It can be beautiful in the New Forest – a landscape preserved over centuries for hunting then wild grazing of ponies and swine by the commoners looking after their own and verderers with ever an eye to the generations to come. Here amongst the woods and heaths time stops. The sun rises on a place of wonder, of gentle hills and chalk streams and pinewoods reaching for heaven.
It can also be cruel. The rain off the Channel sweeps inland and refills the streams and those caught with no cover are drenched in a moment. The tiny threads of ancient rivulets coursing unseen beneath the ground fill, swell and rise and turn a dry plain into claggy mud, with flints tumbling across it.
That gives me all the more reason to applaud the teams who were walking their DoE training in the New Forest at the weekend, in sun and storm. Smile and know you have shown you are of better stuff.