It had been too long since I’d seen scenery that wasn’t the farms around our house, so when my wife told me to text a friend to try and do something with our sons, it was very welcome. Alastair Humphreys spent much of the last year exploring a map that he had printed up of the area on his doorstep. When we’ve figured out where we will be living long-term, I hope to do the same thing. In the meantime, I’m trying to find what exploring I can do right here.
Practically on our doorstep is a walk that shows our area at its best. It starts in town and takes us along the road down to Avon Water, the river that this valley takes its name from.
It was nice to have a break from thinking about ministry things and to just walk and chat and try to name the trees. The more nature writing that I read, the more I wish I knew. We passed by the remnants of beech trees that would have acted as hedges. I learned that alder trees have ”all the things”. My shoes could not have been a worse choice but they did the job without me ending up on my backside in a bog.
Having spent most of the last few years in the city, we grew used to seeing gates or bridges covered in padlocks. It was curious seeing a bunch of old coins hammered into the back of a bench. A new way of keeping an old superstitious practice; once upon a time, illnesses would be “placed on the coin” before it was hammered into a tree to take it away.
Before heading back to town, we walked through the village of Sandford. It’s a really nice little conservation area that feels the right amount of quaint. Old mills seem to be strewn throughout this area and even heading into east Ayrshire to the west of us. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the old millstones resting against the house.