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a blog by Chris Barrow


Sunbank Wood is a very ancient woodland just a few miles from home, adjacent to The River Bollin valley and close to Manchester Airport (much in the news today).

This morning I enjoyed running through at about 07:00 and captured this iPhonographic moment.

Very close by, during the construction of the second runway at Manchester, settlements were discovered that have been dated back to 4500BC.

My running track passes one of those early villages – all that remains is a circle of raised ground where the occupants constructed mud and thatched huts and fences for animals.

The area has been in continuous use ever since for agriculture and livestock.

The people who discovered this beautiful river valley and settled there did so possibly 4,000 years after the agricultural revolution had taken place – their ancestors’ lifestyle a long-forgotten memory.

Every day, thousands leave the airport on business and pleasure and, as they lift-off, glance down to see the river valley wind below and underneath the runways, seldom imagining the centuries before, in which the sun,the moon and the seasons were the only measures of passing time.

On nearby Alderley Edge, Druids celebrated the equinox and offered the lives of captives as tributes to their gods (Lindow Man, unearthed from the pit bogs of Wilmslow, was a sacrificial victim some 2,000 years ago).

The tick and tock of that ancient clock were slow indeed by human standards and yet now the airport hustles and bustles to the nano-second timescales of transport and commerce.

Could local inhabitants of two millennia ago have even begun to imagine the present day scene?

Not even close.

So when we imagine what this area might look like two further millennia from now – we know that we’re unlikely to get close.

Sadly, the future of Sunbank Wood has a much shorter time horizon, as HS2 is planned to carve a swathe through this area over the next 15-20 years, so that passengers from Manchester Airport to London Euston can arrive in 59 minutes.

That sounds amazing – but doesn’t give me much time to catch up on emails.

I’d rather take the slower (1 hour 40 minutes) train from Wilmslow and get some work done.

Save the taxpayer £80 billion and keep this beautiful piece of Old England intact.

Progress? It seems the sacrifices we make now are more permanent and yet just as senseless.

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