You may be reading this article around Eastertime, or a little earlier. It’s at Easter that Christians the world over celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection, and are reminded of God’s free gift of forgiveness and love. In the Bible we read,
Day 23 and the sun continued to shine down on us. Wonderful with a bit of a but. Each year our popular Hillhouse Wood becomes an attraction as the spring flowers create carpets of colour. The paths, though, are rather narrow and social distancing will become a problem if the same numbers come along this year.
If you are not a local resident can you please put off your visit until next year when, all being well, there will be no lockdown. In other news:
The first guided walk of the year at Hillhouse Wood takes place on Saturday 29th February when Steve Hallam leads the Winter Bird Walk 2020. Walkers should meet at the Old Church at 10 am (weather permitting), wearing
The 25th AGM of the Friends of Hillhouse Wood is on Wednesday 11th December 2019. Starting in the Orpen Hall at 7.30 pm, refreshments will be served from 7.00 pm. The Friends will welcome members and non-members alike.
It appears in recent years, that the Autumn Fruits Walk tends to act as a magnet to rain. This year was no exception. However, the weather forecast gave plenty of warning and so the 7 participants came prepared.
Steve Hallam will lead a guided walk to seek out fungi, berries, soft fruits, nuts & seeds. All of these are now out in abundance. To join Steve you should meet him at the Old Church at 2 pm on Saturday 26th October – wear suitable clothing! You should wear strong boots or wellies as we may encounter
To get the best from the Dawn Chorus means an early start but it is well worth it. Steve Hallam will be leading this years’ Dawn Chorus Walk around Hillhouse Wood, offering the chance to see and/or hear nightingales and many other dawn choristers like the Blue Tit having its own early start (see right).
Whilst we had some glorious weather over the Easter weekend the following Saturday brought strong winds, overcast skies and the threat of rain courtesy of Storm Hannah. It was in this environment that Steve Hallam lead the annual Spring Flower Walk into and around Hillhouse Wood. Having successfully survived the walk, Steve reported:
A bit different
This year produced something a bit different – as I was nearly blown over at one point (with only a slight exaggeration for dramatic effect). As luck would have it Storm Hannah chose that afternoon to blow some cobwebs away.
Despite the ‘challenging’ forecast I was pleased and relieved to see 22 people assemble for ‘the off’. The graveyard and adjacent track hold a varied display of flowers, each with a story to tell. I was able to show the group 13 species before we had walked 30 yards. It is always nice to show people how much there is that they would otherwise have walked straight past. Whilst things calmed down a bit after such a racing start, the track down to the entrance of the wood still revealed a lovely spread of Speedwells tucked into its verge. And I was able to explain how Groundsel got its name.
And into the wood…
Once in the wood, I was able to find a last few Lesser celandine and Wood anemones – well past their prime, but still providing some colour. In contrast, the Early purple orchids were showing well, with a good number of flower spikes. Regular readers will recall that every year there is some variation in what we see. And so, it was that this year there were several lovely Violets flowering right by the path, while last year there were none. In contrast, this year I could not find a single Lady’s smock or Bugle.
Wild Garlic Detour
As the ‘bracing’ weather had encouraged us to keep walking at a good pace, I decided that this year we would detour down to the bottom stream to see the Wild garlic. This turned out to be an effort worth making, as the group were most interested in it. It also provided me with yet another opportunity to say one thing, while ‘nature’ catches me out by doing the opposite. I explained how the garlic only ever grows within a certain number of yards of the water and wondered how this was so precise. Naturally, a few yards further along the path we found a patch of garlic growing three times this distance away from the water!
We then visited all of the three main areas of Bluebells, which were just about fully out. We felt that the display was not quite up to the standard of some years, as we could see individual flower spikes, as opposed to a solid ‘carpet’ of blue. Perhaps last summer’s drought was the reason? Still impressive, though. Finally, I was able to show the group the ‘non-flowers’ of Golden saxifrage, so easy to miss. And then also the tiny and weird symmetrical flowerhead of Moschatel, or Town-hall clock.”
Steve Hallam’s Guided 2019 Spring flower walk is fast approaching. These gentle walks guide you from the Old Church into the wonderful Hillhouse Woods in their spring glory where you might be fortunate to see many species of wildlife as well as spring flowers.