Of lush countryside, lovely meadows, two hill forts…….and a butterfly at last!

Well as I sit at my desk typing this blog, the rain is pouring down outside – yet again!!!  It’s been one on those years so far in England, just rain, rain, and more rain with just the odd better day in between.  Ah, the good old English summer – lazy, hazy, crazy days – don’t you just love ’em!  We wish!  Actually I don’t mind walking in the rain if it starts raining when I’m already out, but there seems little point in going out if it is raining already…….but I miss walking when I am trapped in by the weather.  Still, without it what would we English have to talk about ;)!

I did manage to get out recently for a great walk through some lush countryside and some beautiful meadows, not to mention a couple of hill forts and an old mill.  It started with a lovely woodland walk with some gorgeous dappled sunlight filtering through the foliage (sadly the sun wasn’t to last long though 😦 )

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Through the dappled forest

And part way through the woodlands I came across a rather unusual tree that was playing host to a whole load of ferns.  Walter De La Mare’s poem, The Listeners, refers to ‘the forest’s ferny floor’ but maybe this should be changed to ‘the forest’s ferny trees’ ;)!  The tree was still living but was clearly decaying and moss covered, giving the ferns a foothold – or is that ‘root-hold’!

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The forest’s ferny trees

Out of the woodlands, my route took me down another of those oft seen ‘Smuggler’s Lanes’.  I haven’t been able to establish whether it really was a smuggler’s route or whether it was just named that because it was quite a secret and hidden path.  It wasn’t near the coast but I guess contraband needed to be taken well inland so it might well have seen illegal traffic in the long ago past.  Ah, if only those trees could talk, I’m sure they would have many a tale to tell!  For me though, it was just the beauty of the path that I enjoyed.

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Smuggler’s Lane

I told the story in my last blog entry of my ongoing battle with butterfies that taunted me constantly as I tried to photograph them.  Well on this walk I fooled them and I actually managed to grab some shots before they took off rather than after!!  The picture below shows a Meadow Brown butterfly wearing his rather nice fur coat.  He clearly knew what the English summer was going to be like ;)!

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Meadow Brown

There were butterflies everywhere along this route, partly because the hedgerows were so thick with plants and flowers, I saw so many different varieties.  It is amazing when you look at these delicate ‘flying flowers’ to think that some of them actually migrate and have flown a thousand miles to get here.  They don’t look capable of flying that far or indeed of flying in any specific direction – as the poem says, they have a definite gift of ‘flying crooked’!

The hedgerows themselves were thick with wild flowers and were so beautiful to walk through, it was a delight, especially in the warm summer sun.  I think it is difficult to capture in a photograph because you need to use all the senses to fully appreciate the beauty, to feel the sun’s warmth, to hear the birds and the rustling of the leaves and to feel the gentle breeze.  I did take a couple of pictures though……and tried to find a different angle too :)!

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Hogweed

For some plants, you have no choice but to lay on the ground, like the Common Spotted Orchid below.

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Common Spotted Orchid

This was a real walk of variety and the next part took me up onto the hilltop, well in fact, up onto two prehistoric hill forts.  The first was covered in lovely meadow grass and wild flowers – it would have taken me a long time to identify all the different varieties.  And the views from the ramparts were spectacular on this clear day.  There were cattle and sheep grazing and I thought, ‘What a great place to eat’ – so I joined them!  I ate sandwiches of course, not grass ;)!

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Across the ramparts

Then it was down into the valley and up onto the next hill fort and an even bigger surprise.  At the top was a fantastic field of poppies.  It was a photographer’s paradise!  And clearly a few had been there before me as quite a lot of the flowers had been clumsily trampled down :(!  Well of course I managed to take one or two pictures as well although I am always careful where I tread.  The code of the country says ‘Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time’ but sadly not all observe that!

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The poppy field

The colours were really vibrant in the now hazy sunlight, although despite their beauty, it is still quite difficult to get a satisfying composition for a photograph.  I guess you are always left with the feeling that you just haven’t done it justice – well how can you!  Further along the hill, there are more ramparts, and well defined ones too.  It seems hard to imagine that these ramparts were dug out by men with primitive tools.  As you stand looking at the views though, you can see why they ‘built’ the fort and with the wind whipping up from the valley, you can perhaps imagine a little of what life must have been like up there in those bygone days.

