Sunday, 10 December 2006


We live on the Hemingford Round (a very popular walk with the ramblers, which passes through our village) and so it’s quite delightful to step outside the back door and within a couple of minutes to be strolling over the Ouse flood plain towards the lock.

This morning the sunlight was dazzling and the river meadow neither land nor water; a land soup, with a fresh skein of ice crackling in the heat of the sun. Two hardy fishermen clad in olive green with large umbrellas braced into the wind were trying their luck in the fast moving huge waters of the Ouse. The power of this river is awesome – it is totally silent and slides along at this time of year like the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River, at surprising pace to slip eventually into the Wash half a week’s walk away. Eddies spin crazily across the breadth of the river, shaping the river’s surface like huge roasting plates. The fever trees are replaced by ancient willows dragging their limbs in the wintry water, occasionally trapping great islands of reeds and lost branches, home to families of coot and moorhen.

The walk continues, following the Ouse downstream via the wonderfully peaceful thicket path, to St Ives, where you are confronted abruptly with cars, flood defence contractors and crowds of the great unwashed, spilling in & out of the pubs. You then escape this back to the river meadow for a wonderful vista of church spires, flocks of sheep and the steep wooded banks of the flood plain. Once more the meadow is a confusing mix of water and closely cropped grass – but following the grazing sheep you stay mostly dry-shod to Hemingford Grey, the bustling Cock and eventually find your way home, back into our village.

The whole walk only takes an hour and a half, but you arrive back into the warmth of the kitchen and the wonderful aroma of chicken casserole, having been away for years, and give Lynnie a big hug.

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