'These were powerful places to stand and surmise, with sunlight slanting across the graves and blackbirds fluttering in the cemetery hedges. Walking back north up the hidden cleft of Sherbrook Valley, with the stream chuckling quietly under its bridges and slopes of birch and pine closing off the valley from the outside world, the mud, blood and slaughter that waited for the young trainees of Brocton Camps seemed utterly inconceivable.'
'Cemlyn is one of North Wales Wildlife Trust's star reserves and regarded by the Anglesey County Council as the "jewel in the crown" of its Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.'
Cemlyn Shingle Ridge Walk [National Trust]
'If the Corporation of the City of London hadn’t bought the "Coulsdon Commons’"– Riddlesdown and its neighbouring "wastes" of Kenley Common, Coulsdon Common and Farthing Downs – for £7,000 in 1883 (nearly £1 million today), there’s little doubt what would have happened. All four high green open spaces would have been gobbled up in London’s inexorable southward expansion. As it was, the City of London dedicated the 350 acres of Coulsdon Commons, "fine, open, breezy downs, already largely used for purposes of recreation by the public, and now for all time secured for those purposes".'
'Back in 1985, a head-over-heels fan of Cider with Rosie, I spent a day exploring Slad with Laurie Lee as my guide. I've never forgotten the deep and amused affection that the author showed for the little South Gloucestershire village where he grew up ...'
Celebrating the Laurie Lee Centenary [Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust]
'Under a milky grey sky we climbed the stony road through Altbritain Forest, its spruce and firs footed in the dense blanket bog that has grown to enwrap these hills over the past two thousand years. Waves of lime green sphagnum flowed over the dark peat under the trees, to be replaced by tuffets of green and orange deer grass as we left the cold shadow of the conifers and climbed the long flank of Mullaghaneany ...'
'Where can Games-goers in need of a few hours' escape find a decent walk in varied surroundings that's only a hop, skip and jump away from Olympic Park? Opting for the bustle of markets and the open atmosphere of London's waterways, we set off in search of breakfast at a market stall, a chat with the animals in the city farm and some quality idling by canal and river.'
'Stagenhoe is a Grade II listed stately home and surrounding gardens located in the village of St Paul's Walden in Hertfordshire. It is approximately 5 miles (8 km) south of Hitchin. It is one of two large manors with fine grounds in the village, the other being the historic home of the Bowes-Lyon family St Paul's Walden Bury.'
'A still afternoon over the Brecon Beacons. The Grwyne Fawr river ran dark and noisy after rain under the single arch of Llangenny bridge, the landlady of the Dragon’s Head Inn worked on her flowerbeds in the sunshine, and all seemed right with the little world folded into its valley in the eastern skirts of the mountains. It was a stiff old pull up the hill out of Llangenny ...'
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