An Old England Walk in New England

15 10 2010

The pleasure of going round in circles I have written before, here, about my belief that farms and gardens are, or at least with God’s grace can be, even more beautiful than the wilderness. I have also referred to my love of walking in the countryside. There are lots of set aside hiking trails in New Hampshire, nearly everything I have seen is set in conservation land, owned by the state and so not farmed but rather, it is left to grow wild. Typically, therefore, one is walking through a tunnel through trees, emerging occasionally at vista points to see…tree tops.

I seek the pleasure of good old fashioned ‘walk in the country’. This is an aesthetic pursuit which, while involving exercise, emphasises more the enjoyment of the scenery and, if done in the company of others, conversation along the way.  The modern version is a ‘hike in the wilderness’. This is much more an athletic pursuit. Clearly there is enjoyment of the scenery there too but often expressed in a new-agey spiritualism:  the individual seeks to  ‘commune’ with Nature. Just to illustrate the point, when I arrived in New England I signed up for a group that walked regularly in the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire. On the sign up form, there were sections in which they invited people to answer questions that gave a bit of background about themselves.  Sample questions were: ‘What sort of goals and challenges are you going to set for yourself in this group?’; or ‘What is your greatest achievement as a hiker so far?’. I couldn’t quite see how ‘pleasant conversation’ could fit into the category of goal, challenge or achievement.

When the middle classes of Jane Austin’s novels went for walk in the country, they didn’t pull on their ergonomic rucksacks and aim for three peaks or 50 miles in a day.

Since I arrived in New Hampshire I have been trying to discover circular walks in farmed countryside. There is no tradition of public footpaths across private land here, so I try to connect public, unmade roads and old cart tracks (some do exist) that run through at least some farmland. I have managed a couple. Recently I thought I had completed one near the Blackwater Dam near Webster, NH. Unfortunately I couldn’t complete the circle because the old cart track bridge over the river had collapsed. There was a ford for horses, but this was too deep for me to cross. Nevertheless, this leaves me with too very pleasant walks along a river, in which I will just have to go so far and then retrace my steps. Here are some pictures.

These stone walls mark the boundary of what used to be a field for pasture, now overgrown with trees.

The old bridge collapsed many years ago. The water is too deep, so its either swim across or turn around. (I chose the latter option!). Unfortunately I didn’t have a pair of waders like our friend below..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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