Friday, 28 May 2010

Easton Royal and Burbage

The heat of last weekend (about 85°F) thankfully passed and with a little rain too, a walk proved possible today. Here is map of the 13 mile route I took.


View Aughton - Burbage 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

I continued my trek westward towards the Vale of Pewsey, south west of Marlborough. It proved one of the less interesting sections from the scenic point of view, as there were not many broad vistas, nevertheless it had its moments. Birds of all type were active, including a sparrow hawk, this partridge was reluctant to move from its position basking in the sun.

partridge

This part of Wiltshire has few walkers, and sometimes the paths are completely overgrown. This one leads through the middle of a patch of Cow Parsley (and nettles).

cow parsley

Unusually, the lack of a clear path defeated me on two occasions, I had to be put right by a local in a Land Rover who I suspect was attached to the Army, as I was at the boundary of the military restricted area of Salisbury Plain.

military range,Salisbury Plain

With only a few distant views, it was flowers and butterflies that caught my attention, including this spectacular thistle.

thistle

Looking around I saw lots of buttercups with what looked like dark stamens, however on closer inspection they turned out to be some sort of tiny wasp or fly? On further reflection I think they are micro moths - which are hard to identify - possibly Cocksfoot Moth (Glyphipterix simpliciella).

buttercup,flies

Just as unusual looking was this plant which I believe are the flower buds of White Bryony.

bryony

Coming down off the chalk plain into the village of Easton Royal gave some decent views.

easton hill

Close to Easton Royal was a chalk bank which contained one real gem of a plant, I think it is Chalk Milkwort (Polygola calcarea)

chalk milkwort

To follow the blue theme I saw my first blue butterfly of the year. The village of Easton Royal has many thatched houses. The church is a small Victorian invention and of no real interest.

Easton Royal

I followed footpaths over farmland to the neighbouring village of Burbage. The views back to the chalk ridge were good.

View

By the side of one path the red campion was doing rather well.

Red Campion

I saw several species of butterfly, but all except this one proved elusive, and even this one wouldn't open its wings for the camera. I think it is a Speckled Wood butterfly (Lopinga achine).

Speckled Wood

Burbage is a sprawl of development with not even the saving grace of a well preserved church. It is another Victorian rebuild. The church is quite a large one reflecting the historical importance of the village. Inside was a quite rare churchwarden's chest. It has one key for each of the two church wardens and one for vicar from the days when all three were needed to keep the parish documents safe.

Churchwarden chest

The walk back to the car at Aughton was fairly routine. The marked public path had been redirected onto a long disused Midland and South Western Junction Railway. The railway path was a less interesting walk than through fields. The railway track now formed a 'lane' fringed with masses of hawthorn.

hawthorn,may blossom

There were quite a few flowers too including trefoil and common vetch with some red ants for added interest.

vetch,red ants

Just when I thought I would have nothing more to show for my trip to Wiltshire, I heard a brash squawking and this little fellow was sitting close to the path. I am not sure which species of owl it is, but I'd guess Tawny. A good discovery to make to end the walk.

owlet