Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Classic day out in the country (despite the wasp sting!)

Classic day out in the country (despite the wasp sting!)

LEAVING home in Emmer Green and heading north through the old lanes and passing an old “fort” near Wyfold, we arrive at Stoke Row.

Turning westwards, we enter Kit Lane and arrive at Three Corner Common at the side of Ipsden Heath.

We are here to have a quick scan to see how the road verge trimming has been conducted this year and we are rather pleased to find that it has not been as brutal as it has been in past.

Indeed, we count some 40-plus fruiting spikes of violet helleborine, one of my favourite local rarities that I have mentioned before.

We missed them in flower so I am sad that I did not visit this spot earlier as these plants are truly beautiful in bloom.

Nevertheless, they are persistent here in their little stronghold in the hills around Henley. There is always next year of course!

There is a pocket of heathland here on the rise above Ipsden and to the right hand side of the road leading to Berins Hill, which is in very good shape. It only occupies a small area but is a Chiltern rarity and a local treasure.

After a brief visit to the Black Horse pub at nearby Scot’s Common (no sandwiches on a Monday so it was pickled eggs for me!), we head to Homer, a small hamlet that can be found on a left turn as the road leads towards Nuffield.

Monk’s-hood (Aconitum napellus) grows here. It is a beautiful and rare but deadly plant if ingested.

Entering Homer is a wonder. No traffic or airline noise at all. I notice something missing. A year or so ago there was a cluster of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), growing in a damp corner — another potential health hazard.

These plants can grow to 12ft and a single brush with a leaf can lead to a severe and nasty form of dermatitis. Thankfully, these plants appear to have been eradicated.

Pressing along an ancient lane and passing Homer Farm, the world opens up. The view from here is really something. A turn to the left leads to Warren Bank, a local nature reserve which is well worth a visit.

We have to cross a field with inquisitive sheep to gain access and then it all happens. My pal steps on a wasp’s nest and all hell lets loose. “Of all the hats in all the world it had to be mine!” Yep, I was stung through the side of my Tilley hat.

I’ve never been stung before but must say that it was only slightly more severe than brushing against a nettle.

Nevertheless it was a lovely end to a pleasant walk which took in so much. A classic day out.

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