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gawanmac
I saw this on an OS map and couldn't not investigate. A place of worship symbol in the middle of bloody nowhere on the edge of a wood. It was a foggy, atmospheric day up on the North Downs, so I decided to walk three sides of a square through the wood to reach it.
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
I'm always moved by old woodbanks, knowing that they've acted as boundaries for centuries, and this wood was bounded by one, topped with spaghetti beeches and hornbeams.
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
The first section of wood was dominated by hazel coppice, which I feel I don't encounter very often. I always imagine hazel as a friendly tree, which is just as well in this very Poe fog.
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
I came to my first turn, I had to turn right, at a right angle, on reaching this flooded track.
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
I set out preoccupied by what I would find at my destination: a church? A chapel? A mere stony suggestion of a ruined sacred place? I was leaning towards the latter, given the odd and remote location.
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
But the experience of the woodland in this dense fog was a joy - the everyday took on an entirely different presence.
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Maxim Peter Griffin Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
Ace !
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
I came across a sudden steep hollow. It seemed unmarked by any horsehoe of close contour lines on the OS map, so this is when I first started to suspect that I'd lost my way.
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @maximpetergriff
Completely irresistible amirite
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Maxim Peter Griffin Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
damn right
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
By the hollow, this old tree was simultaneously living and dead - a termite metropolis nevertheless sprouting fresh young limbs.
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
I checked my map again. Three sides of a squarish rectangle was my route. Two right angled turns to the right. Just past the hollow a muddy but confident track went fogward at 90 degrees. This must be my second turn. I must be pretty close.
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
Two pairs of beeches waltzed with each other alongside the track, as two birches stood by, waiting for their chance to cut in.
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Mary Mills Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
so - are you going to say where it is. I thought you were at Dowde - abandoned church in the woods - but the map doesn't match
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
Last year's beech leaves were still clinging on to saplings in the understory, where the winter winds weren't able to dislodge them. A strange bright confetti in the murk.
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
I found the wood falling away to the left of the track - another slope that I couldn't find contoured on the Ordnance Survey. I started to wonder if I should backtrack. But how lost can you get in Kent, for God's sake? Pull yourself together, it's just a bit of fog.
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
But this side of my square route was getting absurdly long, it didn't make sense any more. This imperious beech appeared to give me directions, but I couldn't interpret its gestures and I don't speak beech.
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
Primroses cheered me on though, urging me not to panic. Thanks guys, you're the best.
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
I decided to take the next obvious right and hope for the best. It took me through a recent coppice, where the felling had exposed another monumental beech (a very unusual standard tree in a coppice, where oak is much more usual). (Beeches transfix me, I can't fully explain why.)
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gawanmac Apr 13
Replying to @gawanmac
Finally, to the left of the path, the wood gave way to an open field that stared blankly back at me through the fog. Reality was starting to converge with the cartography again. If I kept field to my left and woodland to my right, something sacred should emerge.
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