I’m lucky to live in Tetbury, a bustling (sometimes) market town in the heart of the Cotswolds. Within a few minutes of leaving my front door I can be chatting with our excellent butcher, enjoying a pint at one of several different pubs, taking my daughters to the library or school for new discoveries, or striding across open fields. And of course despite being blessed with a richness of opportunity on our doorstep, we realised at the end of last year that we didn’t seem to ‘get out enough’. We visited friends all round the country, went camping and so on, but we didn’t seem to ‘get our boots on and just go for a walk’.
So that has become our unofficial family resolution for 2012: or, at least Rachel and I are making a conscious effort, and the girls so far have been eager to join us (perhaps the relatively mild weather and promise of hot chocolate and cake when we return has something to do with that!).
As is often the way with New Year Resolutions, we got off to a good start. We were staying with friends in Harpenden, and on New Year’s Day set out along a footpath that follows an old railway line. Perhaps because it’s Harpenden, this path was properly tarmac-ed, a perfect route for our younger daughter to try out her Christmas Scooter and practise balancing on two wheels.
The very next day we really shrugged off our Christmas routines by actually leaving the house before noon. In fact, we were striding towards the edge of the Cotswold Escarpment before 11am as we left the carpark at Dyrham Park, a stunning National Trust property between Tetbury and Bath.
We followed paths very familiar to us from previous visits down to the house, but then walked back up the hill through the trees and the deer park. We didn’t see any deer up close, but it was a really lovely walk with marvellous views across to the River Severn. The weather was closing in, which kept us focused as we climbed the hill back to the car.
This route is part of a whole series of National Trust ‘one-mile-walks’. I think this is a pretty ‘long’ mile…
The National Trust has long been championing the natural beauty of the UK and the benefits of getting outdoors more. I reckon they’re bang on the money, and their website and social media feeds are well worth a look.
And then this weekend, after a marathon but rewarding session of decluttering virtually every room in the house, and re-felting the roof of our garden shed (!?), we went out closer to home, down what we know as The Old Rope Walk in Tetbury, out into Preston Park. Again the girls had their scooters, but the path was a bit muddy for generating any real speed… On the way back we were able to scavenge in the woods and come home with a massive sack full of twigs and fallen branches for firewood kindling.
We’ve already got our eye on a tramp around Woodchester Park for next weekend. In the meantime, I’m enjoying parking a bit further from the office each morning. I get to walk down the hill into Bath along part of The Cotswold Way and across Victoria Park; not too shabby at all…
Expect further updates during 2012: I reckon this is a resolution that will be pretty easy to keep.