My Countryside: Callum Saunders
Today Callum Saunders tells us a little about ‘his’ countryside, and what it means to him.
Where in the world is ‘your’ countryside?
Callum: A small pocket of the South Downs in and around Lewes, East Sussex. It’s where I grew up, and despite a move up north, it’s where I continually gravitate to: it’s ‘home’ for me, and always will be. I’ve walked these soft chalky paths, man and boy. There’s something that connects me to this place, and I can’t imagine being without these soft curves of rolling Downland, with skylarks singing overhead. That said, I have also been in the Peak District for seven years now, and the High Peak is becoming something of a second home to me, in and around where I live in Glossop.
Earliest countryside memory?
Callum: Probably with one of my sisters, up on the Downs! We have a very old photo of us both standing amongst thousands upon thousands of red poppies and I vividly remember that scene. These days, there are hardly any poppies upon the Downs where I grew up, but I vividly remember that scene and standing amongst them with my sister.
Why do you love the countryside?
Callum: I think there are a number of reasons. I genuinely think that it’s in my genes, and that love of nature has been passed down. I’m the paternal grandson of a Sussex sheep farmer. For me it’s also an escape from the weekly grind of work and commuting; a life ‘contained’ within trains, trams and offices. That ability to access the outdoors in the evening and the weekend is important to me – not an escape ‘from’ the job, but an escape back ‘to’ what is real and important in life.
You have 24 hours, anywhere: describe your ideal day in the countryside.
Callum: Definitely back home in Sussex. Probably an early start and a morning walk up to Mount Caburn, between Lewes and Glynde. The summit is the remains of an iron age hill fort, and it has over 140 burial pits. It’s a place that feels historic, as well as providing wonderful vistas of the Ouse Valley all around it. Then onto Barcombe, a village outside of Lewes, and a day boating on the river Ouse, from the marvellous Anchor Inn pub. After that, probably a walk along the Ouse to Hamsey Church and back, before enjoying a few pints of Harvey’s Sussex Best at the John Harvey Tavern in Lewes.
Favourite season and why?
Callum: It always used to be autumn – I adore the cold, crisp beauty of leaves and trees in decline. But more recently it has become spring, as I have become more of a gardener. The long-awaited reawakening of life is welcomed, and I think May is my favourite month: you have lots of plants and flowers coming to life in the garden, along with some warmer weather, and yet you still have the promise of months of light, life and laughter ahead of you.
Callum is a nature writer, poet and photographer who lives in the Peak District, when not back home in Sussex tramping his beloved South Downs. His day job as a strategic planner in a marketing agency fuels the passion for the simplicity of life outdoors with his young family at the weekend. Callum’s work explores the connections between the landscape of the earth, as well as of the soul.