Life it seems moves on whether we know it or not.
After several months of stress and worry things have settled down and I could not be happier, so with "the real world" now sorted out time to return to the forest.
It feels like a life time ago that I last managed to get out and enjoy a evening in the forest so I was more than pleased when Steve managed to get a few days off so we could get into the hills and have a hike and an overnighter - more importantly it was also a recce for future trips off my own and a chance to see how Scampi would behave in the woods for the night.
The weather was good and I had planned a route that included a couple of pubs as I felt a pub lunch was called for too!!
Myself I had my trusty old PLCE and Steve a equally trusty old LK35, Our kit was minimal as we like to keep to the basics.
The hike out was great, especially as we left my front door and almost straight way were on the route - One advantage of my new home is that I have seven national trails all within walking distance!
The route was across a mixture of lowland fens followed by the rolling hills of the Hampshire countryside.
In all my years of living and working in the outdoors I think this is the first time I have seen beech nuts open and ready to harvest/eat on the tree - one sure thing about nature she always has a new treat in store for those who truly love her - she's a good ol' girl like that!
After a hot and humid 6 or 7 miles, parched and hungry, we arrived at the pub I had aimed to have lunch at .............. and it truly was the lunch of Kings ............
That was one hell of a burger - however soon we were back on the trail and our final leg into the forest and what we hoped would be our home for the night.
As always the forest welcomed us into its dapple shade. Week days most woodlands in Britain are the domain of the deer and wilder beasts although Dog walkers tend to pop up all over the place too, so finding a quiet spot is usually a matter of skill, judgement and the ability to stealth camp ............... although as I have often said, that is as much part of the fun as anything.
My shelter, decided to rig my poncho diamond shelter style so I could store my pack and the also create a living space for the dog behind my sleeping bag. Have to say it worked well maximising the area of the poncho very well.
My cook system, again keeping it simple, was a DDR mess kit, folding kuksa and a trangia stove - one good thing about a trangia is that when full of fuel it will generally allow you a weekend/about four boils of the kettle. This kitchen works well for me as I can carry 24hrs rations in the mess tins including brew kit and it is compact and light.
Our evening was calm. The setting sun mellowed us as we sat before the fire and chilled out - roughing it smooth for sure!!
This was the view from my bedroom window in the morning - it actually doesn't do it justice and the rising sun burnt golden shadows across the shallow re-entrant below me and turned the whole forest warmest yellow. Just awakening to such beauty does the soul good and reminds a man of his place in the scheme of things.
And even Scampi seemed to enjoy his night out - snug in his fleece line dog coat he surpassed my expectations too - Daniel Boone and many a frontiersmen went off in the company of their hounds, indeed I am sure a man and a dog in the woods together is a sight that probably dates back into the dawn of our species for once that first wolf pup was domesticated it would have become both friend and protector of man. Even today we can still enjoy that relationship and the wise woodsman also learns to watch his dog and use its senses to enhance his own!!
Great trip and cant wait for the next!!