The spine of our movement

The Pennine Way, which runs along the spine of England, is the spine of the ramblers’ movement.

web PW start

Yesterday I launched a new gate at the start of the Pennine Way in Edale, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the route.  It is made of oak and depicts the route on the middle panel.  The carpenter is Andy Bentham.

web gate

The gate was organised by Martyn Sharp, the Peak Park’s Pennine Way ranger.  The children from Edale School hid a time capsule among the stonework.  Just behind the gate is a magnificent hollow walnut-tree.

Martyn Sharp, the gate and the walnut tree

Martyn Sharp, the gate and the walnut tree

I spoke at the gate which marked the start of a number of walks organised by the park authority on 26 April.  I told the group how in 1935 Tom Stephenson, who later became secretary of the Ramblers, was outdoor writer for the Daily Herald.  He had received a letter from two American girls wanting advice about a tramping holiday; they were acquainted with the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail in the eastern United States.  Tom wrote:

What will our visitors think of one of the most prevalent features in our landscape—Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted?

Wherever they go, from Kent to Cornwall, from Sussex to the Solway, they will see these wooden liars; on the edge of many tempting wood … by the banks of luring rivers, on bare downlands and shaggy moors they will read ‘Strictly Private’. …

Nowhere in Britain are the restrictions so rigid, and paths so few, as in the Peak District of Derbyshire.

And he proposed something akin to the Appalachian Trail: ‘A Pennine Way from the Peak to the Cheviots’ starting here ‘out of the moor-rimmed bowl of Edale’.

The moor-rimmed bowl of Edale

The moor-rimmed bowl of Edale

Although Tom published this idea in 1935 it was another 30 years before the route was opened.  The 1947 Report of the Special Committee on Footpaths and Access to the Countryside reinforced the notion of long-distance paths and particularly mentioned the Pennine Way, estimating that four footbridges and 40 stiles were needed—which seems very few.  The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 included provision for long-distance paths, and the Pennine Way was designated in 1951.  There then followed many years of surveying, and controversy with landowners including water companies, to try to get the optimum route.  At last the way was opened in 1965.

The Pennine Way up Grindsbrook

The Pennine Way up Grindsbrook

As for funding, in those days things were much more simple, the Countryside Commission and its successors paid 75 per cent of the costs of upkeep and promotion, so the routes did not put too much pressure on local authority budgets.

Funding formula
If only it were so simple today.  The funding formula for national trails has changed, they no longer get such substantial sums of guaranteed funding from Natural England  (the Countryside Commission’s successor) but must rely on trail partnerships and their own fund-raising efforts.  Local authorities are slashing their path budgets so that all rights of way are being squeezed.

But national trails, as the long-distance paths became known, should be paid for by central government in recognition of the benefits they bring, to our health and to the rural economy.  They are an investment.  Unfortunately, we cannot take our national trails for granted, we must be vigilant and we must fight to ensure they have proper upkeep.

web PW sign

Tom said it all in 1935: Whatever the cost, it would be a worthy and enduring testimony—bringing health and pleasure beyond computation, for none could walk that Pennine Way without being improved in mind and body, inspired and invigorated and filled with the desire to explore every corner of this lovely island.

 

Posted in Access, National parks, National trail, Natural England, Peak District, Ramblers, Ramblers' president, walking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Solvitur ambulando*

This is the article which has just been published in the annual magazine produced by my school for its old girls (‘seniors), The Benenden Senior.

‘The content is good but you need to be more conversational.’  That was the verdict of Celeste (Betty Clarke, then Benenden’s headmistress) on my rather nervously-delivered speech to sixth-formers who were arrayed on the tiers at the back of the school hall.  It was March 1971 and I was at the weekly ‘speakers’ lesson.  My chosen subject was the Yellowstone National Park which was to celebrate its centenary the following year.

National parks were an obsession with me then.  I met a boy at a school dance and asked where he lived.  On being told he came from Durham I informed him that his nearest national park was the North York Moors—hardly a gateway to romance!

North York Moors National Park near Goathland

North York Moors National Park near Goathland

I was introduced to national parks as a ten-year-old, when I first visited the Dartmoor National Park in Devon for a riding holiday.  I returned regularly and over the years fell in love with Dartmoor and wanted to campaign for its threatened wilderness.  While reading biology at Exeter University I appeared at a public inquiry into military training on Dartmoor, objecting vehemently to the continued battering of the rare blanket-bog with shellfire and calling on ministers to tell them to go.  Needless to say they didn’t, but it was good experience for me.

