Thursday, 23 February 2017

'I expect a view'

A view is a key requirement for a walk, particularly one in winter when wildlife isn't doing much. Luckily, I have many such places around me!

Last Sunday we opted for a visit to Pepperbox Hill, just south of Alderbury off the A36. The Pepperbox itself - a folly built in 1606 - is well preserved and set amidst chalk grassland and scrub. If you want along the chalk ridge, following the ancient Ox Drove, you are rewarded with sweeping views across to Salisbury, Cranborne Chase and Bentley Wood. It is hard to do a loop though - it's a bit of a 'there and back' walk - and it can get very muddy!

During the week I've had a few spare moments to get some exercise in my lunchbreak, featuring walks along the Nun's Walk Stream in Winchester. A small chalk stream tributary of the Itchen, it's had a lot of restoration work done over the years, and runs along an ancient footpath, with associated old buildings and ruins. On my walks, I saw a large area of frogspawn, and watched a little egret and pair of grey wagtails feeding. All within a stone's throw of the city centre.

I'm just back from braving a walk in Storm Doris on a day off work. I'd elected to walk around Langford Lakes Nature Reserve and then climb onto the surrounding hills, but when I got there, the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust-owned reserve was closed due to high winds! I had to rapidly find an alternative route and parking place. Instead, I parked on a nearby verge (tut tut) and walked through the opposite Langford Trust-owned bit of meadow and river towards the footpath by the church. Lots of snowdrops! I then began my climb up another Ox Drove, picking my way over falling trees and branches and keeping a constant eye on the swaying trees above me! Eventually, with no cover at all higher up on the hill, I was forced to descend due to not really being able to stand up! Still, the constantly changing weather conditions made for lovely light on the landscape - most excellent views!

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