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This was a ramble we had wanted to do for a long time, so we took the plunge and put it on as a winter regional ramble – even though it was the last auction of the season. Weather is the crucial thing, as we all know, and luckily for us we had a grey, but dry, day sandwiched in between two wet days so we were very pleased. We had an intake of 14 for this ramble, which was really great, but ended up with 10 due to illness getting in the way. We were very pleased to welcome Bernard, who can’t get out very often as he is a full time carer for his wife, and Paul & Sheila who are very enthusiastic new members and Paul arrived with his Mayan scooter lit up with loads of Christmas lights which lent a festive element to the day! We had a good mix of personalities both longstanding and fairly new and many thanks to them because out of all the 10 scooterists there Bob and I were actually the only “locals” to the area and everyone else had travelled an average of 40 to 50 miles to come and two present stayed in hotels for the night, plus Paul has to hire a van to transport his Mayan, that’s dedication for you! Shows how important regional rambles are to people.
We had to change the route from a super circular one to an equally super linear, although we did a loop at the beginning which was a slight detour to make the homeward trip a bit less “there and back”. This was because there is a serious bog on the way and although Bob and I got through it a week or so ago, when we reccied it a couple of days before it was a virtual sea of water and mud because of the heavy rainfall recently, so we deemed it sensible to avoid it, be OK in the summer though. There was still plenty of mud and gore so that pleased everyone, and some of the group had some fun on some hilly banks on the way and did some exploring as well. We arrived at the Pony Sales by about 12.15 where it was all well underway, these auctions have been on this site for the last 60 years and are run by the New Forest Livestock Society who provide the stewards to handle the ponies and keep a maintenance schedule in place with the sales run in association with the Auctioneers. It is a very iconic wooden structure which is roofed so that people attending can at least stay dry. The ponies are treated very well and all have access to hay and water, we saw no mishandling whatsoever and found it very interesting and picturesque. This area is usually very quiet and serene but today it was absolutely chock full with horse boxes, land rovers, trucks etc. plus, hooray!, some refreshment vans – Paula, Pete and Roy devoured an egg and bacon bap each – looked delicious too.
We left the auction at about 2.00 to get back before it got too dark and we had a good trip back, there were plenty of mud and puddles also a shallow pond that was used to good advantage by some of us. Linda did some exploring of the heathland on the way back, good to see her belting around in the distance having a good time. A lovely trip and lots of laughs and chat on the way, thanks to all for coming and making it such fun. Please remember – if you have a favourite route you can share, please do – just email our chairman on the DR website to get some help and advice. Very important to have input from our members so we can keep plenty of rambles available to all DRers all over the country. People will travel a considerable distance to a regional ramble so don’t think you won’t get any takers – you will.
Best wishes, Val and Bob.