During the winter months, it’s easy to find pockets of solitude around town. Fewer folks are out walking in the parks, libraries can be surprisingly quiet, lakeside beaches are as empty as a winter’s bird nest and even outdoor benches, usually occupied, are there for the taking.
For me — someone who thrives in solitude and relishes silence — winter is heaven. I can always find a quiet place during the chilly months, especially outdoors.
Once the warm weather arrives, however, it’s more of a challenge to find pockets of solitude in our area — and understandably so. It’s so lovely to be outside again! Nonetheless, I have made it my mission to find some peaceful little nooks that soothe my soul when the spirits need a reboot.
Popular among trail runners, dog walkers and young families, Corbett’s Glen Nature Park in Brighton might seem like the last place to head for some quiet time. It’s not; you just need to know where to park yourself amidst the flora and fauna: on the Dick Dougherty Memorial Bench. This secluded bench, installed by the Boy Scouts to honor Dougherty — a revered humor columnist for the Democrat and Chronicle who passed a little over a decade ago — affords a view of many things: lush honeysuckle bushes, darting meadow birds, the vast sky, and (quite dearly) the back of Dougherty’s former house. Sitting here also provides something else — a slice of delicious solitude. The quickest route: Park on Glen Road, just off Route 441. Walk through a stone archway tunnel and immediately turn left on the Perimeter Trail. At your first intersection, turn right (continuing on the Perimeter Trail) and then after about three minutes, turn right again on an unmarked trail that leads to the stone bench. Total one-way walking time from car: 15 minutes.
When you walk behind Highland Park’s Warner Castle — an ancient Gothic-style castle whose grounds are open to the public — you’ll discover a garden like no other around: the Sunken Garden. With its timeworn stone walls, decorative wrought iron railings, pretty curved arches and minimal landscaping, you’ll think you’ve just stepped out of a Charlotte Bronte novel. While the sunken portion of the garden yields an infinite stillness, I prefer to sit on a stone bench that overlooks the garden or on a nearby wooden bench that provides views of the garden as well as a grassy path lined with lovely plantings. The quickest route: Park for free in the Warner Castle parking lot at 5 Castle Park. Total one-way walking time from car: 2 minutes.
What unclenches my tense muscles most while sitting in Nancy’s Glen are the sounds: a bird’s trill, a babbling brook, rustling leaves, buzzing insects. Tucked within the Horizon Hill Conservation area in Perinton, this quiet glen is a memorial to Nancy Whitcombe, a charter member and former treasurer of the Crescent Trail Hiking Association. Although it takes but minutes to reach Nancy’s Glen from the parking lot, this cozy nook, feathered with ferns and fragrant with new growth, always makes me feel a million miles away. The quickest route: Park in the Horizon Hill Conservation Area parking lot off Garnsey Road. Take the orange trail to the blue trail; turn right. Follow the blue trail until you see the gray-arrow sign; turn left, and Nancy’s Glen awaits. Total one-way walking time from car: 10 minutes.
Got some hidden gems that you’d like to share? Do tell!
Anne Palumbo writes this column for Messenger Post newspapers. Her email is avpalumbo@aol.com.