Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Tidcombe, Collingbourne Kingston and Wexcombe

The conditions were forecast to be the best day of the week, last week was too hot - even in April! So, I went out to link up with Ham; Vernham Dean and Oxenwood and complete the series of interlinked walks out to the fringes of Salisbury Plain. Here is a map of the 12.5 mile walk:


View Tidcombe - Collingbourne Kingston in a larger map

Inkpen Ridge

Walks following the ridge through north Hampshire, Wiltshire and West Berkshire.

Oakley - Hannington
Hannington - Watership Down
Watership Down - Highclere
Highclere - East Woodhay
East Woodhay - Inkpen
Inkpen - Marten
Marten - Collingbourne Kingston
Collingbourne Kingston - Easton Royal
Easton Royal - Pewsey

As I had hoped, the cool strong northerly breeze kept the haze away and distant views were possible. This was the view close to the starting point north towards Great Bedwyn. This area of Wiltshire has a much more rural feel than Berkshire.

Great Bedwyn view

In the distance the sun just caught the vanes of a working windmill at Wilton (on a later walk I visited the mill and bought some flour).

windmill

Down an old trackway were a variety of Spring plants in flower, including Lords and Ladies (Arum maculatum). Most were still in bud, but one or two were out.

lords and ladies

Further on there was a lovely patch of Yellow Archangels (Lamiastrum galeobdolon) with some leaf variegation.

Yellow Archangel

I was also rewarded with a butterfly that stayed still long enough to take a few shots. Firstly with its wings closed.

Orange Tip Butterfly

And then it opened its wings to reveal itself as a male Orange Tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines).

Orange Tip Butterfly

Soon I was at the tiny, quiet village of Tidcombe, and I gained access to the small church which boasts a Saxon font.

Anglo-Saxon font

Although subject to a fairly brutal Victorian make-over, some old features remain such as this group of early medieval floor tiles. The church had another problem, evidenced by strips of plastic on the floor; there must be a bat colony up in the roof.

floor tiles

I then climbed up onto Tidcombe Down, with impressive views, although the yellow rapeseed flowers look too bright to fit in properly with an English landscape.

tidcombe down

tidcombe down

Cowslips were at their best, they had a deep orange tinge to their flowers making them bright and warm in the sunshine.

cowslip

Collingbourne Kingston was a disappointment. The village is strung out on the very busy A338 road, and the church was closed even though the sign said it should be open all day. The small villages of Brunton and Aughton to the north were better with some picturesque thatched houses. This one was in the process of being re-thatched.

thatching,thatched roof

The stream through Aughton flows south to the Solent, unusual as for most of my walks all the water from streams and rivers end up in the Thames to the East. I saw relatively little fauna, most of the birds must have been sheltering from the stiff cool breeze but these pigs were enjoying a genuine free range life.

pig

The main emphasis, appropriate for early May was Spring flowers. Even dandelions have their charm.

dandelion

Up close the humble White Deadnettle (Lamium album) shows some appealing detail.

white deadnettle

At Wexcombe the public footpath was a little disconcerting, leading apparently into a back garden complete with washing out to dry on a washing line. In fact I was so convinced that it could not be right that I turned back, only for a helpful local to confirm the path.

Wexcombe footpath

By the side of a copse was a bank of wild garlic (Allium ursinum).

wild garlic,Allium ursinum

In places the cowslips were extremely abundant and quite delightful.

cowslip

The long, hard winter seems to have squashed spring into just a couple of weeks. The high temperatures last week (up to 22 degrees) have brought on a number of flowers that are not normally out at the same time. The best examples are bluebells, traditional out in May. A good flower to end on as they were already at their peak in the woodlands.

bluebells

bluebells