Red Arrows

On Sunday I did something I hadn’t done for months, I walked alone. Most weeks I’m able to walk at least three times, in the evening. It’s always with friends and often with their dogs too. The evenings are fun, whatever the weather. We enjoy the scenery, the exercise and the company.

But on Sunday I was heading out to join my parents for lunch at a nearby pub. I could have walked straight there, along a trailway – one of the few positives to come out of Dr Beeching’s felling of our rail links.

Trailways are great. They provide a solid, level surface for walkers, runners and cyclists. But by definition they can be a tad boring. There are no hidden surprises, no corners to peep around. During the winter we use the trailway for an evening’s walk. We know it’s safe and as long as we have torches and some light-reflecting clothes it’s unlikely a passing cyclist will mow us down.

On this day I wanted to take advantage of the late summer sun, so chose to walk across the fields. Much of my local area is dominated by the River Stour and I’m spoilt for choice as to where I join it. Five minutes from home and I cut across a field and meandered along to the weir at Fiddleford. Heavy rain had raised the level and the calmness of the water hid its power.

There is more than one River Stour in this country, my river finds its escape at Christchurch. That area’s been in the news over the weekend for the most saddest and tragic of reasons.

After completing a display at Bournemouth’s Air Festival, the Red Arrows were returning to the nearby airport at Hurn. One of the planes crashed and the pilot’s body was found in the river – the River Stour. In time we will learn of the cause but at the moment the pilot is being hailed as a hero, for fighting to manoeuvre the jet away from houses to a more isolated spot, by the river.

The water that I have seen pass through my part of Dorset is the same water that found this tragedy. It’s never far away.