Nationally many apple and other orchards have vanished; abandoned or grubbed up because there’s no longer any money in them.
There’s a mournful chapter on the country’s last orchards in Paul Kingsnorth’s Real England.
Yet, here in London one group of people have set out to plant a series of new orchards, filling South London with saplings of hope.
If it is possible to be haunted by a place, then I think that I am. In this case it is Ashley Vale in Bristol – an exceptional urban oasis caught between the tracks, containing allotments, woods, hilltops and a pub next door to a farm.
Brandon Hill aside, other hills in the city have their own distinctive charm and grace, such as Park Street, while a few are simply bastards.
One of these is the short and abrupt St Michael’s Hill, stretching from Upper Maudlin Street to Cotham. The lower slopes are dotted with attractive iron street furniture, step-work and historic buildings – including the pretty Colston Alms Houses – but don’t let these architectural gewgaws deceive you – it’s a brute.
It gives me hope a place like this. A small brown sign outside the Queen’s Hotel, Church Road the only local clue. Stambourne Woods this way, down that gravel drive and through the gate. On the house next door another sign gives red framed warning of a moose who isn’t there. This sliver of…
Guest post by Abi Gilbert
When I were a lass – growing up alongside the North Yorkshire moors – my daily life was infused with the magical stories which my Dad told me about sprites and fairies.
No trip into Ilkley, tramp up Hebers Ghyll, or mere visit to the shops was left uninhabited by these mythical beings. I was reliably told, and believed absolutely, that they were hiding behind walls and trees and under bridges. I built homes for these friendly folk, and they sometimes visited in the night to collect the food that I left for them, but I never, ever saw them.
It seems ridiculous now, but until I set out on this walk it hadn’t occurred to me that Wallsend, is literally the Wall’s End. As you follow the course of the walk, there are plenty more Wall inspired place names like this to take in, such as Walltown, Wall and Heddon On The Wall.
A little beyond Highbury Corner, just off the traffic jams and restless hustle of Holloway Road, are some silent giants. The giants in question are trees – any mental association with Arsenal, The Emirates and hushed crowds, or the sylvan stiffness of certain Germanic central defenders, is entirely in your own imagination. Trees, on the…