On our occasional trawls around the internet in search of snippets to amuse we often find hardcore walking and rambling sites - all kit and kaboodle and useful instructions for getting a platoon to the top of a mountain. All well and good but, apart from the picture from the summit, the journey always seems more like a technical challenge than an engagement with the landscape.
We were pleased, then, to find Alan Rayner’s Blog on the Landscape. Alan’s posts are illustrated with some thoughtfully composed photographs of this and that along the way - mostly natural features, plants and fungi - and his woodland shots, often difficult to capture well - are lovely.
Kit fetishists will be pleased to discover that Alan - an engineer by trade - appears to have designed and manufactured some of his own lightweight equipment and is always on the lookout for more, but a genuine love of the landscape permeates the blog. Recommended.
A special lay-by of the week this week from Bolderwood in the New Forest; not so much a lay-by as an interesting place to park, courtesy of the Forestry Commission.
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Ordnance Survey 1 Inch New Popular Edition 1945
During the summer months, the wildly interesting information kiosk (run-of-the-mill town centre TICs please take note) is open and on a busy weekend when the weather is nice you will often find an ice cream van parked up. But all of that is moot, because a short walk from the car park is a deer viewing platform - from where you may be lucky enough to spot a Red Stag or a group of Roe Bucks - like the picture below.
It’s also a timely reminder, as autumn passes into winter, of the importance of trees in the landscape, both from an aesthetic and functional view. Our forests are rich habitats that, like all woodland the world over, need to be managed and preserved not only for the good of some abstract ecological notion, but also because indiscriminate felling or management of them for anything other than their natural value is madness. The Coalition Government has recently announced it is to sell off up to half of our national forests. Not only would this put habitats and wildlife in severe danger, but it wouldn’t even raise very much money - making it all look less like a response to a financial crisis and more like an ideologically-sponsored privatisation; less like selling the family silver, more like putting our back garden up for sale. Anyone who cares about our landscape is strongly urged to join over 35,000 signatories (in the first week alone) and sign the 38 Degrees petition now - maybe they’ll think again when they see the numbers.