Even when you know an area well, it can still surprise you: green lanes, hidden footpaths, forgotten plots where grasses and weeds forest hills of rubble,odd corners of thorny woodland cut off by the network of roads.
Last week we found a tiny path. To reach it, we went under an arch of a railway bridge – graffiti-mottled, dank and dripping, its brick ceiling spiked with stalagtites the colour of cartilage. We climbed a short steep path, cut through a thicket of knotweed, and found a tiny fenced path the crosses the bridge alongside the railway track. It led us to meadows of tall grasses and wild flowers, a kestrel freeze-framed overhead, a superb English oak. Hazy mountains against the skyline.
It’s not-quite countryside – the sort of no-man’s-land that Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley explore in their wonderful book Edgelands. Pylons march across these meadows. A network of footpaths marks human incursions though we haven’t seen a soul there in two visits. The railway line runs along their southern border. To the west is a new-build housing estate; to the north, a cricket ground, its perimeter fence gapped with specially made openings so fox and badger can pass through.
The wild is often closer than we think.
Some photos from this morning: