Saturday, 5 July 2014

Summery Walks

The weather this week has been quite hot and sticky, but in the last couple of days the cloud-cover has made things a bit cooler and more comfortable. In a bid to get a bit fitter I've recently started walking, and have set my alarm for 6.00 instead of 6.30, heading off for a 20 minute walk before work. At this time of year the sun is already quite high in the sky, and the air is wonderfully fresh. 

We live on the edge of a rural town, and the countryside is very close by. My walk soon takes me along a road between fields, and this week I was greeted by this view when I looked through a gap in the hedge. The light was gorgeous, creating a lovely hazy effect. 

I loved the contrast between the dark foreground and light distance.

Today we headed for the Kennet and Avon Canal which is one of our favourite walking destinations, and headed west along it out of Bath. It's been another lovely day, warm and cloudy, but with some very hot spells of sunshine. It was very busy, both on the tow path with lots of walkers and cyclists, and on the water. Lots of beautiful narrow boats were moored along the tow path, many with pots full of flowers and herbs on them, and decorated in traditionally painted barge designs.

Along the banks I noticed lots of flowers in bloom. The large purple spikes of buddleias hung over the sides of the path, attracting lots of insects.

Bees were busily collecting pollen in the warm sunshine.

Willows hung lazily over the water and pathways, making striking linear patterns with their leaves.

Everywhere the large white trumpets of convolvulus, or bindweed, opened gracefully,

and wrapped themselves around other plants.

In places the waterway was almost congested, as boats gingerly negotiated their way past each other.

The water-loving plant, Policeman's Helmet, grows along the banks close to the water. Apparently it's also called Bobby Tops, Copper Tops and Gnome's Hatstand, all because of its hat-like appearance.

Sweet-smelling meadowsweet softens the edges of the canal, and was used by the Elizabethans as a strewing herb laid on floors to scent rooms, and also to flavour wine, beer and cooked fruit .

A very pretty member of the thistle family also lined the banks, with soft lilac flowers, gorgeously ragged.

I loved its spiky outline against the green water.

A family of swans swam up to see us, hoping for some food. 

Sadly, we didn't have any, but the cygnets were beautiful close up, their feathers so soft and grey.

The countryside around Bath is quite hilly, and this is the view to the north-west. The railway-line runs next to the canal, and trains can occasionally be heard rushing past.

Every so often a little bridge spans the water, and I like the way the tow path snakes around underneath it.

Looking out from underneath, the sun came out and lit up the trees and water outside.

I was captivated by the play of light on the underside of the bridge, as it was reflected off the water.

We went past some very pretty canal-side cottages with roses and lavender spilling over picket fences.

Just look at this beautiful cottage, with a garden full of hollyhocks and nasturtiums - heaven!

The hollyhocks were even better in close-up.

I've so enjoyed these summery walks over the last few days, and love recording the changing seasons and landscape. It has been a breath of fresh air, quite literally.

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