It has been a long time since I took you on a walk through this pleasant land-almost last year if I recall. So pull on your boots and we will go to the south of the county, not far from the cathedral city of Salisbury, and walk the chalk hills for the day. You might need to tuck in a waterproof-it still looks showery, but shorts will be fine. It’s not cold.
As we set off up the lane, the melodies of larks tumble from the firmament. Many of the loveliest songbirds are silent now as they moult into new plumage, skulking in the hedgerows, disturbed as we walk past. There are still the delightful calls of yellowhammers-“a little bit of bread and no cheeeese” and an occasional thrush, but little else disturbs this profoundly peaceful place.
In the clear waters of the chalk stream we cross, brown trout swim strongly against the fast flowing current. Beautiful fish, they prove the health and vigour of southern English chalk streams.
We climb the chalk hills slowly-it is not steep but a steady climb. I need to catch my breath-the air is still and warm and full of pollen and perfume. Through the corn fields-the wheat, barley and oats are just turning golden. I cannot resist trailing my fingers through the heads of the grain, as if through water. It is like walking through a dreamscape-just swathes of colour and gentle sounds.
Summer hedgerows wear flowers in shades of pinks and purples and yellows. The names entrance-meadowsweet, Lady’s bedstraw, sweet woodruff. I fall in love again with field scabious, nectar rich and loved by bees and butterflies. Beautiful enough for any garden.
Over the top of the hill, the path stretches ahead, clearly cut through the standing wheat, undulating over the lands gently arching ribs. The lines from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Aurora Leigh” jump into my mind again-“as if God’s finger touched but did not press in making England”. And the poppies. How can you ever tire of the poppies?
In good company, I make my way down to the valley again. We pass through the churchyard where the author William Golding is buried, and after a pleasant afternoon, return home. Tired but elated. Such beauty at our feet.