Yesterday morning we set of for a walk which initially was intended to be around the entire area of Shibden Park. A cursory glance outside the window that morning dictated that we might both be wiser wearing our Ugg boots rather than our walking boots because the ground was covered in ice and looked extremely slippery to walk on. I find that walking boots are brilliant for muddy or wet slippery conditions, but not so useful for keeping one upright whenever its icy. Trouble was as it turned out, the boots that we decided to wear were not much of an improvement.
We had a terrible time during the trek through the local cemetery, ending up having to resort to walking along the grass adjacent to the path in order to make any headway. It didn’t help that we had a bus to catch. Arriving at the bus stop outside Shibden Park only to be greeted by a steep downhill walk covered in wet soggy leaves and sheets of ice didn’t fill us with enthusiasm either, and it was only my lifetimes experience of being a pedestrian that helped to get us safely down the hill without a fall. By using a tactic of carefully weaving our way through natures winter hazards did we make it safely to the car park, only to be greeted by a really icy covered path leading to the Cafe. Gripping the fence which thankfully ran the whole way along it with both hands and stepping gingerly one careful step at a time was the only way to arrive safely at the Cafe door without taking a tumble, and we sat down to catch our breaths and enjoy a welcome hot drink. We were very early but catching the later bus would have meant that we would have arrived too late for the arranged meet up with the other walkers.
Although our reasons for braving the icy and thoroughly treacherous conditions was questionable, we were far from being alone in being in the park in this weather. There were not only some dog walkers already walking along the skating rink like paths in the park, but also many families who had thrown caution to the winds and arrived with their offspring. Mind you, children do tend to enjoy this kind of weather and walking in icy conditions probably doesn’t hold the same fear for them because they haven’t as far to fall as adults. Even so, I did question in my head the sanity of the parents. After everyone foolhardy enough had gathered in the car park, and one member had done a quick reconnoitre to inspect the paths for the safest route, it was decided that the lower path was considered safe to walk on, and so after a brief wait whilst all those wearing walking boots added Crampons to their soles, we finally set off.
I was mainly left to my own devices because daughter used her usual tactic whenever the ground is unsafe underfoot, and hooked herself up with the nearest male she could find. At one point during the walk she had one on either side of her. As we circled the lake via the safe path I busied myself taking shots with my camera. The sky was clear and blue and the sun was shining down but not having al that much affect on melting the ice. The party broke into two at one point during the walk, when a few foolhardy souls took their life in their hands and decided to tackle a path which had the additional hazard of water melt running down it, we with more sense took a lower route which all though it was safer, ended up consisting of mud, twigs and wet leaves as it meandered through the trees.
Despite the icy conditions, the miniature railway was running once the engine driver had inspected the route. He passed us during the inspection because our so called safe route took us across the railway lines. If it hadn’t been for the muddy conditions this part of the walk would have been very enjoyable but I found myself spending most of my time climbing up grassy banks trying desperately to avoid the very muddy path. At one point we passed a blocked off area surrounding what appeared to be an old mineshaft which then became the focal point for a lengthy discussion from one member about Anne Lister who used to own the whole of Shibden Park. As interesting as it was to hear the history of Shibden Park and why the fenced off area was probably a mine shaft, I was beginning to loose all interest as it can be so tiring to walk whilst picking one’s way around mud and ice. Eventually we arrived back at the Cafe for lunch where most of the others had to remove their Crampons from their boots before entering.
I ordered a salad, strange I know considering the cold icy conditions we’d just ploughed through, and K ordered a Pasta Bolognese which was far more sensible. We accepted the kind offer of a lift home from one of the other party, and after giving our mud covered boots a good clean I could eventually sit down and ponder on the days walk.