Following a suggestion from Suzie Anderton, I jumped back to Vivian Ewing’s Where Our Journey Begins, which I last visited back towards the start of the year to catch its 2022 wintertime dressing once more.
Back in February, the setting was blooming into an early spring and offered an engaging mix of places to explore among the trees and flowers as they threw a rich palette of colour across the region. Now, with the closing of the year, the setting is very much folded in a blanket of winter snow and seasonal elements in readiness for the coming holidays and celebrations.
Visits commence at the main landing point in the south-east corner of the region, the land stretching away to the north-west, a large ribbon lake crossing it diagonally from south-west to north-east. The latter is shouldered at its northern extremes by a curtain of rock to one side, similar to the curtain cliffs backing the landing point and possibly part of the same upward thrust of rock, and on the other by a plateau crowned but winter cabins.
From the landing point beneath the great iron gazebo in which it sits, visitors have a choice of exploration routes by which to discover the rest of the setting. Turn right a short walk from the gazebo, and the path leads to snowy box hedgerows enclosing an small terrace. A path from here runs down to the water’s edge to one side of the region, whilst a second points north, passing a corral where horses are held and a rezzer is available should you wish to explore the region on horseback, before the path branches once more.
Take the left arm of the fork, and the way is clear to wander along the southerly shore of the lake and even reach its icy surface. Places to sit and rest can be found along this route, ranging from a little campsite through water’s edge gazebo warmed by a log fire to a cosy little hut standing within sight of a high bridge spanning the lake – of which more anon.
Meanwhile, the right arm of the fork quickly crosses a covered bridge spanning the banks of a little stream – also frozen – to reach a fenced trail which also skirts the lake as it runs up and around the north-east head of the waters. From here, it runs onwards and westwards, passing over steps and between gates to reach the local (and festive!) village snuggled under the aforementioned plateau. Rides and seasonal kiosks have been set out on the village square, the lights of the houses glowing brightly beyond before the sheer face of the rocky highlands intervene between village and hilltop cabins.
The latter are reached via a further route of exploration leading away from the landing point. It sits beyond the snow-frosted gates at the end of the path leading outwards from the landing point gazebo, and a snow-dusted path meanders upwards through hoar-frosted trees to where an unexpected sight awaits: Santa’s cabin, complete with the jolly old man sitting outside, his elves keeping things moving. Flagstones arc their way around the cabin to lead to the bridge mentioned above and, across it, a single-track road providing access to the cabins.
Fully furnished and separated from the rest of the region as they are, these cabin offer their own setting and opportunities for photography both indoors and out.
This latter point is what makes this iteration of Where Our Journey Begins; while the region comes together as a single setting, it is laid out in such a way as to offer multiple little vignettes offering their own opportunities for enjoyment and photography, all rich in detail and with enough space between them so as visitors needn’t feel as if they are tripping over one another as the explore.
As with previous iterations of Where Our Journey Begins, Snowtide – as this version has been called – is a genuine delight to visit. My thanks to Suzie again for the pointer.
- Where Our Journey Begins (Eternal Hope, rated Moderate)