CD Countryside Views 3

It was a lovely July morning and I thought I would venture across the main road at the top of the village to admire views from the slopes of Charlton Higher Down now that the crops are all ripening and the colours so different since my last visit. When I arrived at the place I was aiming to explore, I was disappointed to find that the farmer was spraying a field, and it seemed unwise to be too close. I ventured a short distance in the opposite direction but the path petered out and I could still smell the spray. So I walked back the way I came.

Field of Peas

Pictures from a walk yesterday afternoon into the fields around Charlton Down, towards the River Cerne where it borders onto a large field on sloping ground where the farmer has planted a crop of Field Peas. I think that they are being grown for animal feed but at the same time will help fertilise the soil because legumes fix nitrogen from the air and store as a compound in the roots. I haven’t seen peas as a crop here before. This field had barley last year. I really like the way the skies seen so expansive over the fields, and the cloud formations were wonderful.

CD Field Walk 1

The barley is growing fast. The stalks and the grain are still green but the ‘whiskers’ have turned colour. Acres of soft golden haze cover the slopes. undulating like waves on the sea as the wind ripples through the crop. Clouds scudding-by create moving shadows to darken the fields, emphasising the vibrancy and golden glow when the sun reappears. It is such a pleasure to see all this – the wider panorama as well as the moving textures and nuances of hue on the smaller scale. We are privileged to be able to walk around the fields that surround Charlton Down and observe the changes to the farmed landscape from season to season.

Best appreciated full-size.

CD Countryside Views 2

The views from the elevation of Higher Charlton Down are magnificent and span miles of countryside. You get there by crossing the main road on the upper part of the village and following the footpath signposted to Waterston Ridge. The English system of hedgerow boundaries gives the landscape the look of a great patchwork quilt with each parcel of land a different colour depending on what is growing at any particular time in the farming year. Individual trees, small clumps, copses and woods are spattered over the landscape, while the odd barn or building stands out like a modern monument in the panorama. The ancient monuments are more difficult to spot – sometimes only discernible when the light is just right and only then when you know where to look. Pictures taken on 5 May 2021.

River Cerne Walk 1

We are lucky to have access to such a lovely little chalk river only a short walk from the village of Charlton Down. Like every habitat, it can change dramatically in its appearance through the seasons, with the water level rising and falling, and the banks increasingly shrouded with luxuriant vegetation as the weather warms up. This winter saw a big tidy up and cut back for river management reasons, but last year there was a spectacular abundance of white-headed umbelliferous plants including Water Dropwort mixed in with Comfrey. Last year in June the riverbank plants were well established but the Dropwort had not yet reached anything like its full height. This year everything is a bit behind because of the cold Spring and it will be a while for plants to re-establish after the cull. It is a very pleasant walk along the bank at any time, with expansive views of the surrounding slopes and fields. There was a field of poppies in the distance, and young barley close by (field peas are the crop this year) on this particular walk.

CD Countryside Views 1

The spectacular Dorset countryside around our village of Charlton Down is constantly changing with the seasons and with farming activities. There is always a new perspective. One of my favourite viewpoints is along the lane by the allotments. From the gateway by the barn you can look roughly westwards towards Wood Hill Clump. Hardy’s monument is on the far horizon. The village lies mostly hidden behind the trees to the right. Right now, the parallel lines of fresh shoots in the field follow the undulating contours of the slopes and skirt the patch of trees next to the nature reserve. A wide strip of tall rye grass remains as a top border to the newly sown crop. While at the very edge of the field, wild grasses and flowers are flourishing alongside the hedgerow and beneath the old barn.

New Shoots in the Fields

It doesn’t seem as if any time has passed at all since I watched the farmer ploughing the big field – but here already are the short green shoots of the new crop. It was wheat in that field last year and I think it is probably the same again. I will watch its progress. Always good to see things grow and develop.