Canford Heath calling

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LIME, ruby, copper, mauve – not forest, nor heath, but pigments glowing and pulsating under grey skies.

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A new world shimmers somewhere between Broadstone and Wimborne, composed of spiralling emerald ivy and nodding, rose-gold ferns. We tramp on brown leaves, grey sand, through little streams, with slender birches a startling silver, deeply ranked around us.

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The air is moist, clean, earthy. We’re lost, and we love it. Leaves of yellow ochre are golden pennies tossed in the air. Pine cones and horse chestnuts are layered underfoot.

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An autumnal jungle. Gorse snaps at our ankles, tree roots thrust and twine in our wake.

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I have to shepherd the dogs over brambles when we go off-piste.

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Squirrels dart for safety as a solitary buzzard cries a warning. This is the UK’s largest lowland heath, so there’s plenty of hiding places.

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Scarlet holly berries flash at oak leaves on the turn. Hardly any ferns are still green. Yellow gorse splutters in patches.

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Trees and ferns dress the sides of a valley, glorious colour clashes catching my breath. Barely a soul’s about – we have the run of the wilderness. And run the dogs do – chasing up hill and down dale, sniffing, panting and truffling.

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Finally we make it back to the car. Knackered, starving, yet elated and thrilled. What a treasure trove!

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