Saturday, May 14, 2016
Trundling down the Track and across the Moors.
We were going to Hythe today as she wanted me to see the little pier and railway down there. Today the sun was shining but it was still very blowy and cold. Wrapping up we set off, me driving again and really enjoying the experience. There are few large trucks in England due to so many narrow and windy country lanes or tight city streets with old buildings leaning towards each other. So it's a joy to drive as there are no obstructions and the road ahead can be seen at all times. I never once experienced even a hint of road rage either the two weeks I was there, everyone was polite and friendly.
We found the little pier with an even littler ticket office and a narrow train was waiting to set off. The Pier Train is the oldest operating pier train which has continuously served the public on Hythe Pier, Hants, and it began running in July 1922 and hasn't stopped since!
The history of Hythe Pier is here.
Eventually we heard a rumbling and the little train appeared again. We quickly climbed aboard making sure our door was firmly shut. Once we were back at the start of the pier again we sought refuge from the cold in a Costa cafe where we sat at the window with a coffee and a cake watching the market vendors go about their work. We felt pretty sorry for them, the wind really was biting, and we did notice a couple of them starting to pack up early.
On the way back to Mum's we drove through the New Forest again, I really wanted to see if we could find any of the ponies. These ponies have grazed in the New Forest for thousands of years, likely since before the last Ice Age, Horse bones have been found in the area dating back to 500,000 BC. In the 1850's and 1860's the quality of the ponies was seen to be declining due to bad breeding so the Arab was introduced. But this affected their hardiness and also their ability to work as pit ponies, so numbers decreased. In 1884 only 2250 were left and this declined to just 571 in 1945. To improve the breed, Thoroughbred, Weslh pony and Hackney blood had also been added as well as breeds from the Fells, Dales, Dartmoor, Highland and Exmoor. This stopped in 1930 and since then only purebred New Forest stallions have been used. More information is here.
More gorse info here.