In general this (Friday 27th January) was a cold, still day. On step 2 the temperature rose to 5C but the rest of the time it was 1C. I still have the first recording of the day challenge of sorting the wires. With their unique ability to knot themselves I have to re-establish the sequence in which I put things on – recorder, hat, pick up tripod – and take them off – place tripod down, take off hat, take off recorder. To do otherwise is to risk having to disassemble the whole lot.
Rant 2 Step 1
Easy parking off a narrow country road. A short distance from the A1. A climb over a gate and a walk around the perimeter of the field of winter wheat to get to a final fence climb and the site at the edge of a field of lowland pasture. I pass a small conifer plantation. It doesn’t look like a convincing shelter belt and I am not sure what it is for. Nonetheless, as I walked towards it a Roe Deer walks out before disappearing over a couple of barbed wire fences. Close to the site and I can (just) step over a barbed wire fence into the grass pasture, close to the junction of two hedges. With so little wind the traffic on the A1 is audible; the cold still air carries the sound as a distant low roar. There is not much else to hear. Walking out the gap and common usage path through the hedge is obvious so there is no need to scale the gate.
hands frozen, hurting
flushed roe deer, hare, pheasant
cold mist sitting on the fields
branches skeletal against the sky, silhouettes
Rant 2 Step 2
I pass through a weather front on the way north so the temperature rises slightly and the sun shines. Another lowland pasture with two flocks of sheep separated by a single strand electric fence. The access point is on a minor road but the A1 is close by and I can see the traffic, so no surprise that it is audible. A derelict circular stone tower that looks like a decapitated windmill and its demesne means that access is at the corner of the field where there is a combination of a broken gate and a severely chopped back hedge. An initial scramble and a careful step over a perimeter electric fence before walking into the middle of the field. A Pink-footed Goose flies off calling as does a solitary Curlew. The sheep initially run back and forth a bit but then settled to continued grazing once I stop moving. Much less misty. Walking out is straight forward.
long undulating cloud
outlined tree ridges away to the horizon
sheep, goose, curlew
Rant 3 Step 3
Step three is on an old estate, now a wedding venue. The road in is a dead end but the public footpath is marked and it is easy to pull off the road. Park at the roadside amid bushes shading the road; lots of leaf litter crunching as I walk in. The footpath runs along the field margin – though there is a retained margin there is no sign of a walked path. Walking down the hill the lie of the land looks reasonable given the map and it takes me a little while to realise that three fields have been amalgamated into one and I have already passed one of my reference points. Not wanting to walk into a closely planted winter wheat field I make the recordings at the closest point on the route of the public footpath. There are a series of gunshots plus their echoes. By the time I get back to the car my shoes are heavy with soil, clagged onto the soles and around the heel. I kick off some and end up performing a bizarre stomping dance on the road in an attempt to dislodge the last bits.
winter wheat, cut up fields, lost margins
tracks – deer, heron
Rant 2 Step 4
A remote site that should have been accessible via a public footpath but the immediate vista is the aftermath of forestry clearing. The trees have gone and two mechanical diggers work to clear the brash. The finger post is at the start of the path but the stumps and churned up earth means that the footpath is no longer apparent. After an attempt to follow its line for 20 metres of so I have fallen into a couple of trenches and I give up. A forestry path looks like it will get me close and I walk along and up on a firm track that eventually turns into an ill-defined grass path. At the edge of the plantation I scale a gate to walk onto open moorland. I pick up a barely defined footpath and follow to a set of gateposts – all that remain of an old fence line. I am still 500 metres short of the site but I estimate that getting there (and back) will take another 40 minutes given the terrain. The sun is almost down and I don’t want to be walking back through the forest along tracks I don’t know in the dark. I make the recording at the gateposts and turn around. All the way I have been able to hear the sounds of the diggers. By the time I walk back past them they are parked up for the day and are being re-fuelled. One of the drivers doesn’t return my wave and his two terriers race down to the track to check me out. When I get back to the car it is dark.
walk in longer, difficult
sound of forestry diggers carried most of the time
ran out of time