A Rector’s ramble

IMG_3177I’ve made it! It’s my day off. You may think it’s wrong of me be so thankful for a day off – but it doesn’t mean I dislike my job….rather that it’s been a week of huge change, and I need respite. All these early mornings have made a lie in essential. And I took a look at my list o things to do, put it down, and went for a walk….

Regular readers will be aware of my walking exploits. Any long walk tends to involve mud. So I set off, suitably booted, on to Salisbury Plain. www.access.mod.uk is my new best website. On my map, there are whole areas bounded by open red triangles. This land is MOD land, and is used for training. It is accessible to the general public, provided they stick to the marked rights of way, and as long as they obey any instructions on the day from authorised military personal.  This brings a certain piquancy to navigation – I am only just getting used to hearing the live firing exercises, and still look up at the sound of helicopters. I really didn’t fancy incurring the wrath of the Army on my first walk round here.

Well, hats off to the British Army.  Beautifully maintained chalky paths, and gates which are oh, so polite. They  hang neatly on their hinges, swing freely and fasten and unfasten sensibly. And they indicate that I am on the path! I was concerned about my navigation a few times….there were newly planted hedges which didn’t seem to quite align with my map, so those gates were a very welcome sight. And to be out and about, up on ridges, able to see the landscape, looking at the lumps and bumps, with fresh air in my lungs and bird song in my ears…what a treat. I walked past the trig point, dropped down to the byway and paused for a welcome cup of coffee to survey where I was.


The byway suddenly looked much more like one of ‘my’ walks. As you can see from the photo, it was rutted and muddy…..and it got considerably worse as it went on…and I extremely proud to announce that I remained pristinely clean. For once, I still looked like an advert for an outdoor clothing company.  The byway was utterly beautiful, sunken about four feet below the level of the ground around…another sign of how long Salisbury plain has been used and managed. The woods around have been recently cleared of many of their trees, so there was an invigorating smell of fresh sap. When I reached a crossroads in the wood I stopped for another coffee, congratulating myself on the peace, and savouring the gently sounds of trees creaking, dead leaves rustling and birds trilling, I heard what sounded like an approaching train.

Three articulated lorries met at the cross roads – one fully laden with pine tree trunks. There was much manoeuvring, and I took enormous pleasure in leaning on a forestry commission barrier, watching the shenanigans. I felt rather like a Two Ronnies character! As the laden lorry roared past, suddenly I smelled pine resin and Christmas, even in March and Lent.

It wasn’t a very long walk, it was very slow even by my standards, but I am restored. Better look at that To Do list again now.


6 responses to “A Rector’s ramble

  1. i’d forgotten how lovely SPTA can be. Most of my time on it was working rather than rambling, but in the days there (84-87) I was into serious running so ran many miles over the various tracks. For me I’d been down those tracks so many times in night time rather than day and in tactical blackout – seeing little. Seeing them in daylight was often a revelation.

    The military do look after the land entrusted to them and they are great wild life conservation areas as well, as well as historic with lots of the protected barrows etc.

    I envy you 🙂

  2. It’s good to hear that you are getting to know your new terrain and it obviously refreshes you spiritually, but, have you seen this evening’s TV news?
    You may need to rethink your route for future walks.

  3. Years ago when I did the Pembrokeshire coastal path, we had to cross MOD Castlemartin, which could only be done with a guide. We were told to stick to the path and not kick any metal objects in the ground. Unfortunately, as it was only open to the public on certain days, it allowed some puffball mushrooms to grow quite big so lots of people went off the path to pick them. Almost time to put my hiking boots back on, though it’ll be tricky since I left Sussex for London.

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