The unseasonally warm conditions have meant lovely walks among autumn colours with the grass continuing to look lush and green and flowers blooming. Today we walked through Fawley Hill where a new born alpaca cria was sunning itself – it could have been a very different world that this baby had entered if it had been born in last year’s storms.
Alpacas have a long gestation period of approximately 11 and a half months and are induced ovulators so can breed at any time of year. Most owners try to ensure births occur in the spring and summer when food is more plentiful and warm weather helps the new borns. Alongside the alpacas were deer of all descriptions some native and some from further afield, emus, wallabies and all sorts of other creatures which kept the Nordic walkers entertained.
The walk took us along the Oxfordshire way, wending our way through the Chilterns, past beautiful buildings and along the Fawley ridge following which 16 of us enjoyed a delicious lunch enjoying the view and the company and planning the weekend.
Walks in the Chilterns are always great but this Spring everything has looked and smelt fantastic. The winter rains and spring warmth have produced abundant growth and early blossom. The trees are looking amazing with fresh spring leaves and flowers and there are insects and birds everywhere.
It makes you pleased to be alive and sets the mood for the rest of the day. Walking in the Chilterns is such a privelege and we owe a lot to the armies of volunteers who give up their time maintaining pathways and landscapes to keep it as we have come to know and love it.
The Mayor hosted an event this week on the theme of Midsomer Murders. Many of the scenes for this very successful series are shot in Henley and the surrounding villages and it is possible to walk between the various places and imagine the scenes.
Plaques have been installed in some of the pubs and shops that have been used in the series such as the Argyll in the Market place in Henley.
More recent venues have been Greenlands and Hambleden Weir
Who cannot be impressed by the beauty of the countryside at this time of year. The rains of the last few days have made everything look even more beautiful. Lambs running round the fields, bluebells in the woods, birdsong everywhere – it just makes you feel good to be alive.
Those of us who are able to access the more remote places are rewarded with special treats but there are plenty of wonderful experiences to be had very close and accessible to urban areas.
Paths are better and the Chiltern Society have invested heavily in gates in place of stiles so that access is possible for those with mobility problems.
On Saturday I joined the Goring Health walkers for a lovely walk above Streatley taking in part of the Ridgeway and then visiting a woodland of bluebells and wild garlic. Not only were the woods beautiful but the view from the top of the hill over the Oxford Plain was spectacular.
After the Health walk Graham and I went off to the other side of Streatley to look at more bluebells, the stone circles and gaze over Goring from the top of the hill.
We set off from Bix across the common and into the woods which were full of bluebells, birdsong and fresh green leaves on the trees. The forest floor is still light without the full shade of leaves on the trees and the ground underfoot was ideal having dried out from the recent rains but still soft enough to be easy walking. As we came down toward Bix Bottom farm the tiles on the newly restored barn and the beautiful traditional farmhouse stood out against the green grass and the wheat crop.
The woods towards Nettlebed are a blaze of blue from the carpets of Bluebells all over the woodland. In some other places the brambles have taken over and it shows the importance of woodland management in keeping these lovely places in check. Last week in the woods near Crowsley it was disappointing to see a much reduced show of bluebells due to the encroachment of the undergrowth.
From Bix Bottom we turned up towards Catslip and followed the valley bottom along lovely grassy fields with cattle grazing. The birdsong was wonderful and there were no other walkers anywhere to be seen – we were alone with the wildlife, glimpses of muntjac deer and pheasants. The path eventually turns up a steep hill through wood which had people pausing to catch their breath but then rejoins a bridleway and becomes a wide and level path back toward Bix Common and back through yet more bluebells. Stretches on the common and all felt that they had been well exercised.
Who knows whether ‘up with the larks’ refers to the time of day when the birds are most active or the way they soar skywards emitting their glorious song. Either way this morning was wonderful. As we walked across the top of the hill larks were everywhere soaring in to the sky, filling the air with their song. Often they were not visible as they were too high in the sky but that beautiful noise signified their presence.
Below on the ground hares were visible – lollopping around the field and enjoying the warm spring sunshine. Primroses, violets and other wild flowers scattered the ground adding colour to what was winter pasture.
Everything is early this year and bluebells are already coming out under the trees and will soon be a blaze of brilliant blue – the most spectacular sight.
I love the Spring and there is nothing more lovely than waking to the sound of the birds. This morning the sun was shining and we set off with the dogs across the fields. The larks were soaring high in to the sky with their beautiful song all around us, they reach heights where they are not visible but still you can hear them. Newborn lambs were lying in the field in groups or with their mothers. Occasionally a pair would stand up and stretch before bleating loudly and running towards a welcoming ewe for a drink. Having been brought up on a farm I love the sight and sound of lambs and the lambing season heralds the start of spring.
The girls from Centrica are now in the Arctic as part of their Arctic challenge raising funds for Rosa Uk.
A Foot in the Chilterns trained them in Nordic walking in Windsor to prepare them for their adventure.
Thanks to Tom Waller of Luminous photography for some excellent photography of the sessions and to Windsor Racecourse for allowing us to use their grounds for training.
We look forward to hearing about their adventures on their return.