A walk in the woods

We’re doing a lot more walking since we got a dog. There are plenty of places really near home, the beach for example where we can go north along past the dunes towards the town, or south round towards the boat club then round by the pill – a local name for a river creek. Or we can go up the hill – which is not where our village of Uphill got its name, that was from Oppa’s pill, Oppa being a local chief – up the hill and past the church which no longer has all of its roof and down to the windmill tower. Or we can go past the boat yard and cut across a field to the bronze age mound which has good views down the coast, across the water, and north along the estuary. Or we can go to the north end of the village and go to Uphill woods, a small area of woodland with lots of interesting little trails and a higher area which looks as if it might have been earth works but I don’t think it was.

This evening I took the dog to the woods; he had been on a different beach this morning and I didn’t fancy Uphill hill, so we went to the woods. What I didn’t think about was the nights are drawing in and it was dusk by the time we went through the gate and it was also beginning to rain. I decided to go anti-clockwise which on refection was a mistake, but we set off at a pace, dog no longer on its lead.

We set off, wandering through the little paths aimlessly following different trails as the rain began to come down harder so even though we were beneath the trees, as they had shed most of their leaves we gradually became completely soaked. It also became completely dark and I began to think it hadn’t been such a good idea to come into the woods at all. I didn’t want to go up the hilly bit in the dark – very muddy, lots of slippery fallen leaves, tree roots, lumps and bumps, but somehow I found I was on the higher ground.

It seemed as if we wandering endlessly, and i couldn’t find the way off the raised ground – well, I did see some steep and precipitous slopes but didn’t fancy tackling them in the dark. I occasionally caught glimpses of the lights of the houses which were along one side of the wood, but not close enough for me to find the track which I knew led back to the gate. I also saw the blur which was te golf course beyond a little lane, but again I couldn’t find my way there.

At what point should i ring home and ask someone to come and find me? I had to get off the high ground and decided i had to put the light on my phone on to guide me down one of the slippery inclines… easy when you have dry hands and the screen isn’t instantly dappled with rain. Eventually I managed to find a dry patch of jeans to wipe hands and phone and the light went on. I got down the hill and began to make my way along a track I would have recognised in daytime. It still took me a while, but eventually I saw a path leading to the lane by the golf course and we found our way out. We were absolutely sodden when we got home – and no-one could believe we’d got lost in such a small area… but we did…

It reminded me of Mythago Wood by Robert Holdsock…



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