July is usually a very busy month for us, lots of end of term school stuff going on, planning for the summer holidays, and birthdays. It was another unplanned, last minute decision trip after looking at a rather full calendar. Instead of driving out further afield in the car we decided to stay local and explore somewhere we hadn’t been before. We grabbed our local OS map and set off.
It was a beautiful sunny summer day, we set off from Aberford, heading out of the village under the M1 motorway and into peaceful woodland. The summer light played beautifully among the leaves, creating dancing dappled shade on the tree trunks and floor. Being outside all year round really makes you appreciate these small but truly beautiful changes throughout the year.
We came out of the woodland onto the Hazlewood Castle Estate. Hazlewood Castle was a country residence, now a hotel, situated by the A64. The site overlooked the battlefield of the Battle of Towton in 1461.
We skirted the grounds and walked away from the hum of the A64, and into arable countryside. Past vast fields of golden corn, barley and wheat.
Along old country lanes past farms, with roads made from old bricks. My youngest girls heading off in front engaged in some game that they always end up making up on our walks.
I had no idea that we lived so close to this kind of countryside, it reminded me of the fields around East Yorkshire where I lived growing up. Red kites soared in the heat of the day, and butterflies flittered everywhere in the hedgerows in the July sunshine. The route took us under looming, buzzing pylons and power lines towards an old 14th Century chapel and along Cock Beck (this area is known to have been a stronghold for the Brigantes) back to Aberford.
We saw a weasel running along the banks of the beck, and found lots of long pheasant feathers on the opposite side along a huge corn field, with views of Hazlewood Castle in the distance. It was a shock to the system when the path took us on a bridge over the M1 motorway, after being immersed in the sounds and smells of nature it felt so loud and obtrusive. It was however lovely to find pyramidal orchids growing on the banks of the M1, crazy to find these delicate blooms growing with the smell and sounds of cars and lorries metres away. Nature will find a way.
It was a treat after our long walk to be home in 5 minutes, rather than the hour or so we usually end up driving. There are still lots of paths and areas within 5 minutes of our home that we haven’t yet explored. I think 2018 may well be a year for more ‘doorstep adventures’, finding wilderness and nature in between the towns and villages where we live. It’s amazing how little we explore within our own area, yet there is so much to discover.