River Ribble is a gem to treasure

The River Ribble, Sawley
The River Ribble, Sawley
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During the spring months, I spend most of my waking hours at work, seven days-a-week.

The products of my business are principally plants. Compared to the products of most other trades and industries, plants are fairly low value items, and so in order to make a reasonable living, it is essential that I sell them in volume.

As a consequence, I handle plants in vast numbers in the springtime, and it takes quite a lot of doing. Fortunately, it is a labour of love and my favourite time of year. When the time comes to finally hang up the trowel on my business life (some time yet hopefully), I know that it is the spring period that I will miss most.

There is a simple pleasure in handling the many different kinds of plants, and an excitement as a new delivery of stuff turns up to be unloaded, be they trays of alpines, crates of bulbs or trollies of bedding. Even though they are destined to end up in customers gardens, I enjoy, albeit temporarily, owning such beautiful things as they move from winter dormancy into the life bringing months of spring. I am not so much a gardener as a plantsman.

But I try to be both. After a long day at work, with the night rapidly drawing in, I can often be seen working outside, planting out bulbs, working in the greenhouse or sweeping the paths. In May, however, things start to go to pieces. I am at work until the late evening while my lawn and weeds selfishly grow like mad during the period of my distraction. It is impossible to be in two places at once and hard to keep up.

So by the time we get into July, I am very much into playing catch up. Still busy at work five days-a-week, and torn between catching up at home and going out for walks and stuff, the weather forecast swung it. We decided not to go to the Lakes last Monday as rain was expected and come Tuesday we still hadn’t finished sorting things out at home. With a hard bite of the lip I agreed to give up our second day off and finish off cleaning and sorting things at home. I felt like I was betraying Little Monty’s trust.

He doesn’t have a bad life, being outside all day mooching about, but it is not the same as going for a determined walk with lots of swims. By Tuesday lunchtime I had had enough and so insisted on taking Wifey out for a bit of lunch with the promise of a riverside walk afterwards.

We parked up at Marles Wood which is just this side of Ribchester, next to the gentle whirlpool of Sale Wheel on the River Ribble. Monty was out of the car and plunging into the cooling waters of the river like a shot, retrieving stick after stick. This was more like it.

Walking upstream the gently undulating path follows a way through woodland and meadow emerging at Dinkley suspension bridge. This is a superb spot for picnics, paddling, and more stick throwing. Crossing the bridge the path leads up to the numerous delights and watering holes of Hurst Green, but we were happy just sitting, taking in the view, feeling the sun on our faces and watching our little dog contentedly playing in the clear waters.

To be fair, I was disappointed not to have gone to the Lakes or Dales, but, that section of the Ribble takes some beating and as it is only 20 minutes to home proved to be a lovely outing. Sometimes you forget what gems there are right under your nose, easy to enjoy even when time is short!