Podtours

December 25, 2007

Great Christmas walks

Filed under: England, hiking, travel — podtourz @ 10:58 am

I’m not much of a Christmas person. Christmas trees and tinsel don’t do it for me.

But what I do like to  do, weather permitting, is get out on Christmas Day or Boxing Day (or indeed both) for a good long walk.

You can see things differently. There’s no one about, usually. Everyone’s headed into town for the sales, or sitting round the telly at home.

It’s a good time to revisit your summer walks and see them stripped down for winter. The fields no longer green and yellow with corn (or rape) but brown and bare, furrowed perhaps, an occasional flash of light catching the corner of a flint in the soil. Trees bare.

Here in East Anglia our trees grow not straight and elegant, but full of character; twigs like arthritic fingers, stout trunks creviced with age, sagging and writhing boughs. Every so often you see one that’s been lightning struck, bleached where the bark’s been stripped; sometimes, half the tree survives, Siamese twinned dead-and-alive.

Or go for somewhere lonely and precarious. For me, that means the coast. Studland, Dorset, where the sea seems to swell higher than the land, and towards dusk you can look out from the beach and see the lights of ships at sea. Or Spurn Point, where an exiguous finger of shifting sand and shingle extends three and a half miles into the North Sea, and you feel you could be washed away at any moment.

I shan’t be far from home this year, but if the weather’s good tomorrow – it’s horrible today – I shall motor up to Holkham, and take a walk along the beach and through the sand dunes, through marram grass and pinewoods, and along the coast to Wells.

There’s something about the cleanliness of sea air that’s an antidote to all the pudding and stuffing and  overindulgence of Christmas. Time to get my boots on.

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