The view north from Fur Tor, Dartmoor, into the military training area

The view north from Fur Tor, Dartmoor, into the military training area

My career as general secretary of the Open Spaces Society (which this year celebrates its 150th anniversary as Britain’s oldest national conservation body), and my voluntary work at national and local level in the Ramblers and as a trustee of the Campaign for National Parks, have enabled me to continue to campaign for national parks and wild country.  But I have also come to appreciate the importance of defending local green spaces and paths, as a vital means of enjoying the outdoors.  Most of us walk more regularly in the countryside and parks close to our homes.

Struggle
The struggle for public access to the countryside has been long and tortuous, but immensely rewarding too.  Paths may still be blocked and overgrown, but we must remember that 70 years ago they were far worse.  It was not until 1951 that we had definitive maps of rights of way, introduced in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.  In the years that followed, bodies like the Open Spaces Society and Ramblers had to organise volunteers to go out and claim paths for the new official maps, a massive task.  Before then, if you went for a walk and your path was blocked, you had to prove that it was a public highway before you could get the obstruction removed.  Once we had won definitive maps, we could be sure of a path’s status as public highway.  This made it much easier to find a route, especially in strange country.

web footpath signPublic paths are all highways in law, just like any road except that the kinds of ‘traffic’ that can use them exclude vehicles.  We take them for granted now, those green dots and dashes on the 1 to 25000 Ordnance Survey maps throughout England and Wales (Scotland has different laws).  It is important to report any problems you find to the highway authority (county or unitary council) which has a legal duty to deal with them.

With council cutbacks there are fewer staff employed on rights of way and it is vital that we all emphasise the importance of public paths, for people’s health and wellbeing and to provide alternative means of transport.  A little money spent on public paths goes a long way and cuts to path budgets are a false economy.  Even if the council is unlikely to deal with problems quickly it’s vital to keep reporting them, so that the staff can demonstrate to the councillors that they should not make further cuts in this area.  Many Ramblers’ groups are forming their own working parties to help the council with physical work, erecting signposts or gates, making steps or putting in footbridges.

Coastal access near Durdle Dore, Dorset

Coastal access near Durdle Dore, Dorset

Public access is not static.  Right now Natural England, the government’s adviser on recreation, is working on a path around the English coast, with adjoining spreading room for public enjoyment.  Thanks to our lobbying, the government has recently announced that it will complete this programme by 2020, although it is still in the early stages.  The new path and access have been created in parts of Dorset, Norfolk, Cumbria, Durham and adjoining counties, and will progress, section by section, around the coast.  Meanwhile in Wales the government and local authorities have created the Wales Coast Path, linking existing routes so that you can now walk right round the Welsh coast (although there are still some improvements to be made to get the path nearer to the sea).

Contingent 
It would be good to see payments of public money being contingent on public access.  Landowners still receive significant grants for agri-environment schemes, and where public money is being paid it is only right that people should be given access.  Where a landowner or farmer is illegally blocking a public path the payment should be reduced.  Unfortunately it doesn’t work like this, despite continued pressure from the recreation groups.

Nevertheless, we are enormously lucky to have public paths and access land in England and Wales, and a much wider right to roam in Scotland.  There is nothing like going for a walk to solve a tricky problem (solvitur ambulando), clear your head and stay fit.  Our generation enjoyed greater freedom than today’s children who are hemmed in by health and safety regulations.  We must lobby governments to recognise the benefits of walking and the outdoors for our wellbeing and sanity.

*It is solved by walking (proverbial).
Posted in Access, campaigns, Dartmoor, National parks, Open Spaces Society, Public paths, Ramblers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fifty-year milestones

Today, 24 April 2015, marks two fiftieth anniversaries.  On 24 April 1965, while the Pennine Way was being opened on Malham Moor, attended by Fred Willey, Minister of Land and Natural Resources, I (oblivious of this event) was heading to Hillbridge Farm on western Dartmoor for the first of many riding holidays there.

Pennine Way opening, Malham Moor, 24 April 1965.  Tom Stephenson and Fred Willey.

