Rob Turner is currently the Resident Armchair Artist at The Beaney in Canterbury. 

We have three solar farms near where I live, the first one is finished and I drove past it today and I may have seen sheep grazing under the rows and rows of silver panels, don’t quote me as this was out of the corner of my eye, in a flash as I passed by. May be I want it to be true and I invented it because that is a good use of land, a kind of nature and technology merging together in a eco green sustainable way which put me in mind of 1st Nation People from America and Australia. Perhaps what I saw was on old mattress? I was unable to turn around and go back and have a look. It was a quiet country lane but I had a car behind me and it was too far back by the time I was able to turn around. But it prompted me to have a walk in the woods along part of the Radfall as that starts just in the place where they are installing a 3rd solar farm on the edge of Thornden Woods.

You would not think it but this is the view from the start of the Radfall and taken from inside the wood looking out across the new solar farm. Right in the background if you look hard it is possible to just make out the Kentish Flats wind farm which is several miles out into the North Sea. So sustainable energy production is really prominent in this part of the country. Strange to think I am standing in an ancient woodland just about to walk along a drovers track used to take livestock to Canterbury. It would complete some kind of circle for me if sheep were grazing under the solar panels, so that living with, and using nature was working efficiently! Rather than taking nature away for human requirements as is usually the case.

A short walk along a section of the Radfall  

The very first thing I noticed on my walk in the woods was how green everything was, the air was green it was so green. I’m not sure my earlier walk to map the Radfall would have been possible as so many bushes and trees had grown so quickly and burst into leaf that it would be difficult and you would need to be very determined to pass through some sections. I remember a lot of my previous Radfall walk was still brown and buff coloured.


At the start of the Radfall  I noticed an oak tree which had a ruined platform constructed just at the point where the branches begin to splay out from the trunk. There were 7 bits of wood nailed to the tree trunk to form a ladder up to the platform. Four large triangular brackets had been nailed to the tree to support some kind of platform, one of the brackets was now down on the ground made from 2×2 timber. I then noticed a metal ring screwed into the tree trunk, the screws were obviously way too long and had been hammered to bend them over to make them flat  and the tree had half grown over them. I wondered what the view might be like from up there, a look out post near the entrance to the woods. I thought the only good view you would  have was of a huge pylon masked by the trees.

The other thing that I gradually became aware of was the birdsong. I don’t think there was one yard along this walk where I couldn’t hear the birds singing and chattering. I could not see any of them anywhere, but the noise was dominating at times. There seemed to be hundreds of birds, but some birds have several different calls and songs, much more sophisticated than just single identifiable song lines like cookoo for example. This may have made it sound like there were many more birds than there really were.  I believe I heard a nightingale, which have a very plain single repetitive tone as well as the more famous multitone vibrato that they are more famous for. Others defiantly included chaffinches and goldfinches, as well as many more I was unable to identify.

I remember vaguely, a snippet from a fairy tale where if you could understand the language of the birds you would be able to tell the future!

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Artefacts in exhibition case The Beaney Museum

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