We met in a nearby market town on a river. The 'Bit Tired' family turned up late - naturally -and the walk began. 22 people and five dogs set off through muddy, water-logged fields and woods. The sky was clear and bright and the day so much warmer than up on the hill.
After surviving two kissing gates and sodden boots from slogging through mahoosive sludge puddles we walked by a river. One dad threw a stick into the water for his spaniel. My assistant thought it looked like fun. Working her way along the bank she found a spot to enter the river. Unfortunately she hadn't factored in her very short legs, the depth of the water, the muddiness of the bank and her inherent hatred of swimming. By the time it looked like she was going under for the third time I was leaning into water with my trusty stick wedged into the mud, one foot underwater digging into the side of the bank attempting to get her back to shore. CK was counterbalancing the other dad who was poised over the water also trying to reach my assistant. I lifted her clear of the evil liquid and she parlayed the crazy adrenaline rush into a dash around the field, rubbing her head and shoulders into every foul smelling lump she could find. The walk continued.
The fields were crazily muddy, the river running full and fast. We threaded through footbridges with millponds on one side and furious water on the other. We edged along busy B roads. Instead of ice this time the teenage boys played at mud-diving. Everyone stopped for tea (of course they did, they are English!) above a creek. A creek that had steep muddy banks, a gentle trickle of water coming down from the stones at one end and best of all a rope swing from one bank to the other.
The dogs went crackers, the teenage boys went crackers and d/Boy and Mrs 'Bit Tired's' whiny daughter went sloop, splosh, squish and ended up with one leg each covered in mud and a wellie filled with creek water. Oh how we laughed!
Not quite January's walk but it was pretty fabulous day. Plans are afoot for the March one already.