A Roe Buck eating brambles.
My pleasure continues at Haldon, although it has been slightly tarnished. Did you realise, if you live locally you may be aware but I certainly wasn't, that there is a charge to park? The Forestry Commission encourages you to use their car park, fair enough I can hear you saying and I would, to an extent certainly agree, that is until I discovered that the exorbitant charge to enjoy this bit of glorious England, this wonderful wild environment that we all own and have a share in is £7 for the day!!!!! Yes, you heard it £7. Now I have only rarely parked in the carpark because there is only one and it is around a mile from where I want to be. Haldon Forest is a massive place, if you want to have a chance to see and photograph wildlife then the built up area around the visitor's centre isn't the place to see it. So what are you to do, well park wherever it is safe to do so. The roads around the park can be quite busy and in the main, car drivers do drive too fast so it's not very easy to find a spot. I am disabled at the moment, waiting for my knee replacement so it just wouldn't be possible to park in their car park and walk several hundred yards or more to where I want to be. In addition, being close to the throngs isn't what I enjoy and it totally contradicts why I enjoy taking wildlife photographs in the first place. OK, so parking where it is safe, and I emphasise that this is important is you would think very straightforward except for this. Here is a statement from the Forestry Commission website:
Sustaining and maintaining all these developments relies on income generated by our car park.
So basically, the car parking charge is an entrance fee. Now, this is all well and good if you want to use all of the facilities that are really just a blight on what used to be a quiet and peaceful place. There is all manner of things for kids to do and that's fine I suppose and perhaps it's justified that they should pay £7 to swing on a rope or look for the Gruffalo! There are Mountain Bike trails that scar the landscape and people shout to each other as they race along to keep in contact with their mate in front or behind, even if the distance is 100 yards! In short, I don't want to use any of those facilities and I have long ago stopped objecting to the existence of the buildings that have damaged the environment here, in the UK we are over-populated and people have to go somewhere. But don't insist that I pay £7 to sit under a tree quietly all day in the hope that a Crossbill comes down to drink!
The Highway Code is very clear and it states that as long as there are no Bye Laws that state differently and your parking isn't obstructing the Highway then you are perfectly legally entitled to park by the road. The unfortunate thing is, the Rangers have been briefed by their superiors to harass people in to thinking that they have not got the law on their side. They want you to park in their car park to contribute to the upkeep of the trails and the slides and all the other paraphernalia. Very sad but that is the situation we find ourselves in. We are being bullied by belligerent, aggressive surly Forestry Commission employees who think very highly of themselves and who swagger around in pseudo "American police shirts" and drive expensive 4x4s. They have assumed command of the roads there which they have no authority over in their efforts to force you to keep away from the forest unless you pay the £7!! In the words of Boris "well you can go and whistle".