Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Adventures From Our Front Door

Of the two of us, I was always more the glass-half-full one. Mark and I have been mates for over forty years and our differing outlooks on life's prospects have always been evident. I recall posing the question of him once as to why he had a tendency towards pessimism. His response to my question was that by fearing the worst, he was mitigating the extent of any future disappointment if the worst was indeed to occur. Whilst I could understand that rationale, I much preferred the risks associated with blind optimism. Forty years on and our respective outlooks have done neither of us any harm. Mark is no longer the pessimist he once was and I'm probably not quite so gung ho as I might like to kid myself although I'm not up for admitting it just yet. 

Regardless of how one might personally describe that partially filled glass, the current Covid-related restrictions on individual liberties and activities, aided and abetted by the winter weather, make it difficult for some - nigh on impossible for many - to indulge in any type of adventure. Now, that might be okay for some but Mrs C and I didn't depart the world of work last year so that we could sit at home doing jigsaws. And to be fair we've been luckier than most in spending much of last year in Spain. But, right here, right now we're (still luckier than most but) stuck in cold, wintery Burnley unable to meet friends, see family, go for a pint, worship (my footie team of course), undertake a non-essential journey or (apparently) enjoy a takeaway coffee whilst having a walk. Jeez! It ain't always easy being an optimist.

One of the reasons that we're lucky is because we live in Burnley. The town nestles in a natural valley, surrounded by open fields with wild moorland at higher altitudes. From our front door is but a ten minute walk to the town centre and a similar hop, in the opposite direction, to the first of those open fields and beyond to the moorland. We literally have potential for adventure on our doorstep.

Today is cold with snow on the ground but not for long as the fine drizzle does its bit. But yesterday was beautiful, cold and sunny and with not much wind. Perfect! Armed only with an Ordnance Survey map and a small rucksack containing a flask of tea and some shortbread biscuits (yes, I know, it's an arrestable offence) Mrs C and I set off from our front door at 10.40 a.m., returning home almost five hours later. I will not bore you with the full route detail but it was a genuine adventure, undoubtedly assisted by an optimistic outlook on the viability of the passage through Hameldon Woods and the icy path to Hameldon Hill and its part-frozen moorland. Oh how we laughed as Mrs C went both feet ankle-deep in the slushy mud of the woodland path having traversed the fallen tree blocking our exit from the woods. And I always draw blood when I'm out anyway so the outcome of my tangle with a barbed wire restriction en route was really no surprise. But it was all worthwhile as we made it to the top of the hill, past the weather radar station and looked down towards Clowbridge reservoir. What a view. Mark would certainly have loved it.

There is something king-of-the-world about being up high, able to survey all around you, particularly when the landscape is so stunning. It's just a great feeling. And so of course is that celebratory pint in the pub afterwards but obviously that's much too dangerous in current times as none of us can be trusted. So in the short term Mrs C and I will continue with our no-pub adventures from the front door. But we'll be noting all suitable pub locations en route for future reference. Because this will all be over soon. I'm just not wired for fearing the worst.

The view from Hameldon Hill down to Clowbridge reservoir.

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