The morning of day two was cold! The previous evening had been wet and then the temperature dropped rapidly giving me an unusual problem when I woke at 5 o’clock ready for an early start. I dressed in the gloom of the tent, feeling the chill of the early morning, and then crawled through to the flap at the front. The zip on the front flap of the tent was frozen! I have never seen this before but it was solid and I just could not budge it! My brother was stirring in the tent next to mine and, as we were the only two people stupid enough to camp out in temperatures below zero, I yelled at him to help me out.
Once free we got ready to leave, both cold and ever so slightly grumpy, but ready to track down the elusive Wild Boar. We had found a litter of piglets the day before and were confident of finding adult Boars, watching them and learning more about them and their behavior. It was a beautiful morning and, as the mist started rising from the river and trees, we headed out trying to rid ourselves of the night’s cold that refused to fully leave our bones.
For the next ten hours we walked! Evidence of the Boar was everywhere! Ground that had been ploughed and turned over could be seen in the forest, on verges and footpaths. Tracks were everywhere too. Both adult and piglet prints showed well in the mud and they were mixed with Fallow, Fox, Badger and of course the many dogs that are walked across the forest. As the day went on we changed where we wandered. We tried the river valleys, the hills, the forests and the fields. We went high and deep into the woods but also tried the villages and greens. Everywhere we went we found more evidence but we consistently failed to see any animals. The positivity we felt in the morning was leaving us and as clouds started to replace the blue skies, we were struggling to figure out where to go next. Time was running out and besides that we were starting to get concerned about the weather, neither of us had an appetite to get as wet as we did the day before and the skies really were starting to look dark.
It was then that our luck changed and on the otherside of a ravine my brother spotted a piglet! I still can’t get over how he saw it but there it was, and where there are piglets there will be adults!
It didn’t take long for us to spot, at first, a single big female looking black against the forest floor. We got closer, walking down the ravine to get a better view but without scaring the animals and losing the chance of a shot. The steep side of the ravine was wet and slippery, bracken hid fallen trees and rotten branches and it looked a lot deeper than it really was. As I edged further down, my brother keeping watch from the top, we saw two more adult females and the rest of the piglets. They were oblivious to us and as I was higher than they were and hidden by the trees. We had found what we were looking for and I had time to take a few photographs. The skies were darkening and the trees were keeping the boar in even more shade meaning the settings I needed were doing me no favours but as least I got the shots.
We had spent all day searching for these animals and both my brother and I were captivated as we watched them turn over the ground and create the marks that we had followed for so long. If you could have seen us, the smiles on our faces would have said so much more than any words could!
It was then that I fell.
Now, I could easily write that I dramatically fell, “movie-like”, into the ravine and heroically climbed out regardless of the pain! Unfortunately, I slipped on a log, dropped about six feet onto another log and was dumped very unceremoniously onto the grass. The noise of a 6’4” lump falling down a hill, along with arrival of a man walking his dogs sent the Boar running for the undergrowth and they disappeared.
The only other sound was that of my brother, obviously concerned for my safety, laughing like a drain!
We saw the Boar again, as we followed them through the forest, but time was moving on and we needed to start heading back.
The day finished better than we had hoped, even after such a slow start, and we were in far better spirits by the time we got back to The Saracen’s Head and dinner. Another 5 o’clock start the next morning meant an early night and the hope of a warmer one.