Sunday, August 2

Its Summer? No its Autumn? Just take your pick

An early Sunday start prepping two motorcycles ready for a long weekend at a Well Known Event (but more on that later in the week perhaps)

Whilst I'm on the topic, when did the centre-stand become surplus to requirement? Trying single handed to get each bike on a paddock stand, for simple chain maintenance (a five minute job) became a heart stopping half hour if the end result wasn't to be one's pride and joy lying lifeless on its side after toppling over during the stand/mounting process.

Since when did a centre stand become a luxury item?

So imagine my joy when I wandered back indoors only to find my pc screen infected with a rather nasty Trojan virus which required some major low level surgery to eradicate.

And yes, I do use current Firewall & Anti-Virus packages.

Two hours later that was sorted, leaving many more hours to run some alternative malware/spyware software and complete a low level purge.

Time for a walk then? More like essential.

Out to Burbush in the New Forest for a bit of contemplative R&R, accompanied by a MP3 player of very loud rock music. Always works well when I'm in an anti-social frame of mind.

Predictably, given the summer season, the rural back roads were busy & the New Forest car park a seething mass of humanity. Why does the term 'tourist on holiday' seem to require leaving their brain & common sense in a small pail by the holiday accommodation's front door each day?

Oh well - a quiet route was essential today, far away from marked paths and over publicised guidebook routes.

A success in that I saw no-one else once I'd left the vicinity of the car park. Sort of a success in a spur of the moment decision to try something a little more physically challenging by hopping off the back of my first route to link up with a longer outlying circuit.

It was via bog land. It wasn't any surprise. I know the land here abouts is liable to be undercut by narrow rivulets of flowing water, especially after rain. Adopting the trusted bog hop gait that Darren knows so well I quickly crossed onto the lower slopes of the far valley side, and picked up a pony track up to the pine topped mount ahead, in which nestled a World War II searchlight emplacement.

All going spiffing so far. A good workout over rough ground, much akin to Dartmoor in some places, and at a fast pace. Dog by my side, we moved ever onwards.

As I followed the ridge I was watching the boggy land below looking for a better track to cut across to rejoin the original route. An excellent & quiet circular if it wasn't for 400m of path crossing a major watershed plateau. Even the sinking of various peat and straw bales a few years earlier had failed to turn it into better than an inevitable paddle even during drought conditions. So its always been a bugbear of mine to find someway to hop this impassable section without getting a guaranteed soaking.

Today I thought I had cracked it. Spotting a clear pony track down I headed to the valley for a short 200m traverse to the far slope.

Along the way my path meandered by a solitary blackberry bush, already full of ripe fruit. A pause briefly to saviour a couple of large juicy berries unadulterated by proximity to car or human activity. Its going to be a bumper crop this year.

But hang on - doesn't ripe fruit signify the End of The Summer. A sign that Autumn's days are announcing their turn to become the seasonal host?

Maybe. Personally I'm yet to get my head around the fact its Summer, even as the evenings drawn in with each dusk arriving earlier than the previous one.

Onwards then into what turned out to be one of the worst pieces of broken ground I've walked over for some time. No make that walked through. Or maybe even under.

Initially hopping from tussock to tussock I turned to make sure Dog was ok. He'd disappeared. Nope there he was, the only sign of his passage the top of long sedge grasses moving, as he followed a track deep deep down in the undergrowth.

I persevered. Carefully. This was ankle snapping territory. The trusted bog hop gait, so suavely demonstrated not half an hour before soon became an arm whirling, keep the balance, plummet forward until finally the inevitable happened.

My foot went into a pool of water, far below and out of sight, with the result - a boot filled with a tantalising mixture of rain water and Grade A fresh bog land mulch (and all free of charge)

Bugger - this is the sort of incident that rarely happens to me. Even then it should be in some wild and harsh environment. Not 50m from the dry & well worn path in front of me.

I finished the rest of the walk with a noticeable squelch each time my right foot hit the deck. But I had to smile along the way.

Putting the valley's water levels down to this summer's rainfall level I mentally marked the route as passable, but with care and at the right time of the year.

So why, when I came to one of the Forest's permanent pool of standing water was it's level 2-3m below its normal mark; Foreshore mud clearly visible? A typical mid summer scene in fact.

Is this still a wet Summer this year? Or maybe a warm season with periods of rainfall that have coloured the general perception of inclement weather.

Or has the high season already passed, leaving us to face an early Autumn? One that indicates the
non Winter season is now one extended period of warm & occasionally wet weather?

Well I don't know, and I doubt whether the Met Office are truly qualified these days to proffer an opinion that anyone would trust.

I squelched my way back into the typical Soddam & Gomorrah scene surrounding the car park. As I started homewards to renew battle with a pc clean-up, I skirted Forest ponies obstructing the main access routes & road. Their particular season in full swing having relearnt the quickest way to get Oohs & Aahs from day trippers and more relevantly their free handouts.

I really need to get away soon!

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Ah well, I shall wait until the winter months befor venturing in to those regions
Looks a nice walk as ever.

Are you sure that is part of the AA defences?

It looks almost like an auxiliary unit operational base, where Churchill's secret army would lay in wait to sabotage any German invasion.

If it is, they are notoriously hard to find (for obvious reasons)

On the other note I don't mind Autumn coming early so long as it stays for longer.
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