Archive for July, 2007

Milton Keynes Boundary Walk – Day 5

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007


A nice sunny day, pleasantly warm, pretty much ideal for walking. This was an enjoyable walk, mainly through corn fields, with one sheep pasture and a cattle pasture (complete with Bull!) to mix things up a bit. Very flat, with no real up or down all day, but some pleasant views along the way, nevertheless. Apart from Astwood at the beginning and Salford at the end, the walk only passed through one hamlet, East End. Nothing of historic interest (other than Astwood church) on the route, and I didn’t see any unusual wildflowers. Lots of peacock butterflies, and a few others as well. The paths were generally pretty good, but were overgrown in a couple of places.

Bison Hill and Pulpit Hill

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

Spent the early part of today looking for wildflowers. I first went to Bison Hill, Whipsnade – there were still a lot of pyramidal orchids, which I’d seen there about three weeks ago. I saw some red bartsia and some clustered bellflowers which I’d not seen there before. I took some photos of lesser burdock that I’ll eventually add to my web site.

I then drove to Great Kimble, Bucks., and followed the bridleway (where I’d started the North Bucks Way) up to the Ridgeway. I then had a good look round the open access areas on the northern side of Pulpit Hill. I also walked a small bit of the Ridgeway I’d not done before – when I walked here last year, my guide book recommended a slight detour from the official route. The section of official route I did today was very pleasant – the detour’s only advantage was it had good views north over the Vale of Aylesbury.

I didn’t find anything new, but there were a lot of the usual flowers I see on these chalk downlands – self-heal, ragwort, thyme, agrimony, lady’s bedstraw, red clover. There was some dark mullein, and I saw common centaury for the third time this week, not having seen it before Sunday. As well as about seven pyramidal orchids, I saw a couple of badly faded common spotted orchids. I particularly wanted to see these, as it was a common spotted orchid I saw here a year ago yesterday that sparked my interest in wildflowers.

Milton Keynes Boundary Walk – Day 4

Friday, July 27th, 2007

I parked in Turvey, and started by walking back to where I finished the last walk, near Threeshire Wood. Turned round and headed back to Turvey. The countryside was mainly corn fields with a few woods dotted about. Not exactly flat, gently undulating. When I crossed the river Great Ouse into Turvey, there was a ‘Flood’ warning sign lying on its back, so it looks like they may have had flooding recently. No sign of it today, fortunately, the river was several feet below the tops of its banks. It was past 1pm when I got back to Turvey – it felt like I was starting a second walk as I continued south towards the village of Astwood. The path was mainly along hedges through corn or oil-seed rape fields (the rape had generally been cut and was lying in strips waiting to be collected up). Eventually I reached a lane, and went half way along it towards Astwood, before turning back to Turvey.

Not a great walk today, but not bad by any means. Some nice views in the afternoon. Not many wildflowers, but several butterflies – lots of peacocks on teasel in the afternoon.

Tomorrow I think I’ll go looking for wildflowers, and then I’ll write this walk up for my journal on Sunday.

Milton Keynes Boundary Walk – Day 3

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Today I did my 3rd walk on the Milton Keynes Bounday Walk, starting at Weston Underwood and finishing … well, in the middle of nowhere! I didn’t pass through any villages or hamlets all day, just a few isolated farms and cottages. There were three sections through woods, the rest was through arable fields. In fact, I was beginning to get a bit bored of corn fields at one point. I saw a couple of Buzzards, and many wildflowers (but nothing new – except possibly Nettle-leaved Bellflower, I’ve got to check that one). The walk was 7.8 miles each way, but took me 6 hours of walking, almost an hour longer than it should – probably due to the much greater number of photos I’m taking nowadays. It was a pleasant enough walk, and a decent day – warm but not too warm, with a bit of a breeze.

The next walk might be delayed – it goes through Turvey, where there is currently a severe flood warning for the Great Ouse!

College Lake

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

I spent this morning at College Lake, near Tring, a former chalk quarry that is now a nature reserve run by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust. I was mainly looking for wildflowers and butterflies, but kept an eye open for birds as well. In fact there seemed to be very few birds, I don’t think I saw any ducks on the lagoons at all – I did see a hobby though, which a couple I’d been talking to pointed out to me. Saw several of the more common butterflies, and pyramidal and common spotted orchids. I saw my first Common Centaury, a nice pink flower, and saw some Viper’s Bugloss for only the second or third time. The morning went by very pleasantly and very quickly.

