The view from above

I fly a microlight and one of its joys is that you see England with new eyes. This is not simply an aerial view - which are breathtaking at this time of year with the countryside like a jewel with shades of emerald and gold - but an appreciation of the limits of how we normally see it.

When we travel, it is normally by road or rail. What do roads and railways do? They join up the ugly bits. Think of the M6: until you reach the Lake District it is almost continuously industrial and urban - Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester. No jewels here.

However if you fly only twenty miles to the west, parallel to the M6, you are over some of the loveliest countryside anywhere with hardly a blemish upon it. It's quite a privilege.

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