After ten minutes the sky is that lovely Bahamas blue again and I carry on, down to the river. Otter and mink are found along this stretch but I am wary of the steep snowy river banks. I really don’t want to fall in so I leave their tracks for another day. As I walk through a deeply snowed willow thicket long tailed tits fly past making their high seee-seeee calls. I count twelve birds; they bob by, taking no notice.
Down by the river there are more people; dog walkers, mountain bikers and even a hardy angler testing out the black water. This is not what I want – I want isolation, solitude and communion. None of these can be had with people around. I head back through the woods. I am at the furthest point of a loop that will take all day and cross seven or eight miles of farmland and woodland. I plan my course back to take in as much cover as possible.