Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hilsea Lines (Foxes Forest)

I've spent most of the last month being away from Portsmouth or being unwell, so I haven't been out discovering the loveliness of Portsmouth much at all. However, a couple of days ago, I went with my son and my dog for a walk along the woodland path at Hilsea Lines, which was lovely enough to help my healing process and generate a bit more energy. I recently found out that this place is also called 'Foxes Forest' which I'd never heard of before and I like this name a lot!

We haven't been here for a while and I actually forgot how country-like it can feel, although I do find myself trying to imagine that the roar of the M/A27 is actually the crashing of waves on an amazing beach just the other side of the trees! We park up at the end of Peronne Rd and turn along the path Eastwards. My son likes climbing up the bank which formed the old ramparts and following the top path while I walk along the bottom.

This week I went up the top for the first time and this narrow path feels even more like we could be somewhere out in the country and caught the views through the trees across to the top of Portsdown Hill. For being right on the edge of the city it's not bad for a touch of the wild.

The path at the top of the ramparts

We discovered loads of new little paths which we hadn't seen before so we can come back another day to explore. Some we know will wind down to a road, or a bit of the old fort or to a secret rope swing (I found this but had lost my son down another path at that moment, so he didn't get to play on it this time!). Living in the middle of the city, it's so necessary for me to find places surrounded by tall trees and bursting hedgerows and a view of the sky through a canopy of green leaves. Breathe!

I even took a couple of wild garlic leaves home for my salad. It's growing thickly in places here like a thick garlic carpet and the white garlic flowers growing alongside the clumps of bluebells just encourages good healthy things like breathing and smiling and feeling there is goodness right under our noses if we choose to see and sniff and taste it!

 This wildlife corridor of Hilsea Lines covers over 80 hectares in all, with a diverse variety of habitat from woodland and hedgerows to meadows, marshland and the moat/coastal path. It's encouraging to think that there's lots of it we have yet to explore. I haven't located the whereabouts yet of the National Grid Ref SU 66464 04208. This is apparently the place where radioactive waste was buried in 1978. That is something I want to do before I get too eager with my wild food foraging.

Hilsea Lines even has it's own sacred wood circle! How sacred it's origins are I have no idea and I don't remember it being there a couple of years ago. Does anyone know anything about it or who created it? Time for the imagination to create some fabulous urban mythology...

We'll be next there for a walk with the Portsmouth Little Dogs Meet-Up. If you've got a small dog, do come and join us! http://www.meetup.com/Little-Dog-Lovers/events/120752122/