Looking at the Countryside – 3 August 2019

Nine members met outside Gatcombe Church for a ramble on a warm, slightly overcast morning.

This is a lovely, almost hidden piece of the Island with its bumps & dips, fragments of woodland & steep downland.  We wound our way past George Brannon’s grand house & up through a small beech & sycamore wood, keeping to a narrow path.  Occasional glimpses through a quickthorn hedge allowed us to see a patchwork of fields of wheat, corn, sheep & horses; England in miniature.  Down & up, up & down we went, tramping over flints caught in thick chalk – even after 40 years dealing with rocks & fossils, I still have to pinch myself to imagine this land was formed under the sea millions of years ago!  We searched for fossils along the path; flints formed of sponge silica are everywhere.  Here, the best time to find fossils is after the plough has turned over the soil.  Ammonites, or bits of, are common although we did not find any today.   As we turned to the right at the foot of the Down we mused on the name Garston, Garstang for this Humpty Dumpty landscape – rocks formed & folded over millions of years.  Gulls, rooks & crows were spotted & buzzards were heard.  After a longish steep climb we made the top & examined a small official enclosure protecting not an ancient Bronze Age Barrow but an underground water reservoir.  Glorious views all around allowed us to recognise many famous features.  I enjoyed our ramble & hope everyone else did.

Steve Hutt.

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