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Winter walk at Longslade

Eager to get into the forest today in the winter sunshine, the inclosure track is interesting and sundrenched with one side being conifer woodland and the other being broadleaf I felt I was walking a path between two worlds. The woodland was silent in its stillness apart from the crunch of frozen ground under my wellies. I am enticed by the trees in winter as they stand bare and vulnerable and expose their pure majesty and structure. In a heartbeat I am tempted off the path to meander amongst ancient boughs and fragile saplings before crossing the road out of the inclosure and onto the open grassland of Longslade. The landscape opens into heaths and horizons as the lethal melting ice skims the grass. Tiptoeing onto safe ground the ponies grazed amongst the heather and ravens called from the lone tree. Redwings and fieldfares chattered and foraged along the woodland edge as I made the climb towards Hinchenslea bog. The atmosphere changes amongst the mixed woodland of ancient beech and windswept conifers. A place of peace and comfort and a perfect place to open my flask. I sat on an ancient fallen tree, almost fossilised in its contorted and bubbling form and deterioration. The sun streamed through the stillness as it was as weak as me when enticed into the trees. Continuing my walk I headed back out into the open on a track between woodland and bog where the sun was just starting to touch the frosted ground. Crossing the bridge across the bog, ponies were grazing up to their hocks amongst the mires and the tall reeds softened the waters edge.

The final stretch of my walk was along part of the old railway line, now a treelined track between grassland and mire, and this is where I was treated to a Marsh harrier flying over. A fab finish to a wonderful winter walk.

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