Jan Haseler led a circular walk starting from the Vine pub at Hannington on Wednesday 18 September, a still morning with bright sunshine. The route and pub visit had been planned and prospected by Fiona Brown. The walk started out along a footpath which led past the church and next to a field with much blue-flowered Chicory, fodder beet and other plants which might have been a winter bird mix. A single plant of Sainfoin was also spotted. The next path led to the north-east along For Down. There were extensive views southwards across the Hampshire countryside. The path ran along the edge of the stubble of a harvested cornfield. Flowers seen in the field margin included Field Madder, Scarlet Pimpernel, Field Forget-me-not, Field Pansy, Common Field-speedwell and Fool’s Carrot. Most of the poppies were Common Poppy, but a single specimen of Prickly Poppy was also found. Several Brown Argus and very faded Painted Lady butterflies were seen here. Small White, Green-veined White and Common Blue were seen beside the grassy path, while Red Admiral, Comma and more Painted Lady butterflies were nectaring on the Ivy blossom in the hedge. The route continued north-westwards along the Wayfarer’s Walk. The track ran between hedges which were blue-grey in places with a heavy crop of sloes. Swallows flew overhead and Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell were added to the butterfly tally. As the track dropped down towards Watership Down, views opened up westwards along the North Hampshire Downs towards Beacon Hill and northwards over the valleys of the Enborne and Kennet towards the Berkshire Downs. The field had been ploughed almost up to the path, but a few plants of Musk Thistle, Wild Mignonette and Dwarf Spurge had escaped the plough. Two Wheatears flitted across the ploughed field on the other side of the path and Linnets perched at the top of the far hedge. Before reaching the Kingsclere to Whitchurch road, the next track led gently back uphill towards the Hannington television mast. It ran initially beside a ploughed grass field, then next to a field of long grass with grazing cattle and a hunting Kestrel. Yellow Toadflax flowers were growing at the field edge and a large party of Long-tailed Tits moved from tree to tree in what remained of the hedge. The final part of the walk was along quiet lanes and another footpath beside the Chicory field. The walk was followed by lunch at the Vine.
Pictures by Laurie Haseler