20133023_Duke of Edinburgh – Bronze Training Walk.

20133023_Duke of Edinburgh – Bronze Training Walk.

When : 23rd March 2013

Who : Me my wife and a group of Year-10 school pupils

Where : Circular walk starting and fishing at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

Map : 1:25000 OS Explorer Map No. 221, Coventry & Warwick

Start and End Point : SP 280,721

Planned Distance : Approx 3 miles or so

Click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

A few weeks ago my wife came home from the secondary school she does voluntary work at and asked if I was up to doing a short walk (on a Saturday morning) with her and a small group of students who were about to do some practical training towards their D of E bronze expedition. Our 11 year-old son was to come with us as well, who is quite happy to come out walking with us and has done, virtually since he could first walk. I think he was only 3 or 4 when he raced us to the top of Wansfell Pike near Troutbeck and he almost got to the summit of Cat Bells in the Lake District too.

Well, I agreed, I’d pretty much been volunteered anyway! What else could I say !

20120909-01_Kenilworth Castle by gary.haddenWe were to meet at the main (top) car park that services Kenilworth Castle and there were to be several groups who would have different routes to take. There are 5 or 6 different paths fanning out from the castle area into the farmland west of Kenilworth. Our role would be to supervise about 6 or 7 of the students, ensure they stayed on legal rights of way and use correct road-craft if and when walking on country roads. We didn’t know for sure what route 20120909-04_Kenilworth Castle - Outerwalls - Tower by gary.haddenwas planned for “our” group but I think the intended route was west from the car park on a path heading out towards Beausale and Haseley Knob. A little way along this path, they’d turn off to the south, join Rouncil Lane and then head back to the car park, passing close to Fernhill Farm on the way.

It wouldn’t be far, only about 3 miles! about an hour and a half, which I guess would be enough for the students to get a first feel of map reading and navigation actually out in the countryside,  most of whom probably would never have previously tried to do anything quite like it before. On my behalf, map reading/navigation is something I 20130323-GTete-a-tete narcissus (daffodil) in the snow by gary.haddenjust love doing and I feel quite odd if I go on a walk and just “follow-the-leader” without having a map where I can at least keep track of where I am.

Anyway, my wife, son and I were all looking forward to the stroll on the Friday evening, despite there being some snow on the ground and it was still falling out of the sky as we retired to bed. We awoke to a very good covering of the cold white stuff on the ground (and cars), and when I came downstairs I found Craig already dressed absolutely perfectly for the conditions … 3 or 4 layers of clothes on legs and body, a superb way to keep warm in the below-freezing conditions.

My wife and I were about to dress nice and warm too, when an email came in saying (to paraphrase) “SORRY- EVENT CANCELLED” due to health and safety concerns. All three of us were, well, completely deflated and disappointed. I guess we could have headed out on our own, but somehow the reason for the day had just been removed, so we didn’t feel like heading out for a walk for just the three of us.

20130323-01_Cheddar Cheese Scones by gary.hadden   20130323-02_Cheddar Cheese Scones by gary.hadden

20130323-10_Making Candyfloss by gary.hadden   20130323-08b_Making Candyfloss by gary.hadden

20130323-11_Making Candyfloss by gary.hadden

Instead, I headed for the kitchen where I baked a load of sweet scones, and then a bunch of cheddar cheese scones, and then Craig broke out the candy floss maker and we all made mini-candy flosses! … and, as it was still pretty miserable during the afternoon, I spent a while taking photo’s of our Guinea Pigs who live with us (their home is in the utility room).

20130323-05_Patch + Tufty - Guinea Pigs or Cavies by gary.hadden   20130323-07_Patch + Tufty - Guinea Pigs or Cavies by gary.hadden

20130323-13_Patch - Guinea Pig or Cavy by gary.hadden   20130323-19_Tufty - Guinea Pig or Cavy by gary.hadden

And that was that, now all we need is to hear when the rearranged dates are for the D of E training. Hopefully with some nice warm spring weather and a drop of sunshine, now long over-due after what seems to have been a very long winter.

So in the end this Walk-Diary has turned out to be a No-Walk-Diary.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

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20130303_A wander of a walk at Baddesley Clinton

20130303_A wander of a walk at Baddesley Clinton

When : 3rd March 2013

Who : Me and My Family

Where : Baddesley Clinton National Trust House, Gardens and Tea Rooms (a few miles west of Warwick).

20130303-02_Baddesley Clinton Manor House - National Trust by gary.hadden

20130303_A wander of a walk at Baddesley ClintonWell, this isn’t a country walk as such, but closely linked in a way, as I enjoy going to National Trust Houses and Gardens with my family and they tend to be out in the countryside and involve walking (well strolling) around their gardens and grounds … and … visiting their tea rooms. These visits also give the opportunity to take some photo’s, which if you’ve seen any of my other diaries you’ll know is another of my interests.

