I didn’t envy the lads from 702 Squadron on Monday. I was in London and so didn’t have the pleasure of joining them on the windswept hillside. At least the sun did shine for them for most of the day and the winds didn’t quite reach ‘hurricane’ force.

With Dorset Countryside Rangers Nick and Elliott they tackled the back front leg first and shifted many a tonne of soil and stone down to the bottom of the hill with the dumpy bag method. I gather they perfected the arts of slipping, sliding and soft landing during the course of the day – and they assured me that I had missed all the best photos!

Geoff and Christine Codd, who have been so fundamental to this project, walked up to see them and admire at first hand the extraordinary level of finish that this team had achieved. The leg was already nicely groomed and the hoof just needed some revetting with green oak to resist the invading rabbits. Indeed by the end of the day they had moved on to make a start on the very front leg.

Tuesday was another day of great progress – with mostly sunshine and just one heavy shower to help lay the dust that was becoming a serious problem.  In fact the lads looked rather unusual in a very individual selection of scarves and goggles which must have surprised Lt. Jason Douglas, the deputy Aircraft Engineering Officer, when he came down to review progress.  I have no doubt that he was seriously impressed by the work done – and also by the high level of initiative and improvisation in their kit. Indeed I am told that he soon joined in the action and quickly mastered the art of the soft, and not quite so soft, landing…….!

I arrived back from London after lunch, but it was already mid afternoon by the time I headed for the Horse.  I found just seven of the lads ready to set off back to base, as one had been stricken with a nasty fever bug and signed off.  And I really appreciated the fact that they had waited when they saw me heading across the fields.  I have to say that the transformation in the front legs was fantastic. The very front leg was already completed and now showed the nicely defined hoof that had been part of the original figure – and all was finished to the Royal Navy’s highest standard.

They took a few minutes to update me before they headed up the hill for their mile hike back to their transport.  I headed home and for a while, as I stood in the field at the bottom, the sun came out and the sky was blue so I quickly snapped a new photo for the banner of this website.  It is just about fourteen months since the original one was taken – and what a difference!

Click thumbnails for larger image