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The consolation of a solitary walk in the English countryside

Blog | By Harry Mount | Mar 21, 2020

Watercress beds, Monkton Up Wimborne, Dorset (Credit: Harry Mount)

In a sad world full of bans on pleasures, a lone walk in the sun can cause no harm, says Harry Mount

Even in the depths of Dorset, coronavirus rears its ugly head. Village pubs are closed. The Church of St Giles, Wimborne St Giles, can't hold services but, thank God, the church is open to provide deep consolation for lone visitors like me today.

A short climb up a bridleway from Wimborne St Giles gives 20-mile views across Cranborne Chase. For a moment, you can forget about the dreaded virus as you stare across a landscape that looks pristine, in the original sense of that word, meaning 'former' - how England looked before the virus and still looks now: the lush green grass; the yellow-brown of the fields; the sparkle of watercress beds (pictured), hit by the sun that blazed down all day.

In three hours, I saw half a dozen people, who are in on Britain's biggest secret: for all the sadness of an end to public gatherings, there are deep wells of consolation in the empty rural acres of our country – and the wicked coronavirus won't get you there, either.