Saturday, November 15

Saturday morning - New Forest Dogging

On a whim today I decided to visit one of my regular circuits deep amongst woodland, south of Wilverley Plain. Luckily a track well known to me, as a mixture of sudden leaf drop & a period of wet and damp conditions, has altered the terrain sufficiently to obscure some of the side-tracks, leading from the main shale surfaced tourist paths - ones tend to keep well clear of wherever possible.

On the entry gate into the enclosure I'd spotted a new information sign advising of one of those New Forest events that appear out of the blue, and are always accompanied by a Caution & Care notice for regular NF users. And any concerned insurer, no doubt.

So no surprise then, on coning to cross one of the shale tracks, to find a couple of competitors busily working their dog teams in the ABSA Sleddog Championship 2008/09.

Unlike previous events I've met this time the teams were using only one dog per sled/musher. But, as usual, the dogs seem to be enjoying themselves tremendously, as the mushers did most of the sled pushing on a nearby uphill section.

If you've not encountered this sport before the sleds are lightweight frames mounted on large bicycle wheels. A sturdy build to take the knocks of travelling at speed over the hard & uneven forest tracks.

Later I moved from the dank woodland into the weak daylight of Wilverley Plain, and recalled my last visit here. That was back in October to cover the Forest Uprising Group's protests against the New Forest National Park's proposals.

Then it hit me.

On one hand the NFPA, talking up the tightening of dog access in the New Forest. The same authority today permitting a competitive dog centred event. One that results in some limitation of access in a popular area for the whole weekend (Not that I've any problem with the event or its organisers BTW)

A timely reminder that FUG presented their formal response on the NFPA's consultation draft yesterday, on the last day for submissions.

With around 9,000 responses to work through the NFPA is going to be rather busy trying to settle down the hornet's nest they've raised, ready for the formal submission to the full National Park Authority in summer 2009.

With further workgroups and public meetings in the pipeline expect sparks to continue to fly for some time yet.

Me, I went back to the sled race. It seemed to me that the dogs were getting the better of the deal today. And long may it stay so into the future.

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