mud on the lane leading to the woods - ever since I was little, I have always shimmied across the gate on muddy days and continue to do so! The woodland is split into two by a faint bridleway and I still walk a certain way through the woods to pass the trees which I used as location markers as the woods seemed very large when I was a child. There used to be a rope swing and several dens made out of the fallen branches, but since then the farmer has been allowing cattle into the field and they've roamed the woods to eat the fresh garlic so any hazards have since been removed. This time of year it is much easier to see through the trees as majority of the leaves are crunching underneath your feet, but many of the trees are home to ivy which ascends to the very tips of the thick branches.
The main woods splits off in two directions: one across the fields and to the end of the Lancaster canal, and the other leads to a smaller second section of woods. This section of woods is closer-knit, with shrubbery and overgrowth covering fallen tree trunks and a small winding path barely visible in certain lights. As this woodland is sectioned off by the farmers fields and only accessible by some thin stiles cut into the walls, the fresh garlic grows in abundance here and dependent on the season, there is quite often an array of wildflowers or fungi nestled into the corners of the woods. Once you have followed the path through the trees, it brings you out at stile which takes you into an open field which stretches up the hill towards a little farm. The farm is connected by various footpaths and it is here I often stop to plan my walk. For a shorter walk back to the house, I can wander down the bridle path to the bottom of the country lane to my house - this bridle path is quite often overgrown in the sunnier months so I don't use this much, so I do like to take advantage in the winter months! The other option takes you across the fields that rung alongside the country lane to a favourite spot of mine and my mothers - our 'secret bench!' There are stunning views across our house and the fields stretching across to the faint tips of the Lakeland fells in the distance. This place is fantastic for watching sunsets as it begins on your left and ends on your right so you can lose yourself in its complete beauty!
Another thing I love about this time of year is the frosty starts to the mornings, especially when the winter sun has fought its way though the clouds! There is a secluded footpath between my house and the nearest hamlet of houses which is only used by the occasional dog walker or local who knows it's there. This footpath takes you under a canopy of green leaves, with a picturesque gorse-filled field on one side and clusters of trees on the other. In the summer months it shelters you from the heat, and in the winter its a welcomed break from the wind or rain! The footpath eventually opens up to an open field, and on those frosty but bright mornings, this whole field glitters as it crunches underneath your feet - the sun hits here first so this is a good place to visit when there's been a bit of rain! At the end of the field there is another secluded footpath, though much shorter in length, which takes you onto a small country lane by the hamlet of houses. I remember when I was younger and I had a friend who lived here, we were always told that this footpath was home to fairies, and if you were lucky you may see some as you walk up it! The walk back home is along the countrylanes with houses scattered along it with gardens full of life despite the time of year. It is picturesque walking along here with the frost on the winter blooms slowly coming through and the evergreens standing out with a sprinkling of berries. Beautiful!
Before the heavier weather arrived, we did manage to get out on a Sunday walk through Heversham and up onto the head. We started off from the centre of the village, which was quiet as the majority of people were staying warm inside their homes, before making our way along to the footpath south of the village which takes you across the fields which border the houses. Just before the footpath starts, there are glorious views of Whitbarrow Scar and the Kent Estuary which runs between Arnside and the Lyth Valley. On clearer days, the coast is much clearer and the viaduct crosses the landscape in a striking manor, but even on moodier days it is still a sight to see! The footpath primarily runs along the old railway line which connected many of the smaller villages in the area. Eventually this footpath leads you to a crossroads where the small community of Woodhouse lies, with the option to travel to either Helsington or Leasgill. We took the second option before turning off the road onto a public footpath through a field towards Heversham Head and the views across the estuary.
Bar from a small group of people making their way down from the Head, we had the whole place to ourselves when we finally arrived, so we settled down to have our lunch taking in the stunning views presented before us. There are two geocaches located up here, we only found the one as we could see some dark clouds slowly making their way towards us so we wanted to make sure we could eat in the dry! It was truly blissful to watch the the weather slowly cross the horizon, with its shadows hitting the gatherings of houses and stretches of farmland first. We sat up on the Head, still in the dry, until the edge of the estuary could barely be seen underneath the rain and cloud. We wandered around the Head for a while, dipping in and out of the treeline which is sprinkled on its peak, in search for a rope swing I could remember going on here when I was about 11/12. We didn't find the rope swing, but it was nice to wander between trees which still had their amber camouflage clinging to their branches. Eventually we descended down the hill towards the car, and found ourselves on a weaving public footpath which took you through the old church ground, with stunning evergreen trees casting shadows over the path.
In these quieter months, I always like to get out to some form of peaceful/quaint area of nature, even if it's just for a few minutes to take in the views. Whilst passing through to deliver Christmas presents etcetera to family and friends, my mother and I stopped off in Kirkby Lonsdale for a small wander along the riverbank between Ruskins View and Devil's Bridge before looping back on ourselves. Ruskins View always has stunning views, but with the trees being bare, you could see the fells rolling into each other until they disappeared on the horizon more clearly than usual. This also made the river look extremely striking as it curved its way between the fields and the narrow footpaths that almost touches the tip of the water in places. As the wind picked up the sway of the river got faster, and this created stunning waves as the water passed over some of the large boulders and rocks poking out of the water. This area is definitely on my list to explore in greater depth, particular the areas which are classified as Lancashire!
Here's wishing you all the best for the New Year! I'm excited to see what it brings!