I decided to test out my driving skills again today – I decided I would go check out Bolton Abbey and the surrounding areas so I could take advantage of the nice weather and go for a good (and I hoped scenic) walk. I’ve not been feeling well these past few weeks so I was a little bit nervous venturing out on my first day of really feeling better, but I thought to myself that there was no contractual obligation to complete the whole walk I had planned, I could turn back at any time if I started feeling weak again.
Of course I didn’t really want to turn back.
I set off at noon and the drive was much shorter than that to the Yorkshire coast, yet managed to be 100 times more stressful. The roads were narrow, and busy, and there were a million cyclists out and about to try and overtake, or worse, cyclists on the other side of the road causing traffic that side to verge into my lane. There were also many pedestrians and bikers… basically everyone was out in all forms today. That, with the narrow roads, and my unfamiliarity of the route, meant I was soon talking back to my sat nav and muttering under my breath at various hazards…stress relief ;) In the end, the sat nav took me to a random farm so I had to turn around and find my own way for the last couple of meters which was also stressful, then I had to pay £10 (!!) entry, only for there to be no parking anyway, so I had to squeeze myself into the tiniest space ever and after recently crashing during parking, I was so nervous, and there were so many people around, passing around and behind my car making it so so difficult. It was horrible. But I felt pretty proud once I eventually got myself into the parking space, without crashing, and got the engine off.
I changed into my walking boots and slathered myself in sun cream then set off. From the car park, I wanted to head to the Valley of Desolation, then from there head onwards to the Barden Moor and finally, ascend Simons Seat. I started off well, the route was sign posted initially and busy. Eventually, as the signs petered out and the walk became less pedestrian, I missed the turning to the Valley of Desolation and had to circle back to get to it. It was worth it though, as the valley was beautiful. Despite its name, it’s actually a lush forest, and there were two waterfalls, one really quite impressive one. It was also blissfully cool and quiet in the forest. (Outside of the forest, I was melting. And probably burning despite the sun cream.) I took a million pictures and then completed my circle and set off again towards the moors. Unfortunately, I started to get tired, even though there was barely any ascent. I made it out of the forest and onto the moors and then the walk started to very slowly, very painfully, start to ascend and I could feel myself struggling. I felt so tired.
I stopped, then pushed on, then stopped again, had something to eat, then pushed on again. But eventually I had to admit I could go no further – I still needed energy to get back, and then to drive, and I just couldn’t keep pushing myself on like that. I was so annoyed. I was close enough to Simons Seat for it to be frustrating, but far enough that it wasn’t just a case of pushing forwards for a short while more. It would have been a long, painful slog to complete my journey.
I reluctantly turned back, and then my mood lifted when I stumbled upon a big group of Grouse. My only other encounter with Grouse, I thought I had gotten a video of them flying, only to find I had not pressed record. So then I lingered, taking many pictures and videos. Unfortunately I couldn’t get them flying, but I was still amazed at how close they were, and how photogenic they were being. I was holding back and being as still as I could, but they didn’t seem afraid at all. I was amazed by them, and their incredibly funny bird ‘song.’ They are fascinating creatures. I laughed at the way they would sit amongst the heather with just their heads visible. It really felt great – to have turned back from what I wanted, to find something possibly even better. I observed them for ages, following them down the road as they migrated from the heather into the bracken. Then I lost them. But after carrying on for a while I found another one. Finally, I carried on further down where I would encounter one more.
I walked back the way I had come, which wasn’t too boring, as I got to go past the waterfalls again. This time, I tried to climb to the top of the big waterfall and I got pretty close. It was quite exhilarating, if not a little scary! I got some interesting pictures though.
I made it back to the car park just as the ice cream parlour was closing, and therefore wasn’t accepting any more customers :( Then I drove home, which was still stressful, although the amount of cyclists and pedestrians had thankfully decreased. It was a good walk, I think. I am super disappointed I didn’t get to complete the whole walk, but on the plus side I did get to see the Valley of Desolation, I got to see the Grouse (which I probably wouldn’t have if I didn’t turn back when I did!), and I did walk a good 4.5 miles which is not bad when still, probably, a little sick.
I did realise though that I paid £10 and didn’t even use it to go see the Abbey itself! I’ll have to do so next time… I’m definitely going to have to go back and make it to Simons Seat then too.
Richard Siken - Unfinished Duet