Friday, 4 January 2013

St Catherine`s Hill on New Year`s Day

On the afternoon of New Years Day, we joined our sons and their families for a walk up on St Catherine`s Hill, on the northern outskirts of the Dorset coastal town of Christchurch. We lived nearby when the boys were young and this was always a favourite walk.

The first views show the wintery heathland of Town Common and the flooded water meadows of the River Avon, which flows into Christchurch Harbour just a few miles further downstream.

Normally, there is just a thin ribbon of meandering river, twisting down through the valley. The water meadows flood every winter after heavy rain, but this year the floods seem more widespread and more prolonged. This winter we have had some of the highest levels of rainfall on record. Local farmers and landowners also believe that reducing the cutback of weed in the river ( a cost cutting measure apparently) has impeded the main river channel and made the flooding worse than it should be.

A view across Christchurch town, towards Hengistbury Head and the sea in Poole Bay. The tower of Christchurch Priory Church is in the middle distance.

Looking towards the north, across Town Common and towards the flooded River Avon flowing southwards from Ringwood.

Sunlight among the old Corsican Pines on the top of the hill.

The river has flooded to the very edge of gardens in the villages strung out along the Christchurch to Ringwood road. In the distance is the higher land of the western New Forest.

Our little grand daughter M, playing in the puddles with her young Aunty A, her Mum`s younger sister.

A crisp, cold wind followed us along the hill but there was enough sun to warm us up if we walked quickly. It was a lovely hour or so in the winter sun and a good way to begin another year. I`m pleased we made the most of that sunshine. So far it has been the only sunny day this year!


Rowan said...

It looks like a lovely walk, always good to make the most of any sunshine at this time of year. Your granddaughter playing in the puddles made me smile, mine all do the same. Jumping in puddles is always a popular pastime with little ones.

Kath said...

those huge puddles made me think they could have been made by the feet of an enormous elephant! but that's the kid in me LOL
You are right tho, it has been the best day so far (and probably of last year too!).

The Weaver of Grass said...

There is something magical about winter landscapes isnt there, DW?
Also something magical about rewalking old favourites. Happy New Year to you.

Down by the sea said...

I have only known St Catherine's Hill as a place to drive through on the way to Christchurch. Thank you for showing me what I have missed! The woods and views look amazing. I will put it on my list on somewhere to visit this year.
Sarah x

Ragged Robin said...

Looks a really beautiful walk and gorgeous scenery. Great photos. Unbelievable to see the effects of all the rain. Let's hope for less this year!

Mum said...

We had sun on New Year's Day and sun today. Let's hope we get more sun throughout the year.
Love from Mum

Isabelle said...

That looks lovely but very damp. Happy New Year!

Louise said...

What a lovely walk. I love a nice heathland and the photos you took are great. Hope your granddaughter had fun splashing in the puddles!

Hazel Cottage said...

What a lovely walk, that's not an area we have explored - once it dries up we may just do that!


WOL said...

An interesting combination of old and new -- old pleasures shared with new family members.

Crafty Green Poet said...

atmospheric photos, looks like a lovely way to start the year!

Morning's Minion said...

I always enjoy the photos of your walks. I'm beginning to think that many parts of England are a flatter landscape than the ones I've known best, yet many of your trees and plants are familiar.

Elizabeth said...

Good morning!
Your post on St Catherine's Hill is interesting, it's a good idea for my husband and I to do on New year's day next year. I hope you don't me asking but which car park do you start your walk from?