Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Cookley Green - Park Corner - Russell's Water

While writing up my last walk I discovered there was another small section of Chiltern Way I had managed to miss. This runs from Park Corner towards Maidensgrove. Another project of the year has been to start retracing the Ridgeway as I did that over ten years ago so I included a missing section of that at Swyncombe. I started at Cookley Green and followed the Chiltern Way through the woods. Autumn had already changed to winter.

winter woods

Here is a map of the 8.5 mile walk:

The church of St. Botolph at Swyncombe is one of loveliest in the area. I have posted pictures of the interior before here is the outside with the old round apse.

Swyncombe church

Outside the church is a bell which I had not really noticed before.

Swyncombe church,bell

I then headed south on the 'Ridgeway' (this is not the route of the ancient track - it followed the modern road from Nettlebed to Christmas Common see Ancient Trackways post). It has been 13 years since I last did this section that links to my more recent Nuffield walk. It passes the grand Ewelme Park which had peacocks last time I passed. Today I thought the mansion's gate house looked good.

Ewelme Park

Having linked up with a previous section of the Ridgeway I headed east along the valley bottom through very pleasant woodland. The multitude of fungi I had seen just four weeks ago have gone - recent frosts have finished them off. All I could find was on a sawn tree trunk which had some fairly old bracket fungi covering it. I think it may be 'Turkey tail' (Tramates versicolor).

Turkey tail,Tramates versicolor

I haven't mentioned the weather, well the clear skies in November often bring frost and this year November has been colder than of late. Our normal wet Atlantic weather systems have headed north to heat up the Arctic rather than keep us mild and damp. Frost was on the ground for the whole day, but with no wind it did not seem too cold.

frozen leaves

At Park Corner I crossed the road which is the 'real' Ridgeway and continued east on the Chiltern Way. I was determined to find a plant in flower on the walk and white deadnettles (Lamium album) rarely let me down, they never seem to stop.

white deadnettle,Lamium album

I had not visited the hamlet of Park Corner on foot before and it has some attractive buildings.

Park Corner,house

This led to the uncharted portion of the Chiltern Way which turned out to be an attractive walk through fields and along hedgerows with fine views.

Chiltern Way view

I rejoined the section of the Chiltern Way I had walked amid vibrant autumn colours four weeks ago, all the leaves had now fallen. Rather surprisingly I found some blackberries still ripening and looking unaffected by the frost.

blackberries

With less than a month to go to the shortest day I was anxious to not to be left walking in the gloom, so I abandoned plans to revisit part of the Warburg Nature Reserve at Bix. Instead I headed up to Maidensgrove and enjoyed Russell's Water Common in the winter sunshine.

Russell's Water Common

I went to look for ducks at the famous Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang pond at Russell's Water. The ducks quickly swam away, I suspect a fox has been trying to get at them recently. A moorhen was not coping too well with the thin ice, he (or she) kept falling through.

moorhen,ice

The sun was going down as I returned to Cookley Green, the only deciduous trees with some leaves and still showing autumn colour were the oaks.

oak autumn

I am hoping for some snow this winter as it totally transforms the countryside. It is now seven years since we had a decent fall around here. However the forecast seems to be for it turn milder.