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On the hill fort

Dropping off the hill, my route passed through probably the worst part of the walk and yet there were still lovely things to see.  I had to walk through a farm and as often is the case, farms=mud!  And there was mud aplenty!  Not only that but I had to plough my way through the most overgrown footpath that I think I have ever walked!  It led me the next day to make a few phone calls to see if the path could be sorted which is something the local authority will do if you report a problem.  However it was not that simple.

There are a number of types of byway – 1) the public roads, 2) public footpaths and 3) all vehicle public routes (these fit somewhere between 1 and 2 and are often farm tracks or old lanes/drove trails.  My overgrown footpath fitted into category 3 which is dealt with under roads and highways and whilst they have a budget to maintain the public roads, they have no budget to maintain the lesser routes such as mine.  So basically there is a budget to maintain the roads and there is a budget to maintain public footpaths, but there is no budget to maintain the routes that fall between the two extremes!  Ah well, I tried.

I did in the end make it through the overgrown lane and came out into a clearing where there was an old mill – I suspect that the overgrown lane once served the mill.  This is now a private dwelling but as I looked at it, I could just picture in my minds eye the miller leaning on that stable door getting some air and clearing his lungs of the flour dust that would have filled the mill in those days.

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The old mill

Apart from the old mill, one of the other lovely things I passed on this part of the walk was a gorgeous barley field.  These fields are always great to see but especially so when there is a bit of wind and as you stand watching the barley waving its heads in the breeze, you can almost feel you are standing before a huge lake with gentle waves washing across the water.

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The barley field

My walk was almost completed but there was one more crop to pass, another cereal crop which I thought was particularly picturesque with those curving tramlines running through it.  The sun had long since gone by now but at the end of a great day in the Dorset countryside it made a beautiful sight.

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Down the tramlines

Another magical day in Dorset, and one to be savoured as I look out at the still falling rain!

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

Your friend

The Dorset Rambler

The pictures on this blog are all the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be copied or reproduced without permission.

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143 Comments

  1. wonderful images, if anything, it has been the greenest summer with all this rain 🙂

    1. Thanks travellingbag :)! I do make a deliberate effort to walk with my eyes open to what is around me because so often we take it for granted and we miss so much. It comes partly from being a photographer.

  2. Just delightful, Terry. The photos are magnificent!!!! I don’t think I could possibly choose a favorite. But there is something really special about the 5th photo — the one wildflower plant that you shot at an upward angle. That really is special. I don’t think I’ve ever seen ferns growing on trees like the one you showed us, and I know I’ve never seen a field of poppies like that one. The closest thing I can remember is a huge field of sunflowers that I drove by once. It was so gorgeous I don’t think I could describe it accurately in words.

    I’m sorry you are having too much rain. I wish we could go “halvies.” We are having such a drought and temps from 105-111 for weeks. I would trade a couple weeks of sunshine for a couple weeks of rain in the twinkling of an eye. In my neighborhood, one one whole tree died in the yard across the street from me, and the neighbor next to that house has lost at least half of one of his trees already, with another one looking serious. I’ve never known drought conditions so bad that whole trees were dying. We had really been praying for rain, and last week, we finally got some on two different days. But it definitely was not nearly enough, and the hot dry weather kicked right back in. So we are back to praying again. We were all so miserable that I started posting some great pictures of rain on my Facebook page, and people were begging me to post more. People kept saying that they never dreamed they would want to just sit and look at a photograph of rain. One lady said she wanted to print them out and stick one on every one of her windows.

    1. Thanks Sandra, you are very kind and generous in your comments :)! The picture you like is unusual because you don’t normally see the flower from that angle – as a photographer I’m always looking for a different angle. Sorry to hear about your drought – I hate it when trees die :(! We have finally got a dry day today :))
      Bless you.

  3. Wonderful, DR, so glad to read & see your posts again. Smuggler’s Lane? How intriguing and the shot is so much like a fantasy. So how did you trick the butterflies this time? I love the angle of the Hogweed photo too – they’re reaching for the skies in all directions, and somewhere in the process they’ve decorated the skies too. The poppy fields are amazing – so bright and vibrant it adds such great colours to the dull sky. You made a simple barley field look more inviting than ever – everything else here, is as usual, amazing. Hope you get a good day for walks again!

  4. Utterly gorgeous. This weather has left everyone soggy and grey, it is good to be reminded of sunny skys and landscapes, green and verdant.

