Wednesday, May 02, 2007

High places, sleeping beauty and looking down.

12 Old Masters is now live. Hope you like it.

Today I walked another stretch of the High Weald Landscape Trail, specifically Tunbridge Wells to Goudhurst.

1. I could write all today's beautiful things about the lane from High Woods to Pembury. It's a ridgeway, an ancient track along the top of a hill. I was told that it used to be the path used by people going to a mill down in the woods back in prehistoric times. There are lots of good reasons to use a road along the top of a hill -- it's easy to navigate, because you can see everything. It's likely to be less muddy -- if you've ever tried walking with what feels like a tonne of Wealden clay stuck to each foot, you'll know what I mean. You should be able to see anyone approaching. If you have to run away, you can get more speed up going down hill. And there is the sheer pleasure of walking in a high place. I don't need to worry about navigation, and I don't have to worry about approaching enemies. But me and neolithic man, we're both avoiding the heavy clay, and we're both loving standing on top of the world.

2. The path turns off the road and over a stile. I find myself on a narrow path with thick undergrowth either side and arching overhead. For a moment I am confused, and then I understand. It's an orchard. The apple trees, neglected for a few years, are veiled in brambles. Oak and ash saplings spring up among them. But the apple trees are still bravely blossoming. Pink and white petals flutter around me as I walk. I imagine the path closing behind me and I feel as if I might find Sleeping Beauty's castle around the next corner.

3. After climbing a long hill, turning round and looking back down it. I like seeing the view open up; and I like seeing the places I've already walked. I like noting that I'm above the top of a wood, or a building and higher than I was when I was at the top of the last hill.