On another cold dull grey day I put off my walk until after lunch. Jackie drove me to Ashley Heath, left me there, and I walked back along the Castleman Trailway (see 10th December 2012) to meet her in the Ringwood carpark. She dropped me off in the One Stop general store. I realised how aptly named this was when, immediately behind it, I found the site of Ashley Heath obsolete railway halt. This was on the stretch which runs to Poole, so I crossed Norton Road to follow the path to Ringwood. The whole of this two and a half mile length is bordered on the right by a deep and wide trench. Much of this has been to some extent filled in over the years by fallen leaves and other greenery. It currently carries much rainwater. Where buildings back onto this ditch, many of them, especially those homes in Ashley Heath, have gates in their fences and bridges across the cleared out moat, giving their owners access to the trailway and forest beyond. Dog walkers are always in evidence. Some way along the track, where there is no sign of habitation, there are the remains of a small concrete shelter. It contains the usual modern graffiti, but has clearly been there since before spray cans or felt tip pens were invented. What is it? I wondered. Not really big enough for people waiting for trains. Maybe an emergency phone box? No wiring in evidence, but then there wouldn’t be by now. Any ideas, anyone?
As I neared Ringwood the birdsong was first joined and then gradually drowned by the shrill clamour of schoolchildren approaching. Chaperoned by three adults they came tripping, bounding, dawdling, and lagging along the trail. I asked one of the escorts if this was a field trip. No, it was just a walk. That certainly beats being cooped up in a classroom.
When he read that I was walking along the Castleman Trail to Ashley Heath, Geoff Austin told me that he had done the same thing some years ago after his parents had retired to that village. Recently he unearthed the photograph that appears at the top of this post. In the picture he is hamming up waiting for a train at the extinct railway halt. He sent me the photo and said he would be interested to know whether the sign was still in situ. Not only is it still there, but it has been cleaned and tidied up. Not just by the removal of my old friend.
Walking through the Meeting House Lane shopping centre in Ringwood I was pleased to see that the tomb of John Conway ( see post of 30th November 2012) is at last receiving the protection it deserves. Tasteful iron railings were being installed.
We dined on roast duck breasts this evening. Possibly the most succulent yet non-fatty I have ever tasted. I finished the Carta Roja.
After this we watched episode 3 of the second series of ‘Call the Midwife’.