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28 August, 2004

Walk: Middle Wood, Roeburndale

The Middle Wood Trust is an environmental centre and community occupying low-impact ecological buildings in a profoundly rural section of Roeburndale, near Wray, itself ~11 miles (~18 km) up the Lune Valley from Lancaster.  It runs courses in permaculture and environmentalism (plus certain New Age topics, which dilutes my respect for it, I'm afraid), and a number of people live on-site, in yurts.  It also owns a camping barn about a kilometre upriver of the main community, which it rents to groups wishing to 'get away from it all'.  A group of my friends hire the barn for a weekend each year, typically coinciding with birthdays in May or July, but I don't recall there being a specific reason this time.

As usual, on the first evening we sat around the fire talking, drinking beer and staring upwards – on a clear summer night, the sky is wonderful. The beer was cooling in a backwater pool in the river, mostly cans protected from the river itself by their multipack cardboard boxes. Unfortunately, we'd overestimated the boxes' strength, and one pack broke open, all the cans disappearing downstream.
The following morning, a few of us went after the beer – bright silver cans should be easily visible in a brown river, and they couldn't have gone that far, right? Despite the presence of a couple of graduate-level fluvial geomorphologists, one postdoctoral, the idea wasn't laughed down immediately (I performed tracer experiments of the same type in a neighbouring river a few years ago, and achieved recovery rates in the 20-30% range), and after several hours quite a few cans were retrieved, surprisingly. Most of the accompanying photos were taken during the search.

Incidentally, I've always known the site as Middlewood, but the Trust's own website calls it Middle Wood, so I've used that here.

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