The Forest had a network of railways running through it, serving the mines and towns. Many of the lines have since been turned into cycle paths, but there’s a few sections that haven’t, leaving wild, overgrown sections of trackbed, marked with rotten sleepers and rusted bolts.
There’s one particular section that’s my favourite, near Moseley Green. You walk from the road down to the trackbed, which cuts through a cutting. There’s a stream running along it. The whole thing is now overgrown, with saplings, and old trees fallen down. You climb through these, and further up there’s a big stone wall on one side of the cutting, damp, covered with mosses and ferns. You climb on through the trees, and finally you get to the end, and there’s a large stone portal in front of you. You don’t see it until you’re almost upon it.
The whole journey has a sense of discovery to it, like stumbling upon a lost temple out in a jungle. Some people travel around the world looking at ruined sites like Machu Picchu.
I pack my imagination and my sense of adventure and just go out into the Forest.