It surprises me how infrequently I meet my fellow villagers when wandering along our delightful footpaths and bridleways that interlace the countryside around Earl Soham. In fact, I would need less than the fingers of one hand to accommodate their number. One does not actually have to meet, of course. A distant familiar figure or even more familiar dog is usually enough to identify the walker. This month therefore, I thought I would transport all of you, if only in your imagination , on such an amble.
My journey is privileged to begin by the edge of a meadow unploughed, unsprayed and unfertilized for decades. Great is the plant variety to be seen. Parts of it are boggy. and this provides an even greater spectrum of flora - ragged robin, vetch, clover , buttercup, ladies smock and many more The hedge bottom and field edge in several places expose the tunnels excavated by the many rabbits. A twisted ankle caught in a concealed burrow can be the reward for the unwary. Approaching two dead oak trees it is not unusual to hear a greater spotted woodpecker hammering away against the insect rich bark. I move on down to the small bridge spanning the feeder stream which will eventually join up with the Deben. It is exciting to see minnows again in the water which speaks well for its purity. Usually ducks and moorhens amuse themselves in this quiet area. Occasionally a heron will lazily flap away from the bank. The rolling pastures extending up from the left bank of the stream is the summer home for several fine race horses. They are resting after a busy winter “over the sticks”. Newly planted willow trees mark the way where I join the signed footpath along side a vast expanse of oil seed rape. Pigeons rise up from their free feeding ground and I glance apprehensively at the nearby gas gun for fear that it should explode just as I am passing by. My “walk” must now pause as I have used my allocated space, so I will resume the journey next month.