As I have a slightly different routine on monday for walking the dog, I walk nearer home up the slopes of the Lansdown. My walk takes me through several fields to Primrose Hill Wood, a newly established 25 acre wood situated midway between Beckford Tower and Weston.
On saturday I had driven to Braythwaite in freezing weather, a hawk had been sitting hunched and cold on a wire, normally he can be seen hovering with that perfect precision in the wind holding a perfect balance between earth and sky. Half a minute later two great buzzards swooped over the car, the feathered tips of their wings marking their great wingspan. I felt their hunger in the cold morning as they scouted for food. But Monday's weather was misty as we set up the hill.
View towards Kelston Round Hill
Moss in a renactment of last week when he lost a ball down a drain at the end of a track, managed to do it once more to his absolute astonishment, he gazed somewhat disbelievingly into the drain that now holds two of his unretrievable balls.A stick though will be found and his walk will bounce along in its normal way. The path through the fields is well used by walkers and MOD people who work at the old Foxhill outpost along the top of the Lansdown.
Coming up to Primrose Wood you are met by a steel gate fitted into the deer fence that surrounds the wood, there are many deer that live up on the slopes of the Lansdown, the land is not heavily farmed and they range quite freely.
The trees in the wood are now 10 to 12 foot high, and are growing strongly. There has been a 'suburban' hand in the choice and planting of shrubs and trees, a formality that jars one's expectation of a proper wood.
The above shot is of the Lansdown, but there was once a barrow lurking just under the ridge on Flock Down somewhere, excavated in the 1960s by boys from the Royal School.
Moss by cotoneaster bush in Primrose Hill Wood
The trust has hung up notices asking for wild plants for insect life such as butterflies. Hemp agrimony I have in the garden and also Dames Violet, or Hesperis Matronalis to give it a more stately name, so next spring I will leave some there. The leaves are off the trees, except for the bright golden yellow of the larch firs, it is just a tracery of branches everywhere with the strong red wands of dogwood shrubs lining the path.
Primrose Wood is part of the linking corridor of woods that are part of the national reforesting scheme, Shiner's Wood under Kelston Hill is another newly planted wood, it will take many years before they achieve maturity and then decline with decaying grace as the old woods do that cling to steep escarpments.
On the way back I meet a dogwalking friend, and as we go through an old iron post gate on the path, he points out deer hair. Apparently last week a frightened deer had tried to force its ways through the 6 inch bars and had of course got jammed. The RSPCA came and hooded the little creature and then with a car jack forced the iron bars wide releasing the trapped animal.