We live just a few steps away from Toad Rock in Denny Bottom. The Cow'n'Wolf love going up there mostly because it's frequented by deer and foxes, both of which we come across occasionally. I can't tell you how excited this makes the Cow'n'Wolf. Not even pigs' ears could come close. Trying to calm them down afterwards and get them home is quite a drama.
I once saw a deer up there early in the morning when I was walking to work. It was quite a large animal and beautifully ginger brown. Snow was on the ground and the sky was a soft lilac hue, no-one else was around. A definite Christmas card moment. For some reason I saw him before he saw me and those moments of trying to burn an image into my brain were quite intense. I tried to suck in as much detail as possible; eye colour, nose, mouth, feet, tail, how he moved, what he must be thinking - he was only yards away but I still fail to recall most of the detail. Then he spotted me. I expected him to be startled and turn tail, bounding over the rocks, but he almost looked bored, gently turned around and ambled his way up into the trees. Although I had a good view of him he just disappeared, melting into the foliage at the top of the hill, and I was left wondering if I had ever seen him at all.
That's why I love this place. It's full of unexpected things. We originally came here for six months and it's now our thirteenth year.
We often come across bands of children up at Toad Rock and I'm a little envious that they get to climb rocks called the Elephant, the Lion, Loaf Rock and The Parson’s Nose. Some of the climbs are quite easy but a few of the gaps only allow small people through, I know, I've tried. The smooth rocks show how many feet have slid over these stones in past years. That's another one of the things I love about living here, it's rural but full of life. Ancient stone is eroded by the happy feet of children as they clamber about having fun.
For the slightly older ones (when climbing rocks has been outgrown) there are quite a few little cave-like places and some secret little spaces between the rocks and trees that allow romance to blossom - Jackie and Butch may have found them. I wonder where they are now.
I also found this beautiful little heart etched into the stone with no name attached. It's almost obscured by lichen, but it's still there. I only hope the love attached to it is still going strong.
Trees and rocks here are quirky. If you walk a few yards from Toad Rock to Bulls' Hollow you can find petrified tree roots snaking up cliff faces to meet the living roots of trees above. Very strange and quite beautiful.
And to rest my case on the quirkiness around here, I discovered this tree overlooking the rock that Jackie & Butch made their own. What were Jackie & Butch doing that caused so much surprise and disapproval? We will never know.
I haven't quite rested my case on the quirkiness because there's one more thing! How many landlocked places have their own beach? It's true. The foot of Toad Rock has a beach. In summer children play here with buckets and spades, visitors bring deckchairs and our ex-racing greyhound thinks he's back at the track. It's just too odd and I love it!
Only a quarter of a mile away in Happy Valley the picture is slightly different (and I know we've had it easy).
This is where the Musician Husband suffered an injury. From a nurse's point of view it was a splinter, but to him, something had burrowed into his skin during the walk, set up camp and was producing it's young in his liver. He's now banned from watching 'Monsters Inside Me' on the Discovery channel. More worryingly, The Cow lost his deformed little claw on this particular walk. He didn't complain or whinge, just licked his foot a lot when we got back home. The deformity was a result of losing the whole claw last summer. Greyhounds have almost bamboo-like longish claws and their feet are quite soft, so they're prone to this sort of thing. As a result of that initial claw loss, the new one grew back at a right angle and was really asking to be ripped off at the earliest opportunity. In case you're worried he's fine now and so is the Musician Husband who now accepts the splinter theory.
I love walking with the dogs but getting home is almost better, especially if we're all wet and cold. After towelling the dogs down, cleaning paws and dropping mud encrusted clothing on the floor next to the washing machine, we settle down in the warmth of ToadRockStreet.
The Cow often gets the best spot as The Wolf has to be nearest the door to protect us and ward off any intruders. The Musician Husband will have a guitar in his hand almost as soon as we get back home (if not he'll be watching football). I'll settle down with my knitting on the big red sofa.
When we decided to adopt another dog (The Wolf was on her own at this point), we asked the guy at the greyhound rescue if it was fair to have two big dogs in a small cottage. His answer still makes me smile...it depends on how much you want to step over..! As you can see from the above, we don't mind stepping over a lot. Their beds take up a good chunk of floor space in our sitting room, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Even though I long for an eight bedroomed house with a pool, we'd probably want to cosy up in a room like this anyway.
What more can you need?