When I was a kid, at least once every summer holiday, my parents would get me and my sisters up at an unearthly hour and take us for a walk up to 'The Rocks' (as everyone locally knows them) - actually the Warren Hills part of Charnwood Lodge.
After the initial shock of being dragged from under the covers, I always found it incredibly exciting. The world, even the very small and very familiar world of a child, looks quite different at 4.30am. It sounds different too.
I could feel the same frisson yesterday morning, when I joined poet Jo Bell and her boatmates for a dawn chorus walk around Wadenhoe, Northamptonshire, as part of their retracing of the steps of Denys Watkins-Pitchford (better known to readers as 'BB').
The weather was perfect, and within a few minutes of starting we'd heard a Cuckoo (my first so far this year). Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnocks, Chaffinches and Great Tits were of course among the loudest participants, but there were encouraging numbers of Song Thrushes, too, and plenty of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.
Yellowhammers were notable by their absence. I'd guess BB would have heard plenty back in the 60s, when he was writing his book. The same could be said of Corn Buntings. It would have been too much to expect to be lucky enough to hear a Nightingale, although again I'd imagine they were once pretty common birds in the area.
But anyway, it was all thoroughly inspiring. Back at the narrowboat, we had a mini poetry reading over welcome cups of tea to round things off, before I headed off to catch up on my sleep, and the others continued on their odyssey through the heart of England.