Looking at the Countryside report – Tuesday 16 August 2016

Six members joined the two leaders in the Big Mead car park Shanklin for a 3-1/2 mile walk on the downs and coast.

Leaving through the churchyard of St Blasius the group were soon walking up through the lower pastures, noting that two fields had a monoculture of tall rye grass. There was speculation whether this was for grazing, silage or the bio digester. Soon the group turned off onto a permissive path through Anne’s Wood, a plantation created by Shanklin Estates to link two existing woodlands.

Rejoining a right of way the route climbed through Greatwood Copse with discussions about the former quarries and the source of the Chine stream. After crossing the “kidney” field the path entered an ancient copse on the slopes of the down, and an old track was followed to emerge in the top field. Reaching the ridge above, views were obtained down into the Wroxall valley and, it being a fairly clear day, both Culver Cliff and Tennyson Down could be seen.

Following an overcast start the sky now cleared to give sun with a reasonable breeze making for comfortable temperatures.

On the way up a number of birds had been observed including an active green woodpecker.

This being the highest point of the walk, the party then descended the cool sunken bridleway down to the main road at Cowleaze. It was noted that this bridleway may well have been an old trackway connecting the downs to the sea at Luccombe Chine.

Views forward to Luccombe were obtained as the walk descended footpaths though Luccombe Farm to reach the top of the Chine. Two of the party recalled the times they had spent at the adjacent Luccombe Chine Hotel (now closed) and at Dunnose Cottage Tea Rooms (again now closed).

A heron had been seen investigating a field with a small water trickle whilst various dragon flies had been noted.

Returning to Shanklin along the coast path the walkers were able to see the ongoing erosion and the changes over time with the properties of Luccombe. Unfortunately the “jam man” of Luccombe did not have his table out for home-made preserves.

Approaching Big Mead some of the party diverted into Shanklin village for a well deserved coffee.

Many thanks to those who attended for their company and interesting discussions.

John and Jennifer Hague

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