By the River

I ran to meet Ed from work today. Not worth posting about really, a flat, riverside out and back along the cycle path. A route I do quite frequently, nothing special.

As I set off it was chucking it down. I know the way like the back of my hand so I allowed myself to drift along with my thoughts for a while.

Once on the cycle path you are taken around the back of my old secondary school, it backs onto the Agriculture Block. We used to sneak in there to stroke chickens and marvel at the progress of the pig that was being fattened for market as part of the Ag Dept project.

Continuing on, a factory looms ahead, my Dad worked there before my time. I used to hate cycling past on the rare occasions that I biked to school, in summer the place reeked of sour milk.

Past the railway line, golf course and hotel where I lasted one shift. The grass and wildflowers are high this time of year, you can barely see the river. As I’m running I’m trying to resist picking my favourite grass. As a kid I’d collect different stalks and compare them, the seeds on my favourite variety could be stripped off with a satisfying ease and thrown in the air for the wind to catch.

The next point of interest for me is where the path meets the river. There is a ledge that we used to call ‘Queen Anne’s’ (no idea why), here we’d stand, toes curled around the edge, holding hands, preparing to jump. The course of the Caldew has changed slightly here, can’t imagine jumping in there now. On the other side, on a stony bank, I’d once found some eels rushing through the shallow water, no matter how hard I tried to grab them, they easily slipped through my hands.

The railway comes back into perspective here, there used to be a station many years ago to supply workers to the mill. The mill is still going, famous for screen printing – our school plimsoll bags stitched with brightly printed farmyard scenes, the curtains in the school hall, autumn trees.

Up some steps and by a field the path continues. Behind the village I grew up in and a neighbours garden where we’d spend hours building dens. Through a gate we are on open fields and the path pulls away from the river, meeting up with the cemetery, or the ‘park with no swings’ as I’d called it as a small child. I do love walking around there and must make time to do so again soon.

The rain was unrelenting but it was good to get some fresh air. I waited for Ed under a tree, next to a spot where I’d  toasted marshmallows in Brownies around 18 years ago. It wasn’t long before he appeared and we set off back, over old haunts once again. 8 miles.


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