Exploring the places close to home that you have never been to before.
Recently I wrote a post, Walking The Less Travelled Road, where I discussed the idea of veering off the well-trodden path and daring to walk a route that hasn't been walked by others before. I was talking both physically and metaphorically.
I promised to honour the idea myself as often as I could, especially when out walking the dog along similar routes every day, and just try to walk to places that are different.
So yesterday I decided to go off and find the hidden gem in North Manchester's Heaton Park, the fishpond. This park is magnificent, it's full of weird and wonderful routes and surprises, but I have been going there since I was a child, and more recently I have walked it almost every day for three years since we got the dog. There are very few places that I don't know in that park.
My next-door neighbour recently told me that she remembered a hidden fishpond that she used to swim in as a child, and that she knows it still exists because a friend of hers found it again recently.
I set off yesterday determined to explore, and maybe be lucky enough to stumble upon the fishpond. The direction I was given was to simply cut through the 'bull's field' - appropriately named as it is a field full of bulls, not for the faint-hearted. I did this easily though yesterday as the bulls were huddled in a corner at the other side of a field. Phew.
As I wandered down a long dusty path that cut through the bull field, a young couple emerged from a foresty area up ahead of me. I stopped to ask whether they had come across a fishpond on their walk.
"Sorry mate, we didn't and we've got no idea where we are anyway," he replied. "I'll tell you what, I'll Google it."
The lad proceeded to tap away at his mobile phone and produced a map which he thrust in my face. His girlfriend panicked, "Dave, social distancing!"
Dave withdrew his phone immediately and the two of them scurried off quickly.
I decided to take the only other possible entry point into the forest, a small gap in a hedgerow. I crept through it and pushed the foliage in front of me aside and there before me stood one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. A huge dark pond, surrounded by lush green foliage, and on a day like today a crystal clear blue sky reflecting off the surface of the water. It was breathtaking and totally unexpected.
I stood and took the scene in for a couple of minutes, and then walked around the periphery of the pond to see where it led to. As I walked I was astounded by how such incredible beauty could have been right there all these years, just a five-minute walk from my house, and yet I had never seen it before.
I followed the path and it eventually joined up with Heaton Park golf course, and so I had a sense of my bearings once again. But, I still wanted to try to keep walking the less travelled road. And, so while I contemplated the idea of how in our lives there is such incredible beauty often hidden in plain sight, I sought out the edges of the golf course and tried my best to walk a path that nobody else had done before.