As part of the drive to indoctrinate the kids that walking and being outdoors is fun we went for an "adventure", defined in this case as "exploring somewhere that we've never been." The place in this case was Glen woods and Sunny Dale reservoir on the hill above East Morton. I've walked, cycled and run around the area but never on this particular path.
The path followed the top edge of the woods with a steep in places drop to the stream in the valley bottom. There were still a few autumnal leaves clinging to the trees and the floor was a mushy orange carpet hiding slippery wet tree roots and squelchy puddles. Perfect terrain for small welly boots and those of us breaking in our new B3 winter boots.
The woods were beautiful in their autumn coat and the twisting path winding round the contours of the valley gave new views and perspectives on a regular basis. Nice to stand around eating a sandwich and listening to Blue Tits arguing in the trees above.
Pottering along we stopped to look at anything that took our interest - rotten tree stumps, waterfalls, bridges that trolls live under, rocks that look like giant brains and more fungi than you could shake a stick at. We know, we tried.
We dropped out of the woods and along the dam of the reservoir and down past the old stone built terraced cottages into East Morton village.
Looking for fish in the reservoir
From East Morton we snuck along the back of the allotments, dodging nettles all the way. I like the way that allotments look so chaotic and yet oddly organised. From there it is only a short drop back down the hill into Riddlesden via Bury Lane.
We all agreed that this was a good walk.
The Second Run
Many of the paths we walked on that day are part of my usual running routes around the local area and I wanted to try the path through the woods at speed. So the next evening I put on my headtorch and fell running shoes, setting out to follow the exact route we took on our walk.
I've always loved off road running at night. The landscape changes dramatically with views replaced with twinkling lights in the distance. Not that you notice as much because your attention is drawn inwards and focused almost entirely on that small spot of light from your torch cast on the path in front of you.
The track did not disappoint. The constant undulation, the twists and turns, off camber sections studded with wet tree roots, fast and flowing it left me grinning from ear to ear.
Things we saw the previous day appeared like single frames from a film; a fallen log where we'd counted five different fungi, the brain rock, the tree stump, the slippery bridge. They came and went in an instant, familiar but fleeting, like looking through a series of photo we'd taken, recognisable object but lacking some kind of context.
I was more aware of sound on the run through the woods. Startled birds flying from their roost, an owl calling further down the hill, running water, ducks splash landing in the reservoir.
I used to be terrified of the woods at night and these unexpected sounds still make me jump. This time I'm merely uneasy, nervous, trying to dismiss thoughts of what might be lurking behind the dark trunks, attempting to restrain my imagination whilst my legs thump along, the adrenalin from this unseen threat powering my flight. Emerging from the woods I almost felt like I'd survived being eaten or caught but I'd managed to outrun the danger.
A steady track downhill into East Morton past bemused dog walkers and a man trundling a wheeled suitcase up an unlit road - I wonder what they think of this odd ball of light jogging around?
Last but not least is the descent down Bury Lane. Steep with the rocks from tumbledown dry stone walls lurking under the leaves. Running this path is easier than walking, floating over the obstacles rather than stubbing your toe on them. Again it all goes by in a smooth flowing rush, reminding me again why I choose to run off road at night.
A Tale Of Two Runs
It has been interesting to compare the run and the walk like this. I enjoyed each but for different reasons. The speed, adrenalin and feeling of flow and motion from the run. The relaxing walk with the family, discovering things, seeing things from a small persons perspective and stopping to savour autumn and the changing season.
Running is great, but to really appreciate the surroundings we should dial back the speed and look around. It's nice outside.