Saturday, 5 September 2015

A different Down

Last weekend I managed - in between an amazing baking spree and rain showers - to have a yomp up Camp Hill Down.

This is a piece of SSSI chalk grassland only 20 minutes' walk away from me - the journey there, however, is a tad on the dangerous side.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW 2000) designated many patches of unimproved grassland and heathland as open access - meaning people could walk across it without sticking to any paths. Camp Hill is one such place - the trouble is, quite a lot of these don't actually link up with footpaths, so to get to them is a bit tricky. To get to Camp Hill, I have to walk a bit along the Avon Valley Path - fine so far. Then I come to a rather busy 60mph B road, with limited verge to walk along. I have to walk along this for about 10 minutes, BUT the reward is worth it - if you can find the bit of fence to climb over that isn't covered in barbed wire (I'm really selling this aren't I?!).

I quickly surprised a hare in the grass, as I walked up to the top of the downland, accompanied by a herd of sheep. At this time of year, the flowers are mostly over, but it is devils bit scabious season, so there were quite a few of these dark-purple flowers in among the grass and knapweed. There was also carline thistle - a strange flower in that it looks dried up when it is actually fresh and growing!

Turning around to look at the view, there is a stunning panorama over the river Avon and Woodford valley, with historic parkland estates and old houses and cottages - with views stretching all the way up to Salisbury Plain.

It's not a big site, so once you've admired the view and done a bit of botanising (lots of dwarf thistle!), it was time to once again take my life in my own hands and quickly walk back home. Such a shame there isn't a footpath!

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