The Long(er) Walk Home

Please find attached a small article I’ve written following my walk home this morning from the task day, I decided to take a longer route home of about 2.5 miles as opposed to the half mile if I’d gone straight home and thought I’d write a short article on the walk back after reading your appeal for content for the website..

All the best


Sussex Woodsman

The Long(er) Walk Home

There I am with the volunteers from the FOLR clearing the Dogwood, Elder & vicious Bramble from some of the paths by the cemetery at Lancing Ring, but where am I, well I’m the one in the bushes with my saw clearing the larger pieces of timber to open the path right out, behind me I can hear a hedge cutter doing it’s all important and never ending work, clearing the smaller pieces of undergrowth, alongside us, more volunteers are clearing away the  cuttings and disposing of the mess we have made, the paths now look many times better than they did ninety minutes ago.

All the time we are working, we are being watched and kept in check, not by the human eye, but the beady eye of an ever inquisitive Magpie, looking, watching, to see if an opportunity arises that it can take advantage of, Mr Magpie is not alone though, through the undergrowth I can hear  a  Robin and surely if I look carefully I will see him, but it’s not to be.

Chairman Henry declares the work done and thanks everybody for turning up and helping, the old adage really is true “many hands make light work”, it’s at this point that the main group and I part ways for the day with a cheery wave,  I decide that rather than walk the half mile back to home, I’ll take the scenic route home instead, after all, the sun is shining and it’s a glorious day, more Spring like than Autumnal.

Heading down towards the playground, I turn right instead of left and soon find myself on top of the South Downs, looking south the English Channel is just visible through a light haze of mist, almost like a shimmering blue/grey veil that has been thrown across the coast line and a stunning sight in it’s own right, as I walk along the path at the bottom of Steepdown hill, I’m met with a crescendo of birdsong, as the Skylarks rise from the winter barley and  scatter in front of me, singing for all their might, alerting their neighbours to my unwanted presence.

In the bushes to my left a rustle and slight movement as a female Blackbird betrays her position with her characteristic deep “tut tut tut” sound and below, in amongst the bramble & briar further movement as a Rabbit runs for cover, in front of me two Red Admiral butterflies flitter and flutter around, looking around me at the ground cover, I can see amongst other things Mallows, Bristly Oxtongue, Burdock, Speedwells, Cornflowers & Mulleins  growing and the Poppies in the field reminding me of the sacrifices made by generations of families from this very area, then out of the corner of my eye, on the skyline a dark shape, at first I think im seeing things, then no, it is, a Roe Deer, I cant think who is more surprised, it or me?, we look at each other for a few fleeting seconds before it disappears over the hill top and is gone.

Heading down the hill now towards Dankton lane, the woods on the Mountain to the west are resplendent  in  their Autumn  colours,  a  mix  of  Golds,  Reds  &  Browns,  as  I  head  down,  im accompanied by the Jackdaws & Rooks “cawing” in defiance of me being on “their” hillside, to my right I see Cissbury Ring emerging from the mist  & fog, only adding to the mysticism of it’s presence in the landscape.

Cissbury through the mist

I’m now accompanied by Stone Chats and Great Tits, the path acting almost as if it’s   a barrier between the two species, the Stone Chats to my right on the fence line and the Great Tits flitting around in the Spindle, Dogwood  and Blackthorn hedge to my left, never appearing to enter the opposing territory.

As I walk ever closer to home, Im met by the warm sunshine on my face as I turn the corner and head south, there are Sloes on the trees, the remnants of the Damsons cling precariously to their stalks,  ready to fall in the slightest of breezes and to my amazement, ripe blackberries still on the bush, my fascination with the flora is broken with a sudden screech from directly overhead, as I look up, I’m rewarded with the magnificent sight of a lone Buzzard trying to catch a thermal off of the fields.

Approaching home now and the hedgerows are alive with Chaffinch‘s, Great Tits and my friend the Robin, out in the turnip field a couple of male Pheasants are running rings around each other, while the female looks on with ‘a familiar’ disdain at their antics, they soon melt into the landscape and are gone from view, but their calls reverberate down the field towards me, betraying the fact that they are still there and im now more or less home.

All of this, because I went to a Task Day at Lancing Ring with the FOLR.

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The Longer Walk Home

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