Saturday 22nd November 2014
Fifteen people turned up to Mount Road under threatening skies for this general
interest walk on the Southern edge of the city.
A short steep hike to the top of Roundhill got us off to an energetic start and
gave ample opportunity to savour the amazing panorama and view the valley
into which we would shortly descend. For many this was their first visit to the hill
and I implored them to visit again in the summer when the hilltop will be a rather
beautiful and diverse meadow. While some admired the hedgerows, heavily
laden with hawthorn berries and common lichens, a late active slow worm was
found on the adjacent grassy slope.
Heavy rain throughout the previous twenty-four hours had necessitated a change
of plan from the steep paths towards woodland as the clay terrain had become
treacherous, so we instead proceeded down to a lane-based route that afforded
some captivating views of the Englishcombe landscape and opportunities to
consider the history of the area as the industrious site of Ware’s Nurseries.
Notable species first began to appear as we passed between farm buildings on
the approach to a majestic avenue of hornbeam. Here, a large retaining wall
sheltered late-flowering clumps of the very local, introduced Crested Field-
speedwell (Veronica crista-galli) while a leopard slug languished on its stone
face. Birds became more noticeable with calls from mixed flocks of tits along with
goldfinches and goldcrests before attention turned to fungi as we entered the
by Glen Maddison
was admired along with the fragrant Soapy Knight (Tricholoma saponaceum) and
the ubiquitous candle snuff (Xylaria hypoxylon). Beside the stream were jelly ear
(Auricularia auricula-judae), Coprinellus domesticus and an unusual fossil
believed to be ancient corals. With time running out attention turned away from
nature to the challenging tromp back uphill to Whiteway Road, but in a final
flourish of interest some path-side wood chippings revealed the rare Redspored
Dapperling (Melanophylllum haematospermum) and a grass road verge some
fine Snowy Waxcaps (Hygrocybe virginea), while both a sparrowhawk and a
kestrel encouraged us back towards Roundhill before the rain returned.