Archive | October, 2012

The long and short of it…..!

15 Oct

As you will know by now, I like L L o o o o n n n n g g g g walks ;)!  Anything from 10 to 20 miles a day is good, and I even did one walk of 35 miles earlier this year.  It’s great to be able to stride out and spend a whole day on the trail.  I’m not sure if that makes me strange, in fact I’m not sure why I like long walks so much really.  Is it the challenge, that sort of ‘man against the elements’ sort of thing?  I guess you could ask, ‘Why climb Mount Everest?’ or, ‘Why skydive from 24 miles up?  There isn’t really an answer, except for me, I love being outdoors in this wonderful countryside, close to nature and creation, and I like to keep fit at the same time :)!

There was a time when I used to search the book shelves for walking guides that covered longer distances, but I found virtually none!  Oh, some books paid lip service to long walks by including the odd 8 or 10 mile route, but nothing substantial.  So I started to plan my own routes, originally using paper OS maps, and now OS map software, and I have to say, I have really enjoyed doing it.  There is something special about walking a route that is ‘all your own work’!

Well, I then had a thought – why not publish a book myself??  Now, I’m not really a writer, although I have been known to get the odd article in print, but that is exactly what I am doing, and have been for some time.  Thus far, it has been very much down to route preparation and design and I have over 30 routes now.  I also have a potential publisher and am looking at my options because these days it seems that self publishing is the way to go.  The book will cover some spectacular walks and include maps, route descriptions, lots of information on interesting things along the way, and of course lots of photographs!

Anyway, as much as I love long walks, I really enjoy shorter walks too and often of an evening or weekend, you will find me walking in the local area where I live.

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The local nature reserve

It is great to be able to walk straight from my front door without the need for the car, and although I live in an urban area, it is possible by linking footpaths, stretches of urban woodland, heath, parklands etc to feel like you are actually out in the countryside.  One of my favourite sunday walks takes in a small nature reserve, a lovely oasis in the middle of suburbia where there is so much wildlife to see.

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The log pile – a bug high rise!

After the nature reserve, my route takes me into an area of woodland known as Delph Woods.  It isn’t a large woodland and it is surrounded by houses, roads and a golf course but when you are in amongst the trees, you forget you are in the middle of a town.  I have been walking these woods for many many years and I can well remember how I used to take my children there on a Sunday.  There is a disused railway line running through it and I used to tell them tales of the ghost train that still travels through on a moonlit night ;)!  I don’t think they believed me then, and they definitely don’t believe me now that they are grown up!!

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In the autumn evening light

One of the challenges for me is to capture some good landscape pictures and undoubtedly the early morning or late evening is the best time to do that – the so called ‘golden hour’.  Somehow, it is easier to take notable landscapes when at the well known landmarks that have featured in books and magazines the world over, but to repeat that in your local woodlands is a new challenge.  And I like a challenge :)!

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At the end of the day

The walk also takes in a small pond or two and it is always magical standing there in the fading light watching the setting sun reflecting off nature’s mirror.  You may be in the middle of a town, but with the singing of the birds, the hooting of an owl, the sight of a deer in the dusk light, you could be anywhere.  Long may these local havens be preserved for us to enjoy and escape into when we have just a little time to spare.

So the long and short of it is……enjoy both!  Just enjoy the freedom of being outside in God’s creation, drink it in, it will refresh and renew you, it will reduce the stress levels created by modern life, it will improve your heart and your mind.  It always does mine!

And if you need a guide book to help you, I know where you can get one….. ;)!

Thanks for stopping by and reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler.

Until next time,
Your friend
The Dorset Rambler.

If you would like to contact me, my details are on my website which is http://www.yarrowphotography.com – comments and feedback are welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

Of summer and autumn, Dorset heathlands, memories of a hero, and a spider rescued!

5 Oct

Betwixt and between seems to summarise where we are at the moment and this was a betwixt and between walk!  In terms of flora and fauna, summer has not quite gone and yet autumn is here; in terms of weather, autumn is definitely here!  On this walk there was evidence of both seasons and there is such beauty in both and so much to be enjoyed if we just walk with our eyes open.

The walk started off by crossing some classic old Dorset countryside……although there is precious little of it left now – I mean that mix of conifer plantations and open heathland that was made famous by one of Dorset’s great authors, Thomas Hardy.  At one time, much of Dorset was covered with open heathland but gradually over the years it has either been built on or reclaimed for farming, making it a rare commodity in the 21st century.  Fortunately some pockets remain dotted around the county and this walk took in several.

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The beautiful Dorset heathland

Having crossed the high heathland in the midst of changing from its summer dress to its winter garb, my route dropped down into woodlands with ferns in a similar state of change.  These look delightful as they gently unfurl in the spring but are equally delightful as they change into autumn colours on the ‘forest’s ferny floor’ as Walter De La Mare describes it.

