I thought I had posted about Chobham Common before, but Typepad (my blog hosting service) can't find anything of the sort for me. It's an open space preserve here in England, about 10 minutes from our house. We visited it for the first time last February, and had a nice hike, but I can tell you, you really need to see it in August to get the full effect: August is the prime time for blooming heather, and Chobham Common is mostly heathland. I have put up a bunch of new heather photos on flickr from our latest walk, yesterday. Here are a quartet:
Someone else's dalmatian was having fun running in the heather.
Wikipedia tells me Chobham Common is a 1,400 acre area of lowland heath, which is a globally rare and threatened habitat, in Surrey, England. It was formerly a freehold owned by the Earl of Onslow, and purchased for £1 by Surrey County Council in 1966.
As for wildlife, the Common hosts the "nationally rare" Water Vole, 116 species of bird, 23 species of dragonfly (we saw one), 33 species of butterfly (we saw a few), and it's the "best site in the UK for spiders, hymenoptera (bees wasp and ants) and ladybirds."
Have you seen the excellent and very touching movie Victoria & Albert? Queen Victoria in real life reviewed troops encamped on the Common, including the famous Light Brigade, prior to their departure to the Crimea in 1853. The Victoria Monument that was erected on the site in 1901 commemorates this event. Here's a sketch of the monument, which we saw on our first walk in February (but I didn't have a camera with me).
More about Victoria's encouragement of her soldiers:
10,000 troops were encamped on nearby Chobham Common during one week of appalling weather in June. The highlight of the camp was the review of the troops by Queen Victoria on the final day. The Queen arrived in an open carriage, but abandoned it to mount a horse and, accompanied by Prince Albert, she rode from regiment to regiment to inspect her troops. Then the royal party retired to a vantage point to watch a two-hour mock battle and finally a march past 8,000 men and 1,500 horses took part and the event was watched by 100,000 spectators who travelled by special trains from Waterloo.