My father first waved a copy of H.V.Morton's In Search of England at me in the sixties. With virtually no knowledge of the things Morton talked about I suppose I found it quaint; somewhat dated without knowing what it was outdated from. I re-read it a couple of times, but hadn't picked it up again until very recently. What a difference forty years makes. I now find it stands up with the very best of English topographical literature, mainly because Morton is such a good travelling companion. In those early editions the sepia photograph of the Peddars Way in Norfolk always struck a lost chord, and so these pictures are my homage to him and his work. The Peddars Way runs down from Holme next the Sea to, well, nobody really knows. The Romans utilised it as a route to Colchester, pilgrims sang along it to get nearer to Walsingham. These days the trackway (and very occasionally metalled road) appears to run out at a place called Gasthorpe, but I walked a section of it recently up in North Norfolk near Great Massingham. Morton wrote: "I am conscious that this is a ghostly spot. Every time a leaf falls, every time there is a sudden rustle in the undergrowth I look up, half-expecting to see a figure not of this age coming towards me along the dead road". Believe me, I now know what he means.
Derek Birdsall: Birdseye view
2 days ago