The warnings about a cold snap proved well founded. There was a week of lying snow, but now back to mild temperatures with strong winds and rain from the Atlantic. I am planning to lead a walk in the Lambourn area in April and I took the opportunity to research feasibility of paths and noting stiles etc... Here is a map of the 8 mile walk.
View Lambourn Loop in a larger map
I first explored Lynch Wood which is north-west of the village, when I last visited last May the 'river' Lambourn had dried up completely. Now it is a surging torrent, what a difference a wet year has made. Lynch Wood is a mixed woodland on a steep chalk slope with the 'river' running along the bottom. It is certainly a pretty wood.
January is not the best month for seeing all that much exciting, it is more a question of making something out of the ordinary things that get ignored in Summer. Here's some bracket fungi for instance.
In the same vein, with little to distract some unusual remnants of last year can be seen. I have no idea which plant this is.
What you can hope to see in January in woodlands are snowdrops, and I was delighted to find a good patch just by the stream.
Close by the stream was a pool with a patch of white chalk at the bottom. I was wondering what could cause this until I realised I was looking at a spring. Clear water was gushing out of the ground, I think it is the first time I have seen a spring at such close quarters - usually you can't get this close to them.
I then headed out to the surrounding chalk downs with good views in the winter sunlight.
I walked passed a cottage buried deep in the woods. They had planted snowdrops and winter aconites by the front hedge.
Ferns can be an interesting subject when all else is in winter slumber, the orange sori containing the spores were attractive on the underside of the fronds.
I took a path over fields to avoid a muddy and rutted track. The mud in the field had a good many deer hoof-prints. Lo and behold when I looked up I saw the culprits nearby. I think they are fallow deer hinds - based on the black horseshoe markings on their rears.
In the fringe of a wood the signs of springs were all around. The Arum lily (Cuckoo Pint) was particularly advanced for the end of January. Some plants have black spots on their leaves like this one.
The other sure sign of Spring are catkins which are beginning to show too.
Dog's mercury was already in bud and about to burst into flower. Also in the woods but not yet showing any flowers but certainly sprouting foliage were primroses .
I then wended by way back to Lambourn, the church stands out well in this view.
Lambourn seems bereft of attractive, pretty cottages as in the village of East Garston near by. There are however, some reasonable looking houses that somehow would look better with thatch.
I will be re-treading this walk again in April, it will be interesting to see how different it will all look in three month's time.