Tuesday 27 October 2020

Back To The Clappers

When I visited Sharpenhoe Clappers back in June I promised myself that I'd return in the Autumn. I and myself don't always honour our promises to each other, but this time we kept our word. If you want to know about the area and its intriguing name you'll have to follow the link above back to the earlier post.

Early morning sunlight.

The beech woodland on the hilltop.

The land here was bequeathed to the National Trust
by W A Robertson, in memory of his two brothers
who were killed in WWI

View over the fields towards the village
of Barton-le-Clay

There's quite a network of footpaths to follow
some marked on the map and some not

The seed heads of Travellers Joy
aka Old Man's Beard

It's very common on these hills and can
almost look like a scattering of snow on the tops of the hedges

A quarry is lit by a patch of sun

Looking across the plains of Bedfordshire

Passing through Streatley village to make a circular walk

St Margaret's Church in Streatley

The wooded Moleskin Hill

Les leading the way

Completing our circuit.

Take care

Sunday 25 October 2020

The Gogs

The Gogmagogs are a group of low hills to the south-east of Cambridge. Someone's bound to want to know the origin of this strange name. And every few years I ask myself the same question.

The names Gog and Magog turn up in the Bible - sometimes a man called Magog comes from the land of Gog, while elsewhere Gog and Magog are two warring nations. As if that's not confusing enough, Gogmagog is also the name of a giant who appears in Welsh and English folklore, but then again sometimes Gog and Magog are two giants.

But why should these hills take the name? Well, according to the eccentric historian, T C Lethbridge, there used to be some hill-figures of giants carved in the chalk hereabouts and what's more Lethbridge reckoned he'd found them, a claim which is now largely discredited. All of which I've been familiar with for decades, without it making any sense at all!

Nowadays a large part of the Gogs (as everyone around here calls the area) is occupied by Wandlebury Country Park - a very popular place for a weekend stroll. In fact you could have been forgiven for calling it "the Dog-ma-Dog Hills" this morning, as doggy walkers were out in force early on.

Wandlebury takes its lovely name from a Bronze Age hill fort, the circular ramparts and ditches can still be walked around.

And smack in the middle of the old hillfort there's a much more recent house, now divided into apartments and also housing the offices of Cambridge Past, Present And Future, the charity which looks after the country park and other sites around the city.

Under an archway leading beneath the house there is an interesting grave....

Not the grave of a person, but the final resting place of a horse known as the Godolphin Arabian, one of three stallions from which all modern racehorses are descended. He lived out his final days here and died in 1753 at the age of 29.

But there are many leafy paths to explore....

This avenue of beech trees leads down to the Roman Road, which is nowadays just a straight track leading through fields - a fine walk in itself but beyond the scope of this morning's wanderings.

You can wander around here dozens of times and still not really know where you're heading, but somehow you always end up back at the beginning!

On a pleasant autumn morning it doesn't really matter which turn you take.

As the morning progressed the dogs began to be outnumbered by the children; the recent rains had ensured an ample supply of mud and puddles to keep the little ones entertained.

At the edge of the woodland, views opened up across the golf course and the flat lands leading towards the Fens. With binoculars it was possible to spot Ely Cathedral on the horizon. (Don't bother - it's not visible on the above photo).

Then it was time to make our way back out past the house, cross the road, then walk over Magog Down towards the car.

We'd had the best part of the day!

Take care.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Autumn Creeps In

Autumn this year seems to be crawling in on all-fours, rather than striding boldly across the land. One place I thought we would be sure of a little colour is at Lynford Arboretum in Norfolk. In case you don't know the word, an "arboretum" is a collection of exotic trees, a very fashionable adjunct to any large mansion in eighteenth and nineteenth century England. But first a little stroll before we get to the Arboretum itself.

Quiet weather and a silvery light on the old gravel pits alongside the River Wissey.

And a secluded stretch of the river itself.

Turning back through typical Breckland scenery, with just the odd tree dressed for Autumn.

That all looks very peaceful, doesn't it? Though in reality there was a distant thumping of heavy artillery - that fence on the left is the edge of a military training area. Either they demolished the target or they gave up; the bombardment didn't last long.

Now just what is that strange yellow plant? I feel that I've seen it before, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't belong here in the Norfolk countryside. Answers on a postcard, please.

And so to the Arboretum....

The golden hues here were rather more impressive, especially the various birch trees.

At a distance I thought this might be some kind of sculpture in bronze, though closer inspection revealed it to be wrought by the hand of nature - just a few little fungi on top of an old stump.

The Arboretum mingles deciduous and coniferous trees to good effect. It seems more natural to photograph the Autumn colours against the darker backdrop, but here I thought I'd try it the other way around, with the golden foliage shiny through.

An old brick water-tower makes a frame for an isolated tree.

Memory card filling up!

This low-growing maple was spreading its coppery boughs beneath the soaring conifers.

It's a great place for fungi-hunting too. But lets walk on beyond the Arboretum....

After the orderliness of the tree-collection it was good to see nature at her wildest, with branches surging in unstoppable growth.

The Highland Cattle have very sensibly forsaken their summer pasture which is now partly under water, though they can live happily on far rougher ground than this.

They are now on much better-drained land. Flocks of Redwings, just arrived here from Scandinavia, were feasting on the hedgerow berries.

A resident female Mallard was taking life easy....

....while Lynford Hall was reflected in the water of the ornamental lake.

Take care.

Monday 19 October 2020

Out Of The Box

Just a small selection of pictures of Boxford, not to be confused with Boxted which we visited recently, or indeed Boxworth, which is just a short walk from my brother's house. This is Boxford, a little town in Suffolk which has some interesting old buildings.

I realise that we're rather light on photos today, so to make up for the shortfall here's a little guitar music......

This is Afon (Welsh for "river") by Ben Walker, one of the finest acoustic guitarists around, though he's usually heard accompanying singers like Josienne Clarke or collaborating with other instrumentalists. 

Nice to hear that shimmering, silvery guitar playing.

Take care.