If I have a spare 20 minutes or so and I need to clear the head, I usually #explore around my corner, head up the road and dive down into a small wood. This is one of my favorite, and perhaps most visited trips out because I don’t need anything special and I can go whenever I feel like it. My only objective is to find some quiet time, breathe fresh air, and simply to get outside, usually because I haven’t been anywhere else for a while and cabin fever is starting to set in. I do try my hardest not to be a selfish person but sometimes, I just need to get out by myself for a while, away from the same four walls. Stepping out of the routine and enjoying something different helps me to clear the mind, and re focus the energies, putting things back in perspective.
So, with time on my hands I dive in to my toy room (cupboard under the stairs), grab a coat and wellies, then head for the front door. Just walking out of the gate and on to the road I immediately get a sense of release, and my mindset is completely changed. Treading the familiar pavement but going up to an unknown adventure instead of down to the station or town, I’m not sure what to expect because I don’t know if the weather has changed the state of the river, will it be muddy and wet, or dry and clear – it doesn’t matter because I’m prepared for anything. I turn up hill to a steep road, so decide to turn this into a training climb and quicken the pace. Not so fast that I can’t breathe and don’t give my mind time to wonder off, but fast enough to increase the heart rate and get the blood flowing. Just as I reach the prow of the hill, I can spot my entrance in to the woods and know from this point it’s all tracks and paths, secluded and almost cut off from the real world.
Just before I plunge in, I stop and take in the view of my surrounding area. I can see the estate I live on, most of the town I live in, but more importantly I can see hills and mountains that I can visit another time. Thinking on this I consider a plan for a new adventure to the hill in the distance. Back to the here and now, and I disappear from the world under a canopy of trees, and hedgerow, with only the birds to hear and the branches to push past.
As soon as I’ve left the road and turned the first corner, a new world is before me and I look at each twist and turn as if it’s the first time I’ve seen it. I’ve been here loads of times before of course, but the bushes have grown, the colors have changed, and the place is just a bit different to the last time I visited. My first obstacle – a steep path down, covered in wet leaves and all set to help you slip slide and get to the bottom a whole lot quicker than you expected. I’m only a few meters from the road, but no one can see or hear me, so even though I’m still really close to civilization I do need to be a bit careful about how I get down, just in case. Little steps, and forget what’s around you for the minute, try not to get distracted by the buzzard flying about, and watch where you put your feet. Half way down just as I think I’ve cracked it, the concentration goes, and I end up running the last bit. Anyway, I get to the bottom unscathed, and look for the familiar path that takes me along the river. I live in Wales, so the weather is predictably wet and unpredictable, it’s been raining a lot recently, so the river is full with plenty of water running down. I notice the tree that seems to have been there forever and think about doing an “Indiana Jones” run along the trunk but perhaps not such a good idea, If I slip there, I’m going to get a lot more soaked than a foot, so perhaps leave that stunt for another day.
So instead stop, and just “be” for a bit. I force myself into a routine I follow that helps to clear my mind and stop me thinking about whatever it is, I’ve been doing for the last few days.
If anyone saw me, they would probably think I was a little odd, but even though I’m right on the edge of an estate, this place is not visited much, so I’m willing to take the risk. I can see tyre tracks of a motorbike, but they soon disappear as the track narrows, I can see footprints and the prints of an animal, probably a dog, someone walking their dog, I wonder where they were going or what they were thinking about whilst they were down here.
Onwards, I’ve tried several times to follow the river and see where it comes from, but I’ve either run out of time or run in to an obstacle like a fence or something. I haven’t got long today so maybe leave that adventure for another time. I can still walk past the pond (which is only a big pool where the river slows down before plunging on down the hill I just came up), and on to the “gauntlet”. I call this area the gauntlet because the path really narrows down and is covered with roots. I can follow this all the way along and up another hill, but never found where the path goes, so one day I need to set some time aside to follow it as far as I can to see where I end up, no other reason than just because I can.
Stop – how am I feeling now? Fresh, awake, and not thinking about anything other than where I am and what I’m doing. Great my objective of the trip – met. Checking the time and judging how long it took to get here, I think perhaps, its time to turn around and head back. So, one last look around and I turn toe and head back the way I’ve come.
Get to a junction in the path and decide there’s enough time to stroll back on a different route, it’ll bring me out at the bottom of the road I started on anyway. So, I head along the path in front of me passing the slope I came down earlier. I’m slowly leaving the river behind so its getting quieter, but this is now being interrupted with the steady throng of life – cars coming and going, children on bikes or playing football in the park. I have to walk past the park to get back to my house, and feel a little out of place in my wellies and coat, but then they haven’t been on the mini adventure I’ve just been on, and their not feeling the same exhilaration I am at the moment, so I don’t really care how I look. As it turns out their more interested in playing their games than me anyway.
Back at my corner now, feeling invigorated and ready to take on life once again. One of my favourite outings – takes very little time, virtually no effort, and doesn’t cost a penny – what’s not to like.