Wednesday, 29 April 2020


When we first viewed our little house more than 21 years ago, we were early for our appointment so took a walk to the top of the cul-de-sac. We discovered that despite being only a 5 minute walk from the town centre and the railway station, from the top of the street there was an unbroken view all the way across fields and woodland to the hills of the South Downs. Sold.

There is a bypass around town, but it is hidden from view at the bottom of the hill beyond the farmland. We can often hear it but not see it.

Eight years ago, we discovered that all the farmland up to the bypass had been sold to developers, and the plan was for 1000 new homes to be built. 1000 homes that will eventually block the view completely. Our nearest patch of ancient woodland will be marooned like an island in the middle. There were the usual protests, environmental audits and so on, but it was a done deal. I wrote about it at the time, and stitched my own version of the plan.

They've started building the houses on the furthest edge, out of view for now, but people have even started moving in. The past year or so they've been digging the fields for drainage pipes and water pipes, but now the building has started the fields closest to us are empty once more. This is the first year the fields are completely uncultivated, and with no sheep or cows.

And then the lockdown started, and suddenly it seems that because people have been told they can only have an hour of exercise a day, they've all decided to take it in the same place, whether or not they were doing so before. It's become harder than ever before to maintain our distance from people, whereas before the lockdown we hardly met a soul, only our usual fellow dog-walkers.

One day, some people walking in front of us blatantly walked straight through a gap in the hedge into the abandoned field beyond. And so we followed them. And we haven't stopped since. We've discovered a whole new network of paths and loops, leading back into the woodland we usually walk in, by way of a "broken" fence (another walker must have accidentally cut through it with some wire cutters they just happened to have in their pocket, and accidentally moved the fence while they were at it).

It's so peaceful and fragrant in the woods.

So we've changed our longest dog walk time from the afternoon to early morning, and it's been utterly delightful. It's been a bit Pride and Prejudice, the sun rising over the dew-soaked fields, the skylark twittering away overhead. Even the bypass is mostly silent. Wonderful.

I'm particularly captivated by the little paths that wind their way through the trees and bluebells.

Over the years, the direction of the paths changes slightly. Sometimes it's to avoid a muddy patch in the winter (impossible eventually, when the woods become a quagmire) or sometimes to avoid a fallen tree. They evolve.

I love the archways and doorways between trees.

And I don't know whether it's because the air is so much cleaner and clearer than usual, but walking in the fields now, seeing little paths made by deer and rabbits, has reminded me vividly of being a child again, when time had no meaning and all I had to do was play.

I could spend all day in here.

I think I'm becoming a bit obsessed about paths and pathways. It might be my new thing.


  1. this really resonated with me - I have also been discovering new footpaths around home, as well as rediscovering routes I walked as as a child ... and the bluebells have been absolutely amazing in the woods this year - they might have become my latest obsession! Sheena

    1. Interesting! I’m sure the cleaner air has something to do with stirring memories. The bluebells have been fantastic too, and only just starting to go over.

  2. The woodlands do look lovely, don't they!


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