Chilfrome - mild, cloudy, sw 2 - Daybreak - After yesterdays shenanigans down on The Fleets I was in need of some solitude, so it was up before daybreak, a quick brew and then out with Barney and his new mate Indy, a 12 year old Labrador. As we turned down the lane in the pre-dawn gloom Tawny Owls called from the churchyard yews, Redwings `seeiped` overhead and a clatter of Woodpigeons broke cover. The narrow lanes hereabouts are bordered by thick hedgerows of hazel, dogwood and hawthorn, set atop steep banks to keep the sheep in, and as we wandered through the hamlet there was not a peep of human activity. In the valley bottom all was peace and quiet apart from a languid Robin song and the skitter of dogs claws on tarmac.
We cut through a kissing gate, across a stream and the Lab was straight in, gambolling about and having great fun, as Barney looked on with contempt - Borders do not like water, or at least this one doesn`t. Scanning across the enormous sloping field I caught sight of a trio of roe deer grazing in the bottom corner and a badger grubbing about close to a boundary bank on the hill side. With the light improving slowly we powered up hill in one go, panting heavily by the time we reached the summit, dogs included. As I settled down to enjoy the view across the valley ragged flocks of corvids were noisily leaving roost sites and heading west, while a trickle of Skylarks passed overhead, heard but unseen, unlike the first `mewing` Buzzards of the day.
On the opposite hillside ancient lynchets stood out like ripples in the scarp slope, beside dappled patches of bare chalk, an old long barrow and a lone wayfaring tree. The steep slopes were peppered with black and white sheep, while lower down beef cattle were corralled on lusher pastures, where we later found mushrooms for breakfast.
I sat amongst the roots of an old beech tree atop that ridge for over half an hour, day dreaming, being at one with nature and enjoying the solace, until Indy the Labrador slobbered all over me! That was our cue to plunge downhill and pick up the green lane and return to civilisation. We arrived back at base refreshed without seeing another human over the past three hours, which set me up nicely for the long drive home...