I've been holding off for as long as I could but this weekend I finally gave in and the tinsel, fairy lights and baubles came out - Christmas is officially 'almost here' in our house.
The last week has been somewhat challenging in terms of getting out and walking. The snow and then the icy conditions that followed did mean however that I rediscovered some of the simple joys of 'just round the corner' walks.
The Bath Grounds was beautiful in the snow as one would expect and the park at Westfields (just at the back of our house) was looking really pretty too with a fair number of snowmen keeping watch as we ambled through all wrapped up and with Snowtrax fitted (they're just the best thing for walking in icy conditions).
Anyway now that the big day is almost upon us I've been giving some thought to Christmas walks.
With most people having time off work over the festive season, plus that thing of having had far too much to eat, not to mention being shut up in the house with family members for possibly a fraction too long - it's that time when virtually everyone feels the need to get outside for a bit and stretch their legs. Of course this often includes those family members for whom a regular walks means once a year! So where to go? Here's my local guide for planning that Christmas walk:
Moira Furnace - Beautiful building plus the canal and the Lime Kilns, should impress family from out of the area. Loads of hard paths and plenty of benches so good for the not so young who need firm surfaces and somewhere to stop and enjoy the view.
Hicks Lodge - Perfect for youngsters who got a new bike for Christmas and want to pedal along. Good firm paths (though fairly hilly in places). Brilliant cafe to enjoy a coffee or hot chocolate afterwards.
Calke Abbey - Beautiful setting, choice of parking either within the park, at Ticknall Village Hall, or Calke Village. Expect it to be very busy especially on Boxing Day and New Years Day. The promise of a tunnel to explore is likely to grab the interest of even the most reluctant walker.
Dimminsdale Nature Reserve - If you are fed up with short days, long nights and winter in general then head to Dimminsdale. Climb the hill and keep your eyes open. I can guarantee that the first snowdrops will already be peeping out to fill your heart with joy at the promise that Spring is just around the corner.
If you need a bit of help planning your walk you'll find a selection of routes that include all of the above plus more in Walks for all in the Heart of the Forest. You can buy it at Ashby or Swadlincote Tourist Information Centres, at Hicks Lodge, or online. If you order online anytime up to 23rd and live in or around the Ashby area I'll pop it through your letterbox in time for Christmas.
Seasons greetings and Happy Walking in 2018.
I just can't resist a footpath sign. The lure of that little arrow just says 'explore me' and sooner or later I just have to find out where it goes. Happily the National Forest is just full of paths. Public footpaths, permissive paths, tracks, trails and long distance paths - we've got the lot!