It's rained rather a lot over the last few months, with the result that it's a bit squelchy out there. Of course, this is great for wildlife on the whole, but makes for slower progress on one's walks!
I'm recently back from my Cornwall trip, where epic levels of squelch were encountered on our coastal walks. It's always nice to visit a different geology - lots of granite and clay, making for flashier rivers engorged with water from the land, and greatly enlarged-feet when walking across fields! We did also get great views of the craggy coastline - so different to our more gentle and sheltered Solent coast.
On Sunday, expecting drizzle, we headed off to this coast - this time to Beaulieu in the New Forest. parking for free at the Motor Museum, we walked into the pretty and ancient village and onwards along the Solent Way to Buckler's Hard. We encountered a sign saying 'riverside path unusable - follow cycle path'. Well, having encountered the epic squelch in Cornwall and survived, we felt that we could probably make it.
It was rather soggy/flooded in parts, but the recent dry weather had obviously greatly improved things, so we were able to pick our way through. It was rather quiet, given the sign, which should allow the footpath to recover swiftly, and also had the benefit of allowing us tranquility to enjoy the beautiful setting.
On our walk to Buckler's Hard, the tide was in on this tidal stretch of the Beaulieu River, which flows into the Solent. This meant we had to content ourselves with the views of the various boats, as well as the wildflowers in the beautiful ancient woodland - wood anemone, violet, primrose and the New Forest speciality of narrow-leaved lungwort. There were some wonderful ancient old oaks along the way too.
We unexpectedly dined in the rather posh restaurant (highly recommended!0 due to the pub being rather full of people sheltering from the rain outside, then headed back the way we had come. this time the tide was out, allowing waders to move in to feed on the mudflats and remnant saltmarsh. Indeed, the tidal pool in Beaulieu itself had emptied, allowing flocks of oyster catchers, and the odd shelduck and black-headed gull to probe the mud.
All in all, a great walk, despite the squelch and drizzle!