Sunday, traditionally is a day of rest. However, rest my feet I won’t, as last weekend I headed out in the relentless rain for a bit of an exploration.
Since moving to a new place, it’s been thoroughly enjoyable not having anyone about when you go for a walk. I truly get to appreciate the little things in nature; the myriad of birdsong, the wind swirling through foliage, the unrestricted vista of fields and wood pasture trees against the autumnal backdrop of our local woodland reserve.
At the road’s hairpin, we stepped onto the bridleway from tarmac to footpath, wellies sloshing in the muddy tracks of horse hooves. I drive past this track everyday so it was nice to finally embark on it to see where it leads to.
A sloping plantation of larch appeared on our right and another plantation of what looked like coppiced Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) flanked our left; this quickly became a mosaic wooded habitat with broadleaved trees.
The wonderful stream that greeted us was stunningly placed. As water flowed beneath the hanging branches, we were amazed to have found this quiet spot so close to home. Magical, even on a rainy day.
After this picturesque scene, we walked further along and spotted a unique hedgerow of beeches, which we followed, past a naturally created pond, and towards an amazing gigantic shape in the distance waiting to reveal itself properly.
These pollarded beeches are probably the largest that I’ve ever seen! Just standing directly underneath humbled me to no end; their amazing smooth grey stems reaching up so solidly and dynamically, dwarfing me like Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘Thumbelina’. I would say these veteran beeches are at least a couple of hundred years old, if not more! I’m truly impressed.
I love this time of year when you can actually see through a wooded area, as leaf fall provides the perfect opportunity to spot wildlife and objects you would otherwise struggle to see in summer. With that, another surprise hedged from the woods as we looked through the layers of trees. Is it a time machine…?
It was indeed! Or rather an old vintage steam roller taking us back in time. It had rewilded beautifully into its surroundings, with bracken and ivy creeping up around its frame, nature taking over the nooks and crannies of this metal monster. The brand ‘Wallis and Steevens Ltd’ from Basingstoke was founded in 1856, so this particular steam roller must have had quite the history and was probably left here by the estate’s owners, becoming an unintended feature of time.
With a bit of everything, this lovely wooded walk became the sunshine to my rainy Sunday.