Rogate Woods


It’s been pretty hot in the south east this week, so our daily dog walks have been pushed back to the evening to make sure neither we or the dogs melt. Last night we visited Rogate woods, a Forestry England woodland with a cool downhill mountain biking trail, making it very popular with after-work bikers who need a mud fix before bed. Dave is one of these, so he cycled off with a couple of friends while the dogs and I hiked to the top of the trails and wandered into the forests behind them.

The sunset cast a golden light over the forest, and on the surface it looked beautiful. Wildflowers stood tall and butterflies landed on the warm bark of fallen timber. But for the entirety of our walk, a buzzard (pictured) flew overhead and wouldn’t stop crying. They are known, and easily recognised, for their mewing call which, although beautiful, is also tinged with melancholy. I didn’t want to ruin such a peaceful walk with thoughts of climate change, but to me, the incessant buzzard’s mews seemed to come from within nature itself - reminding us that while the countryside can look vibrant and healthy, we mustn’t ignore the ecological crises we are already facing - those that are confirmed by science.

I wrote this poem during our walk, before returning home in the heat.

July, and the evening sun glows
through wilted foxgloves; the bees flown
to fresher flowers in Paradise -
Soft linen light, a swarm of flies
drown out the buzzard who, mourning,
cries aloud the night is dawning.
We sigh, and nothing; her lungs burst
and fall upon this salted earth.