Saturday, 30 October 2010

Up on Clun Forest

Last weekend I made a trip to Clun Forest right on the Welsh/Shropshire border. I had hoped to spend the time doing more writing than I did as I had planned it as a sort of retreat and a re-energising of my spirit. However, as usual, my precious time away whizzed by and it was easier just to enjoy the presence of being there rather than force anything that didn't want to flow. Here are some notes I made at the time with reflections added upon their write up. I wasn't going to write them up, but I am forcing myself to do so.

It is Friday evening, about 6.45pm and I am up in Clun Forest. I took the afternoon off work and about three and a half hours later I am overlooking the hills and valleys to the north west of Clun. It took me a while to decide where to park the car. It was a bit windy and the forestry tracks seemed to be well used by a variety of visitors and so finding a sheltered and 'safe' place was a priority. I found a place that felt right and cooked a small tin of stew and new potatoes on my gas stove.

Although breezy, it wasn't too cold. It was cloudy with patches of occasional sunshine. The views north were good with distant grey rain showers shrouding patches of the landscape. The last time I came up here was with my Father and that was the last time I would be with him. I remember the fine clear day gave us views right into the farthest distance and we were wondering if we could see Cadair Idris in North Wales.

As I write my notes the sky is clearing a little and the initial hazy moon is now bright in the clearing sky. It must be a full moon about now. The wind is still strong in the tall conifers beside me and I am sheltering in the car to preserve as much of my body warmth as possible. I can almost write by the moonlight, it seems so bright.

I haven't written much formally on this blog for many months though I have tried to get back into journalling. However, writing for 30 to 45 minutes a day is hard work and very time consuming. My mind seems to have wandered away from so much of my 'greenary'. Perhaps it is because work is so much more challenging and taking fulfilling many of my creative needs and energy. Also, I haven't been in places where I have been truly inspired. 'Nature time' seems more rushed and precious these days and the demands of everyday life seem to have taken over. Somehow I feel rather disconnected - and particularly after my permaculture course too, which is a bit odd. A reinforcement of green and ecological thoughts and values seems to have overloaded me and I've had to step back from it all. Bit bizarre and I'm not too sure where I am going... I hope that this weekend will be a turning point but I know I can't force anything - and I am on my own anyway.

I go for a walk. I forget how light it can be when the moon is out. I pass some trees and notice the different sounds that the wind makes in different trees. Conifers give a high pitched whooshing; beeches have a frenetic rustling of leaves; whilst some plain leafless trees in the hedgerow give an almost deep drumming sound.

A large aluminium foil baking tray makes an ideal small fireplace for me and I soon succeed in getting a small fire burning with some charcoal and a few small sticks. I am amazed at how much heat even a small fire gives out and I feel quiet cosy sitting beside it even though the wind is quite gusty. As the flames die to leave the constant changing patterns of the glowing embers in the breeze reflects the cloud moving in front of the moon. Always changing, always creating new patterns.

A group of people walk past - a couple of adults and a few children. Hmm, quite a busy yet isolated spot!

My bike had to sleep in the undergrowth whilst I lay in the car (I'd left the back seats at home). It rained quite heavily in the night and I did manage a few hours sleep. I awoke fully at around 5am with moonlight streaming in to the car. I got up shortly afterwards and went for a walk eastwards along the Kerry Ridgeway. It was wonderful to be out walking by moonlight and looking northwards in the valley towards Montgomery. I enjoyed just walking slowly, knowing that it wouldn't be getting light for a good hour and a half or so. I could thus just 'be', listen to the landscape around me and know there was no need to rush the walk for any reason. The shapes of the trees and the moon produced many wonderful silhouettes and long shadows. I did a good circular walk of perhaps three miles or so and arrived back at the car just as daylight was flooding the hill around me.

I moved the car round to the other side of the hill for breakfast. The wind had died down and I now overlooked the hills to the south west. The sun lit landscape was full of autumn colours and sparkling raindrops coated coated all the grasses after the night's rain. A flock of redshanks (or some other waders) shared a nearby bit of moorland with some sheep.

I went for a superb bike ride this morning. I followed the forest road westwards along the Kerry Ridgeway then dropped down to Anchor. then headed southwest along the ridge of Black Mountain towards Clun, but turned down to Newcastle before a very steep climb back up onto Clun Forest and the car. It was probably around 15 miles or so and actually felt quite an easy ride, but then I did get off and push the bike down or up the very steep hills. Views were superb in the clear autumn sunshine and the coolness of the morning did make it a very pleasant cycling experience.

In the afternoon I drove on to Black Hill just south east of Clun for a walk and then on the Sunday morning I climbed up onto Croft Ambrey. Again this was another warm and bright sunny day with excellent autumn colours and views. It was just good to be out o both days getting some long needed exercise and fresh air. I have felt a bit bogged down recently and here was a rare opportunity to just get out and cycle and walk.