The return leg of the walk from Churton to Farndon described in Part 1, heading back from Farndon to Churton, was just as lovely in the mid-July heatwave, but was not the same, and had some added extras. It all looked very different from today’s endless drizzle, but at least the garden is deliriously happy.
On the return leg of my walk, instead of retracing my steps along Townfield Lane, I turned into Brewery Lane, just a little further to the north, which turned out to be a short stretch of road behind Brewery Motors with some nice views. It segues into a the public footpath that is narrow but very safe underfoot before it joins up with the track along which I had originally walked into Farndon. The footpath offers a novel view over a gate of the wildflower field at the Barnston Monument to its east. I have marked the route on the map on the left (from the Public Map Viewer website), a shorter route than on the first leg. The red dots are explained in Part 1, marking the approximate positions of possible prehistoric sites.
At Knowl Plantation, a track is marked on the Public Map Viewer that skirts it to the west instead of heading back up the footpath to the east. It links up with the Knowl Lane footpath that leads to the Dee. After I returned home I realized that on the Public Map Viewer although marked as a track it is not shown as a public footpath, so I am not sure if it is actually a right of way, but I was careful to stick to the edges and do no damage.
Dove’s foot’s crane’s-bill, its leaves declaring it to be a form of geranium. Like the speedwell below, all along the edge of the corn, it spreads in huge swathes.
Common field speedwell, which grows everywhere in great, low carpets.
When I was a child, anything that looked like a flower, with lots of petals arranged around a clearly defined core, was accordingly categorized in my head as a flower, but anything that failed to look sufficiently floral was always a weed. Redshank came firmly into my childhood weed category.
Reaching the main footpath back to Churton, that leads from the Dee to Knowl Lane. I was enchanted to be surrounded by butterflies. They stubbornly refused to settle, and the few that did settle sat with their wings firmly closed, so there were very few photographs, but it was a lovely experience.
Small heath butterfly
It was on the return leg of the walk that that I noticed three lovely flowers on this walk that I had never seen before. The tiny, tiny violas shown below, the flower just a few millimeter high (just a little bigger than speedwell flowers) is the field pansy (Viola arvensis). They behave much like speedwells, spreading on straggling stems, but there were much fewer flowers per plant, and I only saw a small number of them.
Field pansy in company with common field speedwell
The Hedge Woundwort below, Stachys sylvatica, is a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family. It looks very like the common spotted orchid, but the leaves are wrong. With the orchid, the leaves are smooth-sided and long and sprout from the base, but the woundwort has jagged- or serrated-edged leaves that are much shorter and sprout from all along the stem. With the Hedge woundwort, the colour leans more towards purple or red than towards the common spotted orchid’s pink, and the woundwort lacks the “wings” that top the orchid flowers. The distinctive white markings are thought to attract bees to help with pollination.
This creeping and climbing perennial, here wrapping itself around a blackberry bramble with a lovely pink flower, is White Bryony (Bryonia dioica). It is not uncommon as a garden weed, and is beast to eliminate as it has long, deep tubers that have to be pulled out in their entirety to kill the plant. In the wild, however, they are lovely, colonizing hedgerows and scrubland, spreading by coiled stem-tendrils that latch on to the stems of other plants to enable it to travel in all directions. When it has finished flowering, the white/yellowish-green flower is replaced by a small red berry.
At no point on either walk can one actually see the river from the footpaths, so this is a matter of enjoying the fields in their own right.