On the morning of Wednesday 20 January, Susan Twitchett led a circular walk which started from the Red Lion at Upper Basildon. It was a bright sunny morning following a hard overnight frost and all the mud on the paths was frozen. First stop was Emery Down Wood, which has recently been purchased by a local charity in order to allow public access and provide an outdoor classroom for the local primary school. The top of the wood is dominated by Oak, tall Holly and Cherry, with Honeysuckle climbing over a few of the trees. The root plate under a fallen tree showed a gravel of rounded pebbles, some of them crystalline, with sandy soil below. Bluebells were pushing up through the woodland floor. Nuthatch and Green Woodpecker called and a Redwing was feeding on the Holly berries. Lower down in the woodland, there was a row of Beech trees.
After a short stretch on roads, the walk continued on footpaths towards Quick’s Green, then down towards Ashampstead Common. As the path dropped down onto the Chalk, Old Man’s Beard draped the vegetation and Dog’s Mercury appeared beside the path. There were a large number of active-looking Badger holes. Two large old Yew trees had been labelled by the Yattendon Estate. The next track led back towards Upper Basildon. Surprisingly, an Oak and a Hazel beside the path still had a good covering of green leaves. The walk was followed by lunch at the Red Lion.
Pictures by Rob Stallard