Have your say on rural issues.
Raynor Winn’s article (South West Coast Path Salvation) in the August issue brought tears to my eyes. My husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight years ago and despite being told that he wouldn’t live for more than about six months, he survived for seven and a half years. During that time he stopped working and instead ran fell races, cycled country lanes and trails, and swam in lakes and the sea as much as he could.
Sadly, the tumour grew back and left him semi-paralysed on one side, making all these activities almost impossible. Physiotherapy helped him enough to keep walking and he managed to scale Thorpe Cloud, in Derbyshire, with the aid of walking poles a year before he passed away.
While all this was going on, I discovered I had breast cancer and although being a keen runner, I decided that I would walk to aid my recovery. Come rain or shine, I walked every day for at least an hour in the countryside, which totally lifted my spirits.
After my husband passed away last year, I felt that the only thing I could do to keep myself going was to spend time out in nature, either walking or running. In the process I’ve discovered so much more about the flora and fauna around me, and learnt to better appreciate the cycle of life.
I can honestly say that being out there in nature, in all weathers – snow, rain and glorious sunshine – has been a huge benefit, both mentally and physically, and I definitely wouldn’t have got through all of life’s recent challenges without it. This had lead me to the idea of walking/ running as many long-distance routes around the UK as I can do over the next few years. In fact, I’ve already started – I recently completed the Dales Way.
There’s a lot to be said for the healing power of nature, taking the time to appreciate the intricacies of life and calming the mind from the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day. Fliss Milner, Derbyshire
Editor Fergus Collins replies: I completely agree. I’ve found escaping to the hills to be extremely therapeutic in a range of circumstances. And you, I and Raynor Winn are not the only ones: writers such as Richard Mabey have long known this and more and more GPs are prescribing walking and country breaks as part of their treatments for a range of physical and mental ailments.
Farm machinery has advanced and made agriculture more efficient and reduced labour. But, I enjoy walking and often find myself on farm tracks where one cannot fail to notice large amounts of black plastic sheet embedded in the ground and caught on barbedwire fencing.
I’m very concerned about the environment due to the use and disposal of plastic. Silage, for example, is now tied together with a plastic mesh and then wrapped in black plastic sheet. The large cylindrical bales are not easy to store or manhandle. I would strongly recommend a return to the traditional size and shape of bales and traditional forms of silage making. Philip Brook, via email
I’m writing to say how much I enjoyed the article on beavers in July’s issue (Beaver revolution). I was pleasantly surprised at the number of places where these animals had been introduced. But I did notice that none had been introduced into the foothills of more mountainous regions, such as Wales and the Lake District, where so much flooding has occurred in the past few years. At the beginning and end of the
Countryfile programme there is a shot of a river running through the upper reaches of a remote valley. Whenever I see it, I wonder if introducing beavers here could help to reduce or even eliminate flooding in the villages below. TJ Reading, via email
Raynor Winn and her husband Moth found solace from life’s hardships on the South West Coast Path