Home » Uncategorized » How I learned to hate the M25 just a little bit less this summer

How I learned to hate the M25 just a little bit less this summer

This summer has been a great one for getting the walking boots out and seeing this lovely country of ours from angles that are a little different from what we are used to. Long, sunny evenings have provided plenty of opportunity to get out and do a decent (5+ miles) walk in the evening, rather than just on holiday or at weekends and some of these have been well worth the effort.
Evening walks give you a tremendous chance to see wildlife sometimes in the most unlikely of places. A lot of animals are starting to emerge and feed as the evening goes on, and some of the more common large animals, such as Fallow and Roe deer, foxes (or indeed fox families!), as well as ubiquitous rabbits and a diversity of bird species were all very present. You just have to be a bit quiet and try and avoid jingling coins and keys too much (although it does conflict with the great opportunity for chatting that walking provides, I admit).
Some of the most unlikely locations can be the best places to walk to get an interesting perspective both on what lives there and in seeing places from a different perspective.
We live very close to the M25 and the footpaths that were there before it was built still exist now going through tunnels under and bridges over and giving a chance to see what that junction I crawl past every day looks like from underneath.
What really surprised me was – don’t laugh – how quiet these places are. Obviously not in terms of noise, as the traffic roars constantly over your head, but how isolated and quiet these paths feel. No one goes there except for the odd piece of motorway maintenance and in Hertfordshire it is unusual to find places where you can walk for half an hour and not run into someone. These places may not be pretty, but they can provide real reservoirs for a bit of a rest from the bustle and for wildlife, and give an opportunity for us to see it.
The other thing that walking does is to allow ourselves to wallow in the detail and the minutiae of the area you are walking (and this case living in). In the course of this summer we’ve walked around and thus learned about nature reserves, agricultural research stations, police dog training facilities and ruined castles, old railway lines (and there are an awful lot of those), churches, parkland (with and without the associated house), veterinary schools and some active gravel mining.
All of which held interest in some way or another and all of which are within a few miles of the front door. What I am trying to get at is that it is not just about rolling fields and hills, but more about the landscape in its entire spectrum that makes walking in the UK so enjoyable.
It is nothing to do with getting back to nature; there is not a square mile of this country I would describe as truly natural and had not been altered by agriculture or Industry in some way at some point. But that’s fine by me. I appreciate a countryside that is moulded by that history of human occupation and if seen in the right way can be made even more interesting because of it. The M25 is no one’s tourist attraction but seen up close is still an impressive construction. I just wish I saw more of it from a quiet watery oasis under it than stuck in a traffic jam on top of it.
So it has been a good outdoor summer for us. We even had an evening when we found a slow worm making its way across a tarmac cycle path and then looked up to see the sun glinting off the tower blocks of Luton making them almost – almost – look attractive. Miracles can happen it appears.

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