LAND 04 The church clock struck eight. Behind the clouds the sun had rose above the horizon and I started my journey. I walked through the village of Østermarie, before heading east again out over the fields and towards the sea. Perhaps it was the weather, or the time of the day, but I was struck by a sort of frontier independent spirit in the village and in the surrounding homes and farms. There were small art galleries and quirky second-hand shops, old-fashioned farmhouses, and huge industrial pig factories. Everyone seemed to be doing their own thing and getting on with it.
The sun was struggling to emerge behind horizontal bands of thick and low clouds. The north-easterly wind felt very bitterly cold. I made several small sketches trying to record the spatial and tonal relationships between the fields, the rows of trees, the sky, and the distant sea. Every now and then the sun would break through, casting slivers of dazzling light onto the landscape.
I walked through a small wood, in the lee of which I rested for a while. An immature goshawk shot past overhead, quickly followed by the startled clattering of wood pigeons flying off in panic. I sat on an old bench beside a huge stately oak tree ‘Herold’s Oak’ or ‘the Key Oak’, with a fantastic view over the surrounding landscape. According to tradition, within this tree lies the key that guards the happiness of the adjacent farm.
Next to the tree was a small derelict house. The surrounding garden was completely overgrown, and several trees had fallen and destroyed the roof, but it was still possible to walk around inside. Piles of dead leaves, bird’s nests and mummified rodents littered the rotten floor and the windowsills. It was a wonderfully evocative and peaceful place where I couldn’t help but imagine the life of its former inhabitants and marvel at the passing of time.
In what must have been the house’s front garden I saw my first snowdrops. I walked on through the landscape, glad to be outside and on the move. Eventually I came to the bridge over Gyldens Stream, which cut a deep and narrow valley into the landscape. I had heard that a dipper, one of my favourite birds, had taken up residence by the bridge recently but it was nowhere to be seen. I walked along the stream for a while and found a fantastic, secluded spot where I tried to capture the water as it flew over the granite boulders. My first attempt became much too fussy, my second, done in a fraction of the time, was a little more successful.
The day was drawing to a close and I still had a way to go. Heading west again, firstly on the main road, I visited Louiselund where over 50 menhirs stand in an open beech wood. I had no time to really appreciate the attractiveness or gravity of the site and trudged regrettably onwards – through Lyresby Wood and onwards to the setting of the sun and my wife and dog waiting in the car.
WEATHER REPORT – Mostly overcast with sunny periods. Temperature between 1 and 3 degrees. Wind 8 m/s from the northeast. Hours of precipitation: 0 hours. Hours of sunshine: 1 hour.
STOPS with the BIVVY – 0
KILOMETRES WALKED – 13.36 km
DAY LASTED – 8h and 31 m
PEOPLE TALKED TO – 1 (I met a fellow walker and we chatted for a while)
BIRDS SEEN and HEARD – 32 species: eight new (House sparrow, Goldfinch, Redwing, Fieldfare, Collared dove, Feral pigeon, Goshawk, Redpoll, running total = 43 species)
LESSONS LEARNED – I tried some different gloves out – a mistake, my hands froze: back to the mittens next week.
IN MY HEAD –Downton Abbey, ‘Over and over’ by Hot Chip, my father-in-law, my children, worms, and – constantly banging on the edges of my consciousness – Biogas.