The Tuppenny Road was one byway that I walked quite frequently and without turning back.  It was two roads really; the shortcut to my uncle's house beyond the bog, which I walked, and the way into another world, which I skimmed.  Beyond the road itself, the springy, oozy peat soil was alien to feet accustomed to the adam clay of our hill.  I wasn't on my own ground at all.  The sensation fascinated and frightened me.

Our hill was not high, but there was a good view from it.  It sloped down to our own bottoms and the main road. Beyond the main road, a marshy meadow stretched out towards the bog, from which it had been reclaimed.  From the hill, the bog was a vast expanse of purple heather with two shining lakes; a lovely place to explore.  The way in was by the Tuppenny Road.  I do not know how it got its name; nobody in my time could remember.  It was likely from wages or levy.

It had been built a long time before, to bear the turf carts in and out across the marshy bottoms. It took off at right angles from the main road, almost opposite our door.  The turf banks were nearly exhausted by then and most kitchens were equipped with shiny black-leaded stoves for burning coal.  The Tuppenny Road was a nearcut more than anything. 

The few people who walked it, walked alone.  You could identify them by their shape and gait.  For a few minutes they became significant figures in an empty landscape, like the reddleman in Harvey's "The Return of the Native" or Christians starting out for the celestial city.

Walking the Tuppenny Road was like walking the back of a snake that might recoil or arch its back at any moment.  There were drains on either side, but no hedges to deaden the sound of the footsteps.  Apart from their chatter, there was no talking, only the whine of the wind in dry grasses and the scuttle of small, startled creatures.  The water in the drains was stagnant and silent under its placenta of weeds.

One grassy lane - the back entrance to a farmyard - led off to the left.  After that, the causeway dwindled off into the bog.  The grass deepened, footsteps were hushed; the soporific sounds of the bog began.  A brittle crackle of heather, a murmur of insects, an underground sighing of crushed moss; the blue haze was an incense of honey, heather and acrid peat.  The ground swayed and rebounded. Clumps of heather were like bouncy armchairs; there were wild raspberries to sample and bunches of bog cotton to pick.  A long sunny afternoon stretched out to the edge of the sky; a bazaar of sensuous delight.

It always seemed to be summer afternoon when I took the shortcut by the Tuppenny Road and, more than likely it always was; I went round by the road in wet weather.  When I went by the shortcut, there was always plenty of time.  I loitered in the everlasting afternoon, following footpaths that rambled in a maze, skirting heather and rocks and the black oozy bogholes.

Maybe it was their oily blink that sent the first shiver up my spine; the eyes of the bog had opened.  They were the eyes of a great cat, the moss was a sleeping animal. It stirred and shimmered.  Heathery couches assumed the shape of crouching beasts, their claws reached out to scratch my legs.  Was it the hum of insects I heard or the breathing of monstrous creatures!   What were the scuttling sounds!  I remembered the weasel; they said that if you annoyed it, it would put its tail in its mouth and whistle and all the weasels would gather and set upon you and tear your throat and drink your blood.

My home on the hill stood far away in another place and time.  My uncle's house turned its back and skulked amongst its trees, the bog went on forever.  The sky above, its flatness was a vast dome, unpropped by trees.  The sun stared down, unblinking as the eye of God, in a terrible picture of the broad and narrow ways. 

Once I located the iron gate leading to my uncle's meadows, I scrambled towards it, as fast as I could.  Oh the relief of shutting that gate between me and the enchanted bog. Feeling the firm, drained earth under my feet, hearing the cud-munching cows; the aroma of resinous trees, the tang of smoke, the fragrant flowers in my aunt's garden rushed out to meet me.

The collie came bounding, his plumy tail wagging a welcome.  There would be tea and currant bread.