Tennyson’s Lane

Sunday 13th October 2019, 10.50am (day 2,971)

Tennyson's Lane, 13/10/19

When I was growing up in Sussex there were many of these ‘sunken lanes’ around the place and I guess I never really gave them much thought. But seeing a track like this, embedded between two earthen banks, is a sign that the way is of great antiquity. Their sunken nature is not natural, it is the result of erosion, taking place as people and livestock use the track over hundreds and, probably, thousands of years, over and over.

While on a walk in the South Downs today (bagging a County Top), I turned a corner and was suddenly confronted by this most magnificent example. Actually I’m surprised the shot ended up with so much light in it, because to my eyes this was a dark, enclosed tunnel through the landscape, exactly the kind of place where you can picture Frodo and his mates hiding from the Black Rider early on in Lord of the Rings. It’s called Tennyson’s Lane in tribute to the poet who had a house nearby, and in 1905 Arthur Paterson wrote the following about it, words that are still true today:

Trees meet overhead, copsewood surrounds it, and later, it is hedged by high sandy banks thickly overgrown with plant and scrub; squirrels and rabbits, and all other small woodland creatures, disport themselves over it. It twists and turns, and to the stranger appears to lead nowhere in particular.

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