Another eventful day in the hills – AKA ‘I get to play shepherd’!

14 Apr

On Wednesday this week, I had another great walk on a day of mixed weather and walking conditions, as well as some varied scenery!  It was about 17 miles of wonderful walking!  And not only was the countryside picturesque but so too were the clouds!  The only mistake I made was in choosing to walk this particular route in the school holidays as there are a number of caravan and camping sites on the route and I think every family in England had descended on Dorset ;)!  Not that I mind really, it’s nice to see that people love Dorset – but then, why wouldn’t they :)!

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Even the clouds were picturesque on this day!

The first part took me through the outskirts of quite a large town, but surprisingly there were some very picturesque parts and even the modern developments looked nice.  After that, it was out into the country and onto some bridleways.  Now I love animals, but I have to say that horses and walkers don’t go together very well, especially after rain!  Not that the horses are a problem, it’s more what their hooves do to the paths which very quickly become a quagmire and therefore difficult to walk!  I think the village of Studland has it right – I walked there not long ago and where there is a bridleway, there is a separate footpath for walkers running beside it.  What a great idea!  I am not sure if it is a deliberate policy or whether it has just happened but it certainly makes walking easier :)!  It should be quite easy to do on any bridleway, a bit like having paths round town for cyclists and walkers separated by a white line!  So how about it bridleway designers, can you paint a white line in the mud???

On this route I passed a famous landmark – Colmers Hill (pictured below).  Now, as a photographer I have always felt deprived at not having a picture of this much photographed location but now I have corrected that ;)!  Ok, its not the usual mist filled sunrise shot but it is still Colmers Hill!  In some strange way, Colmers Hill reminds me of Corfe Castle, another much photographer feature atop a hill, which is also often pictured at sunrise poking its head out of the mist!

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The footpath round Colmers Hill

You see some strange sights while walking!  I often come across alpacas which frankly are strange – they look like some freak of nature that was created on a Friday afternoon just for a laugh ;)!  They look like sheep reflected in a fairground distorting mirror!  Actually I think they are rather cute, although it has to be said that the males look a bit effeminate ;)!  Only kidding!  These alpacas did pose rather nicely for me though – shame about the background!  Incidentally they were looking at a dog!

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All in a line!!

Oh yes, and you get to see some funny signs too!  I am really not quite sure what a ‘public route leading to a public path’ is!!

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What does that mean???

Having got past Colmers Hill, I saw one of those sights that you don’t really want to see – heavy clouds chasing me down the valley as if they were just determined they were going to catch me and dump their load right on top of me.  I could see them watching me as they glided swiftly in my direction!!  But I fooled them – I was about to enter a lovely village with a lovely church which had a lovely porch – just right for hiding in whilst eating lunch :)!  And the cloud dumped its load – but not on me :)!  Not this day anyway!!

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Oh no, look what’s coming!

In actual fact I think the cloud had the last laugh because the major downpour certainly made the footpath much more difficult to negotiate as I slipped and slid all over the place.  And there was one particularly difficult part where the path went up a very steep climb and I had real trouble keeping my feet.  By the looks of the tram lines coming down the slope, I’d say a number of people failed completely in that!

Ultimately I reached the coast.  I like the coast because it makes navigating a route so much easier – just keep the water on one side of you and the land on the other and you can’t go wrong!  You do get some spectacular views as well, and some really lovely beaches too, all shingle in this area and with that lovely distinctive ‘waves on shingle’ sound!  Mix in the sound of the gulls, and you have a combination that just transports you back to the holidays of childhood!

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A lovely Dorset shingle beach

It was when I turned inland again that I got to play shepherd!  I had to walk through a field of sheep with their lambs and when I went out through the gate to the next field, there were three lambs in there.  It was a crop field so they clearly weren’t meant to be there, and they were running up and down the substantial wire fence bleating pitifully.  I have no idea how they got from one field to the other, but the shepherd in me came to the fore and I decided I needed to do something about it – but what!  There was only me, and the gate was spring loaded to close which left a bit of a conundrum as I figured they were unlikely to come towards me whilst I held the gate open for them – pretty they might be but intelligent they are not!  So being resourceful, I used my walking pole to prop the gate open whilst I then walked in a large circle to get behind the little lambs.  Now this could have backfired and I could just have ended up with a field full of sheep where there weren’t meant to be any (I had visions of my walking off humming to myself having let all the sheep out and pretending that I had nothing to do with it ;)!).  Fortunately it worked out well and I managed to usher them back into the right field before any others realised to gate was open – and never did you see three happier lambs as they all ran straight up to their mum’s and tucked into a good and much needed meal!

The sun was setting as I walked over the last ridge of the day and the lovely golden glow of a still evening spread itself across the landscape like a blanket.  It was a beautiful end to a great day, and I had a warm feeling that maybe I had saved three of God’s creatures from an untimely death!

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The lengthening shadows of evening.

But the day wasn’t quite done!  Near the end of the walk, I crossed one section which took in a number of fields and in a distance of probably a quarter of a mile, I had to negotiate no less than 10 gates!!  Every hedgerow had a fence on either side, and every fence had its own gate!  Ah well, it made an interesting end to an eventful day :)!

Oh yes, and on the subject of strange things – there is a hill nearby that is called Doghouse Hill!  I wonder if that was where all the husbands got sent after they had come home from the pub!!

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

The Dorset Rambler

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3 Responses to “Another eventful day in the hills – AKA ‘I get to play shepherd’!”

  1. waltersdaughter April 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    I love your photograph of the boat on the beach – superb!

  2. sandraconner April 18, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Really good, and your pictures are gorgeous!!! You couldn’t have gotten a better shot of the alpacas if you’d spent all afternoon posing them. But I think I have to say the one of the beach is my favorite — or maybe the last one of the hills as the sun is going down —- I may have to go back and look at them again to decide for sure.

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