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Tuesday 29 June 2010

Pride of Sussex, Round-headed Rampion.

The Round-headed Rampion, Phyteuma tenerum is the county flower of Sussex, known as the "Pride of Sussex".  Here it is on Wolstonbury Hill today with a couple of Burnet moths that were very active, in contrast with the blue butterflies, which were not.

Click on any picture to enlarge it.

And imagine how pleased I was to find a Bee Orchid near Wolstonbury!

This orchid was in perfect condition.
The Fly Orchid was finishing...
...with just one flower left.
What a great walk....
...with delicious free food too!

Broomrapes in Bonchurch, Isle of Wight.

Broomrapes are total parasites on various plants.  Their leaves are reduced to scales and they have no chlorophyll.  Since they live underground you can only see them when they flower.  So what a joy last week, to see these flowering right by a public footpath in Upper Bonchurch.
They look like Ivy Broomrape.
There were more too...
This one was emerging from the lawn of the village hall, formerly a school.

There were also lots by the path through the churchyard cliff, which might be Common Broomrapes.  It is hard to tell after the event.
This tranquil path through the churchyard was en route from the Winterbourne to the pub.

Monday 28 June 2010

An extremely Uncommon Spotted-orchid, spotted yesterday.

This extraordinary Spotted-orchid can hardly be described as "Common".  It has multiple flower spikes.

Click to enlarge the pictures.

The top view of multiple flower spikes.  Isn't that strange!  It is also highly fragrant, which suggests that it may be a hybrid of a Common Spotted and a Fragrant orchid.

Sunday 27 June 2010

A five miles walk from Godshill, Isle of Wight to Bonchurch

We took a bus to Godshill and walked back to Bonchurch. 
We had an early desert of wild cherries that were quite delicious.
The weather was perfect for hay making.
Our route was via the donkey sanctuary.
Ascending St Martin's Down, we had a bite of home made cake from Godshill craft market and very excellent it was too.
A short stretch of ancient woods gave a welcome break from the sun.
Fine views of Sandown Bay from St Martin's Down...
...with lots of Common Spotted-orchids to delight the eye.
From Shanklin Down there are fine views towards Portsmouth...
and the Millennium tower.
Continuing along the ridge of the Downs is...
...which to a Sussex rambler is quite extraordinary.  It must have an acidic topsoil as heather grows there.  Click on any picture to expand it.
The view back to St Martin's Down at the end of the ridge.

 The view from St Boniface Down to Ventnor was appreciated by Charles Dickens.  He walked the same route from and to Bonchurch down this precipitous hill.
It is easy to see why so many poets and writers came to this jewel of a village.  Click to enlarge the picture.

The pond is constantly fed by a spring and is teaming with fish.

We got back to the hotel, Winterbourne House, where Dickens once stayed and wrote, just as a Brittany Ferry was passing.  This location is idyllic.

Saturday 26 June 2010

St Catherine's Hill circular walk via Whitwell

Our walk started from The Hermitage Country House, which is a lovely place to stay. 

Hoy's monument commemorates a visit by Czar Alexander 1 of Russia.  More info' at
Mrs Whitwell with the village of Whitwell in the distance.
Rather late bluebells were still in flower on St Catherine's Down.
The Round-the-island boat race was on and we just saw the last of the yachts.
Chale village from St Catherine's Down.
The lighthouse tower is all that remains of St Catherine's Oratory.
Click on any picture to enlarge it.
Descending the hill past the bull and cows with calves.
The view towards Tennyson Down and the Needles.
St Catherine's Point.
The Coastal Path was quite variable from wild meadows -- red with the sorrel seeds -- to dark, damp wooded tracks, lush with hart's tongue and other ferns.
 These small tortoiseshells were just two of many butterflies on the route.
Bee orchids were growing right by the bench at the top of the path down to St Lawrence.
Pyramidal orchids too.
We climbed down into St Lawrence for lunch at the pub, only to find that it HAS CLOSED DOWN!
There is a Post Office which sells food and alcohol but it was closed for lunch.
Hungry and thirsty we climbed up the cliff again...
... and took St Rhadegund's Path to Whitwell.
Mrs Whitwell at Whit Well.

The White Horse is a great pub because;
  • It has not closed down
  • Their crab sandwiches are lovely
  • and they serve Isle of Wight local real ales!  Heaven 
 Refreshed, we meandered back up to St Catherine's Down.
At Moorhills we passed a solitary orchid, which looks like a Southern Marsh-orchid.  It was in a boggy spot.
The walk was a little longer than planned due to navigational inexactitudes.
 Nearing the top of the Down you can see the Oratory and Hoy's Memorial if you know where to look.  Almost back now after a long and quite strenuous walk.
Finally, sunset with The Needles in view from St Catherine's Down.

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