A Little Piece Of Wilderness

I went for a walk yesterday, in search of wilderness.

Although we live on the edge of a small town, surrounded by gentle countryside, I still contrive to find some wilderness. It takes me about ten minutes to leave the streets and houses behind, and then I slow my pace and feel myself relax. Tensions drop away as soon as I am surrounded by trees.

There is little wilderness to be had where I walk, yet that does not mean there is none.

Hedgerows can be corridors of wilderness. Perhaps a transient wilderness, but a wilderness all the same. Many hedgerows in the British Isles are hundreds of years old, and although each individual one may be comparatively small, places within them may have been undisturbed for most of that time and during that time many species of plants have flourished there and smaller creatures made their homes.

My path goes through a thin belt of woodland, too open to be classed as a hedgerow and too open to have private, wild, places, but once I emerge into the daylight again, there is a hedgerow alongside the path. And for a short distance, the hedgerow widens several feet, and becomes a true wilderness.

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Here, a patch of elder, sycamore and ash trees are surrounded by a dense undergrowth of brambles, interspersed with patches of nettles, a couple of holly bushes, and a few smaller plants squeezing into the daylight where they can.

It is the home of flies and spiders and beetles, visited while I am there by blue tits, magpies and some smaller birds I cannot identify.

Deep within it, there will be mice and shrews, and very likely larger mammals making their homes.

It is impenetrable by anyone without hacking their way in, and fortunately there is no incentive for anyone to do that.

It is wild, and I love that it is there.

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31 thoughts on “A Little Piece Of Wilderness

  1. You really have made this walk come so alive. Like you I also love the hedgerows
    and at times wonder whether they were originally planted to protect the crops from devastation by storm.
    All those animals you see are there and plants both green and flowering
    Just now should be time to go and pick blackberries from the high hedgerows. Love them.

    Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I grew up walking on similar paths around my hometown, abandoned railways that wander through the farm fields. We don’t have centuries-old fields and holloways, but the paths almost always have a de facto hedgerow along them, and the hawthorns, beech, wild cherry, etc. always keep a lot of songbirds along the path, which makes it more fun. Always ten degrees cooler, too, which is great during a hot summer. It ain’t the High Sierra, but I agree, it’s really nice in its own way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very valuable resources, Robert. Of course, the US discovered in the 1930’s what happens when you get rid of all the hedgerows and turn everything into one giant field so we don’t have things as bad as that here, although some of the fields are ridiculously large and we need more hedgerows. But, much like re-wilding, there is a bit of a movement to do that. I certainly hope it takes off.

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      1. Yeah, I’ve been reading for years about farmers in the West, bulldozing the windbreaks, etc. planted during the Dust Bowl days, and now predictions of “water wars.” I’m leaving today for a recruiting trip to India, and have been reading quite a lot this summer about water shortages there, really a crisis in some areas.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The nearest little wild place I have is only about a mile and a half away: a small nature preserve. When I passed by recently, I saw any number of trees gone, and a lot of bare ground. I didn’t stop at the time, but I’ve since learned it wasn’t the grim wildland reaper at work. They’re in the process of removing Chinese tallow, trifoliate orange, and other invasives, and there’s a plan to begin reviving the land with prairie plants and such. I’m eager to go over and explore — it’s the first place I began exploring nature, and I hope it’s both preserved and developed in a constructive way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Invasive species are a real problem. In the UK we have plants such as Himalayan Balsam which love damp environments and clog up river valleys, crowding out other species, and Japanese Knotweed which is almost impossible to eradicate. And that is just the plants, of course. So many creatures here that push out the native ones or bring diseases / pests that our species have no resistance to.

      On the other hand, there is finally a move by our Forestry Commission to stop the blanket planting of conifers in huge stands that shade out every other plant, and instead allow native species to regrow once the conifers have been felled.

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