Although there are some certain signs that spring is on its way (I’m waiting to see what these bulbs become in the sixth photograph. Asphodels maybe?) there was a lot of ice on our usual walk. Most of the leaves are skeletal versions of themselves – their colours long faded, except for the brambles, which are so purple they are almost black.
The footprint is my own, I realised, going in the opposite direction from some other walk. It’s always kind of cool to be in almost 4000 hectares of space and realise that the last person to walk that way was you! It’s not always like that – as you can tell from the paths, it’s a well-used place. Now the hunt season is almost over, I can even take the green and blue trails which, somewhat riskily, go right through a rifle range and through several clearings with hunting platforms. I’m not sure of the sense of putting pathways through hunt zones, so I don’t take those paths in hunt season. Usually, I go my own way and pick up my own paths, but sometimes, I like to follow a trail. The blue trail is 10 km and it’s all easy going, except if you need to dodge a hunter.
I can’t tell you how lucky I am to have such a well-managed and amazing place right on my doorstep. Not only are there lots of preservation zones, but it is mushrooming heaven. There are six types of bat who frequent the place and it’s a rare day that I don’t see a wild boar, roe deer, a rabbit or a pheasant here. There are plenty of hunts but it’s big enough to stay out of the way of any hunters, and they are very well organised and clearly marked. I could probably tell you the best places to shoot, though! I spend half my time investigating trails left by various animals. I can go from deciduous forest to evergreen conifers, from shade to sunshine, from sand to peat. It’s truly a sanctuary. We come here once a week or so for a longer walk. More if I can. And the best thing is that I can do a 10km trail and not see a single person. Now, that’s a true gift! Might be something to do with the ungodly hours that I find myself there, or silly temperatures when wiser creatures than I stay inside by the fire.