Silence on the hill now that the squirrel shooters have gone
The dog's done her business (carefully picked up and bagged to drop off later) and she's now off snuffling around for deer and rabbits.
Grey squirrels scuttle through the top branches of the beech trees, like flying foxes in a David Attenborough wildlife programme.
A few weeks ago, there were mystery huntsmen up here on a Sunday morning, shooting in trees at the squirrels which, in many rural quarters, are considered fluffy-tailed vermin, having invaded our land and practically wiped out their protected Squirrel Nutkin red cousins.
It's not illegal to kill them but only if it's done humanely, and you have to have the landowner's permission to shoot on their land.
The guns' activity spooked the dog, who ran off to find out what was going on. She came back later and I found out that a fellow dog walker from the village had seen her and thought she was something to do with the hunters, who got short shrift for shooting on National Trust land.
It came out in a conversation we had in the snow when the dog ran off to jump up at a snowman and ate its carrot nose. I wish I'd got a picture of that but she was just too quick.
Here's one of a snow scene up on the hill instead.
On our way back down the hill, I can see the vapour trail of an aeroplane heading for the sunrise. Despite our solitude, we are not alone.
Love Maddie x