Walking the public footpaths of the UK has to be one of my favorite activities on Earth. Idyllic topography. The flora and fauna. An occasional pub for an adult beverage. Dry stone walls. It brings back memories of the first walks with my husband-to-be, when we discovered a shared passion for hiking and the outdoors. Be still, my heart!
So, of course, on our recent visit to the UK in October/November, we managed to squeeze in one walk for just the two of us, somehow sandwiched in between the rampant rain!
We began in Middleton-on-Teesdale, so named for its prime location in the valley where the River Tees snakes its way among banks lined with trees.
Barns and dry stone walls, withstanding wind, rain and decomposing moss, are ubiquitous.
I don't think I have seen as many pheasants on one outing as we saw at various points on this day. We were also blessed to glimpse not one but two weasels within an hour of each other. Each one scampered into a hole below a stone wall, and how I longed to linger and see if it emerged!
Several tributaries flowed down the hill and into the river. We were thankful for this bridge to cross one of the larger ones. Near here, we had to jump across a swollen creek!
As we approached our turnaround point, a rock escarpment known as the Holwick Scars jutted up into the gathering clouds. How would you like to have this in your back yard?
Suddenly, we came upon an area bedecked with Fly Agaric, a beautiful and photogenic mushroom, despite its toxicity. Maybe they are always in this area, or maybe it was a function of the extra rainfall. Never mind the reason - I was entranced!
At this point, we entered Moor House - Upper Teesdale National Nature Preserve. One of the largest in England, the Preserve covers some 88 square kilometers of special upland habitats. It is Britain's leading site for research into the effects of a changing climate on the natural environment.
The reserve is famous for its unique Arctic-Alpine plants which have survived here since the last Ice Age and are today conserved by traditional farming and moorland management.
On the way back, we sped up a little, in light of the heavy clouds overhead. Good thing, too, or we might have been out in the heavy downpour for longer! Just before the heavens opened, I managed a final shot of Holwick Scars - even more majestic from this vantage point!