Border country

17th February 2008, Sunday

Fine, sunny, with a light breeze – just the day for a long hike over the marsh from Union Channel, along the A259, down the Kent Ditch and the Wainway Wall to Camber, filling in several remote tetrads. Indeed, TQ92 Q and R are totally uninhabited, population density zero – how many of those are there within 60 miles of London? A good haul, with 36 species in tetrad L, 33 in Q but only 15 in R – but including a very close hunting Barn Owl. There were big flocks of Wigeon, 50 Mute Swans, 150+ Stock Doves and 500+ Fieldfares, countless Lapwings and ‘Goldies’, Little Egrets, Gadwall and Red-legged Partridges, but no harriers – where have they all gone?

Chittendens Cottage

Out in the middle of the levels was the abandoned farmhouse called Tressland, which I remember from the 80s as a well-built solid, but windowless, brick house in its own neat plot. I wish I’d photographed it then, because Tressland has been entirely demolished. All that’s left is the plot inside its ditch ‘moat’ and old willows. Nearer Camber stands the little black-tarred Chittenden’s Cottage (who was Chittenden?). Twenty years ago it was boarded up but basically all in one piece. Since then, time and the weather have reduced it to a sad wreck, roof collapsed, trees growing out of rooms – soon, I fear, to join Willow House, Brockmans, Black House, Vane Court, Sandylands, Wall Farm and now Tressland in the ever-growing list of place-names that will exist only on old maps of the marsh . . .