Pennine Way opening, Malham Moor, 24 April 1965. Tom Stephenson (Ramblers’ secretary who invented the way) and Fred Willey (Minister of Land and Natural Resources).

For me that day was tremendously significant, my introduction to Dartmoor and subsequently a career in campaigning (when, a few years later, I realised that Dartmoor needed to be fought for).  It’s a nice coincidence that such an important Ramblers’ event was taking place on that very day.

Smokey—always full of beans he bucked me off  the first time I rode him.

Smokey—always full of beans he bucked me off the first time I rode him.

It was pure chance that I found my way to Hillbridge.  A ten-year-old, I overheard my schoolfriend Claire Forrester tell another friend that she was going on a riding holiday at easter.  Precociously I asked ‘Can I come too?’ and amazingly I did.  We travelled as a foursome with Claire’s two friends Jane Steyning and Pat Bailey to Exeter.  There we changed onto the train which for a few more years was to chug round the top of the moor to Tavistock.  Alan Elrington, who worked for Dee Ivey who owned Hillbridge and ran the riding holidays, met us in an old green van to take us the last few miles up the Tavy valley.

Claire Forrester at Hillbridge

Claire Forrester at Hillbridge

Pat Bailey, Jane Steyning and Bijou

Pat Bailey, Jane Steyning and Bijou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pure heaven
And that was the start of everything for me.  Hillbridge was pure heaven, we could run free through the fields, over the moor and by the river, and spend hours with ponies which was ideal for a pony-mad child.  I would count the days to the next holiday.  Dee brought us so much happiness, we loved and admired (and slightly feared) her—for her horsemanship and horse management were of tremendously high standard.  She taught us so much.

Riding Bijou—I had to go on a diet before riding her as her weight limit was eight stone!  But she was worth it.

I had to go on a diet before riding Bijou as her weight limit was eight stone! But she was worth it.

Dee died in 2002 but the farm lives on, now owned by my dear friend Marion Saunders who worked for Dee for more than 30 years, helped by the indefatigable Karla McKechnie. The riding holidays ended many years ago but there are still horses and ponies at Hillbridge, and a small herd of cattle.   It remains a happy, peaceful place, summed up in a 1971 poem by the late Daphne Trevor-Williams who used to stay at the farm:

Hillbridge
How much I love that name and all it means to me—
The shadows of the clouds on sunlit moors,
The peace, the light and shades of evening hours;
The cry of curlew and the soaring lark;
The ponies roaming free, the hillside dark;
The sound of running water over stones;
The peace and solitude of this great place.

Within the house and bound’ries of the farm
A feeling of oneness and a sense of fun;
The sound of good clean laughter ever free,
Friendship, kind hearts, the agelessness of me!
And over all
A sense of peace.

And now I own the lovely Common Wood, only half a mile down the valley from Hillbridge.

Just as the Pennine Way has changed many people’s lives for the better, I know that Hillbridge has changed mine.  Thank you to Dee,  Marion, Karla and all my Hillbridge friends (two-legged and four) over the last 50 years.

Hillbridge gate

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Tried and tested in Wales

Ramblers Cymru is part of the Ramblers’ family.  Its Welsh Council  consists of volunteers from all levels of the organisation in Wales and meets annually, electing officers and an executive committee, overseeing the work of Ramblers Cymru and passing motions.  As president of Ramblers GB I was invited to speak at this year’s meeting in Llanberis.  This is the gist of it.

This year I have been researching the history of the Open Spaces Society (OSS) for its 150th anniversary—it is the oldest national conservation body.  I discovered that the right to roam was nearly born in Wales.  Four years after James Bryce promoted his access bill, Tom Ellis, Liberal MP for Meirionnydd, promoted the Mountain-Access and Footpath Bill for Wales.  He was private secretary to John Brunner who was treasurer of the Open Spaces Society.

Dinorwig above Llanberis

Dinorwig above Llanberis

The OSS achieved some useful victories in Wales—in 1892 the Birmingham Corporation Water Act authorised the construction of the reservoirs on the rivers Elan and Clairwen; the society won the ‘Birmingham Clauses’ which gave the public a right of access to the commons which were bought by the corporation to protect the water supply.  The Law of Property Act 1925 provided for landowners to make deeds of access, giving the public the right to walk and ride on common land and the society, in 1932, persuaded the Crown Estate to dedicate its 104 square miles of commons in Wales.

