The stile world cup began as a joke, however now has 120 contendersIt all began three years in the past as an antidote to the indignant, infected opinions on Twitter. I simply thought, let’s make one thing good right here so I began posting photographs of stiles that I’d taken on my each day fell runs within the Lake District. I selected stiles just because I’ve to cease at them once I run. They make you pause and go searching and I like that. As soon as I’d began posting the images, it grew into one thing. Folks began sharing their very own photographs, domestically but in addition within the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and extra. It’s a small, low key-thing to do, however heartening too.When the third lockdown was introduced, my son joked that I ought to maintain the “stile world cup”. I’ve now bought about 120 photographs and at this time I’m beginning a sequence of Twitter polls to discover a winner.Mark Squires by a wall-less stile in Troutbeck valley, CumbriaAll kinds of individuals have their little pursuits: there’s a farmer and Guardian Nation Diary author on this space, Andrea Meanwell, who takes photographs of postboxes. There are folks taking photographs of bridges, and home windows. Normally they’re folks with some information of their topic. I simply needed to indicate you can be type and share issues with different folks. I can’t imagine how excited folks have gotten about it – I assume they’ve the time and vitality proper now. It’s one thing they will do domestically, throughout the confines of lockdown. I’ve a mate on the local people radio station who’s going to say the Twitter polls.After we’re not in lockdown I run for hours, often early within the morning. The wonderful thing about fell operating is you can cowl plenty of floor and be again by 9am. Throughout lockdown I can’t go as far however I can nonetheless run out of my backyard gate and up a hill, Benson Knott, to views of Pennines and Morecambe Bay. It’s simply the native hill – but it surely’s quiet and feels distant. Mark Squires (on Twitter)Hornbeam timber are gnarly outdated weirdos and I really like themA twisted hornbeam trunk in Epping Forest. {Photograph}: Colin BoulterPeople rave about oaks and beeches, however as lockdowns restricted our outings to walks within the woods close to our residence, I grew to become fascinated with a extra eccentric species: the hornbeam.Whereas most tree trunks stick unimaginatively to rising vertically, hornbeams in Epping Forest undertake all types of exuberant angles: 45 levels to the forest ground shouldn’t be uncommon; some – nonetheless inexperienced and rising – lie prostrate on the bottom and even throughout a stream, like a diva in mid-tantrum. On poor soil, I discovered, hornbeams put down deep roots and stay upstanding, however in south-east England’s wealthy clay – OK, sticky mud in winter – there’s no want for such efforts and their roots descend barely 35cm, leaving an uncertain footing, and loopy leans.Hornbeams are sometimes mistaken for beeches, however to me they’re extra elegant, with gray fluted bark spiralling up into the cover. When Covid hit final March, we walked amongst hornbeams heavy with catkins. In summer time their dense, serrated leaves offered welcome shade. However autumn is magical in a hornbeam wooden: leaves are turning yellow, and tiny nuts have ripened in three-lobed leafy bracts. Each gust of wind loosens a snow-globe whirl of tiny golden helicopters. Now, in mid-January, reddish leaf buds are already reappearing.In hitherto unknown (to me) corners of the forest, I notched up favorite specimens. Older hornbeams are the true weirdos – trunks a writhing mass of grooves and sinews, like one thing artist Roger Dean might need dreamed up for a Seventies album impressed by Lord of the Rings. Others are extra Stranger Issues – one with a 90-degree bend in its trunk appears an alien beast stalking the financial institution of the Ching brook.With their exhausting wooden being valued for axles, cogwheels and chopping blocks in addition to gasoline, hornbeams have been planted throughout southern England and the Midlands. Look out for them in combined woodlands, and in parks and cemeteries, the place additional house permits them to type mighty broad-oval crowns.And if lockdown desperation has you reaching for outdated movies, take a look at the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was shot in Epping Forest, in a spot encircled by guess what kind of gnarled outdated timber.Liz BoulterI drew a map of Dorset – but it surely’s too huge for my houseOne quarter of Catherine’s map. {Photograph}: Catherine SpeakmanA few years in the past, I began strolling, like, each day – and I don’t also have a canine. For me, dwelling within the depths of Dorset and a single mum of three younger boys, it grew to become a straightforward pastime and an escape from the each day screams. I beloved it, nonetheless do. My educational historical past features a Grasp’s in Panorama Archaeology and my profession, earlier than youngsters, was in cartography. I mixed all of it and wrote about my walks. I’d examine the realm, and uncover legends, mysteries, true tales and the proof for them within the panorama.I drew maps of my walks, and beloved the completely different perspective they created. Displaying solely roads, railways, buildings, timber, rivers and