Christmas Day is complete. You have eaten, drunk, cooked, un-wrapped, sat, discussed, watched and generally been waist-deep in the Christmas experience.
It’s the day after Christmas. The day us Brits refer to as Boxing Day. Now before we get a automatic reaction to go sales shopping or to re-position ourselves back underneath the Christmas blanket, consider this…
Fresh air which catches in your throat
The stretch as your muscles free themselves from inaction
The stimulation to your eyes as they take in different sights
A gentle massage on your internal organs
The endorphins of activity cycling through your body
The perfect pleasure of placing one foot in front of another
Because yes – this is that piece of writing which tells you, you really should get outside and take that Boxing Day walk. For me it’s a rite of passage. Begun many years ago when as a child, it was the moment when replete with chocolate, roast turkey and having shredded every piece of Christmas paper in the house, we would venture forth to the woods or the seaside.
The skies were nearly always grey. The wind was always blowing a gale. I always had what felt like fifteen layers on and complete with bobble hat, scarf and mittens. But I loved it. For an hour or two, we would tramp the forest path, sparkling with red nose from the cold or crunch shingle under our feet. For these are the days of Christmas. Things I still remember years later when some have come and gone; these memories still perpetuate. Untouchable childish Christmas delights.
And now as a somewhat adult, I still do the same. Because Christmas Day without a Boxing Day walk would be like the Chocolate Log with no whipped cream, the tin of sweets where someone has actually left all the purple ones, the Christmas where you actually remember to cook (and serve) all the vegetables you meant to… Ahhh, Christmas!
So now I’ve convinced you to go out in the miserable weather and find your perfect outside wandering space, let me give you one such idea.
I happen to live not far from a fantastic outside space – the Forest of Dean. It’s an area of wonderful arboreal wonder, a mixture of charismatic individuality, of personality and of industrial heritage. Trees. Tracks. Spoil heaps. The dark and the dank. The intriguing and the wonderful. Trees. Trees. And trees. A place of life. As though you could see time drifting by, but through the leaves, the woodland floor, the oaks, the beeches.
The Forest of Dean is no secret anymore, tucked in where it is just over the river Severn, betwixt Severn and Wye, on its flank the beautiful Wye Valley. It is now a haven for mountain bikers, for walkers, for weekenders and holidaymakers. It is all news to the locals whose passionate protectionist belief in their part of the world is singular. They happily see the outsiders leave to resume their daily dog-walking with no one for company apart from themselves.
Now squirrelled away not far from the Speech House, not far from Beechenhurst itself is something which feels like it has been around for ever – it is never exact in its distance for it depends how far you wander from the path, and how many distractions you get caught by. It is the Sculpture Trail.
For more information on the Sculpture Trail in the Forest of Dean click here...
A 3 – 4 mile trail walk which wanders its way around sculpture and sculptural art set into the woodland, its gallery is the Forest of Dean. Its route is a gainful variety of uphill and down, past kids distractions and adult intrigue. But for the most part, it is a story of human inter-relation with nature. Keep your eyes peeled for birds, for deer and for its most recent addition the (semi) Wild Boar.
But for Boxing Day, I can think of the Sculpture Trail in the Forest of Dean as one of those walks to idle your day off – from work, from Christmas. Take family. Take a partner. Take kids. Take a dog. Take no one. For conversation is easy as you take the high road, kids love the mud and the sticks, and alone – well alone means a peace, a stable peace of curiosity and calm.
There is video we did of the Sculpture Trail on YouTube check it out -
So do yourself a favour this Boxing Day, take yourself outside and take a walk – through town or country, it matters not. Just get out there.