Yes, it’s September. In England the children are back at school (After a summer holidays spent entirely in their wellies), and so obviously the sun has now shone gloriously and constantly for five days. And it’s harvest time too.
So on the way to this week’s walk we call in on Plot 44, Sarah and Gemma’s allotment, to pick up our gardening gloves. Today we’re going foraging.
And while we’re there the harvest in the polytunnel needs watering. Peppers and aubergines.
But we’re soon over on the Wirral, in a place where we last walked at the end of June, the marshland between Neston and Burton Point.
We park up by the Harp Inn. Fairly tempted to go in and stay there. It’s fiercely hot.
The marsh, which was so green the last time we were here, has gone all wooly looking, full of seed heads.
Passing the idyllic seat on Denhall Quay that looks out where the river used to run, and the ships would come to collect the coal from Neston Colliery, which was here until 1928.
How it looked here in 1875. Painting by Arthur Suker.
But what’s this, are they mining again?
Out on the marsh – ‘Dig & Shift’ it says on the side.
Channels are being dug. I think we can take it this is some kind of marshland management, not mining.
So we walk on, but soon our known safe path across the marsh is interrupted.
There’s no way we can jump across that!
It’s one of the new channels. And with the marsh still so full of summer growth we can’t find a safe way around it. Maybe in the winter we will. But for now it’s back to where we started.
The path along the edge of the marsh.
Teasels taller than me basking in the heat.
And we’d forgotten this about marshlands on hot days. There’s no shade. So our expectations of peacefully harvesting the marshside hedgerows don’t look like being realised. It’s too hot for any work.
So we manage to find a tiny bit of shade and have our lunch.
Then we look for the promised foragable harvest.
Hawthorn berries for haw jelly. These are pretty tasteless.
Rosehips for syrup or jelly. Not quite ready these.
Blackberries for hedgerow jam. Again, not many really ripe here.
We do find lots of ripe sloe, if we fancied making gin. But we don’t. And anyway it’s still too hot out on the open marsh front.
But when we turn up the hill to Ness, there is shade – and there is harvest.
Blackberries to be reached up to…
Only a few are ripe though. And though it’s spiky work it’s also delicate. So the gardening gloves stay in our bags.
And soon a decent harvest of blackberries and rosehips is foraged.
Time to find some cool shade. So we turn into Ness.
And the tired harvester lies down.
And looks up at the late summer sky.
And then we look around at the late summer magnificence. The wild flower meadow…
The lily pond. The one Monet didn’t paint…
And the late summer border. Just showing off!
But, truth to tell, Sarah is exhausted. By the day’s heat, but also because she’s been out running with me the last two days and is consequently knackered.
So she sleeps in the shade.
And I complete the walk on my own.
Down to the marsh side, to pick up the car and go back to Ness for Sarah.
Back home with our harvest.
And Sarah, wide awake at seven this evening. Cooking blackberries and Plot 44 apples for hedgerow jam. And Plot 44 onions for onion marmalade.
Another precious Friday of doing just what we liked. And if this week’s walk had a soundtrack? Well, there’s the obvious Neil Young one. But actually we listened to Jackson Browne’s ‘Late for the sky’, from the same sort of time, going and coming home.