Monday, 2 May 2011
The end of April, and a walk on a recently discovered and delightful path through the beeches and ash trees of Wardley Wood on the Leicestershire and Rutland border. It starts with parking up next to a wooden shack in the trees called Sweethedges, where homely refreshments are provided to passing wayfarers. Almost the only indication of the turning off the lane between Stockerston and Allexton is this carefully-shaped lump of ironstone leaning next to a tall hedge. I went into a long rambling discourse about it being a marker for the crossing of both ancient trackways and the nearby Eye Brook, a forgotten and unrecorded landmark that defied any cogent explanation. I ran my fingers over the surface to discern some obliterated runes, and looked into the warm blue distances hoping for answers. Which came when I raised the subject as our tea and almond slices were brought to our table. "Oh that", we were told. "We dragged it up out of a pond and thought it would make a good signpost. Just haven't got round to carving anything on it". My thoughts of discovering a long lost totem and of assuring myself a place next to Alfred Watkins and John Michell evaporated with the steam rising from my little brown teapot. We left, me forgetting to pick up my discarded pullover.