A country walk.

Come with me, if you have a few moments, on a walk through the English countryside on a gentle November Sunday. We will start in the lovely village of Biddestone, (Population about 450) about 5 minutes drive from home, and leave the car on the village green, near the White Horse.

We walk past the duckpond- a small girl is sitting on a bench contemplating a bag full of bread to feed to the noisy residents-and past several eighteenth century cottages, following the road past the Saxon church, out of the village.

Old Man’s Beard

The leaves are mostly fallen now, and the bare branches reveal the treasures of the autumn, hidden no longer. Here is wild clematis ( Clematis vitalba)) known as Old Man’s Beard or Traveller’s Joy, and below, the poisonous berries of the Black Bryony. (Tamus communis) , of the same family as the yam, but used as an emetic in the past. The berries are strung like discarded ruby necklaces along the hedges.

Black bryony


Little flocks of finches move from shrub to shrub, and larks rise from the ploughed fields, together with Redstarts and Fieldfares. In the centre of this field, a lone holly has been left to grow, laden now with berries and imitating an olive tree in this almost Spanish landscape.

A little further, pheasants clatter from a shelter belt of vegetation left for them. Tall sunflowers, unharvested, grow amidst millet plants, both offering cover and food for the game birds. There are plenty of pheasants rising from the edges of the fields as we pass, making their noisy alarm calls. The breeze rustles through the plants, making a sound like running water through the dried foliage.

Occasional Buzzards circle overhead, looking for whatever they might find, and a sparrowhawk hunts along a hedgerow. Turning a corner on the track we are rewarded with a long view down towards Bath. It is a beautiful spot.

We climb the ridge now to return to the village, passing a heavily laden holly, grown to tree size, rather than as a hedge. So many berries, but only on this female tree, The male trees around it are bare of fruit.

Back in the village, boots removed and stowed away, the pub looks appealing. A warming drink before returning home for lunch. Perfect.


6 thoughts on “A country walk.

  1. Ah, this is so quietly glorious! Many thanks for bringing us along.

    Yesterday, Robert and I were listening to our favorite two pieces by Ralph Vaughn Williams, whom to me represents the quintessential musician of the English countryside. “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” and “The Lark Ascending” (which was played at our wedding)… at least in my imagination, they evoke the spirit of where you live…the pastoral countryside, so noble and sweet at this time of year.

  2. Vaughan Williams IS the epitome of Englishness, and yes, his music perfectly evokes the English countryside. I think “The Lark Ascending” even surpasses the very larks themselves. What an inspired choice for a wedding.

  3. I feel like I have been on a wonderful walk with you… you certainly do have a way with words! I don’t know Vaughn Williams’ music, but I do think I need to check it out from your descriptions!

  4. I am lucky enough to have been lots of places in the World, but England has to be the most beautiful. Thank you of reminding me of that.

  5. Marty-I think you would love the Vaughn Williams, especially the Lark ascending. It’s achingly beautiful.

    And Matron, I know just what you mean. To quote the greatest writer of all time “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England”. It’s a bit lovely, isn’t it?

  6. What a lovely walk and so much beauty to see around you to take great photos of. Those sunflowers en masse in the field must have looked a real treat in the summer, the birds must really love the seed from the heads. I love England too, I really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. x

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