‘Heart of the Forest Weekend’ – Setthorns Friday

New Forest Path

Or ‘the Nature Channel ‘, Deer Boys and Beautiful Beeches…

We head down to Setthorns on a grey, damp Friday morning.

If Millie, the most oblivious Jack Russell in the world doesn’t see rabbits or chase squirrels on this trip then then there really is no hope for her. However there may be a couple of stumbling blocks to this plan. First she is probably not in the right place mentally as she has been seriously depressed all week and unable to summon the energy needed even to leave her bed. Pink pants will do that to a dog. And then there is the forecast. It is likely that any self respecting wildlife will be tucked up somewhere warm and dry as the weather is set to be seriously bad. Heavy rain and 56 mile an hour winds suggest Friday is going to have to be a hatches down duvet day. Then again maybe a day watching any wildlife brave enough to venture out, from the safety of a warm camper is just the tonic she needs…

We arrive at midday and park up in a small clearing under a large Spanish Chestnut tree. Almost immediately we see three stags, one of whom appears to be the same limping boy we saw when we first came here. Millie is mesmerised but is as distracted as much by the leaves blowing in the wind as by the deer or even the squirrel that darts up a trunk right in front of her.

We sit with the door open while we eat lunch. Two squirrels chase each other around a nearby tree but Millie is too busy gazing into space to notice them. Finally she gets the idea and becomes hooked on squirrel tv and so sits in her pants, shaking with excitement.

As the rain is not due for a couple of hours we set off to enjoy the Autumn forest. We walk along the railway with Millie trotting along, eyes bright and tail up. Ponies stand in chest high bracken on both sides of the line. We take a path up through a glorious beech wood and then as the sky darkens and the wind rises we head back to the campsite. The deer are still in the same place and watch us without fear. Millie is terribly excited by them this time and even being surrounded by a pack of five assorted whippets and terriers can’t distract her for long.

We are quite sheltered where we are and we are able to sit drinking tea with the door open and the roof up while the wind roars through the treetops. Quite without warning Millie leaps out of her bed and chases a squirrel up a tree. She is brought back totally unrepentant and is told to “think on the error of her ways”. She wags her tail and continues to gaze out into the gathering darkness. As she sits a pony crashes his way through the trees and then stops to graze just in front of her. Open mouthed, she looks back at Darrell to make sure that he too has seen this wonder.

Later it begins to rain and we sit in the warm listening to some serious weather outside while Millie snores.

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