17 April 2013

Walking through fields

My current posting to power stations in the Retford area has deprived me of the morning walks that I get when working in Victoria so I have been trying to compensate by going for walks in the evening.

This is not that simple to do as the hotel I am staying in is in Barnby Moor which is surrounded by fields and the main roads have no pavements.

Still, I am an adventurous sort when it comes to exploring on foot and I gave the local footpaths a try,

The first problem was finding a footpath. My map suggested that there were a few but I had to walk a couple of kilometres along a road before I found one that I could use. There was a stile and a sign heading in something like the direction that I wanted to go so off I went.

The second problem came when I got to the edge of the field and there was no sign of where the path went from there. Two of the possible routes were barred by gates that clearly did not open and could not be climbed over. It might have helped if I was not in my suit.

The third problem was that Darkest Nottinghamshire does not have 3G so my iPhone was not much use as a map and I was walking blind.

I decided to walk along the edge of the field, rather than give up and go back the way I came. Three fields later I found myself back on a road, close to my hotel and without any shotgun pellets in me.

The next time I lowered my ambitions a little and instead of looking for footpaths I headed down the track that my field wandering had led me too.

This is only a hundred meters or so from the hotel yet it looks like the middle of barren countryside, which it is.

It was also very quiet. In the hour I walked the only people I saw were a woman driving a car up to a farmhouse and a man driving a large tractor with rear caterpillar tracks. Both of them smiled and waved at me, but then you have to get used to that up here. This is not London.

It was late in the day and not long in to Spring so the sun started settling down for the night not long after I set out making a bold effort to shine though the clouds as it did so. In its better moments it shone its weak light though bare trees.

With (at least) four power stations on the area, there are separate coal and gas fired stations at both West Burton and Cottam, it was no surprise to see pylons everywhere.

Often these strode across the low flat horizon and at other times they crossed my path and I was able to get a good close look at them.

There is something wonderful about pylons in the way that they manage to be both simple and complicated at the same time. Somebody went to a lot of care to design the structure and there is nothing extraneous about it, all the supporting struts that I find so decorative were put there for a practical purpose.

There was more evidence of technology on the ground too. Fields were recently ploughed ready for the approaching Spring.

Some of the fields were severely ploughed, presumably for some exceptionally shy root vegetables, and that produced some striking geometric shapes.

The exploration finished in Billy Button Lane which did what I hoped it would do and took me back to one of the two main roads that lead in to Barnby Moor' one is London Road and the other is the Great North Road; the A1 is a short stroll away as is the main train line to Scotland.

Billy Button Lane is where I met the tractor, and that is all I met. The place is so quiet and so uninhabited it is a wonder that the road ever got tarmacked.

Still, on balance, I prefer the certainty of a road to the wandering around fields in the desperate hope that there is a way out in the far corner and that I do not get shot in the meantime - I know what farmers are like because I listen to the Archers and used to watch Emmerdale Farm.

I think that I have given fields a fair chance to impress me and they have not. I prefer the grubby industrial sprawl of the power stations that I work in.

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