On Wednesday 21 October, Sally Rankin led a walk round the western side of Henley, visiting some of the sites which are managed by the Henley Wildlife Group. Heavy overnight rain had been followed by light drizzle, which gradually petered out as the morning progressed. The walk started from the junction of Greys Road and King James Way, with the first destination being the very steep Valley Road Chalk Bank. This was cleared in the 1960s and is slowly developing an interesting chalk flora, with species such as Quaking-grass, Dwarf Thistle, Wild Mignonette and Fairy Flax. Yellow Rough Hawkbit was in flower here. The walk continued along a footpath towards the Sue Ryder woodland, with the sports fields of Henley College on the right. Pink Spindle berries and flowering Field Scabious were seen here. The footpath joined the old Pack and Prime trackway, then a little further up the hill, there was a low marker metal post with the inscription ‘Henley Borough Boundary 1908’.
The route then followed a permissive path through a strip of woodland which stretched along the parish boundary. There were rings of fungi below the trees and a number of Clouded Agaric fungi were identified. A Red Kite perched on a dead tree and a Hornet flew along the hedge. The route continued through residential streets. Lady’s Bedstraw and Fool’s Parsley were growing against a fence and a stump on a front lawn had impressive layers of fungi. Another mossy lawn had an interesting collection of plants, including Hoary Plantain, Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil and Ox-eye Daisy. Next stop was Gillott’s Field. Native trees had been planted along the western boundary and the Wild Service-tree had particularly attractive autumn colours. Wild Pear was a rare specimen. Sally was able to identify the green leaves of a number of Hound’s-tongue plants. Common Toadflax and Musk Mallow were in flower here and in a corner, there were the dried seed heads of 2 Pyramidal Orchids. The walk was followed by lunch at the excellent Maltsters Arms at Rotherfield Greys.
Pictures by Laurie Haseler