Down by the River

View looking north along the Cerne Valley from the river as it flows near Charlton Down. The river banks still look lush in comparison with the brown fields around which have recently been harvested or ploughed. The field peas in the adjacent field were noisily being cut and garnered by the machine as I took this picture yesterday, 20th August 2021.

Click on image to enlarge it.

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.

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.

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.

Round Barrow 1

The history of the area around Charlton Down goes back to very ancient times. The most visible evidence for this is the number of round barrows in the landscape. These are the tumuli that are marked with an asterisk symbol on Ordnance Survey maps. There are quite a few around the village of Charlton Down and a short walk from Greenwood House. They are burial mounds that were constructed about 3,000 years ago in the Bronze Age.

Some survive better than others after all this time; many are in fields where generations of ploughing have reduced the height of them and rendered them almost invisible to the untrained eye. Some remain spectacularly intact but hidden in plain sight. One such is preserved on the brow of the slope near the highest part of Charlton Higher Down, where it is barely visible at this time of year in the middle of a field of flowering rape (SY68859575). I couldn’t see it till I was very close because of the tall stalks and the curve of the land, but the establishment of a small shrub (I think it is Elder) on the summit of the grassy mound acted as a marker. I had to hold the camera in the air at full arms’ length to get the shots against quite a dramatic background of rain clouds.

Four Views

Four views taken a few steps from Greenwood House late morning 3 May 2021 when the wind was already high and the rain was yet to come, but promised in the full clouds scudding and fitfully obscuring the sun. Remember you can click any picture to enlarge it and see the caption.