Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kelston Round Hill and boxing hares

Kelston Hill in September

Recently I had an email from someone writing a book about racecourses, he wanted to know about the 'sun disc' on Lansdown.  Now up to a couple of years ago the lansdown had been part of my walking life with my dog, a place to wander and think.  Over the years I accumulated a lot of history about the barrows, Roman sites, etc.  But its greatest treasures were the birds and wild flowers, the great ash trees that lined the sides of the valleys.  The deer early in the morning as they browsed the edge of the woodlands, the little muntjac that would run somewhat ungainly across the open to the safety of the trees, and old brer fox, wandering idly back from a night out hunting.
But once a few years back, when we had got to the viewpoint looking out towards Kelston Round Hill, where you are supposed to see seven counties, including two in Wales, I saw in the field below, boxing hares, a rare site for Somerset. They are a rarity round Bath probably because they get shot, but the dog did once chase one from one end of the course to the other, a good mile, he did'nt catch up though.
Well this week my Resurgence magazine came through the letterbox with a lovely photograph of a winter hare on the front cover, a reminder that March is the month for mad boxing hares.  And it also reminded me of a blog I had written about  Saint Melangell in Wales, who protected the hare.

Toadflax on the race course
The race course was undergoing some drastic changes when I left and I fear for those wild flowers so easily crushed beneath the weight of earth moving vehicles, the animals will always be safe though, the rugged nature of the landscape means that the woods that cling to the sides of the valleys are virtually impossible to eradicate.

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