Thursday, 22 April 2010

Padworth, Aldermaston and Brimpton

This 11 mile walk links up two previous walks so I can now proudly state that I have walked all the way from home out to Marten a village halfway between Reading to Devizes in Wiltshire. This week is expected to be the last for guaranteed fine dry Spring weather before rain sets in. Here is a map of the route:


View Padworth - Brimpton in a larger map

The first flower I saw of any note was a Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis) growing close to the River Kennet and the Kennet and Avon canal at Aldermaston Wharf.

cuckoo-flower

The whole of April has been entirely dry, but the River Kennet which is fed from springs from the chalk downs was still at quite a high level. Water was the theme for much of the walk, in the form of rivers, ponds, lakes and streams.

water

I joined up with my previous Silchester, Padworth and Ufton Nervet walk at Padworth Church, which was charming in the morning sunshine.

padworth church

The walk to Aldermaston was varied with fields, streams and some woodland. At Aldermaston Church the churchyard had a clump of ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea).

ground ivy

The church's distinctive weather vane was in some need of repair.

weather vane

Then came a walker's nightmare, a footpath through a field with a loose bull, and, what was more, with a group of cows and calves. He showed some initial interest in my progress through the field but then grew bored and continued grazing.

bull

My courage was rewarded with a grey heron (Ardea cinerea) close to an area of marshland.

Heron

I was also able to get reasonably close to a pair of lapwings (or peewits: Vanellus vanellus), now regrettably quite a rare sight in farmland. Some signs of iridescent colours on their plumage.

Peewit,Lapwing

Some catkins can look really odd when they are still developing.

catkins

The track led to the village of Aldermaston with an attractive pub on a busy road junction.

Aldermaston pub

Then there was quite a walk along lanes with the hazard of speeding cars until eventually coming to ponds on the sites of former sand and gravel pits. This swan was busy feeding from the bottom of a pond.

swan

A little further along on the path to Brimpton was a yellow hammer merrily singing in the bushes. I did manage to catch a shot of it, but it was partly obscured by branches.

yellowhammer

As well as these I saw bullfinches, chaffinches, goldfinches, tufted duck, skylarks, red kites, canada geese, robins and great tits. A good day for bird watching. And this blackcap singing away too.

blackcap

A few yards further along were some amazing seed heads that look just like candy floss. These were bulrushes (Typha Latifolia) just about to lose last year's seeds ready to start the cycle again.

bullrush seeds

In the fields were masses of Common Field Speedwell (Veronica persica) with their bright blue flowers.

Common field speedwell

I then reached the Kennet and Avon canal which runs parallel to both the railway and the busy A4, it has an important route for many centuries. The canal path was boringly flat with the frequent nuisance of cyclists on the tow-path; the temptation to push them in the canal became quite strong. The long trudge back was much enhanced by the many spring flowers growing on the banks of the canal including clumps of Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris).

Marsh Marigold

And also the strange looking buds of Butterbur (Petrasites hybridus).

Butterbur

In the distance on a hill to the north was the impressive looking Midgham Church, built by the Victorians in 13th century style.

Midgham church,church

I saw my first Orange tip butterflies of the year (these are often the first adult butterflies of the new year that you see). To end on a suitably seasonal Spring note some willow (or may be poplar) catkins.

Catkins,willow,poplar

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