The path uphill is long and steep
for these parts.
Our Shropshire Hills are gentle hills,
It is only across the border into Wales
that the walker faces a stiffer climb.
I am still climbing,
the views have opened up.
The Forestry Commission has recently felled large tracts
of conifers, an ugly crop of dark, depressing trees;
the newspaper you read this morning might have been printed
on paper produced with trees from these plantations.
These patchwork fields and hedgerows are centuries old.
We are fortunate that the Marches
remain a relatively backward, undeveloped area;
the major agrarian companies, who have been responsible
for grubbing up so many of the ancient hedgerows
and therefore destroying a valuable eco-system
would not find rich pickings
among the sheep pastures.
No doubt they are working on it.
The land itself is ancient too.
I have now reached the top of Black Hill.
Across the upland hay meadow I can see
three windblown Scots pines planted,
who knows when, by a small tumulus.
A tumulus is a mound of stone and earth built over
a grave; they are also known as burial mounds or barrows.
There are many pre-historic monuments to be found in the Marches,
including this monster,
unlike the tumulus, which has long been robbed
of its contents,
clearly still in use.