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The forest’s ferny floor

It was at this juncture that I rescued a spider!!  Well to be exact, I avoided destroying him and his web!  I was walking along the forest track just listening to the birds singing their myriad different songs – its strange really, who told the wren that he had to sing that particular tune, or the yellow hammer his particular tune?  The wonders of this wonderful creation!

Anyway, as I walked, I noticed something glistening immediately in front of me so I stopped for a closer look.  It was a single slender strand of web that stretched a full 10 feet from one side of the path to the other and that supported the web with the spider in the middle waiting for his prey to fly by (it conjures in my mind pictures of me walking into the web and being bound up by the spider like something out of a horror movie ;) )!  Well, I didn’t want to destroy his handiwork and it was at the wrong height for me to get over or under it so I detoured around it by fighting my way through the brambles and undergrowth to the other side, not an easy task!

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A very grateful spider with his lunch!

A little farther along the trail, I came across some evidence of summer, just to contrast with the autumn heathland that I had just walked through.  This was a hover fly on a corn marigold.  It was almost as if summer was saying, ‘I haven’t quite gone yet!’

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Hover fly on a corn marigold

For a time I left the heathland behind (although I would return to it later) as my route took me to the resting place of one of Dorset’s heroes.  To get there, I had to cross the river, and a beautiful river crossing it was too with its hugely long and thin bridge alongside what was a ford.  In fact whilst I was there, a group of cyclists thought it still was ‘fordable’ as they all rode into the river for a short distance before each in turn got stuck as their wheels sank into the shingle……and they fell off!

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A delightful river crossing

The goal was St Nicholas’ Church Moreton, famous for being the resting place of T E Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia.  It is a beautiful church with some spectacular windows, each engraved with lovely scenes.  The original church was badly damaged in the Second World War when it was hit by a German bomber and instead of repairing the windows, it was decided to commission Lawrence Whistler to create new ones.  They are beautiful and world famous!

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St Nichols’ Church, Moreton and its windows

Lawrence’s grave itself sits in a small detached part of the graveyard.

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Lawrence of Arabia’s resting place

For the time being, I left T E Lawrence but there would be more reminders of his life further on in my walk.  My route took me back across the long bridge and through another pocket of heathland.  This one was covered partly with wonderfully picturesque long, yellowing grass.  I love this grass and I sat and ate my lunch in the middle of it, just listening to the gentle sounds of the Dorset countryside.  It was a delightful place.

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The lunch stop

And here too was a reminder (or is that a remainder!) of summer, with a plethora of butterflies all around me.

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A speckled wood butterfly

All too soon it was time to leave my idyllic surroundings and continue on my way to an altogether different area in more ways than one.  My route took me out of the heath and onto a country lane, but not just any country lane, this was the very place that T E Lawrence met his untimely death on 19th May 1935 at the age of 46.  Having achieved and survived so much during the Arab campaign, Lawrence finally succumbed on this stretch of Dorset road when he lost control of his motorbike whilst trying to avoid two boys who were cycling in a hidden dip.  It seemed fitting that as I walked this stretch of road, an army tank passed by.

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The spot where Lawrence died

Of course Lawrence was an author, famous for The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, but that wasn’t his only legacy.  As a result of his accident, crash helmets were ultimately introduced for all motorcyclists.  Just a short distance away along the same road sits Clouds Hill, Lawrence’s cottage home for many years, now in the hands of that National Trust.

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Clouds Hill

Leaving T E Lawrence behind, I continued my walk, and crossed yet another pocket of heathland.  Here again there was a mix of summer and winter with the delightful Bell Heather still bearing its summer magenta-purple plumage whilst the equally delightful Bog Asphodel had changed from yellow to a wonderful autumn orangey red.

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Colours of the heathland – Bell Heather and Bog Asphodel

I was nearing the end of my walk now but there were two quintessentially Dorset villages to pass through, picture postcard perfect villages!  Apart from the usual array of delightful thatched cottages, the first village had a rather interesting village post office :)!  Sitting beside the old village hall, the shop was in what was at one time a granary with its arched foundations designed to keep unwanted visitors out!  This was a wonderful village to walk through although I suspect that there may be less residents there now with some of the cottages having been turned into second homes.  It is a shame that the soul has gone out of a lot of our lovely villages as local people are priced out by the ever increasing prices of these cottages!

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A delightful village

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The old granary

My final stopping point was another village of picture book cottages and the nice thing about this one was that although there is recent development, it has all been designed to blend in with the old.  It does give you some faith in the authorities that control the planning requirements and a greater hope that our wonderful heritage will never be lost :)!

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New and old alike

I started of by saying that we are betwixt and between and this wonderful walk contained much to prove that.  It highlighted the beauty of both summer and autumn – in fact every season has its beauty and this is never more true than in this county and country of ours.  With the changing seasons and weather, we never have a chance to tire of anything and I think that is a real positive………..unless it is rain, and I think we have had our fair share of that ;)!!!!!

Thanks for stopping by and reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler.

Until next time,
Your friend
The Dorset Rambler.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

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