February: A Wee Bit Windy!

To say that February has been a bit of a wash-out would probably be an understatement... But I hope everyone is dry and safe now! It's crazy how suddenly the weather can just change, the rivers can suddenly rise up and the whole of Cumbria basically becomes one big lake - Is that why we call it The Lake District? Because of all the rain? Still, I do quite enjoy the rainy season when I'm all tucked up warm inside my house as it's giving all the stunning spring flowers the goodness they need to shoot up next month! It's just been unfortunate that given the weather I haven't been able to go near the River which I live quite close to - even to the little green with benches resting on the banks - but I am lucky to have several drier paths to explore which are bordered with shrubbery, trees and wild plants so there is still snippets of nature to catch your eye!

The main walk I've found myself on this month would be the old canal line which runs towards Natland from the outskirts of Kendal. Part of this path has been built up, with an array of different trees running parallel with the woodchippings guiding the way, and one of the old canal bridges has been incorporated into the small track road above and the original steps are there to access the pathway. There are quite often squirrells running between the trees here and they are much easier to spot whilst there isn't as much greenery on the lower branches of the bushes yet, but they still freeze and hope you don't notice their distinct fluffy tails against the bracken! Eventually this part of the path peteres out at the edge of the road and an entrance to a small housing estate, but once you have crossed over the track takes you between two fields, on a mud path embedded into soil after years and years of footprints being left. Despite being so accessible from the road, this path tends to be used less frequently than the adjacent path which takes you near the river a few fields away, even after rainy days! My last wander along the river path was before the storms, but I still encountered three unexpected bogs so the canal line was definitely the less-muckier option (although there was a lil bit of mud for good measure, of course!).

Primarily the canal line now leads you through open pastures of farmland with just a small grass covered ridge remaining of the previous stonework, however there are old bridges left standing proud in the fields several times along the line, all the way to Sedgwick. One of the bridges is open at the top which allows for amazing views of the Helme to one side of you, Kendal town snuggled in the middle, with Scout Scar and its neighbouring sections of land upon the other side. The canal path also overlooks the trail of the river for majority of the way, only being hidden between the clumps of trees that the path weaves between, and has miles of rolling hills filling up the landscape behind it. There are several houses dotted upon the skyline and I can only imagine how stunning the views must be from their land, especially during the rainy season with the greyscale gradient clouds slowly dominating any shade of blue it can find! At the final stretch of this part of the canal line, you can either pass under the bridge to continue along the canal line towards the village of Sedgwick and the old gunpowder works or follow the road which crosses the bridge up to Natland or down to the river. I made my way down to the river as there is a quiet section of woodland here and part of the river which doesn't become boggy regardless of the weather. I sat and watched the water flow across the rocky riverbed and anticipated the spray of water as larger currents collided with the stones that protruded out of the water before making my way back the way I came along the canal path. As I looped back upon myself, the views were just as breathtaking despite the change in angle, and the midafternoon sun bathing the town as it came into view gave off a welcoming glow.

At the beginning of the month I had a few things to tick off my non-photography ticklist, and I found myself in Kirkby Lonsdale with plenty of freetime for a walk! I didn't have my camera with me, but I quite like the moments where my primary goal is just to enjoy nature rather than keeping a keen eye out for that perfect shot - afterall, I do have my phone camera (abeilt inferior to my camera) if I need it! My short excurison began at Ruskin's View, where there were a few people like myself stopping to take in the tranquil scene laid out before us - definitely an amazing view whatever the season - before descending down a very steep and uneven brick carved staircase which ended on the footpath resting barely an inch before the waterline. The footpath takes you around every curve of the river all the way down to the wider parts of the river bed that lies underneath Devil's bridge and the main road into the village. With the trees barely holding any leaves and the bracken and bushes yet to recieve the sunshine it needs to blossom, the large stones that have been shaped by the force of the river capture your eye. Without the overgrowth of the warmer months, small trails between the trees and large rocks forced into the ground are evident and you can follow these to the shoreline besides Devil's Bridge. I have always wanted to continue along the river from here towards Hornby and I think after this short excursion along the river it has to be bumped up on the to-do list! I have walked along the river in Hornby and it was stunning, so if that and Kirkby Lonsdale is anything to go by, the bit in between must be stunning!

On those slightly drier days between the constantly name-chaning storms of February when I did manage to get out, the first signs of spring managed to catch my eyes as they perservered though the aftermath of the harsh weather conditions. The snowdrops were out in abundance on the little country lane I take as a shortcut to the supermarket, fighting their way through the soil in amongst the tips of Daffodills waiting in anticipation of releasing their colours. The bushes are almost sparkling with their vibrant red or purple berries clustered between evergreen leaves and the ivy vines twisting their away along bare branches. Even majority of the early buds appearing on the trees have managed to stay in their place despite the fierce winds, some daring ones have even began to unfold their petals! I just love it all, and I always ensure I take the moment to appreciate the short period between the end of winter and the surge of spring as before we know it nature is in full bloom! I can't wait for cherry blossoms petals to be slowly dancing in the breeze and bluebells forming purple carpets over woodland floors, and February always means it is nearly time for them to appear!

After keeping cosy for the last few months, I'm eager to stretch my legs in the spring sunshine!