Olivia and the green fields around Newbury
Walking out of my front door, you can turn left towards the town centre or right down the crescent.
At the end is a gap in the bushes and walking through is a bit like stepping into the wardrobe to Narnia as you move from suburbia into rolling fields as far as the eye can see. It was this land that saved my sanity, and those of many other locals, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is a footpath along the top of the fields, as well as a path down the gentle hill, bisecting the fields and flanked by wildflowers. I may be romanticising it, but I love that land. I love watching the seasons change through it as surrounding trees lose their foliage and the land is planted up, harvested or rested. I have seen deer, hares, pheasant and more here. But every so often I am reminded that, like much of my county, this is privately owned land, and my access is a privilege, not a right.
One morning I headed off for my usual morning walk with the dog, emerging through the hedge to admire the view when I was confronted by electric fencing closing off all but a short stretch of path along the top of the fields. The farmer had temporarily moved sheep there to graze the crops. They were rotated around the fields and access was probably limited for a couple of weeks in the end. All of which is totally their right, as renters of the land, but which left me feeling rather bereft, peering in each morning in anticipation of access being restored. Since then my walks start with a short burst of relief, that the way is open and that me and my hound can walk freely through the fields. Until the next time.