For the first time in many months I venture to the edges of the Blackdown Hills and torture my legs with the 20% stretches of climb through Knowles Wood. Passing through the village of Blackborough my mind boggles at the wisdom of some newly built extension on a bungalow which inexplicably seems to have installed expansive picture windows, only to block the magnificent views across the valley with an impenetrable hedge. It strikes me as a classic example of the English obsession with privacy driven to an end of self-inflicted harm.
Leaving Blackborough I decide to try the fork marked ‘Ashill’ and almost immediately wish I hadn’t, as the winter’s weather has washed away most of the surface, leaving potholes and gravel strewn everywhere. For much of its length too the lane is simply a stream, as the runoff from the fields finds the line of least resistance down to the valley floor. At least the sun is shining now, and at one point the junction between Winter and Spring is perfectly captured across two sides of the lane. To the east a fallen tree sits forlornly atop a boundary bank, whilst to the west the lane is topped with clusters of daffodils turning their faces to the sun. I pause for photographs, say hello to the sheep in the field beyond, and turn my wheels back into the wind.