Due to me having to still be a bit wary in relation to my hernia op and been told to take it easy for a couple of months and the puppy still only allowed to do limited walks, we decided to have a quick jaunt to Yorkshire and looked at a little walk on the river Swale at Richmond and make the most of the quiet as all the tourists will be lining the streets and roads in and around Harrogate for the Tour De France. We parked at the train station and much to our surprise, and joy, the parking was free.
It was a short walk planned so no daysacks or boots, just my bag (or man bag as Kel calls it) full of bait and water. Plus my Binos that haven’t seen the light of day for a long time, just in case I get to see a Kingfisher up close. We set off across Mercury Bridge with the sun beating down and started a short incline up towards the market square. It was absolutely dead and we didn’t see anyone until we joined the bottom of the square where a buzz of market life kicked in. We decided to have a look at the church and the obelisk but the church was covered in scaffolding and the monument was surrounded by non cyclist lovers who probably had the same thoughts as us. By the way, I am a lover of cycling but thought i’d give the TDF a miss and try and get my walking legs back.
We reached the top of the square and turned left down towards New Road and Bridge Street. Over the bridge and then there’s a gorgeous cottage on the right where the ‘Round Howe Nature Trail’ starts. Looking at the well kept info board there is a couple of trails set out paths up into the woods then drop back down into the Swale which take in a couple of miles. Alfie, our new walking partner and gorgeous Springer pup, was keen to get off lead and explore the the steep banks running up the side of the ‘fastest river’ in the area. The wild garlic was dying off in this heavily shaded, mulch paved well kept walk through the woodland that hugged the side of the river. He’s (Alfie) getting more and more like a Spaniel every day, breaking the trail, seeking and finding lines and flushing birds from the undergrowth, he’s not actually chasing ‘prey’ like rabbits just ‘pointing’ at them. Anyway we gradually rose up towards the top of Low Bank Wood disturbing a bird of prey that made off before identification from the ground, which we’d see later in the walk. Alfie tested our puppy parental tolerance by dangling off sheer face drops down to the river as we ascended still in earshot of the noisy rapids. However, being Springer parents the insurance docs are easily to hand and realise that you have to expect the unexpected with a Springer.
A green wooden bridge took us to the surrounding fields and a glimpse of the Kestrel we’d disturbed earlier. Back down towards to the bend in the river between Low bank Wood and Billy Bank Wood. Joining the river was a joy as an ideal pebbled beach greeted us for a spot of bait. The river at this point was shallow with plenty of crossing points and wading areas to explore. We plonked ourselves down on the riverside rocks and tucked into our sarnies and crisps whilst Alfie dug for pebbles to ease his aching puppy gums. After I snorted my ham and salami pitta bread butties I had a wade out, the water was warm and it wasn’t long before Alfie had a little swim out in Yorkshire water for the first time, watched by Kel who was still fuming at the amount of ‘lumps’ in the pickle in her sarnies.
After we’d eaten we made our way back towards the bridge on the man made footpath on the rivers edge. It’s a series of massive rock slabs placed side by side which was a nice change from the woody mulch on the forest footpath, however, the big chunks of rock were a bit slippy in places so care had to be taken otherwise you could end up on your backside or in the river.
We approached the bridge and decided to stay on the footpath over the other side and passed a cricket pitch with quite literally hundreds of rabbits, mostly babies running about being carefully watched over by a handful of crows, probably waiting to catch a lone bunny. The walk then took in a couple of meadows that overlook the river which, with the added sun made a pleasant short stroll and as we walked under Mercury Bridge we were greeted with a great looking beach on the bend of the river, a good place for a BBQ or picnic.