Saturday, 9 June 2007

Just a walk in the woods.....

Nature was calling..No, I don't mean that way, (I went before I came out!). It was sunny and I had not had chance to get out into the greenery for a while.

This is the old mill site near the village of Hints. I love the sign on the way into the village, "Hints, please drive carefully", I took the 'hint' as there were lots of Gatsos.

The main dam still survives, one of the few features not too overgrown. Many of the leats and courses don't reveal themselves until you're up to your waist in mud!

Black brook used to feed the mill, but now meanders unimpeded. The banks are lined with Himalayan Balsam (a foreign invader), the bees and damsel flies seem to like it, but it swamps everything else out and when it dies back in winter leaves the banks bare and open to erosion.

A flash of blue! A small bird flies low to the water along the length of the stream and perches on a branch right next to me. It's a Kingfisher! I'd just switched my camera off and tucked it away safe in my rucksack. Scrabbling at my bag I found the camera. The brightly coloured chap sat there gently bobbing on his perch looking amused at my frantic antics. Got my camera....starting up...'Welcome'....don't welcome me, just switch on! On, zoom in, focus, button. Got it!

Yes! I'd got it. This perfectly framed, close up picture of where a Kingfisher once sat.

I took a step back to see where it had gone, (((Crunch))) I hadn't noticed my picnic falling out of my bag and now I'd stomped it into the mud! This chap knew what he was doing, I reckon he'd played this trick before. He's going on the list!

Knowing that Kingfishers tend to use the same fishing post regularly, I hung around for a while. In the meantime I contented myself by taking some pics of Emerald Damsel flies on the far bank.

These made a nice change from the blue ones that I see when kayaking. Often they end up in the water while 'fighting' with their reflections. It is always a race to save them before a Chubb gives them a nasty suck. I say suck, because they never get eaten, they must taste bad as they get spat out almost immediately. The nose of the kayak is employed as drying area and recovery room.

The farmer and his dog....How many times has this fooled me? It's just a couple of tree stumps! The first time had been in winter, late afternoon and it was going dark. I had wandered off the path and didn't want a remonstration with an irate farmer telling me to get off his land. I waited ages for him to go, what the hell is he doing? Why can't he go away? Eventually I could wait no longer. I felt such a berk when I realised my mistake.

What I thought was his waist, is an iron band left over from a protective cage. Ironic, that the cage that was put there to save damage from livestock, 150 years later probably killed it!

I remembered to take the high ground. The lower meadow looks beautiful, but beware! This must have been the mill pool at one time. Skipping merrily among the wild flowers, I once found myself stranded on a small tussock, an island among what seemed a minefield of peaty bog holes. Unable to quite remember the route in, (too busy skipping) it took me ages to pick my way out.

This once used to be part of the Canwell estate. At the turn of time there used to be a priory, secreted amongst the trees in a huge hollow, (I found the ruins a while ago, they're creepy, posting in the off!) this was superseded by a great hall. Eventually this developed into a farming estate, and in the 1800's in the land grab of the enclosures, much of the previous 'common land' was fenced off. Many of the richest estates had this distinctive iron fencing. Inheritance tax, designed to bring about the demise and unfairness of these big estates, led to the Canwell lands being distributed as small holdings to deserving returning first world war soldiers. Grandeur's such as stone gate posts, mills and this railing are gradually being consumed by nature.

The sun was fierce and the incline tiring as I completed the arduous final leg to my picnic destination. The hill steepened (as often they do as you get older), but just when I'd had enough, the path levelled out and the soft grass invited me to sit a while....

A lovely spot that photos can never do justice, (especially when your camera battery has gone flat!). Rolling hills to the east, firs and fields as far as 'crows castle' (a hill topped with a mound and a circle of Scots pines where the buzzards now roost) to the west.
Now, where's that food....Oh look, really thin sandwiches, and lots of tiny, tiny crisps!


Elisa, Jarrod & Thomas said...

Great pictures..It looks very beautiful.

Lesley said...

Really beautiful pictures!

Sharon said...

I would say that looks more than "JUST" a walk in the woods!

What a beautiful area!