Last Sunday I wrote about how lovely Hankley was even while temporarily in the grip of a war zone. On Thursday, the headlines in the local paper screamed out the news that 90 acres of the heathland had been devastated by fire. A few weeks ago, a similar fire left most of Frensham looking like the Australian bush after a summer fire. We feared the worst.

It took 12 fire crews the best part of a day to put the fire out but they valiantly managed to keep the fire within a relatively small area. As we walked towards the Lion’s Mouth, we could see a strip of black, cutting a harsh swathe across the top of the small valley we walk up. When we reached it, the smell was awful and the landscape alien.

You don’t realise what the ground looks like when it’s covered with vegetation but now you can see the pockmarks, dips and whorls in the ground.

As we reached the look out point we looked down on the dead land. The bowl where the army guy had yelled at us last week was black – the soldiers would have to wear black camouflage as the green would really stand out! It wasn’t as extensive as the fire at Frensham, which is something to be grateful for.

Apparently the Frensham fire was started by some moron lighting a camp fire. While the fire service is still investigating, preliminary thoughts are that the Hankley fire was started by some idiot burning a car. Clearly there are people who don’t care about beauty, wishing to destroy it. They must have very sad lives indeed. I am SO glad I’m not one of them.

I’ve patched together two photos to give a rough idea of the extent. This is the view from the hill we regularly stand on.

Hankley - the bowl after the fire

On a happier note, dinner at the Pride of the Valley was very nice last night. Not quite on the level of St Johns (although they do very good desserts) but still lovely.

If I ignore the grapes mushed up in the middle of the creme brulee, I would give it easily 9/10 – better than mine. Sadly, I couldn’t ignore the mushed up grapes so it gets just 6/10.

They have regular dinner and jazz nights so we may go again for one of those.

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