Pumlumon panorama

Panorama from Pumlumon: part of the Crown Estate commons with rights to walk and ride. Photo: Liz Fleming-Williams

By the time of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 the Ramblers, whose 80th birthday we celebrate this year, had been born.  The 1949 Act required local authorities to produce definitive maps of public paths and the Ramblers organised coachloads of members to go out into the thinly-populated countryside to claim paths.  Ramblers in Liverpool and on Merseyside went into North Wales, Ramblers from Birmingham and the Black Country headed into central Wales.  This was a phenomenal job, given the lack of private and public transport and the vast areas to be covered.  Those Ramblers did us proud.  And because we were so involved in the hard graft of creating the definitive maps, we set great store by them today and look carefully at any plan to alter routes, objecting unless there is a clear public interest in the proposal.

Bonds
This also explains the strong bonds which exist between Ramblers in the border counties and Wales.  In 1988 it was with great reluctance that our Merseyside and North Wales Area agreed to split in two.  I well remember that formation meeting for North Wales Area in Llandudno, with Ioan Bowen Rees, former chief executive of Gwynedd Council, pronouncing on the importance of guarding the Welsh mountains for the Welsh, in effect speaking against public rights of access to open country.  Fortunately times have changed and that is no longer the ethos—the value of access for tourism, health and the economy is now fully recognised.

I have been coming to Welsh Council regularly since 1984 and I have seen it grow and change.  It used to be a one-day meeting at the back of a pub in Llandrindod Wells, now it is a weekend in a hotel or conference venue.

Experiment
Wales is a small enough country to enable the Ramblers to experiment here.  Ramblers Cymru has the opportunity of trying out its own governance arrangements.  Whatever units we create for our governance should coincide with the boundaries of our main decision-makers, ie the highway and access authorities.  We should not come to a firm conclusion until those are known, and we should then be sufficiently flexible to be able to continue communicating effectively with those decision-makers should their boundaries change again.

Brecon Beacons

Brecon Beacons

There is much happening in Wales and we need to be ready to respond.  We have to beware a lack of transparency.  For instance the Welsh Government appears covertly to have changed the policies on common land so that in determining applications for works on and exchanges of commons ministers can give greater weight to the economic benefit ad businesses.  There was no consultation, despite the government having a commons forum.  We need to watch the Planning Bill closely, while we seem to have made headway in preventing Wales from copying England on village-greens law, there is a risk that ministers will take powers to water down the planning role of the national park authorities.

Intelligent report
The designated landscapes review continues.   The panel, of Terry Marsden, John Lloyd Jones and Ruth Williams, has produced a thoughtful and intelligent report following the first stage.  They have rejected the notion of one designation and have recommended that the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are renamed the National Landscapes of Wales.  The minister, somewhat cheekily, has suggested the panel may want to rethink its first-stage conclusions.  I trust not.  Designated landscapes should be above politics.  And, like paths, they are good for the economy, health and well being.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

I wish we could look to the government’s adviser Natural Resources Wales for greater leadership on our landscapes and access, but sadly it keeps its head down.  We do need a champion.

A chance to experiment
So what future for Ramblers in Wales?  We should make the most of the opportunity to try things out here and then apply them elsewhere.

  • We must maximise our campaigning impact by structuring ourselves accordingly.
  • We must publicise ourselves more so that everyone knows the terrific work done by our volunteers who are safeguarding their path networks, investigating planning applications, leading walks and much more.
  • We must lobby for legislation to give greater public access—‘Scottish access plus’, which retains and improves the path network too.  Scottish access is wonderful in theory but in practice it doesn’t always exist on the ground.  Try walking round the Scottish coast for instance.  It’s hard to get obstructions removed when you don’t have public highways.  We need an access model that gives us guaranteed access to land alongside our public-path network.  Let’s remember the efforts of Tom Ellis and keep his memory alive in Wales with a new law which really does make a difference.

 

Posted in Access, campaigns, National parks, Natural Resources Wales, Ramblers, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hawl i grwydro (freedom to roam)

I was in Oriel College, Oxford, last week and passed this portrait of college fellow James Bryce, by George Reid, on the stairs.  When he was MP for South Aberdeen, James Bryce promoted his Access to Mountains Bill (1884). Unfortunately, although he reintroduced it many times, it never became an act.

