The pond at Ashmore
In Dorset for the weekend and ignoring the severe weather warnings we decide to go for a walk in Cranbourne Chase. Ange has found an interesting circular walk from Ashmore, 219m above sea level, allegedly the highest village in Dorset.
We head off to the east, passing the attractive church of St Nicolas. It is medieval in origin but, as is so often the case, most of what you see now is the result of a Victorian restoration.
Soon we leave the road and follow a mid-field path downhill. The view ahead is very inviting.
Soon we are walking along the side of a slope with a nice view off to the right.
This path leads into Balfour's Wood and we follow a path that leads down to Stubhampton Bottom. This pleasant winding track leads along the valley bottom through the woods and subsequent fields for nearly two miles.
As we emerge into open country we see a shooting party emerging from the field on the right. We have heard a lot of guns on all sides so far and we learned from a chap walking his dog that today is the last day of the shooting season. He said that what we had been hearing was the beaters having their go: "they'll be sorting out the weaker males before the start of the breeding season". We wondered how they would identify these weaker males - presumably any that were stupid enough to be shot. He acknowledged that there weren't many left. This group however looked too gentrified to be professional beaters.
Eventually we reached a road and quickly turned left to follow Ashmore Bottom where we saw the same gang (they had passed us in their Landrovers). They seemed now to be blazing away at anything that flew over - without success, happily.
The track now turned more grassy and offered more visual appeal.
After a brief stretch through woodland we passed a farm where we attracted the attention of some horses which galloped over from the opposite side of quite a large field. The sun had come out now and the horses and the countryside beyond looked very pretty. A bit further on a group of oak trees caught my eye in the sun, with dark clouds behind.
After this we walked through Wiltshire Copse to find our way back to Ashmore.
The village pond looked lovely, viewed from the opposite side in the mid-afternoon sun.
Conditions: cold, especially in the biting wind. Very muddy most of the way.
Distance: 7 miles.
From: Dorset walks (Pathfinder Guides)
Rating: 3 and a half stars. Better in summer.