    I am now looking forward to our trip to the SW in August all the more

  5. Congrats, Terry, on being Freshly Pressed. Your blog posts are such a treat to read…they provide me with the opportunity to virtually visit the British countryside whenever I like. Thanks for that.

  6. Wonderful pictures of a gorgeous countryside. Gives me more ideas what to visit when I’ll be in England again. Hopefully (fairly) soon.
    Couldn’t you send sone rain our way?
    Best regards from a drought-stricken southern Texas,
    Pit

  7. Such amazing photos and the places are so beautiful! I really loved every single photos! The places are just mesmerizing! 🙂 Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  8. Hey, Terry — I just saw the new “Freshly Pressed” page, and I immediately recognized that picture. Isn’t this the second time you’ve been “Freshly Pressed”? Congratulations!!! And I just want to say that I’m pretty proud of myself as well — for already knowing about and appreciating your blog before today’s honor!

    1. Hi Sandra. Yes, the second time in FP although I am not sure exactly what that means – whether blogs are selected or just random. As you know, I’m a bit green still with blogging. Thank you for your kind comment. At the end of the day I just share my pictures and write about my walks. I don’t feel I do anything special so I’m just glad that some people seem to enjoy it 🙂

      1. I’ve just been thinking. I am an editor and graphic artist for a publishing company. One of my jobs is creating greeting cards, and I am allowed to create cards personally outside of company time. I often do so for friends and family. Your photos cause my fingers to absolutely “itch” to get to work on cards with those pictures on them. I’d really like to create a set of (blank inside) greeting cards with some of your pictures and a scripture verse. If you and your wife still use regular mail (as opposed to e-mail) so that you would be likely to use them, I’ll create a set and send them to you — not for a fee — just for fun. However, if you rarely use regular mail, you probably wouldn’t care about having something like that. Let me know if you think you would use them, and you can always click on my gravatar and go to my “profile” page to get my pesonal e-mail. Then you could e-mail me your mailing address so that it’s not on here.

  9. I can’t even imagine (and I’ve got a pretty good imagination too!), how absolutely wonderful it must be to actually stand there in person and see those scenes with my own eyes. I don’t understand how anyone can see such things and not believe in a Creator.

  10. Such a nice respite to join you on your walk. England is lovely and it’s nice you have meandering trails that don’t run into barbed wire and signs saying do not trespass. Thanks for the trip.

  11. Very nice post! I used to live in England and I love the Dorset countryside ( and its cream teas). Now that I now live in Canada, I am also discovering different trails and terrain for walking.

  12. Hi Terry, loved your blog. It reminded me of my schooldays in the 1950’s in Rutland near the village of Tixover. A far cry from the stark reality of the Australian outback of droughts and flooding rains, kangaroos and every venomous creature on the planet.

    Paul (ex-patriot Yorkshireman) aka aquarianmist.

  13. Well, thank you, Dorset Rambler. As a Dorset lad now in exile (in the Middle East) I loved your ramble with photos. I was born in Dorchester, and grew up in Shaftesbury (several millennia ago) and my father was born just below Hambledon Hill (Child Okeford). Was that one of the hill forts I spotted? Wonderful post – I am definitely following…

  14. Hello! I’m VERY new to the blogging game, and this is my first comment. I went for a walk yesterday in the rain, and still there was so much beauty. This post highlights all we take for granted in the world. Thanks Dorset Rambler!

  15. Loved rambling with you. I especially enjoyed hearing of the lush green all around since we are experiencing terribly dry weather here in Wisconsin, U.S.A. Thanks, Dorset Rambler.

  16. Thank you for sharing this. Those images are captured beautifully, just like how I’d always imagined the places to be and where I’ve always wanted to be. You’re lucky! 😀

  17. Lovely photos, especially the poppies. If it’s any consolation it’s not just England that’s been having all the rain, we’ve had it here in Wales too.

    Is that Maiden Castle?

  18. I absolutely love all of your photos. It makes me want to go on a photography adventure of my own 🙂 Not to mention visit England.

  19. Aww I LOVE the countryside and meadows! The greenery is captivating and you managed to capture some spectacular shots, especially your first photo–WOW!

    Hopefully your post will inspire more people to take a walk in the woods. What a great way to work out AND enjoy the beauty of nature!

  20. Great story and thanks for sharing. When I see your pictures my first thought is England is beautiful!!! About the rain, well I understand you guys but lets change we do really need some fresh air here in Italy it’s really to hot and almost unbearable!!

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