Along the Towpath

IT’S HARD to believe that at last we’ve completed all our Christmas errands and finished off as many home improvements we need to before Christmas. The days are now getting longer, just two minutes a day, but that will soon add up. To celebrate this small but significant change and to draw a line in the sand (well in the mud at this time of year), we set off for a short walk along the towpath in the rapidly fading light.

A heron flies past Beckside Farm and over the old grey viaduct. Two Mute Swans bring grace and elegance to the canal basin at Horbury Bridge.

On one narrowboat, they’ve improvised a giant Christmas pudding by the tiller, using a black plastic bin bag and cut-out holly leaves.

We turn back when we reach the pylon wires, which are sizzling and crackling in the rain like sausages in a frying pan. The pylon, standing on the steep bank above a belt of broadleaves, makes a stark Christmas tree silhouette.

Just 15 minutes walk from our doorstep and I feel as if we’ve escaped into real countryside and experienced the wider world.

As we walk back up from the towpath alongside the Bingley Arms, I rub my fingers through the Wormwood to smell this bitterly aromatic herb. It’s appropriate that it should be planted here by the pub as it has been used in brewing and as a flavouring in absinthe and in some Polish vodkas.

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