For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A View From The Bridge

Just beyond the field gate, my field gate, you can see the wooded embankment of the former Axholme Joint Railway stretching in a straight line across a flat and fertile landscape...


The line has long been disused. (I vaguely recall it still operating when I was very young, but it was axed in the 1960s by Doctor Beeching when he 'reshaped' the railway network by scrapping thousands of miles of track he deemed underused and unprofitable.) It's now a lovely recreational path for walkers and cyclists. And a kind of linear nature reserve. As a young boy, either alone or with friends, I loved to climb up the side of this handsome, red-brick bridge onto the embankment. There were no steps or handrail back then - it was a short, steep scramble up the edge, interesting when wet...


And this is the view from the top...



The embankment is rank with vegetation and dense with foliage. It's much more lush and overgrown than I remember it. Of course over forty years big trees have grown from tiny saplings, and numerous wild flowers (back then I simply took for granted the huge variety) have established themselves even more profusely, for they've been left well alone - far from the reach of pesticides and 'land improvement' schemes: there's selfheal, mallow, foxglove, poppy, buttercup, fumitory, crane's-bill, teasel, thistle, vetch and bramble; white campion, white clover and white bryony; cow parsley and common nettle; goosegrass, lesser burdock, ox-eye daisy, bird's-foot-trefoil, herb-robert and dog rose. And lots more. Come July, rosebay willowherb will be in flower everywhere. And, more rarely, orchids. Just yesterday, on this ritual walk, I nearly overlooked among the nettles the pink-and-blue flowering spikes of viper's-bugloss (once used as a cure for snake-bite)...



The walk follows the old trackbed...



To be continued...

5 comments:

am said...

I can see you as a boy walking. Wonderful series of photos.

Jay said...

What a lovely post! It takes me back to my early teens, when we moved out of London to a village with a disused railway line - closed by Beeching - and I used to love walking along it. It wasn't an official footpath, but you could walk for miles and there were indeed a lot of wildflowers, also wild strawberries! The cinders were still there, and here and there a bit of ironwork, but it all added to the charm, somehow!

gleaner said...

Lovely post and photos - there is something magical about walking along old train tracks.

Ruth said...

There is a lot to like about this post. I would have been drawn to that bridge too (maybe any child would have), such a great playground. What I really admire here is your observation and knowledge now as an adult of the vegetation. I think one of the most important things we can do is to get to know the environment right around us, and I am slowly getting to know the species of birds, wildflowers, plants, trees and other wildlife here. You have a lot of things in your litany that I've never heard of, but many I have. I find the names beautiful . . . foxglove . . . white campion . . . white bryony . . . burdock . . . bird's-foot-trefoil, herb-robert, dog rose . . . rosebay willowherb . . . . . . wonderful!

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, I think names are important. We remember each others' names, as human being to human being, and it's a sign of acknowledgement and respect. A recognition of the separate and unique identity of that other person. And this should be extended to all living creatures, I think.

Though, like many things in life, 'naming' is a paradoxical thing. For there is also an argument that names can sometimes limit our true perception of an object; we may tag the object with a name, and think we understand it just beacuase we know its name. Straying into Zen territory here! I think we've probably got to hold in our minds both the name and the deeper, non-named essence at the same time...