Tag Archives: Walks in Winter

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

21 Feb

 

As the winter draws towards its end I thought I would write about my local walks in this and past winters. This one has been the coldest one for a decade and the first proper winter since then. We’ve had the odd cold snap since but this winter has had more sustained sub-zero days and nights.


This cold spell has been enjoyable for me as I like walking or running in snow. Even when there isn’t any snow I prefer frozen ground to the mud that has prevailed for most recent winters. This winter began in similar fashion with plenty of rain making the ground pretty sodden, although the autumn wasn’t as wet as 2019. The colder weather started just after Christmas but as the year turned we entered a more sustained chilly spell.

We had a few separate snowfalls, although none brought huge quantities. The heaviest snow was on the 14th January when we had two or three inches. It snowed most of the day but stopped in the afternoon. This gave me a window for a run before it got too dark, although the snow make things a bit lighter in the gathering gloom. I set out at 4.30 when the snow in Farnsfield was already a bit slushy. However, once out of the village the fresh snow was still intact and lovely to run on. I had decided to go to Bilsthorpe, just over two miles away, and had deliberately chosen a route across Bilsthorpe Moor (see Walk 7) to recreate a run in the snow from many years earlier when I had got lost, although this time I wanted to avoid that outcome.
The previous time had been when I wasn’t very familiar with the way across the Moor. I had gone out in the early evening when the snow was still falling lightly. I had crossed the A617 to reach the large field on the Bilsthorpe side which rises sharply. Ahead of me it was pure white and I didn’t know where the field ended and the sky began. I totally lost my bearings and started running in a circle. As it was getting dark I decided to return home.


This time I knew the way across the Moor better and made it to Bilsthorpe safely. After a loop round the village where I saw the children returning with their sledges l headed towards the old railway track to return home. By now it was getting dark and in the field I fell over when tripping on a furrow. The path up to the railway track goes under a bridge but in the half light I could see a large puddle so had to claw my way up the steep bank to reach the track. A thaw was already beginning and pools of water forming under the trees. I tried to stay in the snow which guided my way in what was now almost darkness. It is a very straight track so I couldn’t go far wrong if I kept my eyes on the white strip stretching ahead of me and got home in total gloom.

Some of my favourite walks and runs have been in the early evening when it has stopped snowing. In 2018 the Beast From The East arrived.  It snowed until the middle of the afternoon but when it stopped I went out in the fresh snow.  I went along Greaves Lane and did a loop round Combs Wood.  As I was going back down towards Greaves Lane in the twilight I saw a barn owl flying across the fields.  This was the first and still the only time I have seen a barn owl in the wild.

My most memorable winter excursion came many years ago on yet another day when the snow stopped in the early evening after depositing a few inches.  I ran from Farnsfield all the way along Greaves Lane up to the top near Oxton and to Robin Hood Hill.  There was a full moon illuminating a beautiful snowscape on what is always one of my favourite viewpoints in the county.  A truly magical experience. 

This year in the time between snowfalls there was plenty of rain and this combined with the snow melt made things really wet underfoot.  I went to Kirklington where it was as wet as I can ever remember it.  On the way home I stopped at the large pond and as I stood on the bridge I could feel it vibrating with the force of the water leaving the pond.  The last field before the railway track on the way home has been very muddy all winter and people have been walking round the edge in preference.  The farmer has put up a rope to stop this.  I can understand why but on the two occasions I went round the edge the grass was in good condition.  People weren’t walking on any crops and appeared to me to be doing less damage than they would by going straight across the field.

When the cold weather returned we had some nice crisp, sunny days and I walked from Rainworth to Farnsfield using the first part of my Walk 24 .  I haven’t been that way since I did that walk and I was reminded what a nice one it is.  The first part where you come off the Rainworth by-pass and immediately reach a nice bit of heathland before a nice track through a wood is a lovely surprise and well worth a look.

On another sunny day I went via Hexgreave and over the top to Eakring.  The day was so clear that Lincoln Cathedral was easily visible on the skyline to the east from the top of the hill.  I went to the pond at Eakring Flash (see Walk 37) which was still mostly frozen but had swans, mallards, coots and a heron.  The ground was hard rather than muddy in most places which made things easier.  Hopefully the worst of the wet weather is now behind us and the fields which I have been mostly avoiding due to the mud will be nice to walk on again.