Scrapbook ~ Nature walks throughout the year
The Met Office forecast for the day was good but our ride to Bignor Hill (SU973 128) was plagued with thick fog and drizzle. The summits of the Downs were invisible as we rode into Bignor village where the steep, off-road section up to the hill top is taken. On a trials bike this would be simple, but on a huge Harley with a pillion and luggage it's a bit of a challenge. We made it to the top unscathed though and set off on foot into the fog down the Roman road called Stane Street towards Noviomagus (Chichester). This is a truly beautiful footpath that slices through the large, broadleaf forest that is Eartham Wood. We kept trying to imagine what it would have been like here in Roman times and how much the land would have changed. Walking along a 1000 year-old road makes you think of all of the people that have used it down through the ages. The wood itself was the epitome of autumn, with vibrant colours, intense wildlife activity and the smell of decay and fermentation all about. With the final wisps of fog dissipating amongst the trees like fleeing spectres, Keats' 'Ode to Autumn' kept coming to mind. A walk like this is the perfect way to unwind from the stresses of modern living and experiencing the full force of each of the seasons gives the passage of time and the journey of our lives a true structure, a structure that is being lost nowadays, with the result that people are becoming more and more detached from reality, obsessively concerned about their own mortality and increasingly unhappy with life.
The path through the
wood also makes up part of
The Monarch's Way and we were very surprised to find a party of Royalist
soldiers with a field canon, drinking lemonade in a clearing. It turned out that
they weren't ghosts from a bygone age on their way to take down Gordon Brown,
but a re-enactment group doing a charity event for Southampton Paediatric
Hospital. They were half-way on their 11 mile journey from Goodwood to Arundel
and were already looking forward to a few beers at their final destination. We
hope they made it safely.