“I didn’t realize it was this steep!” said Royal Navy photographer Chris Mumby as I met him on the hillside.  And that sums up just about everyone’s reaction when they first climb it. I later learned from his co-photographer, Tony Scott, that the Royal Navy are well used to steep hills as there has been a long tradition that the crew of every Navy ship that docks in Gibralter has to run up the Rock! But for today, everyone was in agreement – that our Horse is officially STEEP.

Earlier this morning, John Hayes, had phoned to tell me that the Navy helicopter was due at about 10.20am so I had crossed the fields in plenty of time. The Royal Navy ensign was already spread out in the sunshine and made a colourful addition to the landscape for a few photos.

I positioned myself below the ensign and yelled up to the lads for a quick “Magnificent Seven” pose, before climbing to meet Chris and Tony. They were soon in action taking some posed shots, but time was getting on, so I rushed back down into the lower field in the hope of getting some long shots of the lads holding the ensign under the helicopter.

The Lynx turned up bang on time, but what I did not realise was that with cattle in the next field, it could not fly low and so could only take photos from high level. Ah well – the Lynx is in a photo of the Horse, but only for those with good eyesight!

Up on the Horse again, there were many more posed shots and some spectacular gravel ‘runs’ with repeated ‘180’s’ (see yesterday’s blog for the explanation).  I had a bit of fun photographing the photographers and then they got they own back by insisting that I joined the line up (static!), complete with hat and stick. I’m not looking forward to seeing those….

Eventually the photographers went on and the lads got back to work, picking gravel and improving the definition of the Horse’s belly. I headed home to process more photos and try to remember what happened yesterday!

Now the sharp eyed will spot that there were only five of the 702 Squadron lads with us today, as three were on other important duties. But because they all did such a fantastic job, and were such a credit to their Service, I will give a roll call here. Leading the team was Leading Aircraft Engineering Technician, Michael Watson, and with him at various times over the last week were Aircraft Engineering Technicians Colin Stevenson, David Gorst, James Godden, Matt Shaw, Matthew Munro , Rob Harrop and Glen Rogers.

They were, of course, working closely with Dorset Countryside Rangers Nick Tarrier and Elliott Green who have both contributed a huge amount to this project. In fact it was Elliott’s last day of his year Apprenticeship so the Navy/Ranger ‘liaison’ in a Weymouth pub (or two) this evening will double as his send off.

I walked back just as they were finishing and managed to snap a passing Navy Sea King helicopter over the Horse and then, as I approached across the field, I also captured the final gravel ‘run’. They were ready for off when I met Nick and Michael by the hoof and Nick asked me if I would mind climbing up to photograph them as a group by the Land Rover. I agreed and can honestly say that on this occasion it really didn’t feel steep at all. And, most important, it gave me the chance to say a big thank you to a great bunch of guys before they headed for some well-earned refreshment.

The hillside was quiet then, with just a para-glider cruising past on the thermals – before depositing its pilot and passenger rather heavily in some gorse and brambles (I knew there was a reason I haven’t tried it!). And then, as I walked back across the fields I met Paul Critchell, the farmer without whose help and co-operation, none of this could have happened. I asked him what he thought of the progress. “Fantastic” he said, and I have to agree!

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