The wind outside was at gale force, but within the shelter of Pamber Forest, all was relatively calm when Jan and Laurie Haseler led a walk on Wednesday 13 March, starting from the Impstone Road car park at Pamber Heath. Following heavy rain in the preceding days, many of the paths were muddy, but none were impassable. The walk started out through Lord’s Wood, crossed the first stream and followed a wide grassy ride westwards. A shrubby Tutsan plant was found at the start of the ride, the willows were covered in yellow blossom and Goldcrest, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard. The route then turned southwards along the main ride which crosses the forest. The track climbed up to a heathy area with Bilberry, Heather and Gorse, then dropped back down into oak woodland. Much management work has taken place over the winter, with widely cleared ride margins and new areas of coppice. Alder Buckthorn bushes were growing back from coppiced stumps. Two Wild Service-trees were inspected, their identity confirmed by their distinctive leaves on the ground. The walk continued along a ride which led to an open grassy clearing where there were clumps of Wood Spurge, then followed a narrow path through woodland, where a rotting branch stained turquoise green by the Green Elfcup fungus was found. There was standing water next to the path in the second stream valley, with fresh new leaves of Hemlock Water-dropwort, patches of Floating Sweet Grass and Water Mint and rosettes of Marsh Thistle leaves. The next path led to the south-west corner of the forest where there was a splendid display of Wild Daffodils, with the flowers close to their peak. The route back led past a big fenced-off clearing where there was a stand of tall Aspens. A Buzzard flew along the edge of the trees. Continuing back to the main ride, the group recrossed the second stream, then followed a narrow path down the valley through oak woodland. The feathery leaves of Pignut and the first Primrose flowers were seen here and a Marsh Tit was heard. The path led past a coppice plot where the surrounding fence was draped with a curtain of Honeysuckle. A gate led though to the extensive wood pasture area, where hoof prints and fresh dung indicated that the herd of Dexter cattle had been feeding recently. Frogspawn was seen in the pond here. The cattle were eventually spotted in the field below Inhams Copse, with two Roe Deer in the woods nearby. Back at the car park, the view over Silchester Common was dominated by the yellow of Gorse blossom. The walk was followed by lunch at the Calleva Arms in Silchester.
Pictures by Fiona Brown