Access to the Countryside Group Meetings held in 2005

Priory Bay – 13th July

What!... am I the only one with Sandwiches?  On the shore in Priory Bay © CL

What!… am I the only one with Sandwiches? On the shore in Priory Bay © CL

On a glorious Wednesday morning 18 members met at Seaview car park for a beach walk to Priory Bay. As access to this bay is only relatively easy at low tide, the whole bay is unspoilt. The tide was low when we rounded Nettlestone Point and some other people were making the most of the lovely day including a half-dozen horses and their riders.

Rock pool © CL

Rock pool © CL

Rachel, a guest of Chris’s, and her two children helped us identify various shells including Top Shell, Common Cockle, Common Whelk, Netted Dog Whelk, Common Periwinkle, Limpet, Razor Shell, Slipper Limpet, Mussel, Oyster and, possibly a Gaper. We saw a tiny Shore Crab and a shell of a Spider Crab, Beadlet Anemone and Snakelocks Anemone and Cuttle Fish.
Seaweeds we found difficult to identify but some we knew, Bladder Wrack, Serrated Bladder Wrack, Sea Lettuce, Thongweed, Gutweed and Zostera. At the top of the beach various plants were noted including Watercress, Sea Kale, Woody Nightshade, Bristly Ox-tongue, Sea Beet, Hemp Agrimony, Sea Buckthorn, Hedge Bedstraw, White Poplar, Sycamore, Honeysuckle, Sea Couch, Bramble, Orache, Privet, Teasel, Turkey Oak, Tamarisk and Prickly Sowthistle.

On the beach, Mike found what we believed to be a Paleolithic handaxe. It certainly was worked flint and the shaping of it meant that it fitted beautifully into the palm of the hand. As we were mindful of getting back round Nettlestone Point before the tide came in too far, it was all too soon time to have to turn back.

Jackie Hart.

St Helen’s churchyard glow-worms – 14th and 15th July

Glow-worm evenings © CL

Glow-worm evenings © CL

On two lovely evenings we counted the Glow-worms in St. Helens Churchyard. Only 19 females were seen on July 14th, but on July 15th, 30 were counted. There were no males identified but there were flying insects. These numbers are lower than last year’s count. Whether this is to do with the weather, the management of the churchyard – the grass was shorter in many places – or whether it is to do with our counting, we do not know.

Yarmouth Mill Copse – 19th August

Despite early rain and a poor forecast, a group of ten met at Yarmouth car park. We walked down to the seafront via Sixpenny Corner which, apparently, used to have a shop selling no goods over sixpence, in old money. After reading the Information Board about wrecks we walked along the sea wall and, nostalgically, across to the old railway track. There was a good crop of ripening Sloes.
After looking across at the wetland reserve beside the track we continued past the platform of the old station. On the other side of the track many good plants of Marsh Mallow were in flower and with delightfully soft leaves. Continuing to Mill Copse we walked round the woodland paths finding squirrel-nibbled nuts, then continued to the Bird Hide before returning to the car park.

Shanklin new Walk – 22nd September

Jill and John Nicholls led the group, on a really warm day, from the car park on Big Mead to a newly created walk from Westhill Road. Trees had been planted for the JIGSAW project which gives grants for tree planting to link small areas of woodland to make continuous runs for squirrels, etc. A fine new stile had been made from Westhill Road and an information board told about the project.

view over Shanklin © CL

View over Shanklin © CL

Following the permissive path round the young trees, the group gradually climbed up the down. Unfortunately, the view over Shanklin and Sandown Bay was limited, owing to the mist, but the viewpoint was appreciated before descending through the fields to St.Blasius’ church. The group looked inside the church before returning to the car park.


Map and Grid Reference session – 27th September

A group of twelve people cosily fitted into Chris Lipscombe’s sitting-room for the experimental Map and Grid Reference session. Ordnance Survey maps were used to show the enormous amount of information available on them, roads, footpaths, buildings, land and water features, with the contours remaining the same throughout any other changes.

Map day © CL

Map day © CL

The mystery of Grid References was shown really to be simple and the group practiced with the picture cards provided. The highlight of the morning was a quiz, provided by Tad Dubicki, of the area around the house and St.Helens. After a picnic lunch the group walked round St.Helens Green to try out their new map reading skills.

Merstone – 19th October

A new starting point was found by Tad Dubicki, who led a walk from the cycleway parking place at the old Merstone Junction station. The station platform still bordered the old railway line, now made into a cycle track linking Newport with Sandown. The group walked along to the bridleway junction at Merston Manor. Turning right we were able to see the Jacobean house, unusually built mainly from a warm red brick. At the farm opposite the manor, several of the group were delayed for some time chatting to a tractor driver with a trailer full of a root crop, which apparently would be exported right across the world. We continued along, passing the chapel from which the lane got its name and turned right to a field which brought us back to the railway track, cycleway and car park.

Newtown – 7th November

A big group met at Newtown National Trust car park for a walk which had been planned for autumn colour,. However, because autumn colour had hardly started, the route was changed and then changed again, because of a high tide and recent heavy rain! Eventually we walked through the village looking first at the Old Town Hall, Noah’s Ark house, other old houses and the ancient pump. Then down across the meadows with lovely open views and some Brent Geese on the harbour.
Passing the Bird Hide we came up to the main road and followed the ancient route of Gold Street, where the hedges mark the boundaries of the original burgage plots. We continued along the road, made a short detour into Town Copse and came back across the meadows. There were a lot of fungi including some really magnificent Parasol mushrooms.

Christmas walk from St Helens – 7th December

The Christmas walk was from St.Helens, starting from the Community Centre at the eastern end of the Green. A group of seventeen set off for a short walk while others stayed to prepare the hall for the tea. First we looked at Sophie Dawes house and learnt how, from being a smuggler’s daughter, she rose in French society and became a wealthy woman. Crossing the Green we went down Mill Road to a lovely view across the harbour. The weather was perfect, calm and warm and crossing the old Mill Wall was delightful. There were Little Egrets in the trees and a big group of Curlew flew by making their distinctive call.
At the end of the Mill Wall, we turned and made our way up through the wooded strip beside the road of St.Helens Common, stopping to read the inscription on the stone commemorating the gift of the Common by Professor Poulton, in memory of his children. Coming back to the road we admired the view across the Duver, looked at the pictorial notice board about St.Helens and returned to the hall. The tea and mince pies were ready and the hall looked festive. Thanks to those who brought and prepared refreshments, everyone was soon served and puzzling over the Island place names quiz of which no-one found all the answers. The caption quiz was won by Iris Evans for her caption of “Two pints please” for a picture of John Nicholls talking to a Friesian cow. Chris Lipscombe gave chocolate medals to all those who had helped with the Section during the year.

Chris Lipscombe