Thank you all for your good wishes, which I have passed on to last weekend`s Bride and Groom!
Despite a evening party at the wedding, with very late bed times for all, a hardy bunch of guests joined the newly weds at midday on Monday, for a walk around Hengistbury Head to blow away the cobwebs. Lots of the guests were old university friends who are now scattered across the country ( one couple even flew in from Australia for the wedding). It seemed a great idea to get together before everyone dispersed again.
We all set off across towards the sea path......
....and turned towards Warren Hill, the highest point of Hengistbury Head.
The Natterjack Toad conservation pond is well established now, but the toads were in hiding.
Between the Iron Age Double Dykes, is an area where wild flowers can grow, protected from tramping feet.
Some of the wildlife that lives on Warren Hill. We saw sand martins, newly arrived from Africa, swooping into their nest holes in the sandy clifftops.
The westwards view, along the miles of sandy beaches stretching towards Bournemouth and along the bay to Poole Harbour.
A weary group of wedding guests, trudging up Warren Hill!
Bluebells on the hill slopes seemed paler than those in more sheltered spots.
Waiting for me to catch up........
A schooner was hugging the coast on its eastward journey.
We passed the freshwater lake in the Victorian ironstone quarry.
The little ship continued on its way.
After a wonderful walk across sandy heathland on the top of Warren Hill, we reached the viewpoint where the sands of Mudeford spit stretch towards the narrow mouth of Christchurch Harbour. Highcliffe, Barton and Milford are on the distant coastline beyond. This is the coastline that was so badly battered by this February`s Valentine`s Night Storm.
In sheltered waters, Christchurch Harbour is the place where Dorset`s River Stour and the Hampshire River Avon meet the sea.
Down the steps to the beach, and a chance to catch up with old friends.
This patient Border Collie was waiting for someone.
The rust of iron in a fragment of ironstone on the beach.
When we reached the Beach Cafe, we were all in need of a hot drink or an ice cream. We rested for a while, watching people, dogs and small boats.......
.....before we set off again, walking back along the narrow road that flanks the southern edge of Christchurch Harbour.
Saltmarsh and mudflats are a haven for feeding seabirds. We saw shellduck, oystercatchers, egrets and numerous gulls.
The newly painted Noddy Train passed us along the lane. It is a tradition that total strangers on the little train and the walkers they pass all wave happily to each other!
With our walk almost at an end, Christchurch Priory Church came into view at every gap between the trees.
A weary group arrived back at the car park and we went our separate ways. It had been a lovely way to end the wedding celebrations. A seaside walk in hazy sunshine and another chance to be with friends and family, before we all went home and the busy excitement of the past few days gave way to a need for a very early night!