Monday 7 July 2014

Walking in Circles

Locally, there are a handful of circular walks to choose from, on road or off the beaten track, depending on what the weather decides to throw at me. Inspired by a recent post over at Sun Dried Sparrows (here), I took my battered old camera out one evening a couple of weeks ago, to record one such walk. At the other end of the year I tend to leave the house in the chill of the early morning, but round about now, I head off after dinner. This particular walk takes me down the lane for a mile or so, before returning along the winding riverside path and then back across the marsh. To get the very best out of it, timing is crucial.

It's time to head out. The sun is low and there's somewhere I want to be when it sets.

 Three years ago, before we came to view the house that we eventually bought, we put the postcode into Google Street View to take a look at the area and this rundown cottage a couple of hundred yards away was the first thing that appeared on our laptop screen. I think it's known in the trade as a 'fixer upper'. It's been abandoned for over 20 years and has a crazy overgrown jungle of a garden, which will be great for wild berries in a couple of months. No time to dawdle though, I'm losing the light.

  The lane is quiet and narrow, Before long, i'm in the tiny hamlet that lies between our village and the next. There are only about six houses here, all spectacular.

 A little further and a sign that sometimes disappears completely into the foliage, guides the way down steep muddy steps. 

 A narrow path winds through the gathering gloom and between the trees I get a first, brief, sighting of the river. High above, a cuckoo's call echoes around the canopy.

This section of the riverside path is wildly overgrown at the moment, those weeds are over six feet high, though suddenly I'm at the water's edge. See those ripples in the water on the far bank? A second earlier an otter was swimming quietly along, but it plopped out of sight as I raised the camera to capture it.

A 180° turn - and this is why i'm here. For a few precious weeks every year, the sun sets right down the middle of the river, as viewed from this spot. It takes my breath away and I never tire of watching or photographing it (here's one from last year). I'm actually a little later on the scene than I wanted to be, but still the colours change and deepen with every passing second.

Reluctantly turning my back on the glorious sunset, I press on along the river.

A few hundred yards further along the path, on slightly higher ground, I glance over my shoulder for one last glimpse of the sun, while overhead the moon sits high in the evening sky.

I pause again to watch as a kestrel hangs silently in the air, hunting for a meal. Then, onwards.

This hidden spot is the river's closest point to our house. From here, I'll head back towards home across the marsh. 

Turning away from the riverside path, I head down towards a fence and over a stile. A couple of nights after taking these photos, I stood at this fence in awe for over ten minutes watching a barn owl quartering directly in front of me. An absolutely majestic creature. Off in the distance, across the marsh, is the nearest town.

There's little remaining evidence that trains once passed through this remote stretch of countryside, other than the long abandoned railway bridge that stands as a silent memorial to those bygone days of steam. Ahead is the field familiar to every dog-walker in the village. There is no officially designated footpath across or around it, but for over 70 years the landowners have been happy to allow access to locals who are 'in the know'!

Here's the 'secret' entrance to the field - the narrowest of gaps. This is the marsh end of the lane that leads up alongside our house, a couple of hundred yards ahead. It looks bright, but it's actually getting very dark. Too dark to see if popular local character, the Little Owl, is bobbing about this evening. He's a funny little fella.
I've been out for about an hour. It must be time for a glass of wine.


Erik Bartlam said...

That is some gorgeous real estate.

And there can enough Moon Duo.

Anonymous said...

Otters! Kestrels! Marshes! Owls! Stupendous sunsets over glimmering rivers! Breathtaking. I feel I should be reading John Clare. Thanks for letting us accompany you.

Do you think we could turn that old abandoned building into a little club? Walking boots essential. ;)

C said...

Oh yes, breathtaking was the word I was thinking of too! Absolutely gorgeous, and all your doorstep, all free. Thanks so much for taking us on your walk with you.
I love SB's club idea too!

The Swede said...

Thanks Erik and I'm with you all the way as regards Moon Duo.

Singing Bear. From the little you've told us of your walking routes with the hound, I bet you see plenty of interesting wildlife in your area, but I'm glad you enjoyed my little stroll anyway. As far as the rundown cottage goes, it's been abandoned for so long that no-one locally seems to know who owns it. The size of the jungle all around it would indicate that there was once a sizable garden attached too. All in all, the whole site is certainly big enough for a GUB Club...or even a modest gasometer!

Thanks C, it was totally inspired by your own, erm, inspiring posts. My poor old camera is so knackered that I had to take about 70 shots just to get the few I could use. I'm on the hunt for an upgrade (it won't be hard - a box brownie would be a improvement at the mo')and if I do get myself a newer model I'd like to repeat the exercise on a different walk. Watch this space! Meanwhile, let's have another excursion from your neck of the woods!

Anonymous said...

Just had another look and want to add that I'll have to seriously consider having a go at this sort of thing. Thanks to C for original idea and both of you for the inspiration.

John Medd said...

Looks idyllic; shame there aren't any crinkle crinkle walls though!

I too may have to nick C's idea - it's such a great format.

The Swede said...

SB. Great news. I look forward to seeing and reading the results.

John. Actually, if I do get around to repeating this exercise, a crinkle crankle or two may well feature.

Old Pa's Corner said...

I have also thought of doing the same after reading 'C' posts. Great journey TS and great pics...there is no denying that the UK is unbeatable when the weather is good...but...

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