On Tuesday we walked up onto St Catherine`s Hill in Christchurch, to see the extent of flooding after the recent heavy and persistent rainstorms.
Up through the pines and silver birches, the ground underfoot was wet and slippery.
When we reached the top of the hill we saw the River Avon`s floodplain stretching out to the east and southwards towards Christchurch Harbour, where it meets the River Stour and then flows into the sea. This week, with a new moon and high Spring Tides, the already swollen river waters from both the Stour and the Avon have met incoming tidal seas on high winds. The valleys of both rivers are now saturated and flooding for miles inland. Homes have been flooded, farmland is under water and many roads have been closed across the region.
Looking across the flooded Avon Valley, towards the villages of Burton and Winkton.
At Burton, a small herd of grazing horses became marooned in floodwater this week. They were rescued by a specialist animal welfare team.
The flooded farmland below the hill is watermeadow pasture during the summer months.
We were sorry to see graffiti sprayed on the familiar old trig point.
Looking north, flooding stretched on up the valley towards Ringwood.
A view downstream towards the Harbour, where the hill of Hengistbury Head can be seen in the distance and the tower of Christchurch Priory Church is just visible to its right.
We knew that another belt of storm clouds was due to arrive later that day, so we went for a brief, brisk walk around the top of St Catherine`s Hill.
Below is one of the Bronze Age burial mounds, behind a stand of silver birches.
An orange jelly fungus, bright against a wet woodland background.
On the hilltop there are still a few garden plants growing wild, like this red berried cotoneaster. There was once a sand quarry on this hill and it is said that there was a workers cottage too. The plants are thought to be from the old cottage garden.
The sand quarry now forms a crater on the summit of the hill. Rain has collected into a pond.
The flooded Avon Valley looking north.
Several trees showed branches snapped in recent high winds.
Moss beneath a tree.
The track downhill.
By the time we reached home, rain was pouring from the skies yet again.