A sociable walk this one, organised by a friend from the village. Perhaps she was thinking of the time we did this same walk together once before, which was, let me see….two years ago! I can hardly believe that it’s that long ago. This was a more modest affair with less human participants, but a superabundance of dogs, especially spaniels. Most of the children seemed to be assigned to a dog and given a lead to be dragged by. Initially, poor B didn’t have his own canine companion and was looking very glum. He didn’t have to wait long however before his turn came and I’ve rarely seen him grin so broadly. (He’s been offered the loan of a dog to take for a walk whenever he wants, before anybody starts lobbying on his behalf for me to drop my anti-mutt stance.)
It was a beautiful day, and almost warm, if you could get out of the biting easterly wind.
Far Arnside is a wonderful spot. It has excellent fossils in the rocks by the shore and, at this time of year, woods full of daffodils.
Whilst the rest of the party followed the shore, I took to the cliff path (this being a sociable walk and me being my usual sociable self). In my defence, I was the only adult male present, the kids were charging around after the dogs shouting and the mums were talking about…well, I don’t know what they were talking about obviously, as I was up on the cliff, but I’m willing to bet that they weren’t debating the likely outcome of the Manchester derby or trying to pick a winner for the Grand National, or mulling over what would make their personal top ten dub reggae tracks.
(Incidentally, my inability to ‘do ‘ normal conversation is a great frustration to TBH. She’s given up asking how my old friends are after I’ve met up with them for a walk or a weekend, since she was rarely duped by my shrugged: “Umm, seemed OK?” standard answer. “You didn’t ask, did you? What did you talk about?” Which is a daft question surely: football, mountains, music, motorway service stations, A roads, anecdote bingo…..Anything unimportant really. Ask somebody how they are and they might actually tell you. In great detail. You might need to think of an appropriate response. Minefield!)
He and my father had entered into one of those close (the adjective is excessive) English friendships that begin by excluding confidences and very soon dispense with dialog.
from Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by J.L.Borges
In the woods, out of that wind, despite the lack of leaves it felt (whisper it) almost spring-like.
Somewhere in the vicinity of Park Point I dropped down to the beach, which was intricately patterned with waders footprints….
The walk along the sands here from Park Point to Arnside Point must be the finest ⅓ of a mile in the district.
It’s possible to carry on across the sands to Blackstone Point, thus avoiding the muddy salt-marsh, but we were looking for a sheltered picnic spot and headed for the shingle beach at White Creek.
I was given a Bushbuddy stove several years ago and haven’t really got around to using it as much as I would have liked. But, for picnics with the kids it seems ideal, especially given that they have inherited their mum’s pyromania. (TBH is a Chemistry teacher, which is to say, a would be arsonist channelling their urges in socially acceptable lithium and Bunsen burner fireworks.) And for once, after the prolonged dry spell we’d been having, there ought to be plenty of suitable fuel around too.
In the event, it took an awful lot of matches and failed attempts before we got the thing going very successfully, but the tea and hot blackcurrant were highly appreciated when we finally had them ready.
From Blackstone Point we followed the River Kent into Arnside. It’s a very pleasant walk, with lovely views.
At New Barns we had a momentary drama when we lost Pippin, one of the assembled crew of spaniels, but the kids finally found that she had diverted into Grubbins wood, presumably on the trail of an interesting scent.
When we reached Arnside Prom, the kids were clamouring for ice creams. Meanwhile the mums….
…were captivated. Captions on a postcard please.
We walked a little further, hoping to enjoy chips on the prom, only to find that we were too late (or too early) and the Big Chip Cafe was closed. Not to worry, we found an admirable substitute in the Heron Cafe next door.
By this point many of the kids had had enough. Phone calls were made, lifts arrived. Only B wanted to continue. He and I were joined, for a return walk along Black Dyke and through Eaves Wood by one of the other Dads, who had brought a car to give lifts and then found himself without a seat in the car for the return journey. We talked about vegetarianism, work, lacto-intolerance, keeping chickens, parenthood…dangerously close to a proper conversation in fact.