Menu Close

Hermitage -17th August 2022

Rob Stallard led a walk of eleven people for a circular walk at Hermitage on Wednesday 17th August. The walk started with a steep climb up to Oare Common where some Dwarf Gorse was found. The common had many mature oak trees among bracken but on the edges a wider range of trees was seen including Alder Buckthorn. The walk then explored Roebuck Woods to the north-east which had a greater mix of trees as well as Honeysuckle, Hard Fern and Wood Sorrel. The whole walk was over an area of London clay with some gravel patches and so on Oare Common any small hollow that would normally accumulate water had patches of Water Pepper. At the north edge of the common the curious egg sacs of the Sputnik Spider (Paidiscura pallens) was spotted on an oak leaf. Rob then led the group down the north edge of the common where Hemp Nettle and Male Fern were seen. A young Buzzard was heard squawking continuously.

Drought conditions had been declared in the last week and although some welcome rain had fallen in the previous day the whole area was still very parched. The lack of rain was evident at the Oare village pond. Near the centre of the dried-up pond were Water Plantain, Water Dock and some Trifid Burr-Marigold surrounded by Water Mint, Flag Iris and some Water Horsetail. The route then headed east beside fields of sweet-corn with some arable weeds including some Corn Spurrey plants at the field margin. A second dried up pond was investigated and it had a different range of plants including Redshank, Bistort, Water starwort and Marsh Cudweed. A Slender Groundhopper (Tetrix subulata) was seen here. After another field of sweet-corn the path passed a site where an Iron Age roundhouse was in the process of being constructed. The route then followed a section of bridleway along the disused Didcot-Newbury railway line until reaching a recently created butterfly meadow and here both ‘Common’ Agrimony and Fragrant Agrimony were found. The path followed the edge of the wood lading to Little Hungerford. The group then crossed the Yattendon Road and explored Poundpit Piece to the east of Hermitage. There was a patchwork of different plantings in Pheasant Hill Wood, some conifer and some mature trees of different ages including Beech and Sweet Chestnut along the many tracks criss-crossing the woods. At a damp patch on the track Lesser Spearwort and Water Pepper were seen. Some Speckled Wood butterflies were also spotted here. The route then headed down the slope and here on a stump of Sweet Chestnut a Giant Polypore fungus was seen. The path led down to the village of Hermitage where some of the walkers had lunch at the Fox Inn.

Photos by Rob Stallard, Jim Wills and Tom Walker