Sunday, 24 June 2012

Hatful of hollow

I've always had a mild obsession with hollow lanes, deep lanes, dark lanes or whatever you want to call them - ever since I had to walk on foot to a rather lovely carp pool in my youth they have never been far away from my mind. The return walk used to terrify me as I invariably packed up just into dark. My father was on strict instructions to be waiting with car headlights on and torch in hand ready to drive me home.

They seem to be rather in vogue at present what with the rather glorious writing of Roger Deakin and Robert Macfarlane, but you can't help but come across them in this part of West Dorset.

A period of intense rain brought us down with a severe case of cabin fever so we decided to go on an adventure to a particular favourite - the excitement of three children between the ages of two and eight was a joy to behold. Between them they have an interest in Bill Badger, hedgehogs, Harry Potter and BB's gnomes so you can imagine the conversation as we dropped into and onto this ancient route.

Their inquisitive and investigative nature had them peering up, down, into cavernous badger setts, forks and holes in trees wondering what creatures may live there and what passed along this track the night before. We heard a raven overhead and then came upon a buzzard devouring a slow worm - i'm not sure who was more surprised.

The most excellent antiquarian Alfred Watkins thought that some were etched in prehistoric times as notches to give sight lines to and from fords and hill passes. The atmosphere certainly reflects the generations of foot, hoof and cart wheel that have carved each of the hollow lanes................................two of my children agreed to return with me at dusk in the holidays, we shall wait and see.................I fear the memory of the carp pool deep lane is still too fresh in my mind.


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