|St Mary's Church in Badsworth|
This may surprise you but on Thursday I was out walking once again. If you don't like my walking posts with associated photographs, please click away now.
Clint carried me out to the M1 motorway. Then we filtered left on to the M18 and after a few miles we were heading north on the A1M passing Doncaster. Then on to the A638 and soon I reached my destination - a small village I had never visited before called North Elmsall.
With boots on, the plodding began. Very soon I found myself in a rapeseed field. I had to thrash through the drying vegetation because the footpath marked on my map had been sadly neglected and untrodden. For a while I was like Indiana Jones, pushing through the chin high rapeseed following the course of a small stream up to a long abandoned railway track.
|At North Elmsall Hall Farm|
My five hour circular walk took in a former coal mining village called Upton and two other more scenic villages - Thorpe Audlin and Badsworth.
Frequently on my solitary walks, I don't talk to anyone as I move steadily over the landscape but on Thursday I had four encounters.
At remote Walton Wood Airfield a mechanic in overalls came out of the hangar where he was maintaining light aircraft to challenge me even though I was on a public footpath. I could have easily turned this situation into a confrontation but I disarmed the fellow by showing him my map and explaining where I had come from and where I was going to. He returned happily to his work. I posed no threat.
|Hangar by Walton Wood Airfield|
Then in charming Thorpe Audlin, a man in a parked blue van yelled across the street, "Can we help you?" There was another old fellow sitting beside him. I knew instinctively that he didn't really want to give me any help. He was just suspicious of a stranger walking by and his question was a way of challenging me. I went over and chatted with him and showed him my map and I asked if there was a shop in the village but he said it had shut down five or six years ago.
Later, in the equally charming village of Badsworth I walked into the village church - St Mary's and found a middle aged woman sitting alone in one of the pews looking at her laptop. It was a potentially risky situation - a lone six foot stranger and a defenceless female. Immediately, I got a whiff of trepidation from her which I quickly defused and soon we were chatting about the church and the village like old friends.
|Tattoo shop in Upton|
I asked if there was a village shop but she said it had shut down a few years back. I said I was rather thirsty so she made me a cup of orange squash and offered me a biscuit. Then the church warden came into the building and after chatting with him for a short while, he gave me a little booklet about the history of the church. Then he left.
As I was about to depart myself, I realised I had very little money on me though I wanted to make a donation to the church for the booklet and for the refreshment and the welcome I had received. Trustingly, the woman wrote her name and address down for me and I promised to send her a cheque (American: check) which I duly posted on Thursday night. She was called Anita.
Rogerthorpe Manor House is now a country hotel with a public bar attached. I wandered in there and asked how much a pint of bitter shandy would cost me. The young barman said £3.60 as I explained I only had £3.50. "No worries mate," he smiled and poured the pint anyway. It was a small act of kindness and the shandy tasted good, sustaining me on the last leg of my trek.
|Heading back to North Elmsall|