Green Dragon Publishing

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New Forest Railway Track

A New Forest Pony grazing in the autumnOn Sunday, Charcoal woke up to rain beating against the window. Wind was whistling through the yew tree and stripping the leaves from the hazel. In the garden, Charcoal followed the scent of a dog fox across the lawn to the bird table. He could tell by the smell that the fox had eaten the scraps that Tess put out for the birds the night before, a midnight feast Charcoal thought. Ha!

Tess put on her boots and a waterproof jacket but by the time they set off for a walk, the rain had almost stopped. They splashed through the puddles on the moor and crossed the river by the bridge. The Keeper was outside his cottage, just back from his morning check on the car parks.

Close Up of Points on New Forest Railway Line“Morning Tess.” he called, “Seen any deer?”

“What’s happened to them all this year?” said Tess.

“Not coming out much. All those people coming to photograph them last year scared them off, I reckon.”

Charcoal knew there was a red stag watching them from the middle of the heath. It was so well camouflaged in the heather and bracken that Tess and the Keeper had missed it. They hadn’t spotted the twenty hinds that were lying low and staying close to the stag either.

“Have you seen the little railway track they’ve laid at Warwickslade?” asked the Keeper.

“I read about it in the Lymington Times.” said Tess.

“They’re filling in parts of the drainage channel to make it more like it would Charcoal helps with the dredging of the New Forest ditchhave been naturally. Using the railway to shift all the clay and stuff.”

On the other side of the heath, Tess opened a gate and Charcoal ran on into the inclosure. It was quieter among the conifer trees. The wind was reduced to a steady shushing sound. A strong smell of wet clay hung in the air. Up ahead the ground had been disturbed and a huge digger was parked by the track. There in front of it was the beginning of a railway track. It looked quite odd running through the trees and in places it was balanced precariously on the edge of the ditch.

Work on the drainage ditch was almost finished. Great piles of clay had been shifted to make the bends that would slow the water down and turn it back into a natural stream.