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A magical start to the year.

What a stunning start to the day, and year! There was a cold nip in the air, but as the sun rose through the trees the sky turned blue and the landscape so glorious!

Finally... a break in the rain, and the birds where seeing in the New year and the stillness of winter in full song. A song thrush serenaded me for the start of my walk through bare boughed and contorted oaks and yews.

This inclosure track is normally a bustle with cyclists and walkers, but this is the one day of the year I can step out in the early winter sun and pass the time of day with only two dog walkers in my 2.5 hour wander.

Conifers have recently been logged and neatly stacked along the inclosure track. I took an extra deep breath as I passed by, just to get a lung-full of that sweet, immune-boosting smell.

A green woodpecker flew from the cleared plantation cackling as it flies and a roe deer skipped across the path ahead.

I took a moment to rest on Eric Ashby's bench and watched the chattering crossbills forage in the canopies. A wren busied herself in and out of the wilted bracken, (I always imagine them with an apron and a sweeping brush 😆) and knew Eric would have appreciated this moment as I did.

As I continued my walk, I stopped to listen to the flowing water of Latchmore brook and watched a grey wagtail on the bank consider its next move.

This walk weaved me through ancient broadleaves and yews and conifer plantations. Tall pines, stand on high banks to remind me how small I am in the landscape.

The wind gently shimmered through the needles but being low and enclosed on my path, there was stillness, and only the sound of the robin singing an enchanting song in this magical landscape.

Then suddenly, the woodland pushed me out of the inclosure gate which was manned by ancient pollarded holly and into the bright and puddled expanse. The views are wonderful from Fritham heath as my eye was taken from heavy heather cover in hues of grey this time of year, to the bright pop of yellow from the gorse flower.

Harsh and hard looking burnt gorse followed one side of my path and puddled grassland the other, reflecting back the blue sky and berry laden holly, which is where I watched a fieldfare gorge with delight.

As I reached the carpark, cars with excitable dogs and other cars loaded with bikes where starting to flood the carpark. I couldn't blame them wanting to take advantage of such a beautiful morning, and how could I not be optimistic about the coming year, when the start of it was so magical!

If you want to join me on this walk, take a look at the link 👇

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