Friday, 31 October 2014


Unusually I managed another long walk today - two in the same week - mainly because was so unusually warm and sunny. It was record breaking warmth too at 23.6°C (74.3°F), it was hotter than many days in August; but normal conditions should resume in the coming week. I planned to redo a stretch of the Ridgeway I walked ten years ago, but as this was about 14 miles the shorter day length did not permit it, so I settled for a more modest one to explore sections of the Icknield Way and Chiltern Ways. Here is a map of the walk:

I started at the church at the small village of Ipsden. Ipsden had a church in the days of St. Birinus (600-649CE) when the Anglo-Saxons were still heathens, the present structure started as a small chapel in the 12th century on the north side, later extended into a church to the south.

ipsden church,church

The northern chapel has old wooden timbers showing its ancient construction.

ipsden church,roof

Leaving the church, I headed off north on the Icknield Way, and there were quite a few flowers along the side of the track, including Chicory.


I then turned onto the Chiltern Way Extension to the east past Woodhouse Farm, the turning is marked with a charming metal sign for the farm. The Great Ridgeway is only 200 yards away to the north from this point.

Farm sign,Woodhouse Farm sign

Along the track I was buzzed by a dragonfly, defending its territory, which for the end of October is unusual, they are usually one of the first victims of colder weather. I think it was a Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum).

Common Darter,Sympetrum striolatum

The farm itself is set in a narrow valley in the chalk downs.

Woodhouse Farm

I then climbed up onto the chalk downs, following a track I last walked five years ago (almost to the day). It took me into Mongewell Woods where I hoped to see lots of fungi. In fact there was not an awful lot to be seen in the woods, there were some but all rather old and the worse for wear. However one spectacular example was this one. It looks as if the whole top of the mushroom had been eaten away leaving just the skeleton; but there were many of them in exactly the same state so I think it more likely this is how it normally decays.


It was on a pile of saw dust and there were some fresh fruiting bodies coming up making me think it is Hare's Foot inkcap (Coprinopsis lagopus) .


I then headed south over fields to Homer Farm, where I was surprised to see a freshly made stylish sculpture of an African!


Continuing south I reached Ipsden Heath, which is an area of mixed woodland on the high ground. It is capped with clay in places which gives rise to muddy patches and it was in these areas where I saw the most fungi on the day - in all colours and shapes. This is probably Rosy Bonnet (Mycena rosea)

fungi,Rosy Bonnet,Mycena rosea

And a rather old Parasol (Macrolepiota procera)

fungi,Parasol,Macrolepiota procer

There was a patch of Amethyst Deceiver (Laccaria amethystina), these are meant to be reasonably pleasant to eat!

fungi,Amethyst Deceiver,Laccaria amethystina

I then passed Three Corner Common and headed down Yewtree Brow, this repeats a part of a walk I did five years ago. The walk goes down a track along the valley bottom. There was far less fungi here, probably because it is drier. I did spot one, Red Cracking Bolete (Boletus chrysenteron), rather slug damaged and another edible one.

fungi,Red Cracking Bolete,Boletus chrysenteron

One of the most common fungi, Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) was not much in evidence, but some old, much decayed stumps had some of this brightly coloured mushroom.

fungi,Sulphur Tuft,Hypholoma fasciculare

In a recent post I was enthusiastic about a Stagshorn fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon). Well I found an equally impressive specimen in these woods, like sulphur tuft you find on wood in its final stages of decay.

fungi,Stafgshorn,Xylaria hypoxylon

This does not seem to be a good year for autumn colour, there has been a few bursts of strong wind and it is a little early still for the beech trees to be at their best. So a single leaf will have to do for now.

autumn beech leaf

The warm conditions gave only fairly hazy distant views.


It was a bit breezy for butterflies, and I had seen some earlier in the week at Overton so I was delighted to see four red admirals (Vanessa atalanta) all on a single ivy bush.

red admiral,Vanessa atalanta

My path passed the remarkable building at Brazier Park, an amazing piece of mock-medieval dating in parts to 1688. It has associations with Cook's ship the Endeavour ; Ian Fleming and Marianne Faithfull. It is a working green community with some very unusual courses including Open to the Goddess.

Brazier Park

On the way back to Ipsden church there were yew trees with a phenomenal amount of fruit on them. Although the seed is poisonous the surrounding 'aril' is sweet if a little insipid.

yew berries

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