October 10, 2008

Lucky meander

Filed under: England — sensel @ 10:16 am

Good things come to those who stray. On my walk the other day, which was originally planned to be an out-and-back, I got to a junction and thought, “well, my feet are tired, but I’d like to walk alongside this woods instead of over that meadow again, so I’m turning here,” even though I didn’t really know where the turn was going to end up or how much it might add to my mileage. I’ve spent a fair amount of time nominally lost, in part because the island uses about four waymarking languages garbled into one, with lots of unmarked stuff in between, but there are so many trails that it works out in the end.

A few minutes later, I saw a little dog up sniffing around up ahead, like hundreds of other terriers and so forth that I’ve seen here in two weeks. Usually it’s just a matter of a few moments for the owner to appear behind.

Then I got closer and thought, “Hmm, interesting tail – hey! That’s not a dog! That’s a red fox!”

And I actually got to within about a dozen feet before he glanced up and went, “Ulp! Human!” and darted into the bushes. I’ve never seen a fox “in real life” before, so I was pretty excited. They’re a little bigger than I imagined, and pretty. And fuzzy-looking. Too bad he didn’t let me pet him. I’ve also seen a cute little mouse – a dormouse, I think – and some interesting birds I haven’t got a clue what they are, including a BIG yellow one, and approximately forty million rabbits. Cormorants and pheasants and grouse, moor ponies and fuzzy highland cattle and too many spiders.

Zillions of famous writers have spent time writing here, including Keats, Tennyson, and Dickens. Not to mention painters and other artists. Easy to see why. Had a great hike under cloudless skies yesterday (well, almost) along the island’s most remote coast, and boy, did I want to climb down the “Danger! Cliff erosion! Trail closed! DO NOT ENTER!” trail so I could walk on about two straight miles of uninhabited orange smuggler’s beach, which I could see from the clifftop had gained one lonely set of footprints while the tide was out. I was good, but it was really hard to resist. My fear of high tide is more than my fear of eroded trails, though, and it was pretty apparent that I’d be swimming if I walked too slow along parts of that beach, so alas. Couldn’t figure out any other way down there, but maybe that’s a project for next week. Somebody around here has to know if it’s possible or just life-threatening.

And I’m actually kinda ready to come home, so I’ll save the life-threatening parts for another trip. :-)

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