I’ve made secret discoveries on my doorstep: a year-long journey across my local OS map

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We have become disconnected from the wild world around us and I wanted to get regular small doses of the delights of travelling without having to wait for the trip of a lifetime

There’s a special place near where I live. To get there, you head down the road with all the fly-tipping, go through the motorway underpass, then turn left by the second-hand car garage and the greasy spoon cafe with a spelling mistake in its name. When you reach the factory with the rusting metal pipes and enormous concrete chimney, push through the scraggy bushes opposite and you have arrived.

Blond reedbeds surround you, head high, whispering in the wind. The call of cuckoos sounds like time gone by. In summer, swifts shriek overhead and sand martins swoop over the pools where endangered water voles make their home. Wandering through the marshland is like being transported to a wilder, quieter, more hopeful world. This secret discovery, or one like it, lies on the outskirts of towns across the country, part of the forgotten edge lands that we travellers ignore in favour of more exotic destinations. I spent a year searching for wildness closer to home than ever before – and it was a fascinating journey.

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