Bats in the Belfry – a Plague of Pipistrelles…

guestwick church

Part of my journey to explore all that a ketogenic-diet has to offer, is a journey of another kind… a journey on foot. Come hell or high weather, I’ve committed to a daily dawn-walk.

This is just over a mile in length and aims to put a little more movement back into what was becoming an increasingly sedentary life.

Looking out over the fields each morning, I see four churches in the distance. The first and second have already been explored in this blog. Now it’s time to meet the third, complete with its inhabitants…

The above depicts a beautiful, rambling old medieval church, typical of so many you see in this area and the wider English countryside. The pace of life doesn’t touch this place. It’s timeless in every way. But as the evening-time dusk descends, an entirely different picture begins to emerge…

From out the tower begins to leech a dark stain, which fills the sky like smog. Not smoke, but a vast army of bats emerging to feed after their long day’s cloistration.

The sky becomes electric with the sound of sonic chatter, just too high to be audible; but still causing resonance within the ear. They dive, swoop and bomb through the sky, swerving their way round invisible barriers & descending on prey too small for the eye to make out in the half-light. It’s a strange, majestic dance, to which none but they know the steps.

The interior of the church bears constant testimony to their presence. The pews and altar are all covered in a thick white plastic, to shield against the corrosive nature of their droppings! A smell of musk is almost overpowering and the stone floor is grainy underfoot.

The bats can’t be removed as they’re a protected species. So man and winged-mammal must share this space which our neglect allowed to fall vacant.

They’re certainly making better use of it than we are. One hour-long service a month is all we can muster. And when the last few elderly inhabitants of the village pass on, I suspect even that will stop!

I say ‘leave them to it’. Something’s got to use the place.

An englishman’s home is his castle; an english-bat’s base is its belfry! And all things considered; they couldn’t have picked a finer one!

Thanks for reading,



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