Ah what a fabulous walk this was! For almost the first time this year I could walk on solid ground, not because there wasn’t any mud but because for once the mud was frozen. After the rain we have had seemingly all year, it was such a refreshing change to have seasonably cold, frosty weather which froze even the deepest puddles. So it was hat and gloves on, and a hot drink to have on the way!
Mind you, before I even got to walking, the camera came out as I passed the beautiful valley in the picture below – I thought it looked as if Santa had passed by in his sleigh on his way to deliver presents to all the lovely children !
I arrived at the starting point of my walk and parked in a delightfully picturesque village with its picture postcard cottages and leafy lanes. With the dappled sunlight, it made a beautiful start to the walk – but later, the darkness would reveal something even more special!
Leaving the village, the first mile or two took me down one of those quintessentially timeless Dorset country lanes. With the crisp frost and the dancing sunlight, it seemed that I was walking in an age more familiar to my grandparents and I almost expected to see a horse and wagon come by on their way to market. It is truly wonderful how some things just don’t change, especially in this fast moving 21st century technological society that we live in. How grateful I am for these timeless places, these quiet moments, and for the ability to enjoy them.
Turning off the lane, my route took me onto a farm track, passing the farmhouse on the way. Seeing this farmhouse bathed in sunshine on this crisp day made me understand afresh the pleasures of living in a rural area. I know there are ‘disadvantages’ to being a farmer like having to get up at 4.00 am every day but, hey, as they say, ‘every silver lining has a cloud’! Hmm, or is that the other way round !
But just standing there gazing at the view…….well, you couldn’t help but sigh and drink it all in. With the frost in the foreground echoing the shape of the fence, and the gentle mist settled over the valley in the early morning light, it was magical What a morning, what a view! Stand there with me and realise afresh the truth of the poets words, ‘What is life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’!
But, move on we must, before the cold freezes us to the spot! From here, the route winds its way across farmland…….and loses its way a little! A lack of signposting and some poor stiles can make it difficult to follow the path, especially when one field looks much like the next, but this is all part of the enjoyment of a good walk, creating some small challenges along the way and making the compass and map worth carrying.
We have a good system here in Dorset, a system that allows any problems with the footpath to be reported to the local authority – you can love or hate the Internet, but how did we manage without it? Within days of my sending through the report, I received an email advising me that the corrective works had been commissioned so next time I walk this way, the path should be clear again ! I bet they love me!!
One of the things I love about this county of Dorset is the variety of habitat and terrain. After the farmland, the path gently winds down into a lovely area of woodland with the frost clinging to the trees and shrubs creating a fairytale land. If you let your imagination go, you could almost expect to see little snowmen running free. And then, it is out into the open hillside again to be greeted by the most wonderful view.
Lunch time was beckoning and I knew that there was a lovely village church not far away. That is significant because it is always nice to sit down to eat but that is not something that is straight forward in the winter when the ground is so wet. However, most churchyards have a bench or two which solves the problem ! I often think it would be nice if more farmers would provide a seat or two beside footpaths crossing their land – it doesn’t need to be a padded sofa, just an old log or two will do ! But on this day, it was a churchyard, and a beautifully peaceful one at that, and as I sat there, the weak winter sunlight falling on the delightfully coloured gravestones caught my eye.
On these cold days, it is always nice to have a hot drink so I usually carry either a flask or my small camping stove which in many ways is even better because it means I can brew a hot drink whenever I want to. And today I wanted to! Sat in that peaceful churchyard with food and a hot drink reflecting on life is one of the pleasures even on a cold day like this. And so often, these country churchyards are a haven for wildlife too.
The second half of the walk crosses some pristine parklands, with two old stately homes to pass, with the usual array of cottages. I think the one below with its mansard roof and country garden must be the perfect place to live.
And then a little further on, another old and now disused but beautifully positioned building which probably housed farm workers in time gone by. Its days of usefulness are long gone and it looks forlornly out across the land that its inhabitants once served. And yet it still has a picturesque beauty that enhances the distant view, and a heritage that stretches even further.
Climbing up onto the ridge just as the sun was setting, my route took in some amazing views across the valley. The evening mist was creeping stealthily across the low lying land creating a mystical atmosphere which was lit by the gentle pastel colours that are typical of a Dorset winter evening. And the frost that had lingered on the ground all day, grew crisper as the temperature dropped even further.
And as I dropped down off the hillside again, the village of Evershot was sat in shade with the blue mist creating a winter wonderland.
Passing through the village and out into the countryside again, I looked back to see the last vestiges of the milky sunset reflecting off the smoke from the bonfires in the cottage gardens.
The last two miles took me across the most perfect parkland with its landscaped grounds and beautifully laid out trees. One in particular seemed as if it was standing out from its peers, like a lookout on the ramparts of a hill fort.
And as darkness fell and the frost grew heavier and whiter still, I walked on alone apart from the many deer that roamed free. They were my company for what I often think is the best part of the day.
And of course past the old mansion itself, now looming out of the darkness.
Eventually, I walked back into the village I had started from and it was there that the darkness brought to light that ‘something special’ that I mentioned at the start. It was a beautiful nativity scene set up in the window of one of the old cottages, lit up and glowing with its warm light shining out into the cold, darkness outside. I stood and looked, and thought what a great message, light shining into darkness, and a what a wonderful reminder of what this Christmas time is all about!
Thanks for stopping by and reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler.
If you would like to contact me, my details are on my website which ishttp://www.yarrowphotography.com – comments and feedback are welcomed.
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