The North East Wind says that the Winter's coming

Wednesday 14th October 2015

Train to King's Sutton, Cobblers Spinner, Twyford Wharf, Oxford Canal, Banbury
8.6km / 5⅓ miles – 60m / 190ft

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route map I finish the urgent job that got delayed by the very urgent job that I finished in parallel with the ongoing job that's distracting me from the job I should really be doing if I were not so busy (does that make sense?).
I think I've been sat here too long...
I'm going for a walk.

There are no long-distance buses any-time soon from the bus station so I wander over to the railway station. The stopping train to Oxford is leaving shortly. Not much day-light left today, so I buy a ticket as far as King's Sutton.

Walking up the hill towards the ridge running down from Astrop I notice the change right away.

It's not just the comfortably cool north-east wind. It's not the eruption of brown, orange and gold across parts of the landscape. It was the smell – that distinct aroma being carried on the breeze, mingling with the smells of damp earth and composting humus.

Winter's coming.

Six weeks ago, walking across the Clent and Lickey Hills, there were already signs that Autumn was upon us. Since then the chestnut and then the beech have turned, and now the sycamores are going gold too. There haven't been any big storms, and yet the acorns litter the ground.

I have a feeling that Winter's in a hurry this year, and with luck it might stop around and party for a few months too!

Entering a field beyond Cobbler's Spinney I surprised a squirrel gleaning grains from the field – that's the second one this month (and this is only my second walk this month). I've a feeling that the local wildlife knows the long-range forecast.

By the top of Astrop Ridge the sun has emerged from its cloak of dark grey cloud and the landscape is shining. The ironstone earth is glowing a dark ochre-red; freshly turned, harrowed and already being seeded by noisy tractors. A line from a friend's song comes into my head... "We plough the fields and scatter gramoxone on the land"

I descend the hill and cross the flood plain of the Cherwell along the road – much easier today as the traffic is coming in batches, collected and dispatched by the traffic lights at the roadworks on the hump-back bridge.

The bridge stands about three metres above the plain. I pause for a moment on the when I get there, to get a good look across the valley, and then take a right down onto the tow-path below. From now on the dense hedgerows limit the views.

Plodding down the canal the sun is beginning to fall nearer to the horizon, stretching shadows across the fields from the ridge-line above. Yellowing hawthorn leaves shine, and even the dark coloured blackberries and sloes have a lustre. I pause on the seat at Grant's lock and eat a handfull of berries (unfortunately the crabapple was just a bit too sour to swallow).

Yes, definitely a good idea not to have started that next job right away – with a chance to think I can do a much better version of it now.