James Bryce by George Reid

James Bryce by George Reid

His efforts were followed by those of the Liberal MP for Meirionnydd,  north Wales, Tom Ellis.  In 1888 he introduced The Mountain-Access and Footpath Bill for Wales.  He was private secretary to John Brunner who was at that time treasurer of the Commons Preservation Society and MP for Northwich in Cheshire.

Archive
I was interested to find an article in The Spectator archive, somewhat to the left of where it is now, which reports on Ellis’s bill.

The Elan Valley near Rhayader: public access was won here in 1892. Photo: Liz Fleming-Williams

The Elan Valley near Rhayader: public access was won here in 1892. Photo: Liz Fleming-Williams

It is evident that though the red-deer is absent, and the grouse-drives in Wales have not so entirely taken possession of the Principality as they appear to have obtained empire in the Highlands, the rivers in Wales have ceased largely to be at the service of the public who are followers of Isaac Walton, and the tourists and residents have felt the iron hand of proprietorship turn them off their old cross-country and hillside walks on to the hard high-roads.  It is only in the nature of things that the same cry which Mr Bryce gave utterance to from rest-seeking and educated Britain by his Scotch Mountain-Access Bill, should now be finding a voice in Wales through the mouths of Mr Ellis MP and his coadjutors, Mr W Abrahams and Mr Bowen Rowlands.  Recreation, scientific and artistic study are each year becoming more a vital national necessity.  The great rich may seek these abroad; the great poor must find them within the borders of their own country.

Predicted
The writer predicted that whatever the fate of Mr Ellis’s bill for Wales, it was certain that the right to walk ‘over the wastes and uncultivated parts of their native land’ would be legalised.  Mr Ellis’s bill would give the public the right of access ‘to mountain-land, moor or waste land, and access to, and power to walk along, the bed or bank of any river, stream, or lake, or to ride in any boat, coracle, or canoe upon any river or lake for the purposes of recreation, wimberry gathering, scientific inquiry, sketching, or antiquarian research’. Land under cultivation, gardens and pleasure-grounds were excepted.  The Spectator felt that the hand of the magistrates in dealing with trespassers should be strengthened.

Footpath near Llanberis

Footpath near Llanberis

The bill also referred to footpaths. Remember this was long before there were definitive maps of paths:

Mr Ellis would open to the public any well-defined footway used, occasionally or otherwise, by visitors or neighbours during each of any five consecutive years within the last preceding forty-nine before the passing of the Act.  No person who traverses such a path or removes obstructions thereon, shall be liable for trespass.  Any ratepayer within ten miles of an obstructed pathway shall have power to summons the obstructor before the county court.

He also proposed to make the diversion of paths more difficult by insisting on greater publicity as to the transaction.

Dog-in-the-manger spirit
In a further measure, Mr Ellis’s Bill aims at entitling the users of a pathway not only to right of passage, but also to light, to air and to scenery … Mr Ellis has in his mind the retaliatory dog-in-the-manger spirit which, if beaten in a lawsuit, will sometimes admit passage across land, but passage only, and will block out light and air and scene, rather than allow to passers-by the enjoyment of more than their strict legal rights.  We have plenty of problems like that nowadays.

The Spectator concludes: Mr Ellis’s Bill is bold;’ but he is at any rate a pioneer in the cause of the public good.

The slopes of Pumlumon

The slopes of Pumlumon

Despite the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and other laws, much of what Tom Ellis proposed has yet to be implemented.  Scotland has its Land Reform Act 2003 but even that does not guarantee access.  The Welsh Government is planning a green paper on recreation and access.  It would do well to study Mr Ellis’s pioneering bill and see what still needs to be done.

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Encounter with a drone

I rarely have cause to go to Cambridgeshire, perhaps because the effect of the inclosures means it has few commons.  So it was fortunate that when BBC Look East wanted to interview me at Wimpole Hall, near Cambridge, I could combine it with my visit to the Ramblers’ general council at the university later that day.

