Totternhoe Walk – Wildflowers galore!

Thursday 5/07/07

I had a really good walk today, one of my local walks from home. I went to Church End, the old part of Kensworth, and then followed the path round the back of Kensworth Quarry, an enormous Chalk Quarry. I then went across Dunstable Downs and followed green lanes to Sewell and then Totternhoe. I followed lanes back to the foot of the Downs, and then a path to Bison Hill, Whipsnade, before returning through the Tree Cathedral at Whipsnade back to Kensworth.

Normally I’d have walked a bit further, including Holywell in my return route, but I again spent a vast amount of time looking at and photographing wildflowers. I took over 150 photos of wildflowers! There were both Common Spotted Orchids and Pyramidal Orchids along the path by the quarry. There were several other wildflowers here, including the first Bladder Campion I’ve seen and some Square-stalked Wilowherb. I got so engrossed looking for flowers I missed the turn-off to the Downs and was quite bewildered when I found myself at the drive to the quarry by mistake! There was a good display of lovely blue Meadow Cranesbill on top of Dunstable Downs. Along the Green Lane to Totternhoe I saw all three types of Bindweed (Hedge, Field and Large), so I can improve the photos I’ve got of these on my web site sometime.

When I got to Totternhoe, I spent some time exploring the Totternhoe Knolls Nature Reserve, a steep chalk slope below what has been the site of both an iron-age hill fort and a Norman castle. Brilliant area for wildflowers – Fragrant Orchids (as well as the two I’d seen earlier), Sainfoin, Spiny Rest-harrow, various Trefoils, Clustered Bellflower (which I saw for the first time last week), Self-heal and many more. I’ve just looked it up on the web, and there are supposed to be several rarer types of orchid there, so I’ll go back soon and take another look.

I must have seen five or six new wildflowers today – apart from the Bladder Campion I also recognised Carline Thistle, but the others I have yet to identify. I’ll go through my reference books and check a few useful web sites – I quite enjoy the detective work!

I got back home just in time to watch Countdown, which I generally watch when I can. I think it’s a brilliant quiz show, and I love trying to beat the contestants at the words and numbers games. I think I beat them maybe 50% of the time (but rarely beat the brillaint ones who win 8 games in a row!). Of course, I wouldn’t do as well if I was under the pressure of being in the studio in front of the cameras and an audience – my brain would turn to jelly.

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