Joy and Whisper invited us to go down to the Woods today, but although disappointingly there was no sign of any Teddy Bears or picnic, we did find many secrets and surprises on this very lovely walk at Carmel Woods Nature Reserve.
At one point there were only women signed up to attend and no men, but nearer the time and on the day, the men did appear to join us women, for a grand tour of yet another well hidden gem.
12 of us set off and only 11 returned but before you send a search party to the inner sanctum of the cave we explored--see photo's--I will add, that it was Dafydd who joined us at the start and then retraced his steps and went off to explore elsewhere, before rejoining us in the pub at the end, for a well earned drink.
Joy explained the Reserve was divided into three parts.
We set off across the road and on a tarmac lane before turning off onto a very overgrown path full of nettles, gorse and very sadistic brambles that scratched some of us--well me anyway!!--to shreds.Joy had warned us to wear long trousers but as it wasn't yet November, I didn't heed her warning and paid a bit of a painful price!!
After fighting through the overgrowth we eventually emerged on a high point with a rocky Cairn and an almost 360 degree view over the surrounding countryside.
We then proceeded to another lane and entered another part of the reserve, consisting of farm land.
We walked through some lovely wild flower meadows and into a field of horses who seemed really taken and very interested in Whisper--well who wouldn't??!!
The horses kept following him around the field with Whisper not knowing whether to bring them near us, or take them further away to give us time to exit the field.
So while Whisper continued his "chase me" game we all managed to safely emerge out on to yet another lane and entered the third and what turned into a most interesting part of the reserve,complete with limestone pavements, limestone quarry and a cave.
We stopped for lunch on top of the aforementioned limestone quarry though we could only take in the full extent of the quarry whan we walked at the base of it a bit later on.
At lunch the views from the top, out over the hilly terrain and distant villages were excellent and it was a welcome break to munch away and take in the views.
Afterwards Joy led us on a hardly recognisable path, overgrown and seemingly on a very narrow precipice at times, up to a cave.
It was so well hidden away, that none of us apart from Joy will ever be able to find it again.
Whisper having been here before, decided he did NOT want to go up to the cave again, so waited patiently for us on the main path until we returned.
As we entered the cave Helen saw a bat flying out.The cave went back quite a way and people were delving deep into pockets for mobile phones to shed some light on the darkness, and to explore the hidden depths.
Joy told us about some folklore associated with the cave and how a dozen skeletons had apparently been found there in the dim distant past--King Arthurs Knights?!.
Well that certainly made us want to exit pretty darn quick so we slipped and slithered back down and onto the main path and proceeded to a turlough, a seasonal lake that has neither inlet nor outlet streams and is fed entirely by ground water governed by the local water table.
Another lane and path through the woods eventually brought us back to the waiting cars.
Some of us adjourned to the nearby pub for some well earned refreshments.
What a really excellent choice of walk this Nature Reserve had been.Hardly anyone had been here before and the limestone quarry, cave and turlough were particularly impressive.
Many thanks to Joy for a very enjoyable wander in the Woods, and to Whisper for showing his true sheepdog qualities in herding us up from the rear at times.