It was a lovely prelude to the weekend spent indoors.  I had never been to Wimpole Hall before, it is owned by the National Trust and is, according to Pevsner, ‘without doubt the most spectacular country mansion of Cambridgeshire, more so perhaps because of its size and its setting than its architecture which, at least externally, is remarkably restrained and domestic’.

Wimpole Hall

Wimpole Hall, ‘restrained and domestic’

The house is largely 1740 although the seven-bay centre was built in about 1632.  There is a two-mile avenue running south from the house.

Avenue

Avenue

The parkland is magnificent rolling countryside—who said Cambridgeshire was flat?  It is an oasis of access land among the huge arable fields.

The parkland

The parkland

I arrived at the hall in the early afternoon of Friday 27 March to meet Paul Baker and Ben Robinson (from English Heritage) who were doing the interview for an eastern regional programme for VE Day on 8 May.

Setting off for the interview

Setting off for the interview

Every region has chosen a topic with which to mark the seventieth anniversary of the end of the second world war, and eastern region was looking at the landscape and people’s access to it.

 

web Wimpole 9

So I walked through the lovely ridge-and-furrow parkland with Ben Robinson, making sure he was downhill of me to equalise our heights, and chatted about the increasing mobility of the population and the struggle for access to the hills, of which the Kinder Trespass in 1932 was one milestone.  I spoke about the work of the Open Spaces Society and the Ramblers in claiming paths for the definitive maps which were created by the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, and later the campaign to claim the commons.

Ridge and furrow

Ridge and furrow

The Ramblers’ Royston Group had been invited to join us.

 

Royston Ramblers

Royston Ramblers

Then Ben and I had to retrace the steps we took for the interview with a drone hovering overhead, so there will be aerial shots too.  This was my first encounter with a drone (I’ve led a sheltered life).

Preparing the drone

Preparing the drone

It was a fitting topic for the Open Spaces Society’s 150th anniversary year, and I look forward to seeing the programme.  It will be broadcast on 8 May unless the Westminster election result ousts it.

Daffodils in Wimpole Park, looking north to the folly

Daffodils in Wimpole Park, looking north to the folly

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Hilary Green, 27 September 1918—16 April 2015

I am glad that, finally, I visited Hilary Green in her lovely Wealden home last May. For now she has died (peacefully and compos mentis to the end) at the age of 96, and I should have been so sad never to have met her.

With Hilary in May 2014

With Hilary in May 2014

I had known of Hilary for many years before we were in touch because I knew her sister, Daphne Munday.  Daph was the sister-in-law of my friend Sylvia Sayer and before that, from 1936, lady help to Syl’s twins Oliver (Oz) and Geoffrey (Geoff).  Hilary was very fond of Daph and although Daph was the elder, Hilary gave her help and support.  Both Daph and Hilary had a strong affinity with the Yorkshire Dales as their maternal grandmother lived in Settle and they spent many happy holidays there as children.

Contact
Hilary lived at Cross-in-Hand on the East Sussex weald, and we first made contact when, in about 2001, she kindly contributed to the Open Spaces Society in support of my work in getting the infamous ‘Hoogstraten’ path, close to her home, reopened.  She joined the society and regularly gave us generous donations.  I sent her a card and spoke to her every birthday (27 September) and received many letters and cards from her.  She often wrote about the birds she had seen; she shared a love of nature with Daph (who had taken me badger watching near Hexworthy on Dartmoor) and knew that I enjoyed birds.  She was also keenly interested in my campaigning activities.

Hilary's garden

Hilary’s garden

 

web garden 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

In recent years her notes contained wistful messages: ‘from various country reports I have a vague idea of what you look like—I would have a better idea if you would look in if hereabouts’ and ‘your photograph in the latest Viewpoint [Campaign for National Parks magazine] just increases my wish to meet you’.

web garden 3

And so, on 3 May last year in spring sunshine I drove down to Pool Meadow to visit Hilary. We had tea together, Hilary sitting upright, bright and chatty like a little bird—certainly not showing her 95 years.  Then she gave me a tour of her exquisite garden which she had created out of the wealden woodland.  She was particularly pleased with her Chatham Island forget-me-not.

 

Myosotidium horetnsia, Chatham Island forget-me-not

Myosotidium horentsia, Chatham Island forget-me-not

I felt I had known Hilary for ever.  Although we only met the once I have lost a true friend.

 

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