Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Prestwood, Hampden and Chequers

At last, some settled weather and the ground had dried out sufficiently for the walk not to be too muddy. The roads were still in a very poor condition, full of potholes brought about by the hard winter. Spring was in much more evidence with many trees in bud. The walk was in the area of the Northern Chilterns between Great Missenden and Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire. Here is a map for this walk.

View Prestwood - Dunsmore in a larger map

One of the chief delights was to see Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) popping in many places, often on the fringes of woods and roads.

lesser celandine

The Hampden area is an old manor with its own historic house and nearby church, the church in this case being little more than a memorial to the various family members of the lords of the manor. One monument was an attractive oak tree showing the heraldic arms of the ancestors of the Hampdens.

hampden family tree,hampden church

The church also has an attractive early cup shaped font (14th or 15th century).

hampden church,font

Outside the house, there were one or two exotic looking trees with red bark.

red tree bark

In the woods, lurked a menacing, green monster... Well it looks a little strange in the right light. No photo-editing used, honest.

tree root

The walk headed north up the valley which is the site of Chequers, the country seat of the British Prime Minister. He was in London on this day busy requesting the dissolution of Parliament. Only fairly distant views are possible from public paths.


Some Pussy willows (Salix caprea) were opening their catkins. The soft white buds opening to reveal a mass of yellow stamens.

willow catkin

willow catkin

Finally the ravages of a wet and cold winter seemed to have faded the colours of these beech leaves making them form almost ghostly shapes in the Spring sunshine.

beech leaves