If you click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

20130303-06_Baddesley Clinton Manor House - National Trust by gary.hadden

Well, this year we’ve sort of got ourselves organised and taken out a year’s family membership of The NT …. Although seemingly quite a bit of money up front, this will give us free entry to properties around the country for the next year, and we only need to visit three or four places to be “in profit” … and we have the satisfaction of thinking we are helping preserve some of our national treasures including great tracts of open land …. which brings us full circle to my love of walking in the hills much of which is owned by The Trust.

20130303-07_Baddesley Clinton Manor House - National Trust by gary.hadden

20130303-04_Baddesley Clinton - Wall + Moss by gary.hadden   20130303-03_Baddesley Clinton Manor House - National Trust by gary.hadden

Anyway, back to the our first visit of the year : Baddesley Clinton – The 15th Century Manor House is one of the few in the country with a real moat surrounding it on all sides, and is accessed via a double arched bridge across to a courtyard. I’ll not say too much about the house itself – Go discover it for yourself 20130303-05_Baddesley Clinton Manor House - National Trust by gary.hadden– but the priest holes are probably one of the most interesting things to learn about, and my lovely wife liked the stained glass crests and coats of arms. My son however liked searching for a number of mini ginger bread men “hidden” in the rooms. A lot of NT houses are big grand palatial piles of stone with huge grounds and formal gardens and possibly bigger egos as well; however, Baddesley is on a much smaller, more human scale, and as such we could even imagine living there – the size of rooms being perfectly liveable in.

20130303-10_Baddesley Clinton - Ramshackled Shed + Garden Bench by gary.haddenThe same could be said of the gardens/grounds, which can be walked around in a matter of minutes if you put your best foot forward; although they are large enough to accommodate a stream, sizable pond, the moated manor and various out-houses/stables/store buildings etc. Some of these buildings now house the shop, tea rooms and a used book store.

After the tour around the house and a quickish wander around the gardens (it was decidedly chilly) we headed for the tea-rooms, where the family had warm scones with real butter and raspberry jam and I had spicy carrot soup with a big slice of fresh crusty wholemeal bread (yummy!).  Despite the cold outside, I fancied taking some pic’s, so I left the family inside and headed back outside.  Once outside, I tried to get some half-acceptable shots, although the light really wasn’t brilliant (pretty grey really) and the chilly (cold!) breeze was blowing across the grounds numbing my fingers (I hadn’t taken gloves).

20130303-14_Baddesley Clinton - Snowdrops by gary.hadden

There weren’t many flowers out this early in the year, or even many plants in leaf yet, but the drifts of snowdrops in bloom were pretty, although a little dog-eared from the recent inclement weather, and they are always a nice link from late winter into early spring. There were also a few Dwarf Iris’ and a couple of primroses in flower too.

20130303-12_Baddesley Clinton - Snowdrops by gary.hadden    20130303-08_Baddesley Clinton - Primrose by gary.hadden

20130303-20_Baddesley Clinton - Dwarf Iris by gary.hadden

20130303-09_Baddesley Clinton - Jasmine by gary.haddenThe few winter Jasmine flowers growing against the outside of a brick garden wall were not spectacular from a distance, and the plants themselves can be a tad straggly (almost messy), but up close the star-like flowers are quite charming; I particularly like the splash of red in the buds before the predominantly pale yellow flowers open up.

Close by in the gardens, I also liked some catkins hanging from the bare branches of some coppiced woody bushes, the oddly attractive structures gently swinging in the breeze. 20130303-16_Baddesley Clinton - Hazel Catkins by gary.haddenI’m fairly sure these are hazel nut bushes. Anyway, it took some time to get a pic with a semblance of sharpness due to the breeze waving them about too much to stay in focus long enough to get a decent image.

My hands were saying enough was enough of the cold, and as it happened, my family emerged from the warmth of the tea rooms to come find me, and we then walked up the path leading from the front of the house to the adjacent church. This is a stunning little path when the hoards of daffodils come out in flower, but we were just a bit too 20130303-21_Baddesley Clinton - Daffodils by gary.haddenearly, with the cheerful bulbs still some way off blooming …. all that is, except one clump which were just opening up, giving a welcome splash of bright yellow colour, a portent that spring should be just around the corner. A good proportion of the church graveyard was blanketed in snowdrops, the bowed heads seemingly in reverence to and intermingled amongst the weathered head stones.

20130303-22_Baddesley Clinton - Snowdrops by gary.hadden

20130303-23_Baddesley Clinton - Snowdrops by gary.hadden

And that was that, a very pleasant and very gentle way to spend an afternoon.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.