This is Poet's Walk, one of the gems of the Hudson River Valley, set along the banks of the river just outside of the town of Rhinebeck. Protected by the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, Poet's walk is one of the few large-scale areas of public access along the visually stunning banks of the Hudson. Once a part of Rokeby, one of the area's many private estates, Poet's walk is now open to the public, providing access to 120 acres of field and forest adjacent to the Rokeby estate. Spanning wide open meadows, deep thickets of forest, and stunningly expansive views once you reach the banks of the river, the "walk" was originally the product of landscape architect Hans Jacob Ehler's vision for the property in 1849 .
A few interesting details from the long and storied history of the property (Source: NY-NJ-CT Botany Online):
War of 1812 -- General John Armstrong, former ambassador to France and secretary of war, compelled to retire after the British burn the nation's Capitol.
1813 -- Build Rokeby. At first the estate was known as La Bergerie (the Sheepfold); later changed to Rokeby by Armstrong's daughter Margaret after she was inspired by a Sir Walter Scott poem. General Armstrong pastured Merino sheep here, a gift from Napoleon, hoping to improve American wool production.
1836 -- Rokeby became the country home of Margaret Rebecca Armstrong (daughter of John Armstrong) and her husband William Astor, then the richest man in America. 1843 -- General Armstrong dies.
Later, the Chanlors (mostly Astor descendants) took over Rokeby. (Randal 1995:165)
1844 -- General Armstrong's granddaughter, Laura Astor, was given the southern-most 100 acres of Rokeby upon her marriage to Frank H. Delano (whose grand nephew was Franklin Delano Roosevelt). The Delanos built a Tuscan Villa style home known as Steen Valetje (Dutch for Stony Creek). The estate was enlarged to 550 acres. It was the Delano family seat until 1967. The Delanos raised prized Norwegian ponies and Aberdeen Angus here.
1849 -- German born landscape gardener Hans Jacob Ehlers was employed by the Delanos and Astors to improve the grounds at Rokeby and Steen Valetje. Ehlers constructed a sylvan path called the Poet's Walk in honor of poets Washington Irving and Fitz-Green Halleck who are said to have strolled there.
It is now one of the great joys of living in the vicinity.
Rolling hills stepping slowly down to the wide, flat expanse of the river made perfect territory for pulling Q on her sled.
The views here are so breathtaking that it's difficult to resist stopping every hundred yards or so for a photo op.
The cold temperatures did nothing to dispel the beauty of the vistas, or our pleasure in the wandering. In fact, they only served to diminish the number of people heading out in search of a brisk walk...so we had the area largely to ourselves.
Can you just picture something out of Pride and Prejudice? That's the estate that originally owned this land, before recent owners donated it to the land trust.