I have to admit that I felt a bit sad this afternoon as I walked home across the fields. It was only about fifteen months ago that Geoff Codd asked me to take some progress photos on the White Horse project, but it somehow seems to have been far longer that we have been working on the hillside to restore this superb Dorset landmark. And now the main part of the project is over – the Portland scalpings are gone, the outline is established with the help of the best brains and technology, and the Horse has been cut out and restored to its 1808 glory.

So what were we doing up there today? Well it was what can be best described as the finishing touches. The Weymouth East Scouts and Houlding explorer Unit had finished the main work in style on Saturday, but there were some final measurements to be checked on the tail, some of gravel to be shifted and the odd tweak to the top of the tail. And, more important, we were expecting Chris MacMillan and assistant Abbi from a TV production company making a programme entitled “Britain at Risk” to be screened next year on BBC2

Workers on the hill this afternoon included many who have been so crucial to this project: Geoff Codd, Christine Codd, Teresa Seall and Bill Norman from the Osmington Society; six of the Royal Navy lads from RNAS Yeovilton; John Hayes and Nick Tarrier from the Dorset Countryside Rangers; Stewart Ainsworth from English Heritage; Jon Horgan from Ordnance Survey; Steve Wallis, the County Archeologist and last but by no means least, Paul Critchell,  the land owner.

The weather was perfect and we were all up there in plenty of time.  Chris and Abbi arrived with surprisingly little gear and there followed lots of discussion about potential shots and camera angles. Leading Hand Michael “Soapy” Watson of the RNAS gallantly offered to guide Abbi down the tail to be introduced to his lads – and gave an excellent demonstration of just what a slippery slope it is. Luckily he had had plenty of practice and kept at least one leg on the ground as he accelerated out of control towards the bottom!

Regular readers will know that taking dumpy bags of gravel down is the norm, but Producer/Cameraman Chris decided that if the Navy lads could manhandle one UP to the quarry it would make for good TV. It worked, but lets just say it was VERY hard work – as you will see from the photos!

There followed various interviews and a bit of hanging about, but the time wasn’t wasted as Paul Critchell and the Osmington Society team tackled a nasty lump on the top of the tail. And Rangers john and Nick were already planning the ongoing maintenance of the Horse – spraying the weeds and ensuring that the Horse and rider do not start shrinking again.

I left them to it then, as other duties called. They were still filming as I walked home and thought how I would miss the challenges of the restoration. I have had the pleasure of working with a huge number of volunteers whose enthusiasm and good humour has always made the climb up the Horse worthwhile.  And whose hard work has restored to a state that we can all be very proud of for the Olympics and beyond.  Somehow I think that I will be up there again – even if only to enjoy the magnificent view…….

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