Rant 4 Step 1
A relatively early start (on February 5th) so that I am at the first site shortly after sunup. A large field of winter wheat and still, cold air. It doesn’t seem to be overlooked by any habitation. A walk along the road and then into the field over a broken gate. Along the field edge then I walk into the field trying to step between the neatly drilled rows. Distant Jackdaws. Out along the same track as a trio of cyclists chat their way along the road. Back over the gate, onto the road and back to the car.
still air, cold, mist
Rant 4 Step 2
I park in a layby that, according to the road signs, is in Cumbria but the walk will be to the site on an edge of Northumberland. Stepping uncertainly onto a disguised, uneven surface; I walk on heather, grass, wet, peat, step over fences; I drift off line to the south. I put up a lot of Red Grouse from the heather moorland, flush a small flock of Golden Plover and am a little surprised to flush three separate Hares – I think of them as animals of lowland fields not upland moors. My sense of distance seems all wrong; it seems so much further over rough moorland. Eventually supress my instincts, trust my technology and attain High Green Hill (which, paradoxically, is brown). I record in the windy, grouse punctuated solitude and then walk out along a bearing straight towards the car –12 minutes faster than the walk in.
hard walking, no rhythm
stop, start, back, forth
wide sky, sunlight, gaps in cloud
Rant 4 Step 3
I am surprised that the sat. nav. can get me right to the site. I drive past a farm and, though she waves a friendly greeting, the farmer’s wife, in the guise of walking her dog from her car, still comes after me. She watches from a distance and then drives up to check what I am doing – I didn’t like to say “waiting for you to go away”. After a pleasant enough conversation, she drives off back to the farm. Next to a tank turning circle and with a ruined shell of a tank (surprisingly inconspicuous) on the nearby fell, it is an odd place. Not much moves and not much calls. There is no walk in or walk out as it is a roadside site; as the farmer’s wife explained, off road equals risk of death. So … it’s all very simple. I complete the recoding and move on.
flat horizon, grey cloud
Rant 4 Step 4
Since the map was drawn, forest ‘harvesting’ has changed the landscape. Despite this the site is still about a further 20 metres into an impenetrable conifer plantation. The track is fine but the road edge clearing is typical forestry underfoot with lumps, ridges and troughs apparently designed to trip even the wariest walker. The wind sighs through the trees. It may still be trying to rain but tucked inside the shelter of the conifers nothing gets anywhere near me. I record, walk out and I am done.
cocooned in trees
vista of trees