Thursday, 30 September 2010

West Woods, Tan Hill Way and Walkers Hill

At last, completion of a link between walks on the Great Ridgeway to the more recent exploration of the 'Inkpen' ridge to the south. So I can now claim to have walked from home all the way to Alton Priors and back in a large circular loop of over 95 miles. Weather has been rather wet and windy and today was a bit of a risk. Cloud was on the increase as another front came in from the west, but there was no better day in the medium range forecast so I chanced it. Here is a map of the 11 mile walk:


View Lockeridge - Alton Priors in a larger map

I chose to include an exploration of West Woods - a large area of woodland just west of Marlborough and south of Lockeridge. Rather disappointing as heavily managed by the Forestry Commission. Not much found of interest.

West wood,Fyfield wood

Fungi were quite a theme for the walk as you can see from the photographs, somewhat earlier than last year. These Lycoperdon pyriforme fungi are fairly common but a lovely bright colour and in nice groups.

fungi,Lycoperdon pyriforme

Only a few flowers are out at this late stage in the season. Field Scabious was one.

scabious

I liked this little miniature lichen forest, which was on top of a wooden post. It may be remnants of British Soldier lichen.

scabious

The main focus of the walk was a section of path marked as 'Tan Hill Way' that I had already walked from Gopher Wood. It has magnificent views of the Vale of Pewsey from the steep chalk downs.

Tan Hill Way

Photographs do little justice to the breathtaking distant views.

Knap Hill

The views east along the ridge to Martinsell were the best. The summit is only 700 feet but looks far higher.

Knap Hill

Then I met up with the Great Ridgeway, I walked this section back on 29/9/2005. Walker's Hill just to the north of Alton Priors is another good view point. You can see the bank and ditch of the iron age hillfort.

Walkers Hill

Walkers Hill

Anyway, far too many views. Back to the wildlife. Blackberries in places were beginning to rot but these still looked OK.

Blackberries

And fungi were in fields and woods of all different sorts.

Fungi

Fungi

The seed-head of Goatsbeard has interesting shapes.

goatsbeard

Another fungus, probably Mycena galericulata?

Fungi,Mycena galericulata

This one is plain weird, more like the Spice worms in the Dune film than a normal 'mushroom'. It's probably a slug damaged fungus.

Fungi,Mycena galericulata

And the Stinkhorn appropriately named Phallus impudicus

Fungi,Stinkhorn,Phallus impudicus

A floral note after all that fungal excitement - a wild geranium.

Geranium

Finally one last view shot. Farewell to the beautiful Vale of Pewsey for the moment.

Knap Hill