A walk through Wordsworths’ Dorset

img_0555No sooner had February slushed its way in to West Dorset, the skies brightened to a glorious blue, the birds began to sing, and snowdrops, primula and daffodils woke up to say hello.

Even my wallflowers have started to spring open.

In the village, trees are being topped before birds have their wicked way with one another and decide to nest in the branches. There are sheep a-plenty in the fields and it won’t be long now before little lambs are skipping around, full of the joys of spring.

Up on Lewesdon Hill, Dorset’s highest point, the weekend brings out walkers with children and dogs and flasks of tea, or something stronger.

Mud clogs the gateways and there’s a strip of treacherous greensand that you mustn’t go near, unless you want to end up knee to waist-deep and lose your wellies in the process.

From Lewesdon you can see Pilsdon Pen, the cow to Lewesdon’s calf, despite Ordnance Survey insisting the former is the tallest at 279m compared with the latter’s 277m. Locals still don’t believe it. Why would you doubt what your parents had told you all those years ago? And who are those faceless people at Ordnance Survey with their new-fangled machinery anyway?

From from 1795 to 1797, William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived in Pilsdon Pen’s shadow at Racedown. She loved it here.

“We have hills, which, seen from a distance, almost take on the character of mountains, some cultivated almost to their summits, others in their wild state, covered with furze and broom. These delight me the most, as they remind me of our native wilds.”

Of Broadwindsor, she wrote: “The place dearest to my recollection in the whole surface of the island.”

I’m with you there, Dorothy.

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February – what is it good for?

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February swished in with rain and slushy mud, closely followed by a cold snap which even included a light dusting of snow.

But, sadly, it didn’t last long. No opportunities for tobogganing down the field. Shame, that.

Rain on the plain in Spain has meant iceberg lettuces being rationed and small loans being taken out to pay for courgettes. What is Europe coming to?

In the faraway worlds of Tinseltown and La La Land (aren’t they the same place?), award winners and nominees are slagging off Trump as if he were the country’s worst-ever president. I couldn’t possibly comment.

The countryside of Dorset, meanwhile, remains constant, with the sheep safely grazing in the cold, old fields and the church bells pealing rather joyfully on Sundays and practice nights.

Planning for a big breakfast to raise money for the village hall is well underway and the search is on for a replacement for the village shop manager, who has been head-hunted to run the shop of a garage near Dorchester.

Agas puff away, chimneys belch out an aromatic smoke which reminds us of our primeval past and the streams and rivers ebb and flow with the tug-of-war rains, which are on one minute and off the next. Piles of cow dung steam in turnip field and a tree stump rises like a countryside totem pole in the hedge.

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The sun also rises.

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Roll on spring. But for Valentine’s Day, what on earth is February for?