Thursday, 9 July 2015

Princes Risborough and the Chilterns

Unfortunately more hot sunshine this week, I am giving up on making prayers for rain, they go unanswered. This time I took a walk with a friend to the 'other' end of the Chilterns from the previous one at Wantage. I first explored walked the 'Ridgeway' near Princes Risborough over ten years ago. Here is a map of the six mile walk:

I drove to the car park at the top of the Whiteleaf Hill, and from there a spectacular view down to Princes Risborough and far beyond. The 'prince' in Princes Risborough comes from the ‘Black Prince’, son of Edward II. On the right is Monks Risborough, so called because it belonged to the community of monks at the abbey there rather than the Archbishop.

view from Whiteleaf Cross

The steep chalk slopes were covered in wild-flowers. Last time I saw yellow-wort in bud, a week on and here it is in flower.


Pulpit Hill is a lovely little nature reserve. Most of the yellow flowers you can see are Ladies Bedstraw but there were lots of chalk downland flowers: wild thyme, wild marjoram, wild basil, fairy flax, squinancywort, pyrimadal orchids, common spotted orchids, birds foot trefoil, scabious, etc..

Pulpit Hill

The remainder of the walk was through woodland and farmland. It overlapped a walk I did around Chequers which is only a mile away. Silver-washed fritillaries were patrolling the woodland glades. In one glade there was also this Painted Lady checking out the blackberry flowers.

Painted Lady,butterfly

Foxgloves were in full bloom.


At Lacey Green there is the oldest smock windmill in the England (some sites say in the world!). Fully restored in 1986 after Lacey Green Windmill was left in a very dilapidated state. It was originally built in around 1650 and in use until 1915. Another wind turbine blot on the landscape!


Also at Lacey Green were some handsome Bellflowers, it might be a garden escape as close relatives of the wild variety have been grown for centuries.


The walk then went through fields directly towards Princes Risborough, on the field edge was a mass of thistles. Most of the flowers had insects of one kind or another on them. This one had a large skipper, a hover-fly and a host of flower beetles.

large skipper,butterfly

White bryony was just coming out into full flower.

white bryony

On the edge of the Ridgeway/Icknield Way a Comma butterfly was basking in the sunshine. I feel I have to add that this section is neither the Ancient Ridgeway or Icknield Way. The Ridgeway would have run further south-east on the top of the chalk near Redlands End, and the lower Icknield Way ran through the centre of Princes Risborough. We saw another good range of butterflies on this walk (14 in all): small white; large white; marbled white; speckled wood; red admiral; silver-washed fritillary; comma; small heath; common blue; small skipper; large skipper; meadow brown; ringlet and painted lady.


And so back to the car park with a steep climb up Whiteleaf Hill. We didn't walk far enough north-west to get a good view of the figure carved in the chalk. The first picture was taken just above the fence at the top of the cross.

Whiteleaf Cross

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