walking from Kelling

at last a clear day after so many rainy and very gloomy ones

this bourbon rose still flowering and beautifully scented by my gate; I am astonished, because summer rain turns the opening flowers of this particular rose into tiny brown paper parcels and they don’t open. it’s a climbing version of Souvenir de la Malmaison.

we were on our way out for a walk from Kelling reading rooms to Kelling heath and back, via Muckleburgh hill; a walk that involves two big hills and wonderful views of the sea.

Just B and I and the sunshine

Muckleburgh hill has low growing oaks around its double crown, stunted by sea winds and poor soil.

you think you have reached the top and then find there is another higher point

the view is better from the second one

so up we go

looking over and down slope to the North Sea. interesting to think that 10,000 years ago after the ice sheets melted, you would have been looking at dry land down there, low chalk and sand hills, chained by marshy rivers and lakes, wooded and full of wild animals, what archaeologists nowadays call Doggerland. a rich environment for a sparse population of mesolithic human hunters.

East across to Sheringham and Beeston bump

West over the saltmarshes and shingle ridge to Blakeney point, Salthouse church and Walsey hill

down again through woods on the Weybourne side, easy to get lost, until we find the gate to the coast road, along the road a bit and through a gap on the opposite side, through tunnels of low ivy and woody groves up to the eastern edge of the heath. here it’s not really a heath any more but a wood.

rather soggy traveller’s joy, old man’s beard, or whatever you want to call wild clematis

Telegraph hill is the name of this steep slope, perhaps it had a signal tower or pole at the top for semaphore communications, which were used during the Napoleonic wars by the Admiralty, though I’m not sure that there was ever a chain of them in Norfolk.

here we are climbing up the Holt-Cromer ridge, which is composed of outwash sands and gravels deposited by rivers at the glacier edge, during the last Ice age. a steep northward-facing slope which would have been the glacier margin. probably Muckleburgh Hill itself is a kame, like Beeston Bump, a steep-sided mound of sand and gravel deposited by the melting ice sheet.

bracken turning all colours, some very pale. looking out across the fields here I spotted the snowy white steam cloud from the local Poppy Line steam engine chugging hard to pull its coaches up the gradient to Holt from Sheringham

the footpath crosses another road, and then very quickly turns up Holgate hill to the railway line, the most punishing slope. at the top you are higher than the railway line which is down in a cutting. I think I sounded like a steam train puffing up the last and steepest bit.


lovely steam train coming past, hooting for the pedestrian crossing then slowing for the little halt at Kelling, downslope. I couldn’t see a thing through the screen because of the bright sunshine, so I was trying to watch and film at the same time, hence the wobbles.

before diving down the steep footpath to Kelling village again I met some people with a lovely basket of fungi; the main collector a German woman who couldn’t tell me the English names of what she had found. one was as big as a loaf of bread, slightly bigger than this. I’m waiting for a Collins fungi book to be able to name it. we agreed that the ceps are over. that’s about the only edible fungi I recognise apart from field and parasol mushrooms.

this brilliant and perfect fly agaric was a neighbour of the edible one.

this one a few days older and already beginning to melt back into the earth.  they coexist with birch trees, and like most of the fungi we only see as “fruiting bodies” in the autumn, have extensive networks of hair-like threads which tap into tree roots, providing minerals and taking sugars in exchange.

the landscape changes as you walk down the path

at first bracken hangs down from high banks

and the slopes are steep and wooded with silver birch

as the slope becomes less steep there are small paddocks and large grass fields, oaks and a lot of ash trees, none of which are very old, probably dating to the disuse of the heath for common grazing. recent rains, some extremely heavy – Weybourne recorded over seven centimeters in one afternoon, where in Bale we only had just over three – have scoured out some sandy gullies at the top, and dumped sand on the path at the bottom of the hill.

back home in my garden there is more autumn colour than I saw near the coast – this guelder rose is full of berries and the leaves are turning very pretty colours

the hornbeam which is only nineteen and has got quite tall now has a lovely display

and the rowan

all berries gone, a delicate and elegant garden inhabitant. I put a new one in on the other side this year. I don’t really have room to plant any more trees, there are too many already, but my garden is a little oasis of wilderness amongst more conventional spaces and the industrial agriculture which we need to feed the country. though I must say growing potatoes for crisps is not the best way to do that! nor are crops to feed intensively reared livestock.

a quick burst in the studio, to start base layers on some ready-gessoed panels I just bought. 40 x 40 cm.

it’s lovely to just slap on some colour with a brush

and then some coloured texture (marble dust mixed into paint)

last week this one emerged, also 40 x 40 cm


and then this, which is just over 60 x 60. I’ve called it the Rain’s Voice. probably those bright things above will need more layers, but I think I will try to keep them bright, a bit of cheer as we continue towards winter.





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