Walks following the chalk downlands of south Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire on or near the Chiltern Way north of the Thames.Checkendon and Stoke Row
Woodcote and Goring
Stoke Row; Nettlebed and Bix
Cookley Green; Watlington; Stonor and Warburg
Rotherfield Peppard and Henley
Woodcote and Exlade Street
Cookley Green and Russells Water
Stokenchurch and Ibstone
Swyncombe and Ewelme
Whitchurch Hill and Crays Pond
Watlington and Britwell Salome
Mapledurham and Goring Heath
Turville and Fingest
Sonning Common and Kidmore End
Russells Water and Pishill
One project for this year was to complete the Chiltern Way (Southern Extension), a network of paths forming a circuit from Ewelme and Swyncombe to Caversham just north of Reading. I am now left with only a few short sections to be done. Here is a map of the ten mile walk:
I started at Peppard Common which was still wet with dew and walked up to Rotherfield Peppard which has a very inviting, traditional pub.
I then walked down Dog Lane east to meet the Chiltern Way (Southern Extension) here, I spotted a majestic dead tree in a field.
I had expected to see some late summer butterflies making good use of the sunshine, but only saw three Speckled woods and a Small white - a record low for this time of year. Perhaps the cool and wet spell has killed them off, or are they waiting for an Indian Summer before emerging? The absence of butterflies was more than compensated for by the range of fungi I found, they seemed to have thrived in the damp conditions. This one is a new one to me, I believe it is a cup fungi, possible Tan Ear (Otidea alutacea) it certainly looks disconcertingly like ears, with even a pinkish tone in places. One can imagine how our ancestors would have reacted to seeing 'body parts' emerging from the ground like this.
The path then wends its way through Crowsley Park. There was a hint of autumn colour in the trees, but only because they were horse chestnuts heavily infested with leaf miners.
Some plants still believed it was late summer; including a Nettle-leaved Bellflower (Campanula trachelium):
Fungi were also emerging in the fields. I saw some yellow waxcaps and these three fine specimens which I would guess are some sort of Coprinus.
Scattered around there were a few old thatched houses, I did not, at first, spot the owl.
The hedgerows were strewn with the normal autumnal fare of blackberries, elderberries, sloes, rose hips, haws, hazelnuts and in two places wild hops.
On the southernmost part of the walk, on the fringes of Caversham I saw a garden where Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) had taken over a whole area. It is a member of the potato family and other Physalis species are grown for the fruits (Cape gooseberries).
Not so far away I came across a most attractive flower, an autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale). Normally I try to stick to wild-flowers but in my defence this was on the side of a lane away from gardens and so must have naturalized.
Distant views gave little clue that it was autumn.
Kidmore End proved a disappointing straggle of urban overflow with no sense of a centre. It has a 'modern' church of 1852. I set off north and along the way found more fungi including this porcelain fungus (Oudemansiella mucida) growing out of the side of a beech tree.
At Gallowstree Common I explored the woods to the north 'New Copse' (which probably means it is very old) which I had visited with a group led by a mycologist in 2012; so I was a bit more confidant on finding some good fungi. I was not disappointed, almost everywhere I looked there was one sort of fungi or another. I must restrict myself to the more interesting ones that I saw. The first is the Elfin saddle fungus (Helvella crispa) which has this curious distorted shape often splitting. It is quite unusual to see it in quite such a 'complete' form.
I end with Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), the mushroom of mushrooms. Usually I see them when they have been eaten away or ‘gone over’ so I was pleased to see a nice bright red fresh specimen in the woods.