I'd planned a winter wander through Battle Great Wood for one of my monthly columns in the Battle Observer, but things didn't go quite as I'd imagined!
A walk through the woods from Battle to Sedlescombe is a delight in every season. After a quick hop down Marley Lane, the walker dives into Battle Great Wood, wanders through coniferous and deciduous plantations, emerges at the other side with an appetite for a delicious pub meal at the Queens Head (some of the best chips I've ever had) or tea and cake at Blackbrooks, then returns through the fields and woods to Battle.
In spring, new growth turns the woods bright green and bluebells peep between the trees. In summer, bird calls ripple across the balmy afternoon, while water mint and wildflowers nod alongside the broad rides. In autumn, wind whips the leaves into a frenzy, and multitudes of colourful fungi push through the pine needles beside the meandering, unofficial paths. In winter, perhaps after a hard frost, robins, tits and finches are easily spotted flitting through bare branches.
In fact, the only weather this walk is not suited to is consistent, heavy rain.
It had been raining heavily and consistently all night and morning when we struck out for Sedlescombe, but we were swaddled in waterproofs and ready for an adventure. We were not, however, ready to wade down the gushing, knee-high river that had taken over the path down into the woods. “Never mind,” we thought as we dripped back up to town. “We’ll drive to Blackbrooks and do most of the walk in reverse.” But at that end, a deeper-than-wellies lake blocked the road. What to do?
Determined to get our woodland fix, we drove to the Battle Great Wood carpark and set out once again. Unsurprisingly, we had the woods almost entirely to ourselves. Just one dog walker passed us. “Aren’t we brave?” she said.
Ditches and ponds had burst their banks. Across the clay paths, rivulets made patterns that reminded me of aerial views of huge rivers and deltas. My shoes squelched with each step and I remembered a number of people got stuck in this mud for hours last year before being rescued - the tracks have now mostly been restored after the forestry operations.
We surprised a squirrel, which scampered away. Bright yellow specks of gorse blossom flickered at the edge of the path. The patter of rain on my hood kept time with my steps.
And then, all too soon, we were back at the car. It hadn’t quite been the pub walk we’d envisaged, but we’d had fun. And the hot cuppa awaiting us at home had never tasted better!
In which I
In which I do things and write about them
In which I tag
In which I archive