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    Walks in 2009

    Our walking holidays in 2009 had a distinctly West Country feel. In addition to walking two legs of the South West Coast Path (from Westward Ho! to Padstow in May and from Padstow to St Ives in June) we squeezed in the 11 miles of St Michael's Way (from St Michael's Mount on the south coast of Cornwall to the north coast close to St Ives) at the end of our June holiday and then returned to rural Devon for a week's holiday in September. We stayed at Willow Cottage, Bude Farm (don’t confuse the name with the town of Bude), a wonderful place a few miles to the west of Winkleigh. In addition to enabling us to revisit sections of the north coast of Devon and Cornwall (especially in the Morwenstow area, where we'd been forced off the path by bad weather in May) we were able to visit Dartmoor and Exmoor and to explore the glorious but lesser known countriside of inland Devon. The photograph shows Tarr Steps, which we crossed on a circular walk from Withypool on Exmoor.
     
    Closer to home, we completed the Fen Rivers Way in March, with a couple of particularly memorable stretches walked from our house in Denver (West Norfolk) in the middle of a snowy spell in February. We've also walked along the Nar Valley Way from King's Lynn to Litcham. This has proved to be a more interesting path than we'd expected; although the route of the River Nar (like the Great Ouse and Cam, which the Fen Rivers Way follows) has been much straightend by human hand as it approaches the Wash, further upstream it's a pretty river, flowing through attractive villages and countriside (and with some things you could almost call hills!). Snow, this time on Boxing Day, again led to a memorable (slippery!) walk, this time between East Lexham and Litcham.
     
    I haven't had any work-related trips abroad this year (I attended just one international conference - in Leicester!) but at Easter I spent a very pleasant few days with my sister on a cruise around Amsterdam and the Dutch bulb fields.
     
    Richard accompanied me on a work trip to Bath in February; we spent an extra night in Bath to enable us to explore the city and and then went on to the Bear of Rodborough hotel near Stroud for a few days afterwards. I'd been to the Bear of Rodborough for a conference in 2008 and 'going back' to hotels is something we tend to avoid, on the basis of the fact that they are rarely as good the second time around.
    However the Bear of Rodborough fully lived up to its previous high standards and we enjoyed some walking in the Cotswolds and a visit to the Painswick Rococco Gardens at the height of the snowdrop season.
     
    We had our usual couple of weekends in the Peak District, to enable us to see Michael and Heather in Sheffield and also to do some walking. We stayed in the Tideswell area on both occasions and we would particularly recommend Hall Farm House in Litton. Then, for my birthday in August, Richard took me off to a 'mystery destination'.
    This turned out to be Rawcliffe House Farm, a delightful B&B (they also have self-catering cottages), nestling beneath Rawcliffe Bank to the north of Pickering in the North York Moors. We enjoyed walks In Newton Dale and revisited Rosedale Abbey (where I first discovered Yorkshire Tea, many years ago!).
     
    Our walking holidays in 2009 were planned around important family events, notably Helen's 21st birthday in April and her graduation in June. The photograph shows Helen and her boyfriend Tom - who more usually appear on these pages in walking boots and waterproofs - rather more smartly dressed outside the Senate House in Cambridge immediately after Helen's graduation.
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