Caught in a Hail Storm – Bradgate Park

Minh and I headed down to Bradgate Park on Saturday (25 January 2014) since we were down in the area. The goal was to check out the ruins of Bradgate House and check out Old John and just hang out. The forecast said rain pretty much all weekend, so I’m not entirely sure why we decided to spend time outside, but we did anyway.

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We arrived at the park just after lunch, and the weather was actually gorgeous. There was a slight chill in the air, but the sun was out and the sky was dotted with a few clouds. There was a breeze, though, and so the rain was slowly creeping in with that.

Unfortunately, Bradgate House was closed until April. It would have been useful if they stated that on their website, but we find that UK websites are not always so informative. We walked around the outside and snapped some pictures anyway.

After the disappointment of the “ancient monument”, we headed around the park toward Old John, which is a mug-shaped tower on the highest(ish) hill. It was a nice little hike/walk to get there, with muddy paths and puddles to jump over. Once we left the paved path that circles the park, there weren’t that many people around. I guess people just don’t want to get their rainboots dirty.

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As we were hiking to the top, we could see flashes of lightning and here rolling thunder in the distance. We could also see that it was getting much cloudier above us, and the air around us was feeling much colder. But there was no rain yet, so we kept on going. We got to the top just in time, ahead of a small crowd behind us and still no rain so we were table to get some good pictures without too many other people in them. At the top, there was a father and son who were looking off in the distance. I could here the father telling his son, “It’s coming. You see it?”. I looked over in the direction that they were looking, and there was just a sheet of white that was headed our way.

In less than a minute, we were being bombarded with rain and hail and crazy strong wind. The hail was actually hitting us from the side, and the wind was blowing us back down the direction we came up. We took some shelter behind Old John and waited for the worst of the storm to pass. We weren’t entirely sure how long that would take, so as soon as it showed just the slightest sign of letting up, we started back down toward the car. It was still a relatively long trek (a few miles) in the rain and residual hail. We put the camera away, so no pictures on the way down, but the ground was covered in white from the hail and our jeans were soaked through from walking in the rain. Luckily, we had our rain jackets on, or else we’d probably be pretty sick.

I’ll leave you with this poem I found by Percy Bysshe Shelley entitled The Cloud (1820). The last four lines describe exactly what we experienced over the weekend… it really did feel like the clouds were laughing at us.

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The Cloud (1820)

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noon-day dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet birds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plans under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

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