Just as you think summer is over and you are gate-crashing autumn, Little Miss Sunshine comes a-knocking and pricks your conscience into action. And so it was this weekend when the warmth of that sunshine took me out on a local walk around Bapchild and Tonge as I soaked up the rays and kicked up the dust along those footpaths.
Colourful leaves were just beginning to turn but there was still so much to remind us of the summer – luscious green glades adorned the footpaths, alder trees edged the water, hedges burdened with fruits and the trees hiding both fruits and wildlife caught my attention and made me stop and ponder this wonderful world where just a relatively short distance away the busy day to day pressures continue to distract from natural pleasures.
As the late summer sun breaks through tree canopies I can hear and see the crickets and hear their soft jumps through the grass to avoid danger, fish lapping the water’s edge and if you look up you can catch a branch swaying in the gentle breeze showing its coloured tape indicating wildlife survey work underway – the dormouse!
Tonge Pond was positively glistening and full to the brim with its fresh water fed by the babbling spring water which I followed near to its source at Bapchild. So many natural beauties to take in and then there was the human contact with the occasional dog walker keen to share their experiences of the local area as Swale’s natural ambassadors. Never have I tasted such delicacies – crisp juicy apples, warm blackberries sweetened by the gentle sun and perfectly sweet damsons that reminded you of your childhood.
Later in the day I headed out to Victory Wood at Dargate promoted by both Swale and Canterbury as its own hidden gem and heralded as the ‘Gateway to The Blean’; an award winner in its own right for its outstanding views across the estuary to Sheppey and the undulating landscape that draws you in like an old friend you haven’t seen for a long time but you pick up exactly where you left off. Open spaces, undulating footpaths, wide skies and memorable landscapes. Young trees, older trees, grasses, wildlife and the occasional dog walker but nothing to alarm you but simply amaze and marvel at nature’s miracles.
So when you think you have seen it all or can’t be bothered in the words of Gloria Estefan – ‘ Get on your feet and make it happen!’ You don’t always need a car, a bus or a bike – just your own feet, a sturdy pair of walking shoes or boots and a willingness to explore and soak up natures wonders. Swale has so much to offer – small open spaces beset in our own communities, larger country parks, visitor attractions with formal and less formal gardens.