A Walk in the Land of Eternal Winter
It has been winter in Britain for ever. It started last October, when my Mum got ill, and it's been winter ever since. There is still snow in our garden. Is this some kind of April Fool?
Anyway, this morning we woke early and the sun was shining so we thought hey, let us laugh in the face of winter and head for Potteric Carr Nature Reserve . I've been wanting to visit this for a while. It's a large area of wetland in a rather unprepossessing-sounding location - near Doncaster, for a start (sorry, Doncaster) and jammed in between railway tracks and the motorway, the M18.
It's an easy drive from Leeds (it was especially easy for me, since I wasn't driving) and the visitor centre was well-equipped and friendly. Then we entered the reserve and it's a strangely beautiful landscape with a little touch of melancholy, which I love!
So off we went along the well-laid footpaths around marsh and field and across railway tracks and by tunnels and through woodland.
There were quite a few trains - some on branch lines, some on main lines - but their hooting didn't seem to bother the wildlife at all and actually I rather liked it.
We walked for five and a half miles, stopping to have lunch in the excellent, unpretentious cafe which is sensibly positioned in the middle.
We saw lots and lots of birds from the many hides on the route, from the common garden birds - blackbirds, bluetits - to ones I know but don't visit our garden - willow tit, chaffinch - to ones I haven't seen so often - lapwings and redshanks. I have only mentioned a few kinds - - we saw dozens. It was great.
Although the numbers of visitors increased during the day, it was never crowded and always delightful - - though still very cold.
"It's freezing," I said to Stephen, (actually it was about two degrees centigrade but that's still jolly cold) "and I still haven't seen any coltsfoot yet this year."
By pure chance, we walked a few yards further and there they were. A small glimmer of hope that there may one day be a proper Spring.
Sometimes at this time of year the daffodils are almost done flowering. This year they are still in bud, shivering.
However, when we were nearly back at the visitor centre, we saw another hopeful sign.
Yes, green leaves! I want to go back there in a few weeks' time and see the wintry landscape transformed into early-summer green. And about time too.