Avoiding the heatwave in the New Forest

Out at sunrise and already 23°C at 5.30am, but it was worth it!



The golden morning light framed the silhouettes of the forest. Already humid the forest was silent from bird song, just the gentle tail swishing from the ponies stood under the trees. Even this early I was grateful to turn into the shade of the trees and out of the direct rising sun.



It didn’t seem long ago I walked these woods wading through muddy and jumping the stream but this morning there is nothing but a dry bed and cracking cones, nuts and leaves.



Leaving the wild path and weaving between ancient trees I had a fright of my life!! A large old bough from an ancient oak did an almighty crack before coming crashing to the ground!! The noise was immense and my heart was beating faster as I quickly rejoined the woodland path.

I headed up through Minstead village and the verges were lined with ponies sheltering in the trees before I was out on Fritham plain and stepped up the pace as I was suddenly out in the open.



The rowan berries seemed to be enjoying it as they were a burst of brilliant orange against the drying landscape accompanied by a hint of colour from the few early flowering heather blooms where rabbits hopped between the foliage.



Making my way down ragged boy Hill I took a moment to sit under the shelter of yews and oaks not realising at first that there was a roe buck grazing amongst the bracken opposite. I went unnoticed as he wandered away on his forage. This old track has a twist and turn of yews and gnarly old oaks. Some being hugged by supportive hollies,



the shade didn’t last as I found myself back out in the open on the approach to Hollyhatch cottage but the slight change of direction brought with it a welcome breeze where it was still early enough for the golden light which bounced off the heather where a herd of cows grazed.



On the home stretch hollyhatch inclosure poured sunlight between the boughs and the rides were edged with thistles and ragwort which I know in a few hours will attract an abundance of butterflies,


9

but I was planning to be back home before then! My last joy of this walk was counting 35 canadian geese on Cadmans pool, a nursery of geese I would suggest as there were less adults than juvenile but I couldn't tell who is whose??

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