This afternoon was hot, but the morning`s blue skies were hidden by misty grey cloud coming in from the south west. We took Whisper Dog out for another walk on his own. He is fitter so he can walk further and more briskly than Old Dog used to do. We try to choose more isolated pathways now, as Whisper can be grumpy if he meets other dogs.
We walked down the steep edge of the Beacon Hill and along pony tracks through gorse and heather. Three young New Forest mares were grazing on sweet grass that they had found between the twiggy branches of a dried up, fallen tree. These three are always together and have been since they were foals. We call them the Three Little Maids ("from school are we..."). The bay pony below and the little chestnut mare are both the nieces of two of our geldings, Woody and Ginger. There is a marked resemblance. It was good to see them looking so sleek and well.
Turning towards the south, we found the old sandy track. This trackway follows the base of the long hilly ridge and leads eventually to a large freshwater pond. It must be an ancient track and was probably used by those who lived on the iron age hill fort and all the generations since. There is a tranquility here, when the background hum of traffic slips away as you walk. Soon there is nothing but the rustling of hillside trees in the wind and the call of heathland birds.
The main track has eroded into sandy ravines along the way and new tracks have formed beside them.
One of several Bronze Age burial mounds in the valley.
Most of the moorland ling has finished flowering now, but patches of bell heather and yellow dwarf gorse plants brightened the edge of the track.
We climbed up the hill again, looking back towards the eastern Forest edge; across the coastal plain towards the distant Purbeck Hills.
A patch of late flowering ling at the edge of the woods.
At the top of the hill, we followed a path through the holly, into the old beech wood.
Whisper had enjoyed his walk but was getting tired now, so we turned for home along the hilltop lane.