How could I resist it? Two of my appointments for the afternoon cancelled, a cloudless, wonderful, cold winters day, I could hear the Goyt calling to me. I phoned Mrs BW and arranged to meet her for lunch at the Dome. It was busy but the lunch was good. We popped home and grabbed walking boots and ten minutes later we were in the Goyt car park by the pond. The pond was frozen.
Not great for the ducks unless they had skates. (The pond in Buxton is frozen as well, apart from an ice-free bit in the middle. All the ducks sit around the edge, quivering in anticipation like a theatre audience on opening night as if waiting for something to pop out of the water and entertain them.) The ducks in this part of the Goyt valley have most likely pushed off down to the reservoir, which is larger and therefore ice free. We set off past the pond and headed for the railway track. The sky was a deep blue, and there was no wind. We stopped for a while and sat on the wooden seat that overlooks the valley. We agreed that it would be a good place to sit and read or to write, but you would need a flask of tea. Mrs BW is seldom far from a cup of tea or the makings of one. It was quiet apart from the occasional aircraft coming to or going from Manchester airport. Across the valley a kestrel quartered the hillside but was soon lost amongst the tangle of different coloured grasses. We continued along the track, passing a few dog walkers, sparse and brief greetings exchanges. We stopped for a while to look at the wizened tree that always makes me think of something sinister and that line of Shakespeare about the “blasted heath”.
Soon we left the track and dropped down into the valley. The ground was frozen, and slippery. We needed to tread carefully. It got noticeably colder and the ground harder, though where the sun had caught it there was a treacherous slippery layer on top that kept catching me out, causing me to stumble. Soon, to soon we were climbing up the hillside. The silence broken by the gurgle of the little streams that cut into the hill. A cold wind blew down at us. It kept us moving. Back by the pond we looked over its frozen surface, beyond the sun was slipping below the hillside. It was time to head home. The thought of a hot cup of tea and maybe some cake enticed and lured us homeward. As we drove out of the car park I realised how lucky I was to live so close to this place.