Hearing the crunch of crisp autumnal leaves under your wellies as you stomp through the countryside has got to be one of life's greatest simple pleasures. The russet and honeyed hues of nature can lift even the gloomiest of skies, but last weekend we were lucky enough to choose a day to revel in these seasonal joys when the sun sat still all day long, and warmed us through our many layers of clothing.
Nestled in the heart of Lincolnshire on the edge of the picturesque Wolds is a small wood where you can crunch leaves and wander beneath the vast canopy of trees to your heart's content. Usually a spot heralding the start of a biking route, Willingham Woods is actually a small slice of countryside where you can escape and explore all year round, though it holds a particular ethereal beauty during the autumn months. You can also take the opportunity (as we did) for an al-fresco hot chocolate still piping hot from the flask and somehow more enjoyable because it is consumed outside.
The rolling fields of the Wolds stretch out like a muddied patchwork quilt in the distance, but inside the wood everything is dense and earthy. Scarlet berries lace the branches that lead you down windy paths, and you are followed only by the rustle of pigeons as they spring from their perches high above the ground. Bella (the pup) was terribly excited as it was her first exploration of the woods, and seeing her paw at the leaves and test the waters of the stream was a joy and we felt like proud parents showing her off to the world.
It's not that having a dog forces us to do things and go places we wouldn't normally, it simply means we are more likely to create opportunities to explore both the surrounding countryside, and the seasons. What could be better than that?