Access to the Countryside Group Meetings held in 2004

Bembridge shore – 3rd August

A walk on a lovely evening, from Bembridge Lifeboat Station along the beach, attracted a small group. Beth, Jackie and Maureen led us along past the outcrops of Bembridge limestone. Herons were gazing into the water from the rocks. We found Padina pavonia, Peacock’s Tail seaweed, in a rock pool and Acorn Barnacles on the rocks. Little Egrets were seen out to sea. Many shallow dents and wormcasts were found, indicating that lugworms were under the sand. The curled white tubes of Spiralis borealis showed on Bladder Wrack. We continued up the steps by the Crab and Lobster and through the lanes, where House Martins and Swifts were flying, back to the village.

Bembridge shore © MC

Bembridge shore © MC

Medina valley and Dickson’s Copse – 9th September

We met at the parking place at the end of Riverway Industrial Estate and admired the Guelder Rose berries on the shrubs around it. Jill and John Nicholls led us on the footpath to the River Medina and along beside it. There were swans on the water. Newport Rowing Club building was passed and we came to Medina Valley Centre. Sea Clubrush, Scirpus maritimus, was growing on the brackish edge of the river. After passing bungalows with magnificent flowery gardens we came to the water where Coot, Moorhens and Mallard were swimming. Now we turned left to Dickson’s Copse and walked up to the bi- pond. It was almost covered with Waterlily leaves. The walk finished along the cycleway and back through the meadow to the car park.

21st September

Tennyson Down © MC

Tennyson Down © MC

Freshwater Bay and Tennyson Down walk to mark the AONB 30th Anniversary of the Tennyson and Hamstead Heritage Coast. This walk was led by Chris Lipscombe and Richard Smout.

The morning chosen was breezy but sunny, a million times better than the gales and driving rain for the ‘recce’ the previous week. There were a wide range of members, and some visitors for the festival, on the walk, which made for a very successful mix. The walk began in the Freshwater Bay car park, looking at the coastguard cottages, and learning a little about the hotels that had served early visitors to the area, and how at the end of the Victorian era, there was a notable influx of continental waiters, both here and in other resorts on the island. The walk continued along Gate Road, pausing to look at the Easton Common Field, Dimbola, and the fine brickwork, and interesting mansard roof that could be seen on parts of Bakers Farm. Before heading down the footpath towards Tennyson Down we went inside the Edwardian thatched church, St Agnes, and admired the fine woodwork in that building.

There was a steady passage of Swallows and Martins, for the whole length of the walk, most obvious as we walked along the field edge towards the wooded north side of the down., past quarries, and hedges full of sloes. Chris told us how the spore cases on the underside of the Hartstongue Fern resemble the legs of the centipede, and how the French name for both the fern and the centipede are the same … ‘scolopendre’. We passed Green Lane, down which the Tennysons would have approached the down from Farringford, admired the views north towards the Yar estuary, and then began to climb up onto the down proper. Once on the down one group went up to the Tennyson Memorial and heard about the service held there when it was dedicated in 1897, while Chris led the rest of the party back down the hill, past the mortuary chamber, and down to Watcombe Bay, where the Rock Samphire on the cliff edges was admired. This plant had been referred to in ‘King Lear’, and it is known that in the 19th century it was being collected and sent to London. There were a couple of good views of Peregrine Falcons, and a Raven passed by the group as we returned towards the bay.

Bonchurch – 13th October

Bonchurch shore © MC

Bonchurch shore © MC

In drizzly weather we met at Shore Road car park, Bonchurch and walked along to the old church. In the churchyard were many plants with spiky leaves. These were identified by Margaret Burnhill as a type of Kniphofia, Red-hot Poker. The tiny church afforded shelter from the drizzle and we admired the ancient door made from planks horizontal on one side and vertical on the other. Bushes gave more shelter on the muddy, slippery footpath and we came to the Landslip with fine trees. An Angle Shades moth posed for photography. The return route finished beside a spectacularly rough sea.

The New Forest – 2nd November

A group of ten caught the ferry to Lymington, the train to Brockenhurst and a bus to the outskirts of Lyndhurst, in the New Forest. We were immediately walking under lovely Beech trees showing glowing autumn colour. Many fungi were found and Chris Holland was able to identify most of them. We had a first stop on some fallen trees and continued, with no path, on a carpet of leaves. We came to some swampy ponds, with fine beeches bordering them and had second lunch stop. We had earlier found large Hedgehog fungi and, now, there were small ones under the trees. The path continued through Holland’s Wood camping site, now deserted for the winter and in front of Balmer Lawn Hotel to the Lymington River, the town and the station.

Richard Smout

Combley Great Wood – 5th November

From Havenstreet Railway car park we filled cars to go to the small parking place at Combley Great Wood. First we walked up the path parallel to the road, under big Beech trees which were beginning to show some good autumn colour. Our progress was slow as there were many different fungi plants to be identified. Jackie and Beth were especially good at this and named 41 different kinds through the whole wood. We continued under mixed deciduous trees and crossed a stream by a culvert where John Nicholls gave his new hip joint an interesting trial. The path continued by a good stand of Equisetum and back to the parking place.

Christmas Meeting – 8th December

We met at the new and very fine scout hall at Brighstone. A big group went on the short walk while others remained at the hall to prepare the scene for tea. The walkers went first to the church which was spectacularly filled with Christmas trees twinkling with lights. Three rectors of Brighstone became bishops, Bishop Ken, Bishop Wilberforce and Bishop Moberley. The walk continued past the rectory and Waytes Court. We saw a squatter’s hut. Continuing down to the converted mill and along by the mill stream we returned to the hall. Some had already arrived and were pondering over the flower quiz. Kathleen, Jill and the two Johns soon brewed the tea and warmed the mince pies. The caption quiz, with a picture of the group behind the crossing gate at Wootton, was produced. Peter Thomas won the flower quiz and Maureen Rowe the caption quiz. Chris thanked all walk leaders for their help and gave Jill and John a chocolate medal . All agreed that it was a good afternoon.

Chris Lipscombe and Richard Smout