One of my favourite things about this Autumn so far has definitely been my country escapes, of which there have been plenty. It all began with a trip to Boxhill in the North Downs in Surrey in the final weekend of September. Provided with several different walks to choose from, we went for the 'Stepping Stones Walk' which I admit I thought sounded sweet so was surely going to be a gentle amble. Needless to say, Boxhill is called Box'hill' for a reason; we definitely walked off our picnic and my time in the gym has not improved my lung capacity. Our longest dog walk to date, it was nevertheless so lovely to spend a day surrounded by green and space as far as the eye could see.
Two weekends ago I was craving another dose of country air so myself a fellow Norfolk-dweller headed on an Epping Forest adventure. I'm not sure that we would have expected it to be much of an 'adventure' but it saw us getting shamefully lost on our walk which was mostly spent potentially trespassing on farmland and skirting the M11 and M25 when we took one of many wrong turnings. Four hours (advertised as a 2-hour round trip) of fresh air and what can only be described as a proper 'romp' did us good though, even if we did have to back-track multiple times and (oh the shame) set our phones to satellite mode in order to establish our location when faced with fences of a high or electric nature on several occasions. I feel like this country escape was possibly the least relaxing of the few I've had this season and maybe even slightly traumatic but it was nothing that beer and pub food couldn't fix. We'll be back, now we know the way...
Half term arrived and home beckoned so on Thursday I was Norfolk-bound on a super early and surprisingly busy train. As happens every October half term, I've got the cold to rival all colds but I hoped it was nothing that couldn't be fixed by country air, home cooking and love. An early departure meant an early arrival thus we had a whole day on Thursday to get out and about. Our day began in the village of Walsingham, home to fascinating churches for several denominations of Christianity and two beautiful shrines to Mary as well as a tearoom with the tastiest cake and a farm shop with the prettiest produce. From Walsingham we carried on to the coast and Brancaster Staithe. No crab left at the hut in the harbour so we just took a hot drink back to the car to admire the view.
On Friday we first drove to Wolfertoon Woods where we often go for our Christmas day walk. I thought it might be looking particularly pretty at this time of year and I was right. We were met by every shade of golden and red and a plethora of toadstools growing all around. The curly-haired cows were up a lot closer and more personal than usual which was fun and because we're so used to clear paths in winter we actually took a wrong turning and ended up traipsing through bracken to find the path again. From Wolferton we headed again along the coast to grab a crab sandwich to prepare us for Thornham, my favourite beach and the one that I felt Mallorca was reminiscent of with all its pine. Back in the summer we were put off staying by yuppies with rugby balls and enormous picnic hampers but this time we were glad not to encounter too many other people at all as we made the walk along the bank to the pleasingly empty beach.
It sure is reassuring to know that the countryside complete with its air and space is never too far away and is always available, no matter the time of year. I think this month has definitely shown me that country escapes don't have to be so infrequent as they had become.