Natter In Nature | canal and country walks
Do you enjoy a good old natter? Well, how about a ‘Natter In Nature’?
A phrase coined by our Advocate Linda, it’s an apt name for our social walks (and talks) in nature. These walks are kindly sponsored by ‘Forest of Hearts’ under their ‘Walkie-Talkie’ programme (yet another great name!).
We’ve now completed a series of 10 canal and country walks now, in various parts of Staffordshire (and the odd one in Cheshire) – focusing on the locations that our ‘Friends with Human-Nature‘ group have enjoyed over the past 18 months or so.
Take a look at our Photo Storyboard below to see where we’ve visited and what we’ve spotted (and nattered about) on our walks so far.
Within the next few weeks we hope to develop a new series of walks – so that we can continue our ‘nattering’ in nature, and add this activity to our regular calendar.
Walks Completed | photo storyboard
1. The Upper House, Barlaston (to Downs Bank) – Country Walk – 23rd Feb
- Be Active – Making it up the hill to Millenium Point to admire the view.
- Keep Learning – Spotting a Lama, a Little Egret (small white heron), and a Woodpecker.
- Connect – Linda finding her ‘happy stone’!
2. Red Bull Wharf, Kidsgrove (to Broughton Arms) – Canal Walk – 9th Mar
- Connect – Finding a pub that’s open (non-alcoholic drinks of course)!
- Connect – Having a laugh with the narrowboat folk and (not) helping with the lock.
- Take Notice – Green and brown water and Snowdrops.
3. Deep Hayes Country Park (to Cheddleton Flint Mill) – Canal Walk – 16th Mar (Photo/Poetry Walk)
- Take Notice – Finding some ‘alternative therapy’ and a boat specially for R too!
- Connect – J & A finding there way there at all – getting lost down a very narrow lane!
- Keep Learning – Wondering where the flint came from (still don’t know).
4. Great Haywood (to Shugborough Hall) via Tixall Wide – Country Walk – 23rd Mar
- Connect – A couple of swans walking with us.
- Care/Give – Great effort litter picking (2 bags collected) and worrying that we’d never get around in time.
- Keep Learning – Jake spotting a Kingfisher (too quick for everyone else).
- Be Active – A 5 mile walk this week (then time to refuel – a bacon butty at the Canalside Farm Cafe)
Testimonial: “Thoroughly enjoyed today’s walk (at Shugborough), as too did J.” – RR
5. Trentham Gardens (to Hanchurch Hills) – Country Walk – 6th Apr
- Take Notice – Signs of spring with Pussy Willow.
- Give – Never seen so much enthusiasm for litter picking (from the extra walkers on Easter Break).
- Connect – Meeting other people initiating community litter picking – and asking for our help!
- Be Active – A 4.9 mile walk – getting over obstacles in ‘stile’ (style).
Testimonial from R:
Another great walk this morning.
6. Froghall Wharf (to Consall) – Canal Walk – 13th Apr (Mindful Walk)
- Keep Learning – Learning mindful photography and Steph’s beautiful raindrop refraction macro shots.
- Take Notice – Smell of wild garlic (smell noticed by Jake), patterns in water flows (sight noticed by Alan), woodpecker tapping (sound noticed by group)
- Be Active – Not so active this week (around 2.5 miles estimated) – raining and we got bogged down in mud, never making it to Consall. Really needed the wellies! Retreated to Hetty’s Tea Shop where R got his ‘5 a day’ – fresh fruits (topping the cream for his muffin) – with ‘lemon’ curd – does that make 6?
- R’s poem (below) – and we have’t even done ‘Poetry in Motion’ yet!
That crumpet and lemon curd inspired me to write a poem!
SMELL the wild garlic in the air
LISTEN is that a woodpecker over there
SEE raindrop jewels on a springtime bud
LAUGH as you splash through the mud
TOUCH the gnarled bark of a fallen tree
REMEMBER AND APPRECIATE all that you hear and see
RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT. We are armed with litter pickers
EXERCISE to keep healthy tickers
THINK POSITIVE as you encounter another farm stile
RELAX. BREATHE IN AND SMILE,SMILE, SMILE
LEARN about subjects you never thought of before
(Like turning vodka into gin. And much much more)
THINK POSITIVE. There’s only another mile or three
ENJOY the prospect of cake and tea
LOOK FORWARD to another walk next week
WELLBEING. A target that we share and seek
7. Middleport Pottery (to Westport Lake) – Canal Walk – 20th Apr (Photo/Poetry Walk)
- Keep Learning – Learning about our pottery heritage (courtesy of Middleport Pottery)
- Take Notice – Noticing the narrowboat names – how appropriate!
