Thursday, 12 February 2015

Twentysteps

Being on the edge of Charnwood Forest, means that Loughborough has some wonderful places to explore. Charnwood Forest is an area where you can find the oldest rocks in England, and it is this mix of woodlands and rocky outcrops which is so brilliant for adventures. Apparently, hundreds of years ago, Charnwood was designated as a chase rather than a forest, meaning it was an area for the gentry to hunt deer. This may explain why it is more forest by name than by nature. It has plenty of woodlands, though not the large dense forested areas that the name implies.
 

The week after Christmas we had a sprinkling of snow and visited one of the kids favourite spots for a walk. Although really it is not the walking but the rock climbing that the kids love. They would climb over all the rocky outcrops on the way up the hill and then have a race down the parallel grassy slope all the way back to the car. Cademan woods is near Whitwick, about 7 miles from Loughborough, and other than the odd mountain biker, or dog walker it is very quiet (at least until we arrive).


The rocks give it such a dramatic landscape, but the best part for me is 'Twentysteps'. Almost hidden from the path, there are cut stone steps leading to the summit of one of the outcrops. The top photo shows the view from the path. There is a large stone hiding the 'entrance' to the peak, which is now overgrown.


It is enchanting, like the hidden stairway to a magical castle and I am grateful to have found it and enjoyed so many happy hours there with my kids and their friends. I would love to know the history behind the steps. Who carved them, when and why? They feel hundreds of years old to me.


I can imagine that maybe it was a hidden lookout post, to keep watch for marauding armies, or the location of a warning beacon. It may even have been a hideout, or is there a secret cave full of treasure hidden within ;-) For children it is a place filled with opportunities for imaginative play, from storming the 'castle' to hiding from attackers or just climbing over all the rocks. It could be Rapunzel's tower, Sleeping Beauty's overgrown castle or the mountain the Pied Piper leads the children to, How amazing to have this as your den?

There are so many enchanting places, but you won't discover them if you walk the same path each time and stick to the main routes. It might mean overcoming some of those excuses that we put in the way like.....I don't know where this path is going, I might get lost, it may be trespassing, it will be muddy, I need someone to guide me. As with many things in life, just do it and it will be fun.


I really wanted to find a wise quote to express how I feel about this, but then I came across Jodi Ettenberg's wonderful blog Legal Nomads and an inspirational presentation from 2011. Although Jodi's experience is with travelling to exotic places, her message relates just as well to exploring your local surroundings or just life in general. Be grateful and open to opportunities.

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