The first time I visit, a volunteer from the Wildlife Trust nods to the drizzle, you’ve not chosen the best day for it. But I couldn’t have asked for better conditions. I’ve not come to enjoy the nest-cam of the returned osprey pair. I am here for the peace. I sit on one of four empty benches in the woodland hide, the feeders aflutter with life;
goldfinches, bluetits, willow tits and siskins. Starlings and wrens glean the spillage. I see my first redpoll. The boardwalk is a revelation that makes this pocket of semi-wilderness negotiable.
No steps, not one stile and best of all, rather than the tarmac hardness of an accessible trail, the gentle give of weathered wooden slats. The drizzle has kept people away, it’s just me, my crutches, their click of metal sticks. Sphagnum moss, moths, and budburst leaves soothe my eyes after too long in the city.
High in the arms of a birch, there is an ancient hand barrow with a wooden wheel, it must have travelled up with the growing sapling, when the peat cutting stopped.
I am crutch-free on my return. Three osprey chicks prepare to fledge their nest.
My first walk in my fifth leg brace in eighteen months. I won it in a postcode lottery. For the first time since January last year, I pick up both feet. Twenty small jogging steps. July is brewing a heatwave, dragonflies and damsels delight in the early afternoon sun. I watch a lizard basking. I’ve not seen a lizard in Britain since the seventies. I wouldn’t have seen it, had it heard the early warning of my sticks.