8:02am on Sunday the 26th of October and I'm at my start place fo my perimeter
walk. I am standing at the
animal pen which has been newly refurbished, urm, I used to play on
it as a kid. It doesn't really look like, er, it looks a lot bigger than
it used to actually which is strange, it's usually the other way round.
Um. There are traffic
lights ahead of me, because this is the main entrance to the Common.
It's where cars can come through when the barrier is open. Where bikes
can cycle through, and they're on the traffic light system as well, although
most go past it. There's also a
map of the Common. And there are 3 ways into the Common. There is
that leads off to where the funfair is, or was. There is 1
that leads off towards the university. And there's 1 that goes towards
the ornamental lake, but I'm not sure where else. In front of me is also
Lodge which is an old house which I thought was terribly romantic
place to live in when I was little. I really liked the idea of it. Um.
It's not that great now. And, I'm about to start my walk. Okay then.
I'm now walking along the roadside, it is 10 past 8 now. And I'm looking
into the Common from outside. Now, there isn't a fence or anything, that
goes around the whole of the Common.* There's
just a few posts of wooden fence in some places and holly trees for the
rest. Is this there to keep people out? I'm not sure why, it's common
land. Every so often you find broken
down places that people have used to get through, or in some cases
to cycle over. The trenches do make a good BMX challenge, as I remember
as a kid. And in these areas, there's lots of beer cans because the kids
from around here just go and sit in the areas of the Common closest to
the road to avoid their parents seeing them drinking and smoking. Whatever.
Right, I'm going to carry on walking.
I have now reached another
entrance to the Common. Um. Instead of being nicely tarmacked, this
one is concrete slab and there is one of those double gates that make
it really hard for cyclists to get through. So I'm guessing this is a
footpath only. Urm, I'm still on Hill
Lane and, uh, just making my way up to the corner of Hill Lane and
Burgess Road. It's 8:20am.
I've only walked a few steps and there is the
most beautiful scene into the Common. There is light sifting through
the trees. Really bright strong sunlight. And there's all this water dripping
from the trees and as your eyes adjust to the foreground you see huge
spider webs It's very beautiful. Um. I don't think I'm going to be able
to get it on camera. It's absolutely gorgeous, all the leaves are shimmering.
You can see it. Even the light is bouncing off all the brambles on the
floor, their matte leaves are really coming to life. I'm going to carry
I'm sat on a bench, just off the Burgess
Road entrance to the Common, and there's a really strange thing because
the Burgess Road/Hill Lane junction is a really busy road. There's a mini-roundabout
and a Total
petrol station, a little mini Somerfield and some, urm, shops the
other side. And then, looking into
the Common, there's just nothing. There's a couple of dogwalkers.
And that's it. Other than that there's trees, very beautiful trees, sunlight,
leaves on the ground, and that's just about it. So while you're looking
at this beautiful peaceful scene, all you can hear behind you is traffic.
It's now 8:30am.
I'm walking up Burgess Road and I'm now, I've now got houses in between
me and the Common. Their gardens back onto it. So I can't actually see
much of it. But up ahead, I can see a low fence.
I've just reached another
entrance to the Common. It's on the Burgess Road side of, er, of the
Common. And they've got another of those strange gateways that won't allow
cycles through. There's also another board up, like the old map board
at the other entrances but this one is, it looks much older. I don't think
it is, but it's covered in, er, it looks like lichen actually. And they've
big sign gaffer taped up that says about rats feeding on your rubbish.
And that you can be fined 50 quid if you've left any food waste on the
Common. The opposite side to the Common, this particular entrance, is
Bassett, which is a pub and I think maybe also guest house although
I'm not sure. And, uh, I've never been in there. Um. That's not surprising.
It's now 8:39am, I'm still on Burgess Road and I'm just deciding whether
to carry along the road or to go down this sort of path which is just
on the edge of the Common. The reason being that if I carry along the
road, I'm going to have to cross over because there is no pavement this
side. And I'm worried about being too far away. So I think I'm going to
take this path, however, if it strays too much from the perimeter, I'm
going to move back out again. This is the first entrance that I've properly
walked down. And at the minute I can feel there's gravel under foot, there
is a hubcap in the bush, several old drinks packets. There's an old style
street lamp in front of me which is still on, despite the fact that it's
very light now. I think it's just cos it's shielded by trees. It's very
cold. I've started to lose feeling in my fingers, despite the fact I've
got gloves on. But the sun's still shining. And the Common's still looking
lovely. *laugh* Despite all the rubbish. And um, I'm going to carry on
I've just seen my first, my first wildlife in the Common. It was a pigeon.
On the path. That's all.
A strange little buggy has gone past me and, I think it had, uh, a man
who looks after the site in it. Um, I didn't get a photo cos it drove
past me too quickly. But it was green to match its surroundings! And had
a smiley man in it with a nice woolly hat on. *laugh*
It's 8:44am and I'm now sat on a
log at the junction at the point where the Common is intersected by
Bassett Avenue, oh, The
Avenue. Um, I'm going to be crossing the road in a minute and carrying
along the edge of the Common. I think I can use the pavement on this side.
It's 8:50am and I'm now, I've now got houses between me and the Common
once more. I'm still on Burgess
Road. At the moment I'm only catching glimpses of it. I can see the
tops of trees and I can sometimes see the bank that runs around the outside.
