A Deceptive Landscape






Westleton Walks, the name might entice

to a tranche of land in the Suffolk Sandlings,

where villagers  once  herded their sheep .

Thousands of browsers trimmed low vegetation

and modelled the flanks of the Mumberry Hills.

Soft gentle slopes  pointed down to the sea

in huge pebble fingers, webbed with marshes.


After all sheep left, gorse and  bracken emerged.

First birch and then the oaks  made their return

after myxomatosis butchered the rabbits.

Absence and death  have moulded this  landscape

to the form we now see and consider as ‘natural’.

Gorse, rough grass, shrub birch and heather

are now penned by miles of ‘protective’ barrier.


A few  marked footpaths traverse the heath

As you walk them, you might think of an Eden.

Beware, this is illusory,  in 1943 this was purgatory

for thousands of soldiers camped under canvas.

Tanks  noisily manoeuvred firing whistling shells 

over mine seeded  ground of  crudely quilted trenches.

Explosive rehearsals for the invasion of Normandy.


Westleton Walks hosted  warfare and drudgery.

Wizz-bang, choking, smoking bombard in Exercise Apple

with mortars, live rounds and arching flame throwers.

Smashed concrete pill boxes near Scotshall Covert

are  blasted, scarred mementos of  Exercise Kruschen,

while high ground at Cuttens Hill suited Exercise Teller.

Listen!            Is that wind in the trees, or overhead shells?





Back to Top