Monday, May 7

Avon Valley Footpath

I found myself at a bit of a loose end for today's walk. Where to go to avoid the anticipated Bank Holiday crowds, especially with the overcast weather and gusty wind? The New Forest was not high on the list of choices today, and I found myself driving north towards Ringwood, parking near Kingston to pick up the Avon Valley Footpath and head northwards.

The original idea was to have a bit of mooch around an area I'd not been to for a few months, but one that definitely isn't on the normal tourist trail. Not to actually walk anywhere in particular, just to follow my nose and take in the day.

Haskell's Pond (147 028) which I'd not spotted before is already shrinking with the lack of April rainfall. But moving onto the main pond (146 033) there's been a fair bit of work over the winter, opening a once dank and smelly pool of stagnant water into a revelation. And judging by the wildfowl on it, including the venerable grey heron perching on a log, they've given it their vote of confidence as well.

Pity I forgot to take a snap. Doh! Another visit perhaps?

Northwards along the AVP onto the ford (149 035), meaning only to get the dogs some drinking water and a swim. But the fancy took me to carry on, across the fields of lush green meadow grass, alongside the River Avon and finally over the old railway line, now part of the Castlemain Trailway, and on into Ringwood town centre for a quick coffee and cake to share with the pooches. Plus the chance to give them some on-street training on a quieter than normal day.

Coffee slurped. Dogs now settled down to the strangeness of streets and people, we turned around and fled back to the peace and quiet of the meadows. There the only sights being wildfowl, flowers and the wind.

Fifteen swans had watched me on the way north, and the same set were there again on my way south, their nesting area on the far bank relatively safe from man and farmer, only fearful of any foxes in the area.

As I neared the car the only other vehicle I had spotted parked up, sharing the area's solitude, had departed. A pity as the car was wearing the sponsorship banners for Dorset Search & Rescue and I was curious as to their role in this area.

A fruitful journey; A meditative walk; Apart from the town vicinity few people around and despite the muggy picture above a bright day.

A few drops of rain fell on the car windscreen as I drove off, but hey ho if you don't make the effort you never get the rewards. Whatever the forecast.


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