Last week, our elder son celebrated his thirtieth birthday. He and his younger brother both had a free afternoon, so we joined them and younger son`s family for a birthday walk and a meal.
St Catherine`s Hill in Christchurch was the place that the "boys" chose to meet. Not far from their childhood home, it was the scene of so many happy dog walks, games and cycle rides in their younger days.
Now, the next generation is enjoying the woods and the heathland tracks. The first photo shows little Granddaughter making her way to the top of the hill. She had been home to change after school. She knew it was a Birthday so insisted on wearing her pink party dress to walk in!
Here she is, with her Uncle, investigating something in the leaf litter...........
....and looking down from the view point towards Christchurch and the sea.
During this winter`s floods, the River Avon flooded acres of watermeadows and surrounding farmland. Homes, roads and fields were flooded. Now, at last the water is receding a little.
Towards Christchurch Harbour and the sea.......
....and a view to the north towards Ringwood.
St Catherine`s Hill is managed as a sandy heathland nature reserve. Because there are no grazing animals, areas of scrub, heath and gorse are regularly cleared to allow new heather to grow and to clear pine and silver birch saplings.
It was a chilly afternoon so heat from the bonfire was welcome.
A garden escape, this pretty Ribes (flowering currant), was in bloom beside the path.
A young Corsican Pine grows on the edge of the hill slope, with views of the Avon Valley beyond.
Unlike the New Forest heathlands, the heather grows tall without ponies or cattle to prune it.
Gorse was flowering .......
........ green woodland moss covered the mound of an old wood ants` nest.....
.....and brightened patches of woodland floor beneath the pines.
We didn`t walk far that day but it was good to revisit old haunts, which have not changed much at all in the years since we moved away.