Monday, 8 November 2010

An Autumn Walk on Beacon Hill

Last Thursday afternoon, Old Dog and I walked out of the valley, and up onto Beacon Hill. Looking back on the tree line that borders farm fields, the beech trees shone in copper and gold amongst still-green oaks and hazels.

New Forest ponies, sturdy and round after a good summer of grazing on heath and grassland, fed on young gorse shoots by the path.

Young oaks and silver birches were beginning to turn a yellow gold........

...and the sunlit lane wound up the hill, tracing an ancient trackway towards the old iron age hill fort and the hilltop beyond.

We passed ponies feeding on holly, in the sun dappled woodland........

......and the lane wound upwards, into the autumn beech woods .

Clambering through bracken and finding narrow pony tracks, we skirted the edge of the wood. Yellowing silver birches framed views across heathland and valley to the hill where smugglers once passed, bearing contraband to sell in their secret rendezvous on the old London Road.

Sun warmed the marshy heathland, still damp from earlier rain, and the mists rose over ancient burial mounds and the distant miles of woods.

Scrambling up again , towards the trees, Old Dog stopped to catch his breath, to root and snuffle good smells beside the bracken path.

Where beech leaves had already caught the wind, a carpet of copper leaves and crackling beech mast crunched beneath our feet.

Old hollies formed an evergreen understory to the canopy of tall beeches. Rays of late sunlight shone through leaves of bronze, bleached green and gold.

As we followed the lane downhill once more, we found bat boxes high on tree trunks. For years, bat populations have been surveyed in these woods.

Ripening holly berries against the sky. A feast for migrating birds arriving from the east.

Homewards under bright beech branches.....

....past a cottage and catching the scent of late viburnum flowers from a garden tree.

Home at last and Old Dog was tired. Ready for a drink, a biscuit and a sleep . Out in the lane, a pony fed on bramble sprays and holly in the hedge.


rachel said...

You have such a wonderful way of enticing your reader out on a walk with you! I enjoyed this one very much, thank you.

WOL said...

Thanks for the lovely walk. Good to see you back again. I've missed hearing from you.

Kath said...

Lovely photos as always, I particularly liked the scene looking down into the walley from under the branch of that old tree- wonderful.

hart said...

I've missed your posts too. Thanks for the nice walk.--Hart

BumbleVee said...

Love the carpet of coppery leaves....what fun to kick through those!

Dartford Warbler said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. I have had a break because I have not felt too well, with a particularly nasty virus, but hopefully I`m back in action again now. I also "converted" to an Apple computer and have had to wait for the right programme to be added so that I could store and post photos.

It is good to be back!

Morning's Minion said...

One of my favorite autumn walks from years ago was through the "woods" on my grandfather's farm--mostly sugar maples and beech. Even on a misty day the gold of the beech leaves was so rich and warm.
I'm not familiar with copper beech--these appear to have much darker foliage.
Having the Forest ponies as neighbors must provide such interest for your walks. I think I would have favorites amongst them.
What a shame that you have lost precious autumn days to a flu bug--hopefully you are mending well.