09-Jul-2000 -- Having spotted the Confluence website, I had been
waiting for several weeks for the opportunity to visit our nearest confluence at
51 degrees North, 00 degrees East. It came, when our daughter Emily (aged
15) went on a 3-day Duke of Edinburgh Hiking Expedition near to the
confluence and we were due to pick her up mid-afternoon Sunday. So early on
the Sunday morning, my wife Jane and I, set off to look for the confluence, a
round-trip journey of about 70 miles.
In spite of being mid-summer in England, the weather was dull and wet. We
got to within 3 miles and started following some narrow winding lanes until
eventually we came across what the map said was the nearest farm. As has
happened so often these days in England, the farm buildings had now all
been converted in luxury homes and the nearest farm track had disappeared.
We walked back down the road until we found another track and started to
walk through the fields of wheat and barley. The confluence was at the bottom
of a small valley and just inside an area of dense, overgrown woodland. We
walked back and forth trying to get the Garmin Etrex to lock on so that we
could get a picture. In the near distance we could hear the driver of a steam
train hauling on his whistle as the Bluebell Railway hissed and steamed with
its cargo of tourists through the pretty Sussex countryside.
The fields around us were mostly covered in cereal crops but one of the
photos shows an increasingly common view - a field of set-aside where the
farmer is paid a government subsidy to leave the field to nature - a strategy
aimed at curbing the food mountains in Europe.