The Ridgeway

 “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:5-7 (NKJV)

My friend Will Evans has recently finished walking the 87 mile (139km) long Ridgeway through ancient landscapes, woodland and secluded valleys. Often described as Britain’s oldest road it begins at Overton Hill, near Avebury, up through the Chiltern Hills to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire.

Will has been walking the route in parts over evenings and weekends and has finally come to the end of his journey.

Wikipedia says:
“The Ridgeway passes near many Neolithic, Iron Age and Bronze Age sites including Avebury Stone Circle; Barbury Castle, Liddington Castle, Uffington Castle, Segsbury Castle, Pulpit Hill and Ivinghoe Beacon Hill, all Iron Age and Bronze Age hill forts; Wayland’s Smithy, a Neolithic chieftain burial tomb; the Uffington White Horse, an ancient 400-foot (120 m) chalk horse carved into the hillside near Uffington Castle; and Grim’s Ditch, a 5-mile (8 km) section of earthwork near Mongewell created by Iron Age peoples as a possible demarcation line. Other points of interest include the Blowing Stone and Victory Drive, the private drive of Chequers (the British Prime Minister’s country retreat).”

Will completed the last 60 miles of the journey over a long weekend and I know that for him this was a pilgrimage of sorts. It was the start of something new and the ending of the old. It is a mile stone that he can look back on knowing what he has achieved. There is no better place to think than on the road.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Coppicing

I grew up next door to the Lower Woods Nature Reserve. It is one of England’s largest oak-ash woods comprised of 700 acres of woodlands and coppices separated by grassy ‘rides’. My ancestors have a recorded history of living in that area since the 12th Century.

My friend Will Evans visits the Nature Reserve regularly and helps with the coppicing. Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management. Young tree stems are repeatedly cut down near to ground level leaving what is known as a stool remaining. Over time, new growth emerges and after a number of years, the coppiced trees are again harvested and the cycle begins again.

In Lower Woods the coppicing happens in sections that are rotated to allow for the regrowth of the coppiced areas. Coppicing provides a rich variety of habitats allowing for great biodiversity.

Psalm 1:1-3 (MEV)
“Blessed is the man, who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; its leaf will not wither, and whatever he does will prosper.”