I have some new Muck Boots! (Arctic Sport, in case you’re interested!)
Of course I’m not likely to reach the Arctic, and I’m not at all sporty, but I have coveted these so-much-more-than-a welly-wellies for a long time, and last winter (and most of this year) they haven’t been available. They are impressive, and there was just enough time last Saturday, before it was fully dark, to step out of the the front door and find somewhere to walk I wouldn’t really want to go in my usual walking boots. And so I headed south east from Chudleigh, in the direction of the A38 slip road.
On the other side of the slip road to Exeter from Chudleigh there’s a rough lane I used to use to get alongside the River Teign, until a local farmer added a gate and a private land notice. Lovely riverside walks here are no longer possible. But just before the gate is a muddy path.
It’s one of those paths that is eternally wet and muddy. Not as bad as many a green lane during a wet season, but gloopy enough. It leads to a fairly attractive bridge that takes traffic over the River Teign, but unfortunately doesn’t give any access underneath for walkers. The light level started to drop a bit, but the colours were almost full winter: fading russets, browns, yellows and some purply hues in the branches. I love this time of year, and like the soft muted light as much as the low angled sharp light that occasionally illuminates specific landscape features so brilliantly.
There’s a second bridge that it is possible to walk under, and it’s always dark. There’s some colourful graffiti to brighten things a little, and I do rather like it under there, although I can appreciate it’s not to everyone’s taste. The light and greenery on the other side shows the direction I was heading.
I’ve been here several times and so was aware that on the other side of the bridge / tunnel there is some very limited access to the Teign straight ahead. Unfortunately, it’s still not possible to walk alongside the river from that point, but it is an interesting place to visit nevertheless.
This is a point where several tributaries empty into the Teign. Kate Brook takes a path alongside the east of Chudleigh, with several sources in the hills above the town. The brook is joining the river at the top left in the photograph above, but behind me there is a more ‘organised’, unnamed watercourse, just visible as it joins at the bottom of the photograph. The light in this image has a gentle melancholy that particularly appeals to me, even as any remaining brightness is starting to fade.
I turned around to follow the path of the water about to join the Teign at the bottom of the photograph above. The bridges over the road here are purely utilitarian. They serve to collect other watercourses from the hills into a single stream, including from the new housing estates being built a half a mile or so from here.
A little brook that runs alongside Old Way also streams through here, and the map shows several others a little higher up the road, all meeting together to flow under these bridges and into the Teign. This is a muddy, soggy, ankle-turning piece of land that didn’t trouble my boots in the slightest.
The light had almost gone by now, and I felt that there were probably more comfortable places to be, so returned to the graffiti under the bridge. I always enjoy this little spot, however surreal it sometimes feels. The colour of the light, again, was rather special.
New boots and winter light. They couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I wanted them as boots I could use anywhere, without worry about laces, water ingress, mud, getting them clean. I wanted to just pick them up and put them in the car boot with my camera bag whenever there was the chance of a good walk. They are very warm, totally waterproof, and comfortable enough to walk many miles. When I arrive back home, a quick hose down cleans them easily ready for next time. There are no negatives so far, despite their fairly steep price. And yesterday I used them to walk back to Lidwell Chapel for the first time in a couple of years. I know of no soggier place, but more of that soon.
Thanks for reading!