Rambling Outwith the Garden

Much as I enjoy rambling in the garden, a daily ramble outwith the garden has become a necessity since official lockdown and self-isolation began 11 days ago. Outwith is what I assumed was an old fashioned word meaning ‘outside’ or ‘beyond’, but on checking today it is in fact purely a Scottish word and one still used in modern parlance – being of Scottish descent, we perhaps choose to use it when we are being deliberately pedantic! Anyway, I thought I would share one of these walks with you to give you an idea of the environs wherein (!) we live. This was a typical walk and perhaps our most regular one, taken last Tuesday, but it could easily have been last yadseuT as it is just as often done in reverse.

Turning right from outside our front door we pass a large detached house, before walking down the path at the side of it with a wall on the left (above). Behind this wall is the ‘playground’ of the old school which the owners let us use for car parking on our open days. This leads into the churchyard with its tiny church of Norman origins and, being in a commanding position at the top of a hill, with a wonderful and widespread view along the valley.

The Golfer prefers the walk in this direction, as the hill is at its steepest and therefore a downward stretch:

We turn left at the bottom, walking between lakes on either side, the result of shallow coal mines collapsing after being abandoned perhaps as late as the end of the 1960s, leaving a series of lakes along this stretch of the river, a haven for wildlife and fishermen – and a tendency for the roads to flood. There used to a footpath across where these two lakes are, used by children from a nearby village to reach the school in ours. Overhanging trees have been cut back very recently here, wisely, as they were increasingly unsafe and prone to dropping branches, opening up the views on either side.

A little further on you can see the final part of our route at the top of the hill, along the hedge line; already it has been interesting to watch the changes taking places in these fields which seem to be used for both barley and grazing in turn. Currently, one field has been ploughed whereas the adjacent one is being used a maternity unit for sheep awaiting the birth of their spring lambikins.

Turning left up the lane just to the right of this picture, the gradient is relatively gentle and, together with the gradual rise along the last stretch, equates to the steepness of the original downhill stretch but less noticeably so.

On reaching the kissing gate (there are five on this route, well-used), we turn left into the field and enjoy the view down into the valley. As well as the river, this valley hosts a canal and the main London to Scotland railway, so a good place for train spotters!

Two or three weeks without rain and a lot of sunshine means this stretch has been dry and firm in recent weeks; at other times parts of it can be surprisingly boggy considering the location at the top of a hill. On this occasion we arrived home with dry boots , squeezing through the narrow alleyway (always interesting to see what’s growing here, both wild and garden escapees) between the hedge and the school house’s garden, a walk of about two and a half miles in total and just under 6000 steps for me, but less for the less-short legged Golfer, and in time for a mid-morning cup of tea.

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19 Responses to Rambling Outwith the Garden

  1. tidalscribe says:

    I love that word Outwith, we’ve seen it on car park signs in Scotland. A lovely walk, so nice to have this good weather.

  2. It looks like you truly live in one of the bucolic villages that I see in one of my favorite mystery shows Midsommer Muders 😊! thank you for taking us on your stroll.

    • Cathy says:

      Not bucolic, as apart from the church and what were previously farm buildings, the oldest houses are mid nineteeth century terraced houses, probably built for farm labourers or coal miners. Only about 200 houses though. Glad you enjoyed the walk

  3. Heyjude says:

    How lovely to see the area around where you live. I really enjoyed my walk with you.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    What a pretty area in which to live, Cathy. The weather was beautiful that day!

  5. Cathy says:

    It is interesting to see beyond the garden now and then. 😃 Your trees are all leafing out nicely. Ours will possibly catch up very soon as good weather has been forecast for the next two weeks and we will retreat to the shady woods for our dog walks where we can avoid cyclists and joggers during the ‘holidays’!

  6. What a nice walk. It must be nice to be able to step out and not have to walk far to be able to Ramble Outwith. The path between the wall and the hedge looks like it would be spooky on a dark dreary day. It is so different here. There aren’t any kissing gates and you can’t cross people’s property without permission. You can trek over public roads to your hearts content but it isn’t the same as walking on earthen paths. I am so glad you took us along on your walk.

    • Cathy says:

      In the UK, pressure groups pushed for access to the countryside and we have had legislation for footpaths and National Parks since 1949. Public footpaths and bridleways (for horses) across private land are protected by law (in Scotland access is even more widespread). They are shown on Ordnance Survey maps and are (should be) all signposted. Glad you enjoyed this walk

  7. Anna says:

    How fortunate you are to have such a walk on your doorstep Cathy. The 6,000 steps is quite a handy marker. I imagine that the Golfer must be missing his walks round the golf course.

  8. Thanks for the walking tour, Cathy. It’s a good way to stay happy and healthy!

  9. Thanks. I enjoyed your walk

  10. Chloris says:

    What a lovely idea to do a Ramble Outwith. I love the phrase. You have some pretty local scenery. It is great to be able to ramble your own lanes and footpath in peace and seclusion. Well, relative seclusion, I am baffled to see so many unfamiliar faces on our local lanes and footpaths and wonder if these are all neighbours who never normally go for walks.

    • Cathy says:

      We rarely see a walker when we go out, although made the mistake yesterday of a walk that included a stretch by the canal – definitely won’t do that again for the foreseeable future!

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