Real naturalists don't follow paths. If you seriously want to discover nature, following a track way formed by shufflings of other people ain't always going to give you the variable experience you crave. After all wildlife isn't conditioned just to occur within arms length of a dotted line on a map. That's way I've tried to explore the areas where soft shoe dry weather weekenders can't reach. Take last Saturday's early morning Blorenge excursion. Sure enough it was helpful to follow a path part way as it doubled up as a count of stubbed out fag ends all within spitting distance of tinder day dwarf shrub heath habitat, but at a point where the townies run out of puff the path become less discernible. It's at this point rugged bare armed wildlife watchers become hardcore. Hidden stones, heather hiding depressions, molina dominated grassland and during high summer, head bracken, all test your resilience. There was a time when I would find trans-versing this characteristic upland habitat in pursuit of a whinchat nest second nature and great fun, nowadays my knees reach their tolerance threshold more quickly.
With my knees creaking with the strain I looked for sheep tracks as a way of picking my way through this fine SSSI. In doing so I was scolded by at least four red grouse and many skylark. A wheatear was briefly seen where close grazed acid grassland provided lower limb solace. Here too a female ring ouzel alighted on a rock. On reaching the Foxhunter road a cuckoo, tree pipit and whinchat sang and a stonechat and reed bunting called. And just as I thought I would finish my walk without recording a Canada goose two were flushed from the moorland edge. So home it was for a dose cod liver oil.