But mostly I see houses, brick walls and cars rushing past me on Burgess
Road. Hopefully, when I get up to the top of here, I'll be able to take
a route that's closer to the edges.
I'm at the corner of what, um, of what my map calls St Denys Wood, which
I know as Just By The University, cos I used to come here a lot. And,
er, I've reached my first problem decision. Cos the university gets in
the way rather a lot, so I have to decide whether to take the
footpath as far as I can and then walk off road for as far as I get
to Highfield Road, or to stick as closely to the outside through the university.
It being 8:55am, so it's not as though I'm pushed for time, so I think
I'm going to walk down the footpath and beat my way through the undergrowth
if I have to.
Okay, I've walked a short way down the
path now and I know exactly where I am. Which I really should have
done anyway because, well, I've got a map and I know the area well. Um,
I'm on a footpath, which is mostly used by students to get to the university.
And also by me on my bike to get to the university and theatre up here.
It's this um, very winding road with lots of ups and downs, so good when
you're cycling. So, in front of me I can see a group of young lads that
may be students. I don't know, it's a bit early. And it's a Sunday. Okay.
To my right, I see fairly dense holly bushes, beautiful beech trees and
every so often a little opening to a little glade. And to my left, I see
very tall straight trees, and the university buildings beyond. The sun
at the moment is coming through the trees on the left.
I've just crossed
the road at Highfield Avenue and I'm about to walk down Highfield
Road. Again, I know this well because it's on my
cycle route to the university. But I've never really walked it before.
So it seems a lot longer. Than I remember it being. So, again, on my left-hand
side are houses, and on my right, on my immediate right are car parking
spaces for the houses, and the road, which is a one
way street, Highfield Road. And beyond that, the bank of the Common
and the trees beyond it. It's now 6 minutes past 9.
It's 9:14am. And I'm at a junction that I never knew existed actually.
I'm on Highfield Road and it curves round and I
can see The Avenue, with buses and cars and more cars and huge vans
running along it at high speeds. And Highfield Road continues ahead of
me in the form of a
very small footpath. Again, houses on the left and Common on the right.
Um, hmm. I'm going to be walking down here, in fact that's what I'm doing
right now. And I'm being told that this is a shared footpath. It's bikes,
and it's people. Although I can't see either. There doesn't seem to be
anyone around at the moment. Apart from the squirrels.
It's 9:20am and I'm standing on the
Highfield Road [side] of the Common. And I'm now facing towards the
Cowherds pub and in the distance I can see the
paddling pool. Newly refurbished paddling pool. It's bright colours
are shining. In front of that is The Avenue. Which, as usual, is a busy,
fast road. And there's a couple, there's a few metres between me and me
and The Avenue and in between that, leaves on the ground, squirrels foraging,
beautiful tall trees. The other way looks back onto the Highfield side.
I can see houses, cars
parked outside with frosty windows, and again the tree lined edge
of the Common. I'm going to be crossing The Avenue soon, and continuing
back on that side.
I've just crossed The
Avenue and I'm about to make my way down the footpath just off Northlands
Road. There are 2
other main routes, both of which are for cars. There's one that leads
into a dead end, but it takes you to a sort of car park, where people
often go and sit during their lunch hours. Just in their cars, looking
into the trees, eating their sandwiches. And the other one is to, what
is, at the moment, a footpath but has barriers that can be lowered. That
takes you off round the back of the Cowherds pub. And towards the play
area. And towards the fair and festival sites. But I'm going to be taking
a very small footpath that, um, not
even bicycles are allowed down actually. It's 9:34am.
It's 9:40am and I'm just walking up along aside the edge of the
Cemetery, on the Common. Um, there's quite a lot of activity around
here actually. Kids on those mini-scooter things. And there's a woman
pushing a pushchair with an older gentleman. And, um, a couple of dog
walkers. I'm in an area that I know really well. I used to practice cycling
without my stabilisers on along here. And it's where my dad and I walked
to get to Cemetery Lake to see *laugh* to see the coots.
It's now 9:45am and I'm back on Hill Lane. Opposite me is the Atherly
Bowling Club and along from here is where I used to go to school, although
now it's a
lot of houses. It was really close for us to go to the Common and
we used to get taken there occasionally for special treats. I remember
walking through The
Cemetery on one of these days, because The Cemetery is directly opposite,
and collecting handfuls, shouldn't have done this, handfuls of the little
green glass beads that we thought were magic crystals. There were many
bare *laugh* bare graves.
It's 9:56am and I've just arrived back at the start. I, um, am once again
at the animal enclosure off Hill
Lane, and, although it's a bit brighter, not much has changed. There's
still not many people around, there are a few dogwalkers, a couple of
young families, that's about it. My bike's still here, which is always
a good sign. And that's it. Urm. It's taken me very close to 2 hours to
walk round the Common so I'm working that it's about 7 miles circumference.
Which isn't bad really. And um, it's been really quite an exciting walk
actually, I've been to a lot of places that I've never been before, despite
the fact that I would claim that I know this area pretty well, having
lived here for 20 years. I've been places that I haven't even recognised,
that I didn't know even existed. And I thought I'd meet more people along
the way, but um, but no. *laugh* I've met hardly anyone. Everyone I meet
seems to be in a hurry, jogging, or they're getting into cars, or they
speak French *laughs* as happened with one woman. Um. That's all. I'm
going to go back now and write up my experience and prepare for my next
day on the Common.
The Common is actually surounded by ditches and