There is one place which quivers underfoot

HERE is my good wife risking all in this dangerous marsh in the middle of Amberley Wildbrooks. Quaking bogs and deep dykes make the vast valley mire an HSE nightmare.

How glad I am to have lived my childhood in vintage pre-HSE days. So is she. As a little child of ten she used to go off on her own into the Waveney meadows in Suffolk jumping the 'grupps' (ditches, rythes) to pick a bunch of kingcups (marsh marigolds) for her grandmother's kitchen.

You had to be quite a jumper to do that as some were five feet wide so strong thighs were vital.

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As children my family would also think nothing of trying out home-made stilts to wade the grupps in Norfolk, or experiment with poles to vault. Every good snipe-shooter of ancient days carried a pole with him and we saw the pictures of such intrepids on the game-prints around the house.

So today's instruction that the pastures of the Wildbrooks are dangerous causes a smile.

Today children on their own would not be allowed near the place. Not many adults wander into the middle of this lovely place either.

There is a footpath through from Greatham bridge to Amberley village and midway near the carr or willow woodland there is one place which quivers underfoot like a Morecambe Bay quicksand.

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Nobody in their right mind would ever perish if the bog did open its arms. All you have to do even on the Solway flats if you get that sinking feeling is to lie on your back and swim out as it were.

Amberley at the moment is full of reed buntings and sedge warblers, so a walk through the swamp is rewarding. You will also see those fine stands of tussock sedge halfway which always remind me of Highland cattle.

Herds of fallow deer nowadays hide by day across the overgrowing meadows, quite hidden when they lay down to rest. In the photograph you can see the leaves of yellow flag, tufts of pond sedge, the aforementioned tussock sedge to right under the carr and large dark green tufts of hard and soft rush growing in the meadow.

They would make perfect nest sites for snipe, but those have become very rare now.

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Amberley Wildbrooks, famous to botanists with its 400 species of flowering plants, to waterfowl enthusiasts for its ducks and waders, swans and geese, was also an inspiration to artists.

Even composers have been inspired by the beauty and wilderness of this famous place.

John Ireland - contemporary and friend of Vaughan Williams, Britten, Bax, Holst and Bridge, found inspiration for one of the most brilliant of his piano pieces, which he called 'Amberley Wildbrooks'.

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