Bere Regis to Tarrant Monkton
I knew when we were on Dartmoor that we would have no internet or phone connection, and rather naively thought that this would improve as we progressed eastwards. Not a bit of it. If I ran the country HS2 would be scrapped in favour of reliable high speed broadband and mobile coverage nationwide, not just in London! So I apologise for being so tardy with these blogs, not helped by not having a rest day to catch up.
The geology, the field pattern and thereby the farming and the architecture are all now changing. We have left behind the dairy farms and the wonderful scenery, to be replaced by large arable farms and shooting estates. And the biggest disappointment is the going underfoot, which is gravelly.
After a very welcoming night with David and Lorna of the Old Mill, Bere Regis; Elizabeth, Venetia and Charlotte set off with Venetia map reading. They had several miles of uninterrupted bridleway and a huge wood to negotiate. In the wood they needed to take a second turning. Before leaving Elizabeth always asks to see the map and to see where the ride is going to. In the middle of the wood V and C decided to turn right, only for Elizabeth to shout “No”; on discussion she offered them a free meal if she was wrong. The two younger ones were confident that they were in for a free meal, but age and experience of travelling distances won the day. And Elizabeth did not have to fork out for their supper!
They met a very helpful group of men who were prospecting for “Keep Running Rural”, who not only assisted Elizabeth with mounting but cleared a gate which was so overgrown they might never had made it without muscular assistance.
Charlie and I did not have such a welcome whilst waiting for the riders with the trailer to scoop up Elizabeth. We had been waiting for what felt like hours when we were approached by a lady to be informed “That this was a private road” the discussion appeared to be fairly amiable until I was asked why I hadn’t asked permission of the landowner. To which I asked her whether she knew who farmed Harwood Dale?! As a landowner it always upsets me when others don’t welcome the public onto their land, when it is obvious that no harm is being done. Such attitudes make me quite anti-farmer and I am one!
Venetia and I rode in the afternoon. Miles of off-road bridleways, meandering through arable land, with a general feeling of increasing wealth. The padlocked gates are chained by thicker and thicker chains. And the bridleways where they cross the roads are often barred by huge padlocked metal barriers with narrow squeeze gaps.
But a warm welcome awaited at The Langton Arms at Tarrant Monkton and a choice of three well-grassed paddocks for the horses.