Upton Heath Nature Reserve

FRAZZLED and parched at their edges, ferns and birches succumb to the sultry segue between August and September.

Leaves are turning yellow, even copper, as our feet and paws sink into sandy grey bridleways. This place is enchanting, despite the muffled roar of the A35.

We’re strolling through Upton Heath Nature Reserve. Run by Dorset Wildlife Trust, the heathland is a patchwork of mauve, jade and buttercup yellow under azure blue skies. Grasshoppers stutter. 

Blackberries shine amid the brambles. Cabbage whites bob and dip with the breeze.

Dandelion heads drift past. Shady glades are alive with whistles and chirrups. 

The dogs pant happily. We keep our eyes peeled for adders.

Although not many were left after a terrible fire destroyed great swathes of heathlands five years ago, when volunteers rushed to save reptiles and other wildlife. Now it’s a sea of graceful grasses, a wilderness of young birches murmuring, swaying. 

Leaves are pirouetting to the ground. We step over latticeworks of tree roots, studded with pine cones. We meet ponies, quietly grazing. 

It’s a magical kingdom, sandy like a beach and yet lush, almost tropical, like the jungle. Aeroplanes roar overhead, carrying travellers to distant lands. But I holiday here.


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