Blessings #155 – A Walk in the Woods

One of my most favourite places is Borrowdale in Cumbria. As I drive down into Borrowdale from Keswick I always feel like any stress that I am feeling is progressively being lifted from me.

Leaving the wide open expanse of the Derwentwater valley the road enters into a narrow cutting beyond Grange. Following the route of the river Derwent the road twists and turns for a mile or so before it opens out into Borrowdale.

Beautiful Walking in BorrowdaleSurrounded by hills on all sides Borrowdale is like a land that is cut off from the rest of the world – a secret, hidden place,

Some of the valley sides are displaying rocky crags, some are covered in grass and heather, but my favourite are the ones cloaked in ancient woodland.

This isolated place has managed to avoid the imposition of rows upon rows of conifers. It’s steep sides and remoteness have meant that the original broadleaf ecosystem still persists in all its splendour.

On August Bank holiday this year the weather was glorious and we were visiting family in Keswick. Even though we were really there to see family it always seems a shame not to get out into the countryside for at least part of the day. I set out from the busy market town with the view that I would park at the first place I could find. Passing crammed full car parks at Kettlewell and Grange I carried on into Borrowdale. No parking in Longthwaite or Seathhwaite either, so Seatoller it was, but only in the last parking space in the car park.

Heading for the gate at the rear of the car park I took the well trodden path along the river through the woods towards Longthwaite. Here the northern, eastern and southern sides of High Doat is covered with Jonny Wood. High Doat is not a huge hill but the woods like magnificent.

There’s something very special about the way that summer sunlight shines it’s way through a mixed broad leaf wood. The variety of green hew is sometimes breathtaking.

The floor of the wood is visibly alive with flora and fauna of immense variety. The birds might not be too visible but their song makes the presence of many species obvious.

Beautiful Walking in BorrowdaleEvery now and again the trees part to give fabulous framed views of the crags beyond.

After a little way the path and the wood drop down towards the river with elegant vintage trees bowing down to the clear crystal stream as it babbles and bubbles over rock and through crevice.

As I walk along I contemplate the things that these trees have witnessed. It’s a way to put thoughts and worries into perspective.

A wonderful walk and a great blessing.

Count Your Blessings #136 – Bridges

Crackington HavenI’ve written a few times about thoughts that come to me on my morning walk near where I live. It’s not surprising that I get ideas while out walking because that’s one of the reasons that I do it.

Walking and thinking is something that people have done for generations and generations, it’s great way of relieving stress.

Near our house I’m very privileged to have a whole set of walks through fields and woods. There are all sorts of alternatives, all of them out into the countryside.

The options for walking would be very limited though is it wasn’t for the wonderful invention of the bridge.

Our house isn’t far from a four lane section of the M6 motorway, there’s just a thin slither of countryside between the two. There’s a nice path down this slither, but it would become a bit dull if I couldn’t go down the path and along the lane under the thundering traffic and out into the open fields beyond. Then travel a bit further along to the old railway line and back across the wide footbridge, that links it back up to the other side.

Crossthwaite ViewsOn other days I can go through the woods a bit further along and over the footbridge into another set of woods where I’ve seen deer a few times. This footbridge is so narrow that if you look down towards your feet you can feel like you are flying over all of the vehicles as they speed underneath.

Trying to cross the M6 without access to these bridges would be a recipe for suicide, literally.  If it wasn’t for these bridges I would be stuck on my side of the motorway. I would have places to walk, but my options would be so limited.

The bridges enable me to connect to a much broader set of experiences and a whole new set of opportunities.

There is common phrase used about broken relationships: “burning your bridges” which suggests that relationships are a bit like bridges. If bridges open up new opportunities and relationships are like bridges how many relationships do you have that open up new prospects. I count myself as particularly blessed with the number of friends that add so much to who I am.

There’s also another relationship that broadens my perspective in so many ways and that is my relationship with Jesus. Many people see Christianity as something that shrinks peoples options, but a relationship with Jesus does exactly the opposite.

Jesus: “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

John 10:10