Friday, 17 September 2021

If you go into the woods today, you’re sure of some interesting finds

If you go into the woods today, you’re sure of some interesting finds

MY companion and I meet up in Henley.

It is another hot and dry day and, crossing the famous old bridge that spans the Oxfordshire and Berkshire border, we ascend White Hill via Remenham with some anticipation.

We are heading towards some very interesting elevated land to the east of Wargrave. Bowsey and Ashley hills are the first to be encountered west of London and have a story to tell.

At Remenham Hill we take a right towards Cockpole Green. Turning right by Hatchgate Farm, a road leads to a bridleway past Cayton Park and its imposing gateway up to High Knowl Wood.

There is a reservoir here and, paradoxically, some old wells. Here we stand at an elevation of 140m above sea level, which is quite a height around these parts!

Leaving our vehicle and walking through the woods, we stop and notice that we are surrounded by a stand of sweet chestnuts (castanea sativa).

The trees here normally produce a wonderful crop of large, edible nuts that can be eaten raw or roasted but there is nothing to see today. Is that due to the hot weather or are we too early? I notice many of the trees’ leaves have already fallen.

There are many healthy pendulous sedge plants here, which indicate a high water table in the adjacent hills, so I wonder how bad the localised drought really is.

Hedge woundwort is abundant and, having flowered, is full of little, black rattling seedpods.

We take a turn to the left and walk down a hill towards a dried-up stream bed.

There are plenty of trees to view here — oaks, limes, hollies, beech, hazel, cherry and birch, some with a fairytale appearance.

All of a sudden we emerge to find ourselves in the road at Warren Row and take a right before passing a wartime bunker supposedly used for the manufacture of aircraft parts in the Forties. Who knows what its true purpose was — maybe someone can enlighten me?

We cross the road and, skirting Ashley Hill, we reach the Dewdrop Inn tucked away at the top of Honey Lane south of Hurley and stop for lunch. It is claimed that Dick Turpin visited the pub but the infamous highwayman never actually set foot here so I’m baffled.

On our return journey towards Bowsey Hill, we cross a field populated by a noisy flock of inquisitive sheep.

Regaining the woodland, it is noticable how many old land boundaries and sawpits (presumably) there are.

All of a sudden we disturb a pair of roebuck that quietly dissappear into the undergrowth. I have never seen two together before. Perhaps they are young siblings?

Roll on autumn and maybe some nuts...

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