A Walking Disaster.

 

Elland Bridge

On Saturday we decided to through caution to the winds, cock a snook at the constant rain and risk going on a walk along the canal.  Suitably armed with umbrellas and raincoats and optimism that the rain would hold off just for one morning, we set off to catch the E8 bus and alighted at Elland bridge for the beginning of the walk.  We have done this particular walk many times, its a pleasant enough walk along the canal towpath just as long as you don’t happen to be deaf.  If so, you are in constant danger of being run down by the numerous cyclists who seem to consider these canal towpaths as their domain.  They are requested to ring their bells twice in order to alert walkers to their impending presence, but this rule takes for granted that walkers are not hard of hearing and are able to move swiftly aside to let the bikers through.

As we began our walk, I felt quite optimistic, there was actually some blue sky to be seen and it was reasonably warm into the bargain, a good day for a walk I thought. Then we reached the canal towpath and my heart sank.  Despite the fact that the towpath along this stretch of canal is tarmacked, it was covered in a layer of thick slimy mud. It looked like someone had tried to cover the path with thick brown chocolate.  It stretched along the towpath in front of us for at least 4 or 5 metres or so.

Thick oozing mud Now anyone in their right mind would have turned around at this point and beat a hasty retreat back to the mud free road and called it a day.  Any sane mother with an ounce of brain who can recall how her daughter is none too happy walking on anything but a flat surface, and who has endured previous slides and falls in just a tiny patch of mud would have turned back at the sight of it all.  But readers, you all know me by now!  Never one to be beaten by an insurmountable quest such as thick sticky mud, I simply took hold of her hand and we both gingerly plodded our way through the first mud patch.  In my defence, I was reasoning that it was only this patch, after all (I reasoned) this path was tarmacked so it was surely just this area, and we would soon be walking on a nice dry tarmacked surface as we continued our way onward back to town.

We ploughed our way through the next patch, even deeper and stickier and harder to get through than the last one.  I couldn’t understand it!  What had caused this mud to appear on the canal path? As we struggled on, both of our shoes began to become covered up to the laces with slimy gooey mud, and we made some vain attempts to get it off with grass, puddles anything bar dangling our feet into the canal, and at one point I have to confess that I did even consider doing just that.  By now, we had reached a sort of en passé.  In front was yet another huge patch of thick mud, but behind us were all those patches that we had just struggled through.  A vivid illustration of being between a rock and a hard place I thought to myself, as I looked guiltily at my daughter clutching grimly to the fence at the side of the mud covered path.  What sort of mother was I?  Dragging her Down’s Syndrome daughter on one perilous venture after another, and for one horrible moment I remembered the nightmare incident where I foolishly took her up the 275 spiral staircase steps in the York Minster tower and how that incident had left me with nightmares!

The lesser of two evils was to negotiate this last patch as there was a canal lock where we could hopefully get back onto the main road. As I stood there contemplating which was the best way forward, two cyclists rode past us, churning through the mud with their bikes as if it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Ah hah!  Now it all fell into place!  This stretch of the canal is a very well used route by cyclists, so maybe they were the reason why the mud was all over the path!  They were covered in it, all the way up their legs, but the bikes went through it like a knife through butter.  Meanwhile, we squelched our way through the remaining patch of mud, walked across the lock gates and out onto the main road. 

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We must have both looked a sight, with mud covered shoes on! Luckily there was a pipe gushing water out further up the road, so we both stuck our shoes under it to hopefully remove most of the mud. I had some tissues on me and we did manage to get quite a lot of the mud from each shoe, before continuing our walk along the road which is not a easy task in itself.  Elland Road is a very busy road, lined with trees on either side and snaking continuously as it does from left to right, and yet for some strange reason,  everyone seems to drive like lunatics on this particular stretch of road despite the poor visibility around corners.  It has always been a notorious road for accidents, and I was more than a little apprehensive as we both walked along. The pavement isn’t all that wide either, so eventually I rang our local taxi service to come and collect us to take us the rest of the way back into town. 

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We decided to have our lunch in Wetherspoons for a change, and as we sat waiting for our meal, mud stained shoes tucked under the table in the vain hope that no one else would notice them, I went over in my mind the whole mornings adventures.  Instead of being thwarted by the weather as we had expected, we had ended up being stopped in our tracks by mud, thick mud of the kind that I had never seen before in my entire life, probably churned up by all the cyclists who were probably revelling in it.  And for me a stark and valuable lesson. Stop being such an idiot and admit defeat when its staring you in the face, and stop dragging your daughter through impossible tasks!  I rewarded her for her all her endeavours with a luscious chocolate sundae! 

Not a lot of photos I’m afraid, as I was far too busy helping Kerri and myself stay upright to take many pics.

TG Confused smile

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A Lakeside Ramble.

Snow surround

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.

Setting Off

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.

Gulls on boats

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.

Muddy path through the trees

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.

 

TG

A Canal walk in the October sunshine.

Yesterday we enjoyed a wonderful walk alongside the canal in the gorgeous sunshine that we are all currently enjoying in the UK.  In a way, it’s not the best weather to walk in, simply because you do tend to get rather hot, but we were all armed with plenty of bottles of water to drink in order to avoid getting dehydrated.  After all meeting up in the bus station where we all distributed ourselves into various cars for the journey to the start of the walk, we set off at about 11.15am. It wasn’t too warm at this stage, and the side of the canal that we were on was well shaded by the trees.  We have both missed going on the walks of late, and therefore K was having a real problem keeping up with the others. She has never been too good at walking on uneven surfaces, and this part of the canal does not have a very wide ‘walkway’, its  just a narrow path with lot’s of uneven grass at either side.

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