Silence And A Wild Hare

Ambit walk to Oxford -
Day 2 - Lower Quinton to Shipston-on-Stour

I left Solihull with the dawn and travelled back to Stratford-upon-Avon, where I caught the bus back out to Quinton. Avoiding Meon Hill altogether, I walked from outside the house where I lived as a teenager along quiet back roads to the village of Illmington.

On the way to Illmington I climbed a steep hill to Lark Stoke, a hill and hamlet that I remembered my sister loved to visit when we were kids. I'd never been there and regretted that once I saw how beautiful it was. The sun was fierce for so early in the year, but up at Lark Stoke the wind was equally fierce. I stopped by the shelter of an ancient tree to brew up a coffee before walking on past beautiful farms and through deserted fields.

Rounding a corner of blackthorn I surprised a hare. We stood and looked at each other for a while before she slowly hopped away over the brow of the hill. What a beautiful creature, and surprisingly big too, much larger than a rabbit. Once, when I was younger, in a ploughed field close to Lower Quinton I saw two hares 'boxing,' a wonderfully mad sparring match between male and female hares.

Leaving with the dawn (shot from a train) 
Walking out of Quinton into brilliant, fierce sun

The roads around here were very quiet. Perfect!

I decided not to walk the footpath on Meon hill. I know when I'm not welcome!

Quite a steep climb up to Lark Stoke

Coffee break beside this old tree. Is it a beech or an oak?

Took this shot just before sighting the hare.

Illmington village church

Climbing down the hill out of Illmington - this has been a trackway for hundreds of years.

Hot, silent road walk to Shipston
I followed a steep hillside path down into Illmington village and visited the beautiful Norman church of St Mary. Then a short traipse up through a sheep field and I was up on a high escarpment. I followed a very ancient track down towards Shipston. The day was very warm and had an almost summer-drowsy feeling to it.

It was a long walk along more tarmacked roads to get to Shipston, but nonetheless incredibly quiet. I noticed throughout the walk that whenever I walked through arable farmland there was hardly any birdsong. I wonder if pesticide use is affecting birdlife there? It was quite dramatic how silent arable fields were compared to grazing land. I'd be quite interested to do some further research on this during my longer walks in the summer.

Eventually I wandered down into Shipston and caught the bus back to Stratford.


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