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Pathology

It doesn't quite welcome you in with open arms. But the dark little opening between the trees does at least give you a nod and a wink that suggests you might like to come and poke your nose in.

The entrance and sides of this foliage tunnel may be overgrown but that's part of the appeal. Rough around the edges, it represents a portal away from the landscaped lawns, gently curving road and construction company flags that occupy the newly built housing estate that we're standing in.

Obligingly we step forward and kick our way through the grass-nettle threshold. These wild weeds don't sit easily with the manicured development but the place is still under construction. No doubt they will become subject to some sort of taming in the future.

Between the trees, we drop down a small muddy ramp and onto what was once a track. In its redundancy, moss, weeds and the side banks have moved in but there's still a trace of hard surface down the middle.

Suddenly we're a world away from the residential areas we've been wandering through all evening. No longer are we amongst soulless identikit developments but in the enclosure of an old passage that's been put out of commission by the new infrastructure that engulfs it. Formerly the route to a once lonesome priory that now gives name to the estate, this narrow ribbon of discarded land serves no greater function than as a discreet and handy little avenue to come dump waste building materials.

Down towards the other end of the path, we uncover a sign in the undergrowth which declares it a private road. A relic from a bygone age when the track connected only to the priory, you have to pull back the vegetation to reveal it. Now that the track could actually serve as a useful pedestrian through route, the bottom entrance to the path has been fenced off completely.

Suffolk, July 2007

Illustration: Jonathan Sandford

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