I set off with the Ordnance Survey map, a copy of the ‘Acton Amble’ leaflet and a bad photocopy of Acton Scott’s marvellous map of 19th century field names. It was a hot afternoon, and I didn’t really have quite enough time, or any water, which was a mistake. But I followed a faint trail all afternoon, of fields that have shifted slightly from their names, lost paths made narrower from disuse, old fords and markers in the shape of massively coppiced trees. What follows is a work in progress!
Little Lane Piece was sprung with Oaks./ I wound my way on a narrow path/ through high Hogweed and stinging Nettles.
In Rye Croft Coppy, a Mole turned mortal,/ upside to heaven. Above him brown Ringlets/ wavered the clover.
A whispering Ash at Broomy Rye Croft./ The Ragleth was rising from cover. Blue Flies/ moved slowly and thickly in shade.
At the third ford: Rabbit bones, a trim of birds,/ a trembling shade like water. I climbed and had/ to stop for breath. Dried mud. Hoofprints.
I walked, and the lie of the old track from Chelmick/ was tagged with shreds of winter-carded wool./ In the squatter village, the hedge-lines grew loose
Smell of dung and dead stock. Crow. By Roger’s Rough,/ a one-eyed cottage under renovation. Everywhere/ this local ground makes shift for the duration.