I often mention the beck at the bottom of the hill in these missives. I thought it was about time it took a bow, particularly while the trees are still (mostly) leafless and so allow a little sunlight through.
Round by the railway crossing – about a mile upstream – a hundred years ago, it used to turn a mill wheel. The line of small trees that formed a hedge along the old mill race – or lade – now wander over the bare hillside – noticeably holding an unnatural level. The hedge quickly disappears, but its height on the hill hints that its connection to the beck was some distance higher up the valley.
Here, by our ‘Pooh Sticks’ bridge, it is in a much more relaxed frame of mind and happy to chortle, to itself or anyone else willing to listen, as it makes its way, now slow, broad and shallow, now fast flowing between steep banks, under our bridge and off through the fields of cattle and sheep. At this time of year it welcomes a sprinkling of sunlight through the bare branches. Later, in the summer, it will slide, quietly whispering, through a green and secret, leafy tunnel.
Often, when we pass this way, we will drop a stick in on the upstream side of the bridge, then step quickly over to watch for it to appear out from the other side. Just to check that the beck is still functioning correctly.