Milton Keynes Boundary Walk – Day 2

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Today I did my second stage of the Milton Keynes Boundary Walk, from somewhere near the village of Hanslope to Weston Underwood, about 7.5 miles each way. A pleasant but not exceptional walk, mainly through a mixture of arable fields and cattle pastures. A short stretch through Selcey Forest was the only woodland all day. It was a very warm day (only second time this summer I’ve worn shorts) with the temperature up to about 25C. Lots of butterflies – Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Ringlet. Not so many wildflowers, though I saw my first Evening Primrose and some Borage, which I really like even though it’s a weed [EDIT: As Duxbury Rambler has pointed out, it’s not a weed at all! Don’t know where I got that idea from.]. Some nice views over the undulating landscape, and Ravenstone and Weston Underwood were attractive villages built from the local yellow stone. Ravenstone had many thatched cottages, too.

Had a problem where the path was blocked and impassable, the first time this has happened to me on one of these long-distance paths.

Milton Keynes Boundary Walk, Day 1

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Today I finally got round to starting another long distance path – it’s about six weeks since I finished the Chiltern Way! The Milton Keynes Boundary Walk is about 60 miles long, so it will take me 8 days to walk it (going both ways).

I started at Stony Stratford – ‘the jewel in Milton Keynes’ – and followed the river Great Ouse for a couple of miles. I then followed the Grand Union Canal for over four miles, before crossing farmland for about a mile. I ended up near a farm in the middle of nowhere – well, somewhere in Northants actually, this was the first time I’d walked in that county.

It was a nicer walk than I’d expected, I’m not keen on too much canal towpath walking (they tend to be a bit flat!). Very muggy all day – very grey skies when I set off, brightening later but then greying over again.

I took just over 150 photos, so should have plenty for the web site when I eventually add the walk to it. It was a great day for wildlife – I saw two flowers that were new to me, Purple Loosestrife and Marsh Woundwort, I got decent photos of Gatekeeper and Red Admiral butterflies, and got my first photo of a damselfly, a Banded demoiselle.

Barton Hills

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

This afternoon I paid a visit to the Barton Hills Nature Reserve, near Barton-le-Clay here in South Beds. I’d walked through the reserve a couple of times, on the Chiltern Way and the John Bunyan Trail, but hadn’t previously looked round it for wildflowers. It’s chalk grassland, like the other sites I’ve been to recently (Ivinghoe Beacon, Pitstone Hill, Totternhoe) so I didn’t expect to see much that I hadn’t seen before. I saw just a couple of pyramidal orchids, but there was a lot of the lovely Clustered Bellflower. I came across one very tiny flower that I have yet to identify.There were a few butterflies – Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and a badly faded Blue of some sort that I’ve not identified. I enjoyed my time there – I would have gone on to explore Pegsdon Hill and Telegraph Hill as well, but a thunder storm arrived so I just drove home instead.

Totternhoe again

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

Had a few things to do today, but managed to spend almost 2 hours back at the Totternhoe Quarry Nature Reserve, looking for wildflowers again. Did not see anything new, but saw the same four orchids as last time – Common Spotted, Pyramidal, Bee and Common Twayblade. Had a good view of a fox chasing a rabbit! Managed to get a good photo of a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, which I’ll eventually put on my web site.



Flowers on Greensand Ridge

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007


Today, instead of doing a walk from my home in Kensworth, I decided to drive to Ampthill and do a walk along a section of the Greensand Ridge Walk. The reason for doing so was that I thought I might see some different flowers on the Greensand Ridge, compared to all the chalk hills I’ve been walking recently. I also remembered that there was a nature reserve on the ridge near Ampthill, just east of the ruins of Houghton House (see Day 3 of my John Bunyan Trail journal for photos of the ruins and of the extensive views from the Greensand Ridge).

The nature reserve, Kingswood, was disappointing in that I didn’t see any new flowers, but it was a long and enjoyable walk around the woodland. There were also some meadows at the foot of the ridge, but these were also disappointing from the point of seeing wildflowers. I did see Marbled White and Ringlet butterflies though. I also saw a Buzzard as I looked out from the edge of the wood at one point, where there was a panoramic view along the Greensand Ridge and over Marston Vale at its foot.

I then walked along the ridge, through Ampthill Park and on along through Millbrook, as far as Jackdaw Hill. I did see two new wildflowers, Bugloss and Weld – the former likes grassy, sandy places, so my decision to look for flowers on a different type of soil at least partially worked out. I also got some better photos of other flowers that I may use to replace the ones on my website – certainly I got my best photo yet of Red Campion, and I might use the White Campion shots too.