Brockenhurst and Burley

“Little Acorns” is set in a wooded valley and there is an interesting variety of wildlife on show. This morningwe saw coal tits and nuthatches on the feeder as well as the more usual tits and greenfinches.

The frost had mostly cleared by the time we set off at around 10 a.m. We turned left up thehill and back towards Hale by what is probably a marginally longer route, but almost certainly involves less climbing. We joined the B road towards Longcross and then headed south past Fritham towards the Bolderwood Ornamental Drive. My arthritis was giving me some trouble so progress was slow and we had a few rest stops for photographs. I had just seen a buzzard and I was trying to point it out to the others when suddenly it wasn’t a buzzard at all. Instead, it behaved very like the male hen harrier we had seen three years ago in the hills south of Burnley. The plumage was very different, though, and this bird came close enough for s to see the white patchat the base of the tail. Our guess that it was a female hen harrier was confirmed when we checked the bird book on returning to the B & B.

The ornamental drives were very fine, and we soon found ourselves in Brockenhurst. The Forester’s Arms provided a good pint of Ringwood 49er and a very acceptable baked potato with chilli, but I’m afraid I earned some Old Git points when I asked the barmaid to turn the excessively loud music down.

We tehn set off for Buley and Ringwood, and after passing through the outskirts of the latter, we came across a welcoming pub in the form of the Alice Lisle, a Fullers’ tied house. They had one hand pump serving Gales HSB and it was this pint which made me think that this was the beer provided by the landlord of the Newport Inn in Braishfield.

We had a fair old hill to climb after Stuckton and came across a load of cyclists who had wimped out and were walking up. I cannot stand being congratulated in a patronising manner by a person who is not even on a bike. However, it was not long before we had reached the B & B, showered and were ready for the Hopping Hare at the Horse & Groom. Mike and I had the mixed grill, and it was more than we could manage.