- Give – Appreciating the work done by volunteers on the brash and living hedge maze – a haven for wildlife!
- Care – Expressing concern at rather precarious nesting sites (birds on eggs right at the path and lake edges)
- Take Notice – Finding the ‘Secret Garden’ on the Middleport canal bridge
- Connect – Back to the canalside cafe at Middleport – full English!
- Be Creative – yet more ace poems written following the walk:
R’s second poem:
Friday morning. Just parked the car
Here’s a few clues to where we are
Wedgewood, Spode, Royal Doulton too
And Titanic Bitter is the local brew
The Potteries. In fact Middleport to be precise
And thankfully, the weather, it’s looking nice
T Shirts. No waterproofs needed today.
So off we go on our way.
Onto the towpath. Derelict buildings to our right
We all agree its such a depressing sight
If walls could talk. What tales they would tell
Of the Pottery Business when all was well
Alas no more. But ahead we see
A renaissance? It’s Middleport Pottery
Onward and then a left we take
Bringing us onto Westport Lake
Families, joggers and walkers abound
With the occasional weary looking hound
Pigeons courting. It’s that time of year
Ducks approach us with no fear
Birds nesting. Some sitting on eggs
Fishermen waiting hopefully by their pegs
Daffodils swaying. Displaying their bloom
Treating us with their exotic perfume
Now back to the Canal. Homeward says Jake
We all think he’s got his eye on a Potteries Oatcake.
But no. His resistance stands firm. Which is more than can be said
For the rest of us as we all stampede towards the tearooms ahead.
Fed, watered and never stopped talking
Theres no better tonic than good company whilst walking
Over the border to Cheshire, next week
As yet further frontiers, us merry band, we seek.
Testimonial and response ‘Mindfulness in Motion’ poem from L:
A brilliant description of our walk and it really conveys the pleasure we gain from nattering in nature / history! It really has been a tonic as R conveys in his poems. Once I start my journey home from our walks I realise I have not given a thought to my ‘other life’ of chaos, issues, worries and busyness. That’s mindfulness in motion!
Mindfulness in Motion
Forget the chaos we leave at home
Forget who may be on the phone
Don’t stress about the chores to be done
Start to walk and have some fun
Our busy lives leave us full of stress
Often our heads feel such a mess
Worries about what is to come
Start to walk and have some fun
Nattering on as we mindfully walk
It really feels so good to just talk
You dont have to be fit enough to run
Just start to walk and have some fun
Time goes by and before you know
It’s time to leave our friends to go
Back to our other life we forgot all about
Walking is fun, there is no doubt.
8. Lawton Woods – Country Walk – 27th Apr
- Keep Learning – Learning that S was once ‘Lady of Lawton Hall’ – but felt lost in a posh apartment.
- Take Notice – The bluebells looking beautiful, even dancing in the rain.
- Take Notice – The loo with a view!
- Be Active – Stiles again on this walk.
- Connect – Drying out in the ‘Bleeding Wolf’ and enjoying a chat
9. Rudyard Lake – Country Walk – 4th May
- Take Notice – Picking out patterns & textures for our ‘Photo Walk’ theme.
- Take Notice – Admiring the mansion on the hill – in need of ‘Restoration Man’.
- Care – Feeling sorry for the ‘lonely goat’ – who came over for a fuss.
- Connect – Steph connecting with nettle – and R amusingly capturing the incident in rhyme.
- Connect – Enjoying a sandwich. A sandwich short of a picnic for some – but plenty of gravy to go round (and around).
10. Burston Village (to Aston Marina) – Canal Walk – 11th May
- Be Active – Our mascot ‘Lola’ the Dalmatian setting the pace.
- Connect – ‘Plalking’ (picking litter walking), has picked us up a new participant (a fellow litter picker) – joining us for our final walk (of this series).
- Take Notice – R following his nose – enjoying the fragrance from the Lilac blooms.
- Connect – Enjoying a picnic by the duck pond in Burston Village – concluding with R’s poem (below), penned before the walk.
- Connect – Reaching consensus that ‘Natter in Nature’ should continue.
A time of reflection as our final walk ends
We started as strangers and finished as friends
Full of smiles
As the miles
Just pass by
Under varied sky
Sometimes rain, sometimes sun
Whatever. We really have had some fun
Some of our experiences we’ve put to rhyme
Always making sure to find the time
To appreciate the benefits of getting out there
It doesn’t matter when or where
Just do it. Don’t delay
Dust off your boots. Get on your way.