This week they have been clearing out the winter debris from the stream bed in the lower gardens. This is the section of the gardens I call 'Little Sikkim' because of the bamboo and rhododendrons. The gardeners do a wonderful job throughout the year. Valley Gardens and the adjacent Pinewoods comprise of about 17 acres of park and woodland. It is believed that a greater number of mineral springs come to the surface in Valley Gardens than in any other known location on earth! Each mineral spring is unique with 36 of Harrogate's 88 mineral wells being found in the gardens.
On Sunday we did a family walk through the gardens following a Mothers Day lunch at the Old Swan Hotel. The restored Old Magnesia Well Pump Room was open for a Heritage Day. It was built in 1858 to dispense the therapeutic magnesia water from the nearby well. The Rockery in the adjacent Peat Garden, originally built at the turn of the 20th century to cover the well water reservoir, has been recreated plus the installation of a Sensory Garden. This successful project is due to the hard work of the Friends of Valley Gardens. The next project is the restoration of the Japanese Garden located west of the boating pond. The new oriental garden is to be redesigned around an expanded stream/pond area. As we have enjoyed the gardens of Kyoto in Japan I look forward to this exciting new project. I chatted to the lady who is overseeing the Japanese garden project. She has just returned from a fact finding trip to Japan. She was very keen to get me involved!
There are two parallel paths through the first section of the Pinewoods adjacent to Valley Gardens. In Winter the northern path is very muddy so I tend to take the southern path. That is the one shown in the left hand photo at the top of this blog. The final section of the Pinewoods path takes you up onto Harlow Hill. From here there are fantastic views across to the hills of Nidderdale to the north and even as far as the North York Moors out to the east. The snows of last week are still visible on the distant moors.
Why have I called this blog 'Two Walks'?
I find my walks are a great opportunity for prayer and reflection. This was also important to me when we lived in Hong Kong. In the final six years of our eighteen years there we lived on Hong Kong Island. We lived in a block of flats called Braemar Heights that was built to house teachers and their families who worked for the English Schools Foundation. This block of flats was on the top of Braemar Hill (Bo Ma Shan in cantonese). The hill was named after the Scottish village of Braemar by British officials early in the colony's history. From our flat it was possible to walk up onto the local hillsides providing tremendous views over Hong Kong. My favourite walk was a contour walk around Bo Ma Shan. It was called 'Sir Cecil's Ride' after one of the former governors of Hong Kong. Near the end of the contour path was a lonely tree called a 'slash pine'. I called it my 'prayer tree' as it was a place where I took the opportunity to stop, reflect and pray.
If you would like to read more about 'Sir Cecil's Ride' I have uploaded a new addition in the 'Travel Journals' section of 'Beyond the Sacred Mountains'. I hope you enjoy reading it!
After yesterday's heavy rain Lynne and I are looking forward to going over to Lister Park in Bradford today to see the crocuses!