Sunday, 8 January 2012

Angmering Park


Every tree around the Dover seems to sing as Angmering Park's  native woodlands come alive with the sound of the redbreast, establishing territories in preparation for the breeding season. Daffodils peer shyly through the shrubs. Winter hasn't happened here this year, it's mild and it feels like spring, belying the early winter day it really is.

A path leads lazily through the estate, passing Sussex flint fronted cottages, where once foresters lived, crossing stands of beech and oak where light fingers creep through to the forest floor and holly berries attract flocks of busy blue tits.

The path north terminates at a t-junction where it meets The Monarch's Way, the route taken by the fleeing Charles II after his defeat at the Battle Of Worcester in 1651.

The path splits two parts of the wood, one where native broadleaved species stand, and where the woods ring out with the song of mistle thrushes, blue tits and robins. Fallow deer skulk among the trees, and a wood mouse breaks cover from one of a number of world war two shell holes to steal a morsel from a roadside ditch before vanishing into the inch thick leaf carpet.

On the other side, dark, lifeless non-native cash-crop conifers stand soulless and still. There is no sound here, and one imagines no life. The contrast is extreme.

Here two hundred years ago a highwayman was hung. Jack Upperton's gibbet is secreted in a woodland glade next to the ancient road to Steyning,  and makes a quiet place for a stop. Once the coming together of ancient trackways, still visibly carved into the landscape, this is now a restful place, and the better for it.

Delighted children wave browning leaves identifying oak, beech and birch,and climb into shell holes with youthful delight.

A flock of wood pigeon rise nosily from a field into dusky skies, and tired legs beg to be taken home.

1 comment:

  1. Those tired legs belonged to the adults, not the children....


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