On my wolds walk I couldn't help realizing how my interest lay not in the prairie-like, uniformly cultivated fields, nor in the large industrial pine plantations - but in the fields' edges, in the hedged borders and ditches of the lanes, in the grassy banks of the byways, in the broad roadside verges. In the field boundaries straggly with wind-beaten trees. In the tussocky wasteland areas, and in the few odd corners of marsh and fen which had survived undrained and undeveloped. In the tiny remnants of copse and spinney which had escaped axe and chainsaw. In the sunken ways and sparkling green lanes weaving and winding among monotonous acres of cereal crops and factory farms. In the scattered scarp slopes too steep for ploughing and tilling -which had been left, undisturbed, to the gorse bushes and the sheep.
It was in these marginal strips, these border territories, these wayside edges, these 'unproductive' fringes, these fertilizer-free zones, that my imagination was stirred. Or, to put it a different way, here were the most interesting, the most biologically diverse ecosystems. I forgot the big picture, and absorbed the smaller details. But in fact the smaller details were the big picture. Here, in these narrow green corridors and isolated verdant corners, remained some of the ancient wildness of nature, with its greater variety of species, and its microcosmic beauty. Here was the true, the old countryside.
(My photo shows a single Scots Pine by the side of my path, at the border of a field and on the brow of a hill somewhere between the villages of Tealby and Walesby. It looks as if it's on the edge of the world.)
To be continued...