A girl sits on a fallen tree trunk facing away from me. The river runs full on the other side and a wide mud field fills the rest of the area between the path and the hedge. She is blocking the only path that doesn’t involve wet shoes. But she doesn’t notice me. I hesitate a little before I head to the muddy mess. There is plenty more mud ahead so it doesn’t matter if my trainers turn brown now.
Having written about rights of way in England last week, I thought I could demonstrate how great these footpaths are. I don’t think Broadwath is worth travelling to because of this little trail, but there are similar, linked footpaths all around England. If you are in England or will someday visit the countryside, make sure to steer away from the road and follow the arrows.
This seven-kilometre trail leaves from Broadwath, a village in Cumbria, North of England. Little wooden sign right after the bridge points towards a gate. The path behind follows the Cairn Beck Glen tightly. Today is a sunny day. Clean towels are drying quickly on the washing line, but it doesn’t mean that the paths would be dry. This one is full of soggy mud pits.
The path climbs up to the railway line when it nears Heads Nook, but it drops back down to the glen on the other side of the tracks. The path dives into the woods, crosses a little track, and pops up on the paved road.
When the road splits, I hop on the fields on the left. Little steps and a wooden sign mark the path. This footpath follows the side of a field, climbs over a few fences and crosses another field. There are sheep. And lambs.
They twitch nervously when they see me. Which way should they run? I walk calmly trying not to bother them. It doesn’t help. The little ones start running here and there. One lamb with a black face and legs hears the call of his mother and starts running straight at me. When he realises the mistake, he does a 90-degree turn and dashes to his mum.
Leave the lambs alone, I think, and continue along the other side of the field. I pass a shed and continue towards Heads Nook. This is where the path gets a bit odd. I am not sure whether someone has tried to destroy the path or whether they tried to fix the path and failed. In the middle of a wide, wet trail runs a lumpy spine of sand mixed with mud, rubble and pieces of plastic. I balance on the spine until I reach another fence and another windy and muddy field.
The footpath meets the railway line again. On the other side I am greeted by beautiful horses. The public footpath goes straight through a livery yard. One horse on the field on my left, two on the right, one ahead.
The path circles around the stable buildings and reaches a lane. I run down the lane to a road where I cross and take the first turn to the right. The road changes to a restricted byway which cuts a straight line to Broadwath. The last two hundred meters follow the road back to the bridge where I started from.
That was seven kilometers of the English countryside. Mud, wind and friendly animals. Average speed: incredibly slow. That’s what you get when you pick a slippery path, stop to take photos of cute lambs, and can’t resist petting the horses that come to say hi when you smile at them.
- What: Walk/run along footpaths
- Where: Broadwath, Cumbria, England
- How long: 7km
- Why: English countryside, glen, fields, lambs and horses