Friday, July 31, 2015

Passaford Lane

Here’s an environment. 

Passaford Lane leading from the Devon hamlet of Passaford to Mutters Moor named after Abraham Mutter, one of  smuggler Jack Rattenbury's accomplices. 

Passaford Lane is one of those sunken lanes or hollow ways often encountered in Devon. We have a few in Derbyshire too. It is a steady climb up to Mutters Moor. Rough and stony underfoot and quite gloomy in places with all the overhanging trees, but pleasant enough in summer. Jack and his band of smugglers may well have used it on their way to Otterton.

A rabbit hops into the path, spots us immediately and hops back. So I think of rabbits and Peter Rabbit one of Granddaughter’s favourite stories which I must know by heart.

The lane is strewn with flints of all shapes and sizes so now I'm reminded of Neolithic times. Flint tools and those ancient, mysterious folk who scratched a living in these hills, using those same flints to make their axes, arrowheads and scrapers. I wonder if I’ll find one?

It's sweaty work climbing, the sheltered ground still damp, the air humid. I think of water and if it is better to stop for a quick drink or wait until we reach the moor where a welcome breeze probably awaits. 

A wren flits through the bushes lining the lane. Was it a wren? Might have been a wren but gone now. May have been a robin after sandwich crumbs. Human = sandwich crumbs - is that how it goes in the robin’s brain?

The lane is an environment. It stimulates thoughts, sweat, muscles, digestion, memories, impressions, ideas, emotions and the imagination. Environments do that.


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Sackerson said...

Like that - the slight disorientation, hackles a-bristle, timeslip...

Raedwald said...

We get a few in Suffolk as well - the one on the way to the house in which I grew up taught reversing in a straight line back to the passing place better than any instructor. Watching lost Londoners trying to reverse in a sunken lane was an event worthy of turning off the engine and getting a sandwich out.

And I once had to shove a very elderly and very stupid local county councillor's face into the pages of Gilbert White to demonstrate that a 'hanging wood' or 'hanger' was a steep wooded slope with the trees at an angle, such as those over sunken lanes, and not somewhere where 'they used to hang highwaymen', as he wanted included in a local guide. His own Council's records, I remonstrated, proved that all executions took place outside County Hall, sometimes with an order that the corpse be exhibited at a crossroads if it was a highwayman, but that no execution had ever taken place in the peaceful and holy calm of that particular place ..

Sackerson said...

I didn't think of myself as right-wing, but gibbeting is beginning to make sense to me.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - thanks, it was the effect I hoped to create.

Raedwald - there are a few in Norfolk too. Calves Well Lane near Sheringham is one if I remember rightly. I once came across a nice early copy of Gilbert White and like a clot I didn't buy it. I hope you didn't damage yours.