The grass here is springy and soft, and apart from the path, very tussocky, like an ancient feather mattress. It's beginning to recover its spring green from underneath, but there's plenty of tall brown died-off stuff because it hasn't been grazed this winter. Dandelions are starting to come into their own, and I also spot celandines, and a tiny, perfect spider sitting in one of them. A butterfly goes by me in a flurry of movement, too fast to be identified. I hope it isn't regretting its decision to emerge, given the chill today.
This wooded bank is a lot more accessible now than it was in autumn and small animal paths are visible, criss-crossing through the garlic. I follow one of them downwards until it peters out in a series of holes beneath the roots of a trio of beech trees growing on a sort of hummock. The trees have all grown into one another, their roots entwined, and on one side the hummock seems to have fallen away beneath them, leaving a whole section of roots sitting on thin air. To add to the weirdness, one of the trees has a rather elegantly-stencilled number on its side. By clambering precariously round and through a holly bush I can get round behind the trees and see that they appear to be growing on great hunks of stone. Is this part of the old mill, or a natural stone outcrop? Impossible to tell.
I find a less exciting way to the edge of the stream. Here is the island effect I saw before, between the main stream and a dry ditch, and at one end of the ditch is a stone arch identical to the one up by the mill ruins. QED, I reckon - this is the other end of that culvert. The ditch meanders round the island and joins up with the main brook, so presumably was the run-off for the culvert. My noisy footsteps on last year's leaves startle something large in the undergrowth, which blunders away unseen, and something small, a wren, which, being a wren, remains to shriek abuse at me.