If I am not in a hurry, I enjoy taking unfamiliar routes across the New Forest. Today, I was on my way home from Fordinbridge (after yet another trip to the dentist) . It was still cold after a frosty dawn, but today has been one of sunshine and blue sky. I turned left, up a narrow, high hedged lane, and found the hamlet of Stuckton which lies at the edge of Avon Valley farmland.
As I turned a corner, this beautiful and very old barn was in front of me. It is the great barn of Hyde Farm. It has recently been reroofed with slate, but the interior seemed deserted. A building project seems to be in progress. When I arrived home, I researched the barn and found that applications have been made to turn it into holiday cottages or a dwelling. The Planning Department website showed that many local people were concerned that it may no longer be an agricultural building. It has housed animals and farm implements for centuries. I shall return one day to see what has become of the barn. My guess is that it will become yet another barn conversion and that its days as a shelter for farm stock and Barn Owls may be drawing to a close.
This is the side wall of the barn. Intricate and varied brick patterns have been built into this wall, probably by generations of local craftmen. Above the brickwork is a door into a storage area, possibly a hayloft, amongst the high beams.
I drove on, through the village of Hyde, where families of donkeys graze the Forest and the village lanes. This donkey mare was eating holly, while her daughter was browsing the hedge bottom across the lane.
As I stopped to take her photograph, the young donkey left her grazing and came to investigate when I wound down the car window.
The green at the edge of Hyde. I turned left here and drove over the brow of Gorley Hill and down to North Gorley in the valley.
A thatched cottage on the hill and the view across Avon Valley farmland which must be visible from the cottage windows.
Along the lane was another cottage, where the traditional fencing is of made of young hazel branches woven together into panels.
Down on the green at Ibsley, a chestnut New Forest yearling filly. Her mother was grazing by the pond across the lane.
This rather knock-kneed donkey was in the middle of the road. She moved as I approached, towards the fence where a group of ponies in a field were looking curiously at her.
I stopped, wound down the window to take their photograph, to find that the donkey wanted to put her head right into the car!
After a drier week, the ford was running low today.
Back at home in the garden, the lambstail catkins of a hazel tree against a clear blue sky.
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