The road is just visible ahead. There is light in the sky topping off the highest clouds. The air is damp. There are puddles.
There are no street lights here. It is dark enough for the birds to have stopped flying and to have ceased singing. The main sounds are a few spots of rain on my jacket and young leaves being brushed gently by the south-westerly, but there is also sound of some movement close under the trees by the road.
Bigger animals feel safer in this light and move more freely, but they are no less easily spooked. Two deer startled by my passing spring up and clatter off, deeper into the dark cover of the trees. Their sudden movement surprise me and my heart, pulse already raised from my brisk walk up Bard Hill, pounds harder. Along the top road, where the gorse flowers still shine gold, even in this poor light, I can make out a hare crossing my path ahead. It pauses on the tarmac, before picking its way through the verge and away.
On the way down Market Lane, I hear a large deer’s hooves running up the hill toward me. It is coming at quite a pace. It is now so dark that I cannot see what I know is there. I stop still in the centre of the lane and clap my hands together several times to make my presence clear. The deer stops. I hear the running start again, but thankfully receding. My heart is getting a good workout.
At the bend in the lane is a five-bar gate that is good place to pause and look out over the village. It gives a great view of the church, wisely built on a lump of high ground to defend from storm surges, but a site cruelly exposed to the weather. The traditional east-west alignment of the church has been maintained, despite offering a broadside to the northerly winds that come straight off the sea. There must be days when this is the coldest church in Christendom.
It is a fine building and there has been a church located there since around C.E. 1250. The lump it is built on may be an even older site of worship. There is plenty of evidence of ceremonial activity up on the heath with its ancient burial mounds and cemetery pits dated from around 3,000 years ago.
With the rain on the breeze, the air is clear of dust and the scale of the off-shore wind turbine site can be fully appreciated from the gate. It is vast. There are warning lights. Some permanently lit, others flashing in a coordinated pattern. Flash-flash-pause-flash. There are 88 turbines on the Sheringham Shoal, the closest 17 kilometres from the shore, the furthest 23 kilometres. It is an impressive site that is probably going to be extended.
In the last leg of my walk I pass under ash trees that spread across the embanked lane. I disturb three separate pairs of pigeon and despite knowing these minor upsets are likely to occur in this gloom, the pigeons still make me jump when they take off. Having just calmed my pulse, I have to slow it again twice more.
The walk took 40 minutes and being outside, even so late, was wonderful. To feel even a few raindrops on my face, to smell rain so fresh I could taste it was worth every step.
28th April, 2020