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Through the Garden Gate – part two – getting lost!

From the pool we could look back at the wood we had just left and enjoy a different view of the hill that we usually look at from our garden and over which we watch Buzzards riding the thermals created by its slopes.

Well we may never have been more than a mile from home on this walk from our garden gate, but we did manage to get lost. The footpath signs kept disappearing, or that is our excuse. Our wander took us along sections of the long distance path, “The Shropshire Way” and on a local path “The Chris Bagley Walk”.

Leaving the fishing pool we followed the valley of the stream that fed it. The grassland here was rich and was being enjoyed by dairy calves, who watched our every move as we passed close to them.

The valley widen out but the wooded slopes and tiny stream running through it kept it intimate. The fields of grass on which the calves fed was a lush green but was devoid of wild flowers, a sad sign of modern farming practices. we followed the path until it took us up a gentle slope away from the stream and up into a wood which was partly coppiced.

On the slope up to the wood we spotted this Scarlet Pimpernel in flower on the pathway beneath our feet. Although only a tiny flower its orange petals glow so it can be seen from a distance. We now lost the footpath and had to consult maps on the smart phone, which rescued us nicely.

The wood gave away its past. Signs of the work of woodlanders abound. Their homes were now mere ruins covered in Ivy as Mother Nature reclaims her woodland. A clearing showed signs of coppicing.

The darkness of the wood and its cooler atmosphere was in stark contrast to the brightness and warmth that greeted us as we left it behind and returned to farmland. The path narrowed and took led us around a field edge where the sterility and silence of the arable farming on our left clashed with the natural exuberance of the hedge and the wildflower filled verges.

This was modern agricultural practice at its worse. We crossed over several of these fields and saw no signs of life apart from two Wood Pigeons flying overhead. The only flowers were a few yellow Rape plants from a previous crop and brave purple flowered Vetches attempting to clamber the Barley stalks close to the path. Years of pesticide and herbicide use coupled with monoculture has wiped out wildlife from these acres of land. To illustrate the point a small group of Swallows flew over the crop in search of insects, but it was in vain and they quickly moved on. At least until the footpath signs disappeared once more and we relied again on the smart phone maps to rescue us.

The path crossed one of these fields creating a narrow band of green which cut through the drab grey-yellow of the Barley. The only good part of crossing this desert was the rattling sound that the ears of Barley made as our elbows brushed past them.

Walking across the field we aimed for a style in the distant hedge. It seemed a long way across as there was little to look at or to listen to. The style in the hedge turned ou to be a double style, one each side of a thick, dense, tall hedge. there was a different world awaiting us on the other side. The grassland here was full of clovers and there were many different grasses, not just the ryegrass we had walked through earlier.

We were now within the land of our local organic dairy farmer. The hedgerows had deep verges full of wildlflowers, thistles, mallows and vetches. No hedges had been removed and the fields were much smaller.

As we passed through to another field we were hit by a sweet. rich aroma from the hedge. It took us a while to find the source – a Sweet Bryony clambering over an Elder.

It was downhill now all the way home and we enjoyed lovely views through gaps in the tall hedges.

As we left the final field of pastureland we spied our house across the hayfield. We had to pass our big old oak tree which we admire from out back garden. As we walked along the fence to the garden gate we called out to the chickens. They looked totally confused – we were the wrong side of the fence.

By greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.

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