Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

Read more »

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

Read more »

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

Read more »

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

Read more »

South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

Read more »

It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

Read more »

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

Read more »

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

Read more »

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

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In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

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April 2024

Starting The London Loop

A friend was keen to do this long distance walk of 150 miles. It’s well waymarked and starts at Erith in east London. The first leg was 8.7 miles from Erith to Bexley. We used Travelcards on the train and went via Waterloo. The first part of the walk is not visually enticing and it was very windy and occasionally wet. It feels like east London is the place for every kind of waste disposal you can think of! After intermittent sights of the Thames and some nice reedbeds we soon found ourselves walking along the banks of the River Darent and Cray and views improved immeasurably. In the distance was the Dartford river crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There was some good birdwatching to be done but I forgot my binoculars! Easy to see were the shelducks, redshanks were calling loudly and Cetti's warblers were everywhere! I also heard some marsh frogs!

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February 2024

Playing away - North Devon heaven!

A different winter break this year, a National Trust cottage on the South West Coast Path. In a tucked away Combe, just off the A39, we descended the rough track to our Coastguard cottage of excellent standard, including the wood burner with eco- logs! On my first days explore I walked down to Peppercombe beach, a rocky but picturesque place accessed by moss covered trees with some rare lichens on them. Birds were plentiful along the stony track and included marsh tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, coal tit and song thrush. The ultimate place to stay, I think, is the Landmark Trust painted cottage with stupendous views across to Hartland Point. Snowdrops are out by the stream and even some early primroses. The first exploration also found me the South West Coast Path for tomorrow’s adventure!

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January 2024

This summer's challenge - The Tamara Coast to Coast

Already planning trips in the New Year, this summer I'll be walking the Tamara Coast to Coast way on the borders of Devon and Cornwall with a friend. We'll be walking from Morwenstow on the north Devon coast to the Tamar Bridge on the outskirts of Plymouth. It should average out at about a nice, relaxed 11 miles a day. The walk was recently publicised on Countryfile and there's a website with more information. See https://www.tamarvalley.org.uk/tamara-coast-to-coast-way/ Unfortunately, the book of the Trail is already sold out but there's an OS map and a link to the OSMaps website which is all we will need, plus a bit of internet exploration!

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October 2023

A great new walk - coming soon

Yesterday was a beautiful day! I loved walking and carefully plotting a new route for the second time. I'm confident his will become a favourite. I loved finding a beautiful pub just 1km from the end! I'll publish this one in the next 10 days, it's roughly 11 miles long, it has a lot of fairly steep hills up and down so is a test for the stronger walkers. I first walked it with a friend with an old dog and she carried him over half of it! Fortunately for her and the dog, she's quite a bit younger than me but they made it! Enjoy the pictures, just a chance to catch the last sun of the summer perhaps before autumn changes all the colours and makes the views even more impressive.

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South Downs Path October walks

I did a couple of days on the South Downs Way supporting a friend. My first day, her third day, was a 19 mile hike from Washington to Cocking. The day was bright and warm with a gentle breeze following two stifling early October days I was glad to have avoided. Anyone knowing the South Downs Way will know there are lots of very big hills. The compensation is wonderful views and, for me, lots of birdlife and nature to enjoy. The second day, 15 miles,  brought a misty start with the need to be patient until early afternoon for brighter skies and strong winds. This day we walked from Pyecombe and the Jack and Jill windmills back to Washington. Had the day been brighter, views would have been spectacular but there was a certain eeriness in the gloom early on. As for birds, my favourite nature subject, we saw many wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets, yellowhammers, kestrels, raven and goldfinches enjoying the seeds and berries. The number of red admirals was amazing and speckled wood butterflies were also numerous in the wooded areas. The last landmark I saw from my two days was the Chanctonbury Ring standing in a high wind, where in the Great Storm of 1987, the historic original beechwood circle was razed to the ground by the cyclone Michael Fish famously told us would not happen! I've walked the whole of this trail before many years ago. Now I'm tempted to do it again!

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It is the season for chestnuts!

You cannot have missed the start of the chestnut season. Whether it's excitement at finding some huge shiny conkers or the prickly appearance of sweet chestnuts, already being plundered by squirrels! I'm often amazed by the sheer number of sweet chestnut trees in my local area. While some say they were brought by the Romans that's in doubt but they are native to Southern Europe, so maybe with the effects of climate change they are in the right place here and now?

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September 2023

Late summer humming!

I stepped outside the back door at the weekend and heard a consistent humming. It could have been a distant electrical or mechanical sound but it was coming from the trees. We have sweet chestnut trees covered in ivy. The bees and flies were having a great time, almost every ivy flower had insects feeding. Contrary to common thinking ivy doesn't kill trees, it will bring down dead trees eventually but it simply climbs up the bark to seek light. It cleans the air by capturing air pollutants and provides valuable nectar for insects, especially in autumn. After the flowers come the berries that feed birds through the winter. 

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August 2023

Grisly flies!

On a walk in the Chilterns the nectar and pollen from many ivy flowers were attracting flying insects, bees mainly but also another insect. I discovered this was a bristle fly called Tachina fera. It's reminiscent of a bee, due to its colour but definitely a fly! Unlike parasitic wasps this fly doesn't lay its eggs inside the caterpillar, it lays them on the food plants and after hatching, they enter the caterpillar eating it from the inside! Yuk! They're very common across Europe. We found them alongside Grim's Ditch, part of the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. I'll be looking more closely at Ivy now, while it's flowering, to find more.

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July 2023

Out on the trail - again!

I walk alone or with friends, walking alone enables me to look much more closely at the nature I find and I have to admit every walk shows me something new. That includes history as well as nature!

Read more »

In Somerset on a nature trail!

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

Read more »