Waking up on January 1st 2015 the world looked like a place transformed. The snow and ice that had laid over Sheffield like a giant skating rink had magically melted away. It was a perfect day for a Winter ramble. The weather forecast was predicting rain but that was for later in the day. Throwing a flask of coffee and a waterproof jacket into my rucksack I was booted and ready to go in no time at all.
Setting off from High Green my destination was nearby Wortley Hall. A short walk but one I could complete before the weather turned against me. One of the pleasures of walking after a spell of bad weather is how visible the wildlife is. Birds that have been struggling to find food in the icy ground are rejuvenated. The sight of blue tits, chaffinches, blackbirds and the occasional song thrush in the hedgerows around Howbrook was something to behold.
Local paths had turned to mud. It was hard going underfoot but well worth the effort as Wortley Hall came into view. A grand building in the classical style with extensive gardens and grounds.
One of the fascinating aspects of visiting stately buildings is for what they can tell us about the way that people used to live. For example these days we take fridges and freezers for granted. In Victorian and Edwardian times Wortley Hall obtained ice from its local pond in Winter storing it deep underground. After a coffee and a break at Wortley I felt the wind beginning to pick up and grey clouds scudding across the sky. I set off for home happy to see the back of the snow and ice and looking forward to a mild start to 2015. As I reached High Green I felt the first spits of rain and knew that I had timed my first walk of the new year to perfection.