I’m reading a book at the moment called The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane. It’s a beautifully written book about wild places in the UK, and it got me thinking about what I consider to be “my” favourite wild places. Anyway, one thing led to another and before I knew it I was standing alone in the middle of Arne, on the first day of 2008, watching the sun slowly set behind the hills.
I have always loved heathlands/woods and water. Heathlands for the intense feeling of freedom they give me, woods for their mystery and comfort and water for its pure flowing beauty. Arne has all three.
Now owned by the RSPB and run as a nature reserve, you can wander at Arne to your hearts content through old oak woods (watching out for sika deer, woodpeckers and roosting owls), onto the vast expanse of lowland heath (where you might see/hear a dartford warbler, nightjar or stonechat) down to the wild inlets of Poole Harbour (where flocks of avocet dip and turn in the sky).
Map showing Arne in the middle
Today I arrived late: 3.30pm. Most people were already heading for their cars as the winter sun dipped behind the distant hills. This is my favourite time. This is when the animals come out and the birds fly in to roost for the night.
As I entered the oak wood I spotted a sika deer. She obviously hadn’t seen me coming, as she was no more than fifty feet away. I took a short piece of video when she spotted me. As she trots off to the other deer behind her one of her mates actually jumps right up in the air “sideways”. I’ve never seen a deer do this before, it even looks a bit surprised (embarrassed?). It made me laugh out loud. See what you think…
Out of the wood and up to the open heath. Nothing around me but bracken, heather and uninterrupted views over Poole Harbour. I sat for a while and watched a ghostly barn owl hunting over the marsh flats. It’s white wings silhouetted against the dark reeds, dipping and hovering until it disappeared into the dusk. Too dark to video, but hey not everything has to be put onto film to be enjoyed.
You can never really describe the feeling a view gives you. Photographs never really do it justice, even film can’t capture the freedom. But here goes anyway! This was my final clip of film before wandering back to a dark empty car park and home.