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Gangsdown Hill – 4 August 2018

On Saturday 4 August, another hot and cloudless day, a party of fifteen walkers met in the lay-by to the west of Nettlebed on the A4130 for a walk led by Jan and Jerry Welsh. A shady start through the woods on the old road soon gave way to an arable landscape bounded by a species-rich hedge with Clematis, Wayfaring-tree and a mysterious shrub with four-sided stems, eventually disclosed to the party by the leaders as Spindle. This section of the walk was herb-rich, with Wild Basil, Red Bartsia, Field Scabious, St. John’s-worts, Bladder and White Campion, Common and Greater Knapweed, Common Toadflax and Wild Teasel, with the arable margin having some cut-back Chicory in flower, Sun Spurge, Small Toadflax and Dwarf Mallow.

The route turned north beyond Harcourt Hill then east towards Ewelme Park. Above the path on the return section of the walk, a chalk exposure had Fairy Flax, Wild Thyme and Wild Candytuft, its finding put down by one of the party to the society’s GPS, but by the leaders to their observational skills. On the fence margin was a magnificent display of Weld two metres high.

Continuing past a field of cultivated legumes, the highlight of the walk, a single Clouded Yellow butterfly, added to the list of Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Small Skipper, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Gatekeeper, Red Admiral and whites seen previously.

Small Nettle was seen by buildings around Ewelme Park and, while cooling off after the climb, a flock of Swallows added to pleasure of the walk. Two members of the party rested in the shade to be picked up later, the remainder of the group made their way due south back to the lay-by via a wood with Nettle-leaved Bellflower and Enchanter’s Nightshade, some moving on to the leader’s house for a welcome drink.

Report by Jerry Welsh

Pictures by Rob Stallard

Plant list compiled by Renée Grayer:

English name Scientific name
Welted Thistle Carduus crispus
Wild Chicory Cichorium intybus
Red Bartsia Odontites vernus
Meadow Crane’s-bill Geranium pratense
Dog’s Mercury Mercurialis annua
Bladder Campion Silene vulgaris
Wild Basil Clinopodium vulgare
Guelder-rose Viburnum opulus
Wayfairing-tree Viburnum lantana
Perforate St John’s-wort Hypericum perforatum
Field Scabious Knautia arvensis
Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella saxifraga
Teasel Dipsacus fullonum
Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill Geranium molle
Spear Thistle Cirsium vulgare
Common Knapweed Centaurea nigra
Blue Fleabane Erigeron acer
Lady’s Bedstraw Galium verum
Meadow Vetchling Lathyrus pratensis
Greater Knapweed Centaurea scabiosa
Spindle Euonymus europaeus
Wild Mignonette Reseda lutea
Small Toadflax Chaenorhinum minus
Great Mullein Verbascum thapsus
Wild Parsnip Pastinaca sativa
Hairy St John’s-wort Hypericum hirsutum
Creeping Cinquefoil Potentilla reptans
Sun Spurge Euphorbia helioscopia
Traveller’s-joy Clematis vitalba
Perennial Sow-thistle Sonchus arvensis
Wild Carrot Daucus carota
Common Toadflax Linaria vulgaris
Dwarf Mallow Malva neglecta
Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil Lotus corniculatus
Common Amaranth Amaranthus retroflexus
Agrimony Agrimonia eupatoria
Hairy Violet Viola hirta
Common Rock-rose Helianthemum nummularium
Wild Candytuft Iberis amara
Common Centaury Centaurium erythraea
Fairy Flax Linum catharticum
Wild Thyme Thymus polytrichus
Dwarf Thistle Cirsium acaule
Common Restharrow Ononis repens
Weld Reseda luteola
Crosswort Cruciata laevipes
Small Nettle Urtica urens
Nettle-leaved Bellflower Campanula trachelium