Thursday, 1 January 2009

Quiet Valley

Yesterday: walked from Titley up to Burnt House, down to Nash, up onto Nash and Knill Woods, down to Knill church then up onto the edge of Rushock Hill, back to Burnt House and then to Titley (9 miles or so).

There is a small valley just west of Titley in Herefordshire where a path provides a decent climb up to Burnt House and the Green Lane. It has a patch of mixed woodland on one side, but mostly it is open fields and pasture. At a glance it may look uninspiring, but whenever I visit it I always find myself deeply attracted to it and I am never sure why.

Yesterday evening as the light was fading on a dry though overcast day, when the temperature had hardly got above freezing, I found myself standing in the valley. A faint mist hung over the landscape and the corn sown earth beneath me was frozen hard. There was absolute stillness in the air. It isn't often I find myself standing out in the open air and finding it almost incomprehensible that I could hear nothing. Apart from the occasional blackbird, pheasant or crow and, I will have to admit the passing of a distant car, I could hear nothing. I think my heatbeat and the sound of my body in my ears was louder than anything around me. I did notice that I had to stand in a particular location where the wood provided a barrier to sound from outside the valley and weather conditions may have helped. Having just scrunched though the frost-dried leaves of woodland, grass and undergrowth for several miles, to suddenly be thrown into a place of deep silence felt quite strange.

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