Safari Update on June 26th 2012

I had been looking forward to driving the Safari on Sunday Morning. It had rained heavily overnight, and as I negotiated the resulting debris on my road to Exford the sky was clearing. Where would I find the deer today? I decided to check out Cornham Brake* en route, a favourite spot to me: sure enough, three orange dots were visible across the valley: I drove on. My six guests were ready on time, and after brief introductions I drove straight to Simonsbath to give the visitors a sighting of those deer if possible; there was no certainty that they would stay there.

On the short drive, I could feel expectation growing in the group. I pulled up at a wide spot, with Cornham Brake and the river below resplendent in the morning light.   “There!” I said. One of the three deer was a stag of six or seven years, still with his antlers and looking very fine in that magnificent setting. The party loved it – the deer, the views, the whole thing. The binoculars came out, those who chose to got out for a better view and, having quickly learned what to look for, the lady in the front passenger seat soon spotted more deer on the hill. Further on, three Exmoor ponies obliged us by grazing near the road. A good start.

My chosen route took us past Bronze Age and Iron Age features, an idyllic picnic spot, a herd of twelve deer and an even larger herd of ponies, plus Highland cattle, soaring buzzards, ancient pack-horse bridges and amazing scenery. The sun came out, and the morning was too good to hurry. I stopped by a stream to check out water quality: lift a stone, and the presence of dragonfly or damselfly larvae will soon tell you if the water is clean. Most of the party had never done that before. OK, we were a little late back, but nobody minded.

To the Exmoor man, a ‘brake’ is a bracken-covered hill