The idea was to do the walk alongside the River Kent through Levens Hall parkland, crossing the bridge near Sedgwick and coming back on the other side. But it was fair chucking it down and we sat in the car and stared gloomily at the windscreen and very nearly took our boots off again. But it did stop and we braved it. I'm glad we did.
The trees had the last of their autumn colours and there are Tulip Trees - yellow and green and a redwood that smelt cederous with ferny needles a pinky tan. Beaters were gathering and the pheasants were in for it. On the far side a red tractor trundled along chased by the Bagot goats . They are black and white with long silky hair and huge elegant curving horns. Over the brow of the hill the guns and their dogs were waiting. The red tractor came along – I expect it was bringing something fortifying. They must have been frozen rigid.
A tiny thing ran and ran away from us, if it was a female pheasant it was very scrawny – we saw a male and a couple of females scurrying at the foot of a hedge and where the path bends away from the river leading you out of the park another handful of pheasants ran along the wall and one bobbed under the gate.
There's two muddy fields to cross, which are a pain and you turf up on the Lane by Park Head cottage. Follow it along and little birds are playing chase in the trees, long-tailed tits, blue tits and chaffinches. Then you go down steps to cross beneath the A590 on a concrete terrace built into the road bridge over the river. It is an odd place, surprisingly beautiful, and there is a wee wooden cabin on the opposite bank. Downstream a heron stared from a mid-stream island.
You come out by a couple of cottages and the river here is dropping over terraces, some look like mill races (there used to be a gunpowder works somewhere hereabouts), but some are natural terraces of limestone, the higher ones flat undercut plates sitting above the flow. This lane joins the road to Sedgwick as it crosses the river. This is Pigwilly Wood! Water was gushing into the river from little waterfalls, dripping from the limestone in veils and a stream burbling down in a torrent.
That lane is a bit tiresome and it rises to cross the 590. Dropping down afterwards is the entrance back into Levens Park on the Eastern side of the Kent.
This is a fine avenue of oak all the way back. And all in yellow and brown autumn clothes. Behind one trunk were hiding two minute goat kids about 12” nose to tail. I hope their mother remembered to come back for them later.
By the time we were coming to the end of the avenue the guns and their dogs were going back to the hall, one guy passed us carrying eight male pheasants as I could see and a couple of them pretty nice and plump.
The deer herd had made its way down to a flat area near the river. They are Black Norwegian Fallow deer apparently which would account for them being black! – there must have been twenty to thirty head of them. A fine buck, two young bucks, the rest does.