Here in my part of the world, we are extremely lucky to live on the doorstep of some amazing countryside, being only a hop and a skip away from the magnificent Yorkshire Dales National Park. There are wild and rugged bits, beautiful bits and charming bits. Gorgeous villages and sweeping vistas. High hills and low valleys. Rivers and gorges and tarns. And it's right there to enjoy, and mostly for free :: park the car, put on some walking boots and stride right out into the thick of it.
But sometimes, getting out into the wilds of the countryside can seem like quite hard work. And when you get to feeling like that, like you really want to be out amongst nature, but don't necessarily wish to prepare or work at it, then you choose the Easy Countryside.
For us, the easy option of choice is without question Bolton Abbey. It's easy as you can possibly get. A way to enjoy some magnificent scenery without having to really exert oneself. And crucially for the likes of me, there is no map reading involved and no danger of getting lost either.
So when my Dad and his Lady were staying last week, I decided on a simple jaunt to Bolton Abbey, to share the delights of the Yorkshire Dales and our local countryside without the need for maps, rucksacks or clonky footwear.
It was great. We rolled up mid morning last Monday and found only a handful of other folk about, stepped out the car and followed a beautiful wide and easy to negotiate pathway through lush, damp and very green woodland along the banks of the River Wharfe. We were headed for The Strid, to sit a while on the mossy rocks and be wowed by the forces of nature and the power of water.
After the noise and rushyness of the Strid waters, it was delightful to stroll back again and take in the calm reflections in the slow moving water further down river.
It was maybe an hours walk all told, nothing remotely strenuous, yet very good for the soul nevertheless. And at the end of the walk, a stop at the Cavendish Pavillion for my favourite spot of elevenses :: frothy cappuccino and a maple/pecan slice.
Between mouthfuls of maple and pecan slice, I was telling my folks the story of The Little People and The Money Tree. They found the whole thing intriguing, and asked to be taken to this magical place. So off we set, over the bridge and along the opposite side of the river to climb through the lush woodland....
...until we reached the Magic Tree.
We payed our respects, and shamelessly Wished Hard for Money.
I am still waiting for my wish to come true, but hey, I am patient.
After all that hard Wishing work, we set off to have a little explore of the ruins of the ancient Priory.
It was really beautiful, and quite peaceful even given the large party of school children who were visiting at the same time as us.
I'm not much of a one for history :: I can appreciate that these wall are pretty damn old, but I do not really need to know details. I prefer to wander round absorbing the views and atmosphere without needing to know the exact date of construction.
We emerged out of the small church to find the sky had darkened and a rather menacing storm was rolling our way. The quality of light was incredible, as was the speed at which the storm was approaching.
We turned our backs on the Abbey and walked rather speedily back to the car, arriving just as the first huge drops of rain were beginning to fall.
I was rather glad that we were not on top of a remote hill.
I was rather glad to climb back into my warm dry car and feel smug.
Sometimes, Easy Countryside Appreciation has it's definite advantages, most especially when thunder and lightening are involved.