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Late winter's walk brings February cheer

It was one of those days that made you glad to be alive. Nidderdale had got itself dressed up moody and sultry in dramatic colours and sharp golden light. The General and I walked through the chicken coop, down the slope and through the kissing gate at the corner of our field. From there it was a short stroll past the postbox off Wath Road. We continued up towards Heathfield on the tarmac to avoid the mud (and the naughty collie, who likes the General too much when she's on heat). We saw no-one, which is one of the great benefits of living in a quiet dale.

Turning left at the footpath we checked in at our local weather station. It is a high tech affair: a stone tied to a tree with some framed instructions on the left. The stone cast a shadow, so we knew it was sunny. We cut through the meteorologist's land and started the sharp descent towards the Sportsman's Arms at Wath. Another day we might have stopped for refreshment but we thought we would walk while the weather held - back through sheep getting ready to lamb, along the old Victorian wall, past the "lost and found" fence post, over Millennium bridge and back towards our stretch of river. I let the General sniff for rabbits since she never catches any. Then we headed for home and a cup of tea.

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