Saturday, 2 July 2016

Walking in the woods

Now that I have retired from work I have taken to going for a walk most days in order to get some exercise. In my job I used to be on my feet most of the day, and if I allow myself to become sedentary I know I will put on a lot of weight! Fortunately there are lots of nice places round here to walk - particularly along the Basingstoke Canal and on nearby Velmead Common. I often take my camera with me when I go. A couple of days ago I visited the Common on a bright sunny day (a rarity just now), and was able to take quite a few photos. Here are a few of them...

I was very aware of the contrasts between light and shade. Some parts of the Common are open and were in bright sunlight, but the wooded areas were in deep shade.

Despite the continued cool, wet, mostly dull weather, it is High Summer now, and the Common is covered with lush vegetation. Everywhere you look there is Bracken:

Nettles are plentiful too, and are at the flowering stage.

Bracken and Nettles. Are you (like me) thinking "Plant food"? In times gone by the Common was literally a place of common ownership, where people with no land of their own could go and get stuff they needed - like firewood, bracken (used as bedding for animals), acorns for their pigs, nuts and berries to eat and make into drinks - and a place to graze their cows. These days I think cutting bracken or firewood on our Common might be frowned upon, but we still have cows grazing on it, even if they are not privately owned!

I was surprised to see that despite the abundance of fresh green grass, many of the cows were grazing on Holly. I would have thought that would be a last resort!

It may now be July, but the Common is still very wet and boggy.

At the rate things are going the ground may not dry out fully before Autumn comes!

I wonder how many readers will recognise this plant:

It is Mirica gale, Bog-Myrtle. As you can guess from its name, it thrives in boggy conditions. There is a lot of it on Velmead Common.

If you know this plant, you'll probably be able to imagine its smell - pungent, aromatic, distinctive but not unpleasant.

There were though some unpleasant things to be seen. 2016 seems to be the Year of The Slug, and there was plenty of evidence of their activities:

Slug damage on Hogweed

Here I have caught a slug in the act of devouring a fungus. You can see it halfway up the stalk / shank of the fungus.

Look at this - the hole in the centre of the photo is where another fungus used to be. All that remains are the slime trails!

While we're on the subject of unpleasant things, what about this?

It's a bag of dog-poo hung on the barbed wire next to one of the gates in the perimeter fence. Unfortunately I see this sort of thing a lot. Dog-owners are obliged to pick up their dog's faeces and dispose of them. Bins are provided. However, some people just chuck the bagged waste into the bushes, or leave it on the fence! Why??? Laziness and contempt for other people is the probable answer. Whatever the reason, it's a very anti-social practice and I wish it would stop!

Ending on a brighter note, here are a couple of photos of flowers I saw:

Potentilla Erecta, aka Tormentil

Agrimony - Agrimonia Eupatoria

Purple Clover

Dog-Rose (complete with Pollen Beetle)


  1. Lovely place for a walk. Leaving the dog doo hanging on the fence...that just makes no sense to me. How much effort, really, is it to carry to a garbage probably takes more energy to tie it on the fence.

  2. Ooph ! How horrible ! What kind of a person does that ?!! ....moving swiftly on ...thanks for taking us along with you on your walk to the Common . Those Highland Cattle are just the most handsome beasts .

  3. What I lovely place to have close to you to go for regular walks it. So hogweed obviously isn't poisonous to slugs.
    I hate it when people behave irresponsibly when they take their dogs for a walk. It ends up with dog walkers being given a bad name and dogs being banned from many places. I have carried those little black bags for miles. (Well maybe not literally miles)

  4. What a beautiful place for a walk. Those highland cattle are so pretty. I'm a very conscientious dog owner, and it drives me crazy when people do things like that. Lazy and inconsiderate.

  5. Just lovely photos Mark, I do like the ones of the Bracken in the sunlight, such a delightful place for a walk.

  6. Your photos really capture the serene mood of your walk, Mark. It looks a beautiful place - even with slugs!

  7. Lovely photos! Oh it doesn't half annoy me when people leave dog poo bags hanging from trees and fences. There are always plenty of bins around, so really there's no excuse!

  8. That's a lovely walk on the common and it must have been a surprise coming across the cattle. Slugs seem to eat everything! I'm afraid we find dog poo bags on our fences too, I just don't understand peoples mentality! Sarah x


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