Thank Goodness for the Plantations!

So, we’ve been “locked down”, of a sort, for over a month now. I’ve been able to work at home, only very occasionally straying out to pick something up from the shops and one trip into the office to pick up a proper office chair, to try to avoid back problems, and a few odds and ends. Being stuck indoors is not something I’ve ever been fond of to put it mildly – even when I was very young my mother always used to say I was like a caged lion when I had to stay in the house. But we are allowed out for exercise, so long as we maintain “social distancing”, so, with the weather being so fine for most of the lock down so far, I’ve been out most days for a walk. We’re lucky in that, although we live close to the town centre, just a short walk down to the bottom of our street and I’m down by the river in the valley that forms a “green corridor” bisecting the north end of town and leading to the Plantations and Haigh Woodland Park.

Within 10 minutes I’m in very pleasant woodland of beech trees with a proportion of oak, horse chestnut, sycamore, ash and lime and Scots pine, which stretches a couple of miles up to Haigh Hall. Until the mid 19th Century the area was something of an industrial wasteland, damaged by mining. But in the 1860’s the Plantations were created as a means of providing work for cotton workers who had become unemployed due to the Cotton Famine caused by the American Civil War.

Most days I’ve managed to get out for an hour or so wandering through the woods. I’ve walked around the Plantations for many, many years but to add some variety, and also to keep away from the main driveway and maintain “social distancing” rules I’ve been exploring and have discovered several paths I didn’t know where there!

I was worried that I might find it boring wandering around the same territory, but I’ve managed to vary my route and although woodland might seem very “samey” there’s quite a lot of variation and I’ve enjoyed watching the changes taking place as we move through the Springtime. At the start of the lock down the ground was wet and muddy after all the rain we’d had in February, the trees were bare and there was little vegetation, but over time the ground has dried up, the birds are singing and over the past week I’ve seen the bluebells bloom and the leaves open on the trees. A couple of days ago buttercups appeared and other plants are now starting to bloom.

Build me up Buttercup!

The weather looks like it’s starting to change today and I reckon we’ll see some rain later in the week. I’ll still try to get out, though. I’m stuck at a desk most of the day in my home “office” and getting out for a walk in the early evening is helping to take my mind off all the worries and keep me sane.

I don’t know how long this is going to last – there’s no end in sight at the moment. I’m enjoying getting out and walking through the Plantations, but I’m missing being out on the open moors in the Pennines, the Lakeland fells and the Welsh hills and mountains. I’d planned to take a break in the Lake District in May and a trip to Snowdonia in July. We also had a trip to Ireland planned for late in May too. Currently, though, we have to make the most of whatever’s nearby and with the Plantations on my doorstep I’m luckier than many people stuck in city centres. But when this all ends I’m sure I won’t be the only one dashing off to the Lakes.

33 thoughts on “Thank Goodness for the Plantations!

    • I think you have plenty of scope for good local works in your part of the world. And it looks like you’re making the most of it. Keep safe and healthy 😊

  1. Like you, Mick, I’m not used to being home for such a long time at a stretch. Should have been walking in the Mourne Mountains from tomorrow and also was booked for Ireland again from 23rd May. A walking trip in Spain and Portugal in June, not surprisingly, was cancelled. My train trip to Switzerland and Bavaria (Oberammergau) in July may take place in 2022. And more smaller trips and days and volunteering at Fountains Abbey all ‘off’. Oh well, I feel very very lucky. I’m not at all bored. Have plenty to do and if the predicted rain comes and stays then I could always look at reviving the Boudoir 🙂

    • We were due in Ireland roughly the same time as you in May, Barbara. Wouldn’t be the first time we were in the same vicinity would it? But not to be this time.
      We were planning on going to Montreal for our summer holiday. Luckily we hadn’t actually booked anything before the Lockdown was enforced. Hopefully we can go next year.
      I’m not bored. My workload has literally do led due to the crisis. I’m working at home trying to convert training courses for online delivery and hoping we can survive all this.
      Ah well, at least we have our health

  2. Gorgeous photos with the blue sky, I think the first one is my favourite. Although I’ve been to Haigh Hall in the past I’ve never heard of this place before – I’ll maybe get over there and explore once we get the freedom to roam again 🙂

    • If you’re at the hall or the activity area just start walking and within a few minutes you’re in the woods. There’s lots if tracks off the main tarmac drag. Definitely worth a visit

  3. You will soon know the plantations like the back of your hand. It must be fascinating to see the new growth and day-to-day changes. I was the opposite as a child. Being sent to my room could never be a punishment; actually, I was sometimes made to go outside.

  4. I’ve found the chance to get out every day quite compelling – every day it seems something new is flowering, or, for a while at least, some new species of bird had added it’s voice to the chorus. However, I take your point – accommodation in the Lakes is going to be at a premium when restrictions are lifted.

    • Hearing all the bird song I only wish I could identify the birds. I think the RSPB have some recordings on their website – I’ll have to check that out.
      Our first trip after the lockdwn will be to the Netherlands as our daughter is still over there. But I’ll be desperate to get out intothe mountains. But like you say it won’t be easy to find somewhere to stay. Luckily I can drive up there in less than 2 hours – but might not be able to park!

      • I make very slow progress, but I can recognise a handful of species now. Interesting this year to have a chance to realise how dominate nuthatches and chiff-chaffs were in March and then I was surprised that Song Thrushes were week or two ahead of Blackbirds joining in. Now there are lots of songs and it’s getting harder to be confident about what I’m hearing.

      • I can recognise blackbirds and pigeons and, on the moors, skylarks, lapwings and curlews. That’s about it ☹️

      • The RSBP has the song of each bird on their website. Two easy ones to try to master – I know they are easy because I can recognise them – would be Chiff-chaff and Song Thrush. The Thrush is a bit like a Blackbird, but it does everything in threes and is very strident.

  5. I don’t think it will be too long now, the prodding by business seems to point to early/mid May for some sort of release. I hope that recreationally it means we can go further. How far, time will tell.

    • I’m not sure it will be that early. Maybe mid May but the “return” will be phased and, given the way they clamped down zealously on visiting the countryside pretty early, I doubt walking on the hills will be an early relaxation. But nobody knows (especially the Government!) so we’ll just have to go with the flow and see what happens

      • More like June.
        Just listened on the radio to another harrowing story of a young life lost to the coronavirus, his girlfriend’s plea was to Stay At Home.

  6. I find it difficult to listen to the radio or watch tv. I’m Not completely burying my head in the sand – read selected articles in the paper – but need torstionthe stress.
    Keep safe

  7. I’m feeling the same but from the perspective of a bike (my local fields aren’t very inspiring for walking). Discovered a whole host of new cycle routes from my front door and my increasing bike fitness means I can now climb a few hills to reach some more elevated routes.

  8. Pingback: The Curlew | Down by the Dougie

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