Almanac: Finding the Sleeper Bridge

It strikes me that being the youngest of four boys is a tricky thing.  You get swept up along with the rest of the family from the moment you arrive.  So every few days, I like to take our youngest for a walk, just the two of us, and see where he chooses to go.  It’s not always a wilderness walk (the other week he just led me straight to the village bakery) – but today he chose the fields.



These fields lead away from our home towards the main roads and the city.  You start to hear the sound of traffic in the distance … but there are still hidden places to discover.

At one point he calls “over here!” and points at a gap in a hedge.  I follow him as he pushes through the branches, over a stile and past a very old footpath way marker.   We find an odd rudamentary bridge, where a long time ago, someone has used a railway sleeper and some wooden planks to make a crossing over a stream – completely overgrown and unused, because a better path now runs the other side of the hedge.  The water runs through a gully underneath the hedgerow; it’s really pretty, but I never would have known it was there.

We find the path doesn’t lead anywhere, however we pause to look at the hawthorne blossoms, and watch the sparrows darting in and out of the brambles, before we retrace our steps.

Our way home takes us across a bridge made of paving slabs and industrial iron tubes and girders – not picture-postcard pretty, however when my little one makes another sudden turn off just before we cross, following a little robin as it hops along the bank, I turn back and see that, from the right angle, it’s beautiful.

After an hour, it’s almost dinnertime, and starting to lightly rain.  It’s time for him to set a course straight for home.

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