Ian’s Helmingham walk – Saturday 12th December

Words by Anneliese, pics contributed by Ian R.

Is it too soon to talk about the mud? Yes.

A hugely popular walk; 26 of us arrived at the allotted time and place despite the road closures sent to challenge us. Yes, 26 of us. Christina therefore still reigns as Queen of the most well attended walk with 37. I think I know “The Secret”, though. It’s the inclusion of animals along the way. Christina’s walk included alpacas, Ian’s deer. So what can another walk leader come up with to win the crown?

Ian guided us on a fabulous walk. Of course, I was chatting too much to have taken in any techy details but I guess it was around eight miles and it was kind of in the Otley/Helmingham direction. The 400-acre Helmingham deer park never disappoints with its herds of fallow and red deer often roaming close to the public footpaths. Walking through it feels like you are on safari. Lunch at the obelisk on the hill with 360 degree views of the hall and surrounding countryside was lovely. However, next time I shall creep up there the night before with my pool towel to stake my claim on the protected side, out of the wind! The weather featured heavily in discussions throughout the walk. Sunny, mild, really windy at times but most importantly, dry.

Dry it obviously hadn’t been for the days preceding this walk which brings me to the mud. We traversed two ploughed fields picking up more and more mud on our boots with each step. One walker optimistically pondered whether at some stage the mud would be so heavy it would just fall off. We never reached that stage as all the stomping and scraping on the road proved.

The White Hart pub in Otley had very kindly allowed us to use their car park and although obviously we didn’t want to, we felt morally obliged to go in after the walk and buy drinks, laugh, chat and generally make it look like we were having a good time. What a respectful bunch we are!