a few years ago I stopped going to this place, because under the aegis of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust all the mature silver birches were grubbed up, and a lot of soil removed back to flinty ashy subsoil

in an attempt to get it back to the four thousand year old heathland it had once been.

the idea is to encourage the heathers – bell heather like this –

and ordinary like this –

and to cut the gorse back.

the trees got in the way and changed the biome.

but nature is irrepressible, and a few Dartmoor ponies put in to encourage the grass will not keep back the growth of trees. Once it was common land with rights of grazing and furze cutting for households in Holt, and presumably there were hosts of goats, cows, geese, sheep and people using the land. now it’s dog-walker territory, with some rare flora and fauna – sphagnum moss and natterjack toads, more common on Dartmoor than in Norfolk. the birch seedlings sprout everywhere.

not many people walk here either, it’s very quiet,

the ponies are fat and peaceful,

a little mischievous perhaps,

appearing and disappearing mysteriously amongst the remaining trees.

I’d thought we were going to get a wet walk but the morning warmed up,

there were gatekeepers and painted ladies flitting about,

and the regrowth of the gorse makes the paths sheltered.

one could have done with a sit down,

but Em and Bims got a paddle at least.

the flinty dry upper heath is cut in two by a damp trickle and pools – a small wetland.

this pool’s trees are full of willow warblers in early summer.

it’s the time of year for heather –

here the gorse cutter has succeeded in making it look like a heath.

it’s a place that’s good for winter walking with these dry peaty, sandy paths. of course, you can’t let dogs off the lead near the ponies – but I wouldn’t have Bims off anyway.