Saturday, 10 May 2008

walk 2 : staple fitzpaine herepath opening

A significant moment : the opening of the Staple Fitzpaine Herepath.

Me and D plan to walk the circular route that has been a long time in the making by the Neroche Scheme - it's a circular route that joins existing bridlepaths with new ones to make a circular path. We arrive for the opening ceremony, with lots of horseriders, walkers and dogs. The 'gateway' has a ribbon strung between two posts which will be cut.

Rather brilliantly, the local press photographer stages the whole event for his camera and manages to erase any chance of the actual event happening in the present tense!

The best moment of the occasion was when J gave the landowners bouquets of flowers for letting the public path go through their land - it was very moving, my eyes filled up.

Me and D accidentally get in with the 'long walkers', and find ourselves setting off in a group - oh no. we desperately try to think of a way to extract ourselves, but they are very caring and don't want us to get left behind, lost, or abandoned in case of an accident. all those things are quite attractive to me at this point. i go into a field to have a pee, deliberately lagging behind. but the man at the 'back' of the group waits for us, even turning to walk back to check on us. at this point we are blatant. he looks a bit crushed by our desire to go it alone, and sets off to join the group with a 'well don't say i didn't tell you' kind of look on his fleece.

we lag, wander, photograph. soon we're well behind. horses pass in the opposite direction - walkers clockwise around the path, horses anti-clockwise.

this passing of horses, the
continual smell of the approach of neatsfoot oil and sweaty saddlery, and the sound of hooves on the common.

encounters with orange tips, variety of whites, yellowhammer, blackbirds, brimstone, deer, speckled wood and holly blue. the walk was marked by butterflies travelling along the Herepath at a whole other pace and relationship.

huge trees on the way up to Castle Neroche - tall tall. a
nd right by the Herepath there,
a pair of mens underpants hanging on a tree. i filmed them from various angles.

the common after Castle Neroche was really extraordinary - Staple Common it must be - before I looked at the map I knew it was common land - a very particular feel to the land, and trees and quality of grass somehow. I really liked it there, and the derelict house is kind of amazing - how swift that decline has been.
Thurlbear woods were enveloping, green green.

the only time we lost the trail was after the Farmers Arms on the road there, shortly after the yellowhammer flew out of the hedge. we cut back up a farm drove to rejoin the Herepath at the start of that big ploughed field. just before re-joining the path we saw a roe deer, i stopped so suddenly that D walked straight into the back of me - the deer must have seen a human comedy moment. we all locked eyes quite close over the hedge for a good few minutes; encounter, presencing.

we got back to the field at 6pm having taken our time, photos, and stops along the way. There was no one in the field when we got back except a car with 3 women and a couple of dogs. all the chairs folded and stacked in a marquee ready to be taken down. I always seem to be last to return at things like this.

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