I often feel a sense of relief when we pass the winter solstice. Just the knowledge that our daylight hours are now increasing, even though it will be a while before it becomes apparent. That first moment when it becomes noticeable gives me a little boost, as these dark winter days take their toll after some time.
Yesterday, we returned to Settle. We hadn't been back since the end of August, when the Flowerpot Festival was taking place, and I really wanted to walk the short loop from the town over to Sugar Loaf Hill. The weather was similar to the previous day. It was chilly and overcast but the air was still and, most importantly, it was forecast to remain dry. Initially, the path climbed sharply from the market square with views overlooking the town and the hills beyond, before levelling out where we reached the dramatic Warrendale Knotts, complete with a small cave to explore.
Being surrounded by hills, Lily discovered the area lent itself well to echoing her voice, therefore the words 'bottom', 'underpants' and 'bogies' could probably be heard from quite some distance away :) Sugar Loaf Hill itself was quite uninspiring - I didn't even take a photograph! But it was a really lovely walk. I'm sure the views would have stretched further on a clear day, and the limestone scenery made a pleasant change from our usual Lake District views.
Before heading back downhill towards the lane into Settle, we stopped at a sheltered spot to enjoy our lunch. It wasn't long before the cold began to set in and I was thankful for my flask of hot chocolate - it seems to be becoming a habit! I had brought some hand warmers with me, but for some reason they didn't work and it was ages before I could feel my fingers again, even with my gloves on. Arriving back in the town again, we had a look around at the many beautiful festive window displays and the delightfully decorated tree in the square, before returning to the car.
Edited to add, I forgot to post this charming 'Twelve Days of Christmas' display in an old telephone box, which we passed by on our way back into town. Although, I think one of the geese may have flown away :)
Finally, late last night, I made a start on my Christmas wrapping. My initial intention of wrapping as I went along didn't quite go to plan. Next year, maybe :)