Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Attack of the Pheasants.

There's a new walk at Devon-Walks.co.uk around Molland Common on Exmoor. This is a great Exmoor walk as it offers you the oppourtunity of seeing Exmoor's two most famous inhabitants, the Red Deer & Exmoor Ponies. At this time of year you are also likely to see plenty of pheasants as I did when researching the walk on Sunday. This is the story of that walk.

We parked by the Church in Molland and eyed up the London Inn (http://www.mollandinn.co.uk/Home.cfm), hoping it would be open on our return. As we left the village and headed down the lane we started to see the first of the many Phesants we encountered on the walk. Upon our approach they would leap through the hedgerows or startle us by flying out of a bush just over our heads.

At the top of this lane was our first navigational challenge. You leave the lane to pick up a footpath but just to confuse us the track that you would assume is the footpath is actually just a field access and you have to go through the gate tucked in on the left in the photo below. There is a footpath sign but it is hidden by the hedge.

From there we headed through several fields with the pheasant parade continuing ahead of us as they whooped & ulululed, crashed & flew out of our path. In the final field we headed steeply downhill having to pick our way through the bracken and brambles taking a guess at which muddy sheep track was the footpath and eventually locating the stile amongst the undergrowth.

At the top of the next lane we followed a tarmac farm path bridleway and soon found the source of all these pheasants. In the fields above us we saw plenty of feed bins and can only assume that there will be plenty of tasty game pies on offer at this farm through the winter. The Bridleway carries through the farmhouse garden and we were treated to a real luxury, an electronic gate! This was a novelty I have never encountered on a walk before and was filled with child-like glee as the gate swung quietly open and then closed again after we had gone through.

From the farm the bridleway turns left and heads downhill into a patch of woodland. It was here that we disturbed several red deer in the woods, one of which came crashing out onto the path before jumping a fence and heading off across the field. If a pheasent flying out of a hedge makes you jump try witnessing a deer jump out at you, it's a real thrill. After this we came across yet more pheasents all doing their best to warn each other of our approach so the air was filled with whoops and honks.

After this we came out onto the open moor and found ourselves in the company of some exmoor ponies, including a young fowl. They really are a most enchanting animal with coats that are so evocotive of the moorland colours around them.

Finally it was back on the lanes to Molland and the pheasants had one last attempt at scaring the wits out of my companion by leaping from every bush, tree and any other item of foliage that came to hand.

We returned to the car and set off for home, forgetting about our pub intentions but we were able to recify this with the swift appearance of the black cock inn and a pint of exmoor ale.

For more free Devon Walks please check out the site.

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