Chalk

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There’s a special quality to well-nibbled downlands:  spare, large-skied, austere, undemonstrative, aloof.  This afternoon the sun came out and I was craving for the chalk.

It was chill and breezy as I climbed the trackway.  Most years the ruts would be hard and white; this year they are green and slick from the skim of algae growing on the surface:

Soon the sun was dropping and my shadow stretched away.  The greens dimmed and darkened:

The sunset was before me as I walked down:

Aloof and undemonstrative, yes, but the chalk is also uniquely gracious.

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2 responses »

  1. There’s an Englishness about that – like Orwell’s warm beer and spinster cycling to evensong. In fact, I think he even mentioned long shadows on the cricket field in the same piece, but I might be wrong on that one. Chalk downlands are something we don’t have up here in the bleak North, but I remember a teacher at junior school having one of those British Rail holiday posters on his wall and it depicted chalk downlands with winding lanes and a church steeple in the distance.– and I wanted so much to go there. But that’s life.
    Thanks for that.

    • Yes, very English – and the Wiltshire chalk feels slightly different from the South Downs chalk, though it is hard to put a finger on the difference. It wouldn’t be much of a challenge to you as a serious walker, but the old trackways can be lovely – for example, there’s a drover’s road from White Sheet Hill near Shaftesbury which runs through to Salisbury. There’s a photo of part of it at http://www.cotswolds.info/strange-things/the-fovant-badges.shtml showing Chiselbury camp and the Fovant badges – the trackway runs along the crest above.

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