earthworks, they confirmed the current day, however in addition they echoed historical past. I imagined an even bigger map, of the entire of Dorset, and what higher time to do it than in lockdown?Utilizing cautious maths, a metre rule, endurance, house and strict guidelines for the boys to maintain their distance, I started, beginning with a grid masking the entire of Dorset, in 4 quarters. Utilizing a mixture of Google and Ordnance Survey maps and my very own information, the hand drawn map grew, each metre of the panorama fastidiously marked out. Hillforts appeared, Roman roads lower via countryside and river paths marked out the valleys. Tracks hinted on the outdated medieval droves, now little greater than muddy lanes connecting historic villages. The entire course of has inspired me to discover extra, to go and discover that lump, bump or hump in actual life. If an image tells 1,000 phrases, this map speaks hundreds of thousands, even when it’s simply to me. Its future I’m but to study – I’ve no wall large enough. Possibly a pub, someplace in Dorset? Catherine Speakman (on Twitter and Instagram). Learn extra on her web site tessofthevale.comSpoon carving is meditative – although there could also be bloodSophie Yeo’s carved wood spoonsI determined that spoon carving can be the proper interest final autumn, simply because the nights have been drawing in and Newcastle was plunged into lockdown once more.I had just lately began my very own on-line journal, Inkcap, about nature within the UK, and the undertaking had woke up an outdated tendency to work till bedtime. I used to be feeling continually pressured, and although I used to be commonly writing about nature’s calm results, I used to be reluctant to spend the chilly evenings in metropolis parks. Spoon carving appeared like the proper compromise: it might pressure me from my pc and produce nature into my cosy residence.For Christmas, I bought a particular whittling too referred to as a sloyd knife. Since then, I’ve carved virtually each day, studying about timber and getting a really feel for the wooden. I signed as much as Spoon Membership, which has a library of video tutorials that guided me via the knife grips and axe wielding. It’s unusually meditative for an exercise that carries an actual danger of drawing blood.It has additionally impressed me to get out of the home. Should you’re going to carve a spoon, you ideally want greenwood, which is contemporary and comfortable with sap.My first spoon – a teaspoon – was carved from the contemporary trimmings of a hedge in Whitley Bay, a coastal city near residence. The hunt for materials was interrupted by seals bobbing within the waves by Saint Mary’s Lighthouse.However I needed one thing larger. The next weekend, I went on a quest to the deer park in Bishop Auckland (not removed from the now-famous Barnard Citadel). This 150-acre wooden pasture was created by County Durham’s prince bishops over 800 years in the past, when it might have offered them with charcoal and animals to hunt. In future, I’m going to supply my wooden from native tree surgeons, however I didn’t suppose they might begrudge me a small, storm-felled department.Sophie Yeo, environmental journalistMy card interest cleans up plastic, will get me out – and is now a businessFlora Blathwayt card made out of plastic discovered alongside the ThamesOn World Rivers Day in September 2019, I joined a Southwark seaside clear and was astounded by the quantity of micro-plastic, sequins and beads we collected in a short while. I didn’t know that that day would encourage a brand new interest – crafting playing cards utilizing my finds – and change into a lifesaver throughout lockdown.I had made a card for my sister’s marriage ceremony with issues I discovered on that first journey (she’s lived plastic-free for 2 years so it was apt) and when lockdown struck, though I couldn’t exit with a bunch, I made a decision to exit once more by myself.Flora on a Thames seaside clear. {Photograph}: McGivern PhotographyI would wander alongside the Thames with gloves and a bag, accumulating tiny items of plastic and garbage from the banks – after which take it residence to show into artistic endeavors. I might all the time see shapes I’d flip into illustrations with related captions.It gave me one thing to do once I was furloughed: doodling and enjoying was actually constructive – a form of remedy actually. Being exterior by this large river, smelling the water and recognizing wildlife had a chilled impact. And attempting to find plastics is meditative – it’s important to concentrate and look fastidiously at your environment.It really helped me join with a brand new neighborhood too. I’d simply gone via a break-up, had moved into a brand new space and was feeling fairly alone, so I made playing cards with constructive messages and despatched them to everybody in my block. It helped break the ice – and really led to some nice new friendships.Later in the summertime, I put a few of my playing cards on an Etsy on-line store and arrange a enterprise, Washed-up Playing cards. I commonly accumulate plastic on my walks – and am at present engaged on a Valentine’s Day assortment.This interest has been constructive in so some ways: it helps clear up plastic, will get me exterior and is now even a bit of enterprise. I don’t know what I’d have achieved with out it.Flora Blathwayt