18 Apr

From our front door is a walk we have come to enjoy at least once a week. Of all the walks we take, this one is undoubtedly our favorite. It is a circular 3 miles and wanders through woods to the village of Fernham and then back through the Ringdale Manor woods. There is even a pub at the halfway point in Fernham, The Woodman, where we will be stopping off for a pint in the near future! This time of year, the farmers use rotational grazing for the cows, horses, sheep and in particular the young calves, foals and lambs as they are born. Most times when we take this walk the animal population has switched fields so we’re never sure what we will find on our path.  It’s a pleasure to walk through the fields and to share them with the often-curious animals. The public footpaths here are amazing, you can walk by a herd of cattle on a farmer’s field, yet the path is fully marked and acknowledged. We begin our walk by going through the fields on the south edge of Little Coxwell. Our first sight are the two friendly goats at the horse stables. Sometimes we see them wandering around the village. In the same farmyard there is the dove cote –  like a luxury bird condo - with its pure white doves cooing contentedly in residence. Next, at the duck pond are ducks, geese and an occasional coot. The next field on this particular day had some of the cattle from the Gorse Farm across the street, the newly born calves looked comfortable on a bed of hay alongside their mothers. We walk near them but don’t intrude on their morning munching. One day we counted 24 calves from this herd of Oxford Reds in another nearby field. Once we cross the road to walk up the bridle path along Gorse Farm we get into the woods. It’s such a peaceful stretch of path, nothing but bird song and trees whispering in the breeze. We come upon a field with an unusual breed of sheep from Wales. They are Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep. Every week we hope to see lambs, but none have appeared yet, although the mothers look like big furry brown tubs and are mostly lying down. We’ll keep watching though. From there we cross a series of fields used for grazing horses. We’ve seen many foals with their mothers, and they are extraordinarily beautiful. They are not afraid of us at all. How wonderful to have them come up to us and sniff our hands; we expect they’re looking for treats. We arrive in Fernham: the next time we take the walk, a stop at The Woodman Pub is in order! We head up a hill where the views across the countryside are panoramic. The mares and their foals are in the near fields; you can see ancient and mighty oak trees and blossoming hedgerows for miles. Back into the woods for the peaceful, easy walk home, a glimpse of the ancient Ringdale Manor and some remarkable old twisted pine trees. As we pass through Gorse Farm, we stop to pick up half a dozen fresh farm eggs. Life is good in Little Coxwell.

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