This weekend Professor Tanya Byron talked about family time in the Saturday Times. Top of her list were some very basic bonding behaviours such as walking together as a family, chatting and looking at nature. So our walk around the Stourhead estate in Wiltshire fitted the bill perfectly. We had intended to marvel at the autumn colours there, but guessed we may be slightly late. We had also visited and seen the spectacular colours the two previous autumns. Please pop over to Autumn Colours at Stourhead and Stourhead Revisited to see the stunning autumn vistas.
We started in at the Waterwheel in Turner’s Paddock. This has recently been restored and dates from the 19th century. A watermill was recorded on the same site in the Doomsday book. Turner’s paddock is named after the landscape artist JMW Turner, who painted heret in 1799 and you can see why as it is a beautiful spot.
There must have been some beautiful trees on the site. This felled tree I think was perhaps an oak and it nearly defeated B in trying to climb it. its a long time since i have seen such a large trunk.
Then there was the fun of crossing the cattle grid. I don’t know why all playgrounds don’t contain one of these. Yes I do, they probably would pass a risk assessment.
At the end of the track there was the most idyylic woodland cottage with a curved hedge to die for . What is it about smoke coming from the chimney that makes everything look and feel so cosy.
Through the woods we stopped several time to find a suitable stick to carry and ocassionally substituted a stick for one which was deemed to be larger or better. In fact for us a walk without a stick is not a proper walk.
We travelled down a steep path and B experimented how deep the years of leaf mold were and how soft the landing was when he inevitably slipped over. Our trail lead to a lovely coombe called Great Oar Meadow. This unimproved hay meadow has had no fertilisers added for 14 years and is now a habitat for rare native orchids and other flora. Note to self to visit again in the spring.
The meadow was full of sheep and beef cattle all munching away, except for this rather tired looking, but magnificent, fellow. After a moment or two we realised the cause of his exhaustion. The device tied around him was full of yellow dye and every ewe in the field had a yellow-tinted rear. He’d been a busy boy!
Our walk ended with a quick visit to the landscape gardens and it was interesting to note the difference in the feel. In a garden you tend to wander and amble whereas as out on the estate we had been striding out and moving freely. An altogether very different experience. So pleased that this time we choose the walk and not the wander.