|Where are the snowdrops of yesteryear?
||[Mar. 2nd, 2014|08:57 pm]
Yesterday we both agreed it was time to go for a walk, and that since we haven't been getting out much lately, we should make it a very easy one. durham_rambler suggested we visit Hawthorn Dene: someone had told him that the snowdrops there were spectacular just now. We got out the map, and plotted a short walk down to the sea and back. It became clear when we talked about where to park that my recollection of the area were of Castle Eden Dene, not Hawthorn, but still, adjacent coastal inlet nature reserve, what difference did it make? So I have only myself to blame for how muddy I got.
We parked as instructed on the roadside at the entrance to the dene, and follower the broad track into the nature reserve. Very soon a path led away, down into the wooded valley, with an enticing information board about all the things we might see there (though probably not at the beginning of March). Innocently, we followed it, and found ourselves snaking up and down short flight of steps as the path followed the valley side, sometimes on dry ground, sometimes through well-stirred mud, sometimes over duckboards. There were catkins, and dog's mercury, and blades of green promising that in a month or so the woodland would be carpeted with white stars and reeking of garlic, but not a single snowdrop. We discussed this: we had both anticipated that the snowdrops might be past their best, but not this total absence. It was bright and sunny and warm enough that I was glad to have decided against putting on another jumper, and just keeping on the path gave us plenty to think about.
Eventually, it climed up and met the track again; we could have taken the easy, level route all the way. But where's the fun in that? Still, when a lump of rock presented itself, we took the chance to sit down and look around us, across the meadow to the woods on the far side where something white glimmered under the trees...
We followed the path to the railway. The couple ahead of us were walking five dogs, and it took them a while to persuade (and mostly carry) them across the two stiles onto and then off the track, so we hung well back - and were just crossing the stile on the far side when a train came through. The sea was blue, but we didn't go down to the beach (I'd had enough steps for one day), walking along the cliff top as far as the footbridge, and into the woods we had seen earlier.
I was just beginning to wonder whether that blanket of white had been an illusion, an effect of the sun shining on the ivy that covered the ground so densely...