The college walking club yearned for some mists and mellow fruitfulness and thus it was ordained that we head into Worcestershire for an autumnal amble.
Beginning in Bewdley, the walk was centred on the ancient oak woodlands of the Wyre Forest. It is one of the most important oak woods in England ranging from high canopy forest and coppiced woodlands to aged orchards and steep sided valleys.
Forest trails took us – plus two terriers – through swathes of woodland until we fetched up at a suitable watering hole. Unfortunately, our group was over-subscribed and there was no room at the inn for three of us – the landlord quite correctly being overwhelmed by the prospect of adding two extra places to a fully booked table. It was no great hardship as Steve, Shivaun and myself – plus obligatory dogs – were annexed to an agreeable pub overlooking the River Severn.
Nature Notes Warning:
There had been some top-notch sightings at Spurn Head over the previous few days so it was no surprise really to see the coach crammed for the West Midland Bird Club’s visit to East Yorkshire.
Spurn Head, the spit of land that squeezes out into the North Sea, and forms the north bank of the Humber estuary, is a gold mine at times for twitchers and birders alike during the autumn. With many knackered birds crashing down to catch five or forty winks during annual migrations, there’s often a unusual bird or two inching along the peninsula.
Plenty of Goldcrests and Robins, an obliging Redstart and Whinchat, and splendid views of a rather unwary Golden Plover, which bobbed along the mud-flats (although it could have been just totally zonked and was just reeling around from lack of sleep).
A Sparrowhawk came zooming in to take a finch, which it dropped over one of the houses but didn’t bother chasing up. In a garden, there was a small flock of about twenty Bramblings feeding, and along one of the lanes, an unusually bold Reed Warbler was bossing a patch of scrubland.
And now for something not quite Monty Python but equally funny:
Enjoy the following tirade from the brilliant Billy Connolly – quite topical as Toblerones are in the news lately with their sneaky downsizing of chocolate bars by spacing out the triangles!
The monthly walk wasn’t far from Brum – just over the way in Meriden, traditionally regarded as the centre of England.
Roy was leading the walk and here are his in-depth notes:
Start point and parking: Meriden, free roadside parking on road leading to Queen’s Head
Map: Explorer 221
Grid Ref: 250820
Post code for SatNav: CV7 7JP (Queens Head)
Route: Climb Church Hill to St Lawrence church then down to old Coventry Road and through Meriden Shafts Wood on Heart of England Way. Then on to Windmill House over M6 and on to Fillongley. Leaving on Sandy Lane and Square Lane to Corley Ash and then under M6 to Corley Moor. On to Elkin Wood then paths and long bridleway and lanes to Eaves Green and back to cars.
Lunch: The Manor House, Fillongley. Picnic tables at front and in rear garden. Cask ales and roast lunches but hope to be flexible to meet our needs!
Terrain: Easy level walking on field paths and quiet lanes, no stiles, no mud expected.
The month was completed with a combination of walking and birding, following the previous night’s curry in Tamworth to celebrate Paul’s birthday!
Middleton Lakes was our chosen venue – a great place for a brisk saunter and the ideal platform from which to launch into the Dog and Doublet for lunch!
Middleton Lakes used to be a gravel quarry before the RSPB acquired it, and it boasts some telling wildlife such as otters, bitterns and rare woodpeckers. I once saw a heron prey on a Canada gosling here a few years back. No such drama this time but we had very good views of a Water Rail. The River Tame cuts through the reserve, as does the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, the latter of which ushered us along to the D&D, from whence no emergence occurred until cider with Scampi and Chips were dealt suitably telling death blows.
…and to finish off: one of my favourite Billy Connolly pieces featuring lions and wildebeest – enjoy: