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A walk from our gate: April 2020

The other day I went for a longish walk from our gate.

Left onto the lane, left into the Nature Reserve, down the meadow to the benches by the lake. Stop for a few minutes of quiet enjoyment watching the swans doing their swanning. On to the lower path across the valley through thick carpets of wild garlic, the path barely visible, across the stream, along the bottom of the steep rise to the ancient iron age fort on the rath to the right, and on towards the lane by Syke Mill. Huge beech trees, and thick layers of empty beech nut husks. The squirrels must have had a field day last autumn.

To the left, towards and past the entrance to the quarry, and left through – around, for if swung it would collapse – a rickety gate. Someone seems to have been doing work here. The path is well cleared and the climb up the bank holding back the watering pond below Syke Farm now has steps and a far less vicious effect on the knees. Let’s hope they will still put in kicking boards, for otherwise the steps will soon erode.

At the top towards the right, and more signs of activity. Maybe that was why we heard a chainsaw going a few days ago: a newly constructed bench overlooking the pond, and a sign nailed to a tree with messages written in children’s hands. On, up the path towards the fields by Syke, across the stile. No gaps for Rosie doggles. Thankfully she is only small so easy to lift over.

To the left along the edge of the field. Mature oaks and beech trees across the fence on the slope dipping to the left towards the stream, just showing the first hint of green. Rosie knows not to bother the sheep and their lambs. As a pup about 11 years ago she was taught that lesson when she wanted to play with a newborn lamb somewhere in the Preseli’s: mother ewe unexpectedly went for her and chased her for a good bit.

At the far end two more stiles, two more lifts, and another field full of sheep and lambs. They are Mansel Jenkins’s who also leases some of the fields on the rath within our grounds above the lake.

Out at the gate diagonally across, and through another gate just across the drive, into the fields that encircle Wood Farm just to the left. The vegetable plot well tended, and voices audible: in the yard Herbie is talking to Kate, from a safe distance.

Rosie knows the way. She loves this field, which is, to her, the best of the best for running, with the grass as high as it is. This is an easy stretch, as it goes down back towards the bottom of the valley. Through another gate, that opens only partly as it hinges towards the rise of the ground, and onto the wide path that skirts the remains of another iron age fort. We cross a ford, a big term for a small feature, that shows bedrock. Bright red sandstone that we are so familiar with, as Rosemoor is built from it. This must be a hard patch, as the water doesn’t seem to be having much of a scouring impact. A lot of ours is much softer, unfortunately: not particularly desirable for building stone.

Through a scrubby field towards the bridge across the stream. It has been dry for quite a while, so no wet feet, only deep ruts. You wouldn’t manage to keep dry in the middle bit after even only a little rain. So Rosie may not need a wash at the end, provided she behaves the rest of the way.

Across the bridge back to our side of the stream. We wind our way through swathes of garlicky green, with the first hint of white: the flowers are about to bud. Only very light shade, as the trees have yet to come into leaf. We follow the valley that leads up to Woodsend, where Pete and Sam are now living in what used to be Jimmy and Irene’s place. What remains of one of Jimmy’s cars is still sitting by the side of the path just past the entrance to the old ice house that must have served Rickeston. Not Rosemoor, we think, for this is just outside what used to be Rosemoor’s land if we understand the old maps correctly. Pete is allowed to take firewood from the fallen trees in this bit. It looks like he will have years and years of supply, for a truly enormous beech tree is down, blown over in an autumn storm earlier.

Modern times. Sam is in the field gesticulating into her phone. Pete will probably be inside, for that is where he does his coding. Rosie rushes past the entrance to their place, to the left towards the lane up the slope towards home. She has her hang-ups, one of which is that she doesn’t much care for Olive and Gwenna, Sam and Pete’s dogs. They are perfectly friendly, but at 12 Rosie is past play with youngsters. So on we go, past Diwedd y Coed, the Wintringhams’ place. Its newly, neatly, rebuilt chimneys will surely help keeping lounge and kitchen dry in years to come.

We tackle the steep steep bit out of the valley, walking on red sandstone again: the softer stuff we know so well, for this is where the stone for our house was likely quarried back in around 1840. No sun, as the trees are in leaf here, which is good. The temperature is up on the past few days so it is easy to get too hot. The cattle have just come back into the fields to the back of Rosemoor. We can hear them lowing to our left. Past Leslie’s sheds and past the back entrance to the Lodge we turn left into our gate.

Doorstep to doorstep about an hour of peace and quiet, green and nature, with only birdsong and wind rustling through the trees for sound. That is why the lockdown is bearable for us – we are so very lucky to have all of this literally at our feet. It is also why it is such a shame that this spring is being withheld from our guests: if there is anything that keeps you sane it is what is so abundantly available directly around us. The one consolation is perhaps that nature will perform equally well next year, by which time we must surely be allowed to receive guests again!


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Rosemoor Country Cottages and Nature Reserve
Walwyn's Castle, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, South West Wales, UK SA62 3ED

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