Hardwick Hall Country Park

Jo’s Monday walk : Wildfowl Waddle and Glide


Bearing in mind how energetic we were last Monday, I thought that something a little more sedate might suit today.  Hardwick Hall Country Park in Sedgefield, County Durham, is just the place for a gentle stroll.  But that’s not the whole story.  You are probably familiar with my challenging friend, Jude.  Chided to nurture my photographic skills in capturing wildlife, and NOT cheat with inanimate objects, what else could I do?

Clutching the dregs of a box of cornflakes, off I went.  The helpmate had to come too, of course, to obligingly scatter the cornflakes as I poised for action.  And action there was, aplenty!  It seems that swans are extremely efficient hoovers when it comes to cornflakes.


We used to come to this park when my son was small.  Many battles were fought in the crumbling old fort- some of them just to get him out of there, and home again.  Nobody much seems to clamber in it these days.  Just the odd duck.  A bit of a waste, really.

A park for all seasons, I’ve brought you here a time or two before.  Remember the duck decoy?  And there are quirky sculptures, too.  But fundamental to it all is the lake.  Canada Geese may pretend ownership, but the swans glide imperiously by, cocking a snooty beak.




There are several smaller ponds, beloved of the coots playing hide and seek among straggling roots, and the soft shimmering reeds.  The Temple of Minerva hints at mystery through the trees.  Just one of the interesting sculptural aspects to this park.



Crossing over the Serpentine Bridge, the path leads to fens and a boardwalk.  A new little bird hide has been installed, and our feathered friends are delighted to preen a little while they feast on nuts.  We are equally delighted to quietly spectate.



I’m so used to seeing the folly of a Gothic Ruin that it no longer seems strange to me.  Designed in the Palladian style, by architect James Paine, the gardens are an unusual example of 18th century landscape design.  The cafe, however, is a stylish new build.  That doesn’t prevent it from doing a very creditable old fashioned Victoria Sponge and Bakewell Tart.  I did a good impersonation of those swans as I hoovered up my sizeable portion. Crumbs don’t make much of a photo, do they?

Hoping for a tiny morsel, a robin loitered nearby, teasingly out of camera range.  So, I had to settle for a couple of very cute ducks.


You might have noticed that Jude has been breaking her own rules lately.  Who better?  Pop over and join in her Garden Challenge. You have until the end of March to post some Wildlife.  Meantime let’s put the kettle on.  Time to settle in for a good read.

walking logo

Huge thanks to all my contributors for joining me again this week.  I love having your company, whether you’re a walker or not. Please feel free to send me a walk.  The details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page or click on the logo above.


Lots of happy and willing sharers again this week.  Let’s get Smidge to start us off :

A weekend in the Clyde Valley : New Lanark and the Elphinstone Hotel 

I don’t know why but paddles and Mersey come to mind?  Strange brain I have!  Sorry, Debs!

Across the Forth without a Ferry

Serene in New Zealand this week, with Ellen and a few cows!

Going for a Walk : Motutapu Walkway

South of the Border, one last time (sob!), with Jackie :

Bucerias, Mexico

To the beach with Amy, enjoying the beauty, as she always does :

Monday Walk : Rockport Beach, Texas

Being ‘sinister’ with Anabel in Scotland?  No, not really!

Irvine and the Scottish Maritime Museum

Liesbet doesn’t make the leap, so don’t worry!  Maybe another time?

A Walk in Lover’s Leap State Park, CT

Feeling social this week?  Please go along and say ‘hi’ to Joan :

Having a Social Hike with absolutely Blissful Views

Such a pretty sequence of images!  Meet BiTi from Pret-a-Vivre online magazine :

Our first walk together in 2016

And, as ever, along comes Drake to brighten the day :

Pics up last Summer

Closely followed by Elisa and Dumbo- not the Disney favourite!

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

My friend Meg will love this next walk, so thank you, Susan, for making us both happy :

Rock Walk 

Richard is standing up for Cornish walks and beaches.  Jude will be very happy with that :

Best walks with a view : Trevone to St. Merryn 

And, in case you missed the link at the start of my post, here’s the lady herself :

Garden Portrait : Knightshayes Court

That’s it for another week.  I hope to have a post for you on Easter Monday but I haven’t quite decided where yet.  My daughter and husband are arriving on Thursday evening, so I’m busy and excited.  I hope the weather allows you to get out and about, but if not there’s always chocolate. Have a wonderful time!


Six word Saturday


Oh no! Not a duck decoy!

Hello ducky!

Hello ducky!

His friends are looking worried!

His friends are looking worried!

But this guy's not going anywhere

But this guy just refuses to move

It's ok- there's plenty of food

It’s ok- there’s plenty of food

Yes- but there could be a storm approaching

Yes- but there could be a storm brewing

It's fine- look, I've found a shelter

It’s fine!  Look, I’ve found a shelter

And it's big enough for all of us

And it’s big enough for all of us

No!!!!! Can't you read! It's a decoy!

No!!!!!  Can’t you read?  It’s a decoy!

Well, thank goodness we spotted that in time!

Well, thank goodness we spotted that in time!

Strolling in the country park at Sedgefield last week, I spotted the duck decoy sign.  I’d never noticed it before but it gave rise to my little Saturday story. (if you magnify the sign, you will see that it was a method of trapping ducks for the table at the ‘big house’)   Hope it gave you a smile.

And while I’m in the park, here are two photos I took on the boardwalk, just perfect for Verena’s Festival of Leaves.  It’s a lovely autumnal challenge you might like to visit.  But don’t forget to pop in on Cate, will you?  Happy Saturday everybody!


Six word Saturday


Pull up a chair and sit?


Well, maybe not today.  It’s not the warmest!

I used a photo of Hardwick Hall Country Park in one of my posts recently.  It proved quite popular, and it occurred to me that I’d never given you the full guided tour.  Very remiss of me.  Lingering weather, it’s not, but if you’re passing Sedgefield with some spare bread for the ducks in your knapsack….

It's a park of follies and eccentricities

It’s a park of follies and eccentricities

Wide open so you feel the chill on a Winter's day

Wide open, so you feel the chill on a Winter’s day

But with a hint of sun the reflections are nice

But, with a hint of sun, the reflections are nice

Some of the follies provide shelter with your view across the lake

Some of the follies provide shelter for your view across the lake

The birds will carry on, oblivious, till you rustle the bag

The birds will carry on, oblivious, till you rustle that bag

The temple looks on stoically.

While the temple looks on, stoically.

As you walk around the lake you catch glimpses of the tower and the statue

As you walk around the lake, you catch glimpses of the tower

And the statue

And the statue of Neptune

The old bridge provides the best views

The old bridge provides some of the best views

It took a while in the building but the modern cafe and exhibition center is a welcome addition to the park.  A bowl of homemade soup goes down well on a Winter’s day, and in Summer you can sit outside and observe your youngsters clamber on the climbing frame.  The village of Sedgefield is just a walk away.

The Dun Cow Inn on the High St. has always been a good grub pub.

The Dun Cow Inn on Front St. has always been a good grub pub.

Hope you enjoyed our Saturday stroll, though, to be fair, a very brisk walk would be more appropriate today.  Cate at Show My Face has indulged me, as usual.  It is my afternoon treat to visit her page and check out the other entries.  Use the links to accompany me?