Thursday, 11 November 2010

Compton and Hampstead Norreys

Pang Valley

Walks in the Pang Valley, West Berkshire.

Compton - Hampstead Norreys
Hampstead Norreys - Frilsham
Frilsham - Bucklebury
Stanford Dingley - Tidmarsh

A month's gap from the previous long walk, and in that time autumn has come and gone. The last walk showed little leaf fall and not much autumn colour. Now the leaves of most deciduous trees except the oak have changed and fallen. This walk covered an area long unexplored linking to previous walks on the Ridgeway and Aldworth. Compton and Hampstead Norreys are villages on the river Pang that runs north to south through the north Wessex downs. The Didcot-Southampton railway used to run through the middle of the valley. Here is a map of the 13 mile walk.

View Compton - Hampstead Norreys in a larger map

A typical view across the valley.

hampstead norreys

The bright flower in the sun is I believe a female Red Campion (Silene dioica), one of the few plants that flowers into November.

pink flower

The walk took me close to East Ilsley a small village blighted by the proximity of the A34 - a very busy trunk road.

East Ilsley

Compton church is rather small and nothing that special inside to commend itself. Parts of the tower date back to the 12th century but much of it rebuilt by the Victorians in the 1850s.

Compton church

The village of Hampstead Norreys marked the southerly limit of my walk, it has many fine houses but a few too many modern ones and the road through is fairly busy.

Hampstead Norreys

There is a Norman church in the village which has an East window and some monuments of note.

Hampstead Norreys Church

It seems only a few weeks ago that Old Man's Beard (Clematis vitalba) was in flower. Now it is living up to its name with the 'beards' encasing the fruit.

old mans beard

On a remote house's garage a Pied Wagtail (Motacila alba) was busying itself in the sun and keeping out of the wind.

pied wagtail

Among the flowers still out, is the humble White Dead-nettle (Lamium album) the blue sky was reflecting onto the leaves creating an interesting picture.


Spindle-berries (Euonymus europaeus) were present along many hedgerows, sometimes as the main shrub. It had the most vivid orange coloured leaf on display.


The Spindle-berry crop looks abundant now that the leaves have almost all gone. Food for birds rather than humans though.


The award for brightest autumn leaf colour contrast went to the brambles, all the fruits now gone (except for one small section of path).


In some pockets of woodland on the top of the downs the beech leaves were still in fine colour.

beech leaves,autumn

Along the Ridgeway I found myself chasing a group of Linnets (Cardulelis cannabina) from hawthorn bush to hawthorn bush. There were quite a few of them - as you can see.


Here is a linnet as close as I could get before it flew off to the next bush.


These are the fruits they were feeding on, a good crop of haws.


And finally some more suitably autumnal beech leaves to celebrate the transition from autumn to winter.

beech leaves,autumn

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