The first group of walkers set off In bright sunshine this morning. Two more groups enjoyed guided walks later in the day and the Connecting Threads exhibition in the village hall attracted plenty of visitors (and compliments).
Walkers setting out from Beachamwell Village Hall
The Walking Weekend continues with a talk by Mark Cocker this evening (sold out!), and more walks and a further opportunity to visit the exhibition tomorrow.
Visitors at the Beachamwell Connecting Threads exhibition
Preparations are now well in hand to celebrate the culmination of the Connecting Threads project in Beachamwell with a Walking Weekend on 5 & 6 April 2014.
As well as a programme of walks there will also be an exhibition and displays, a presentation by naturalist Mark Cocker and the launch of a brand new footpath map of Beachamwell.
Full details of the programme are now available. Follow the ‘Walking Weekend’ link or click on www.exploringourfootpaths.co.uk/beachamwell/walking-weekend
The September Wednesday Walk walk revealed the unexpected as we trod the track from Swaffham to Beachamwell:
Shouldham Lane doesn’t go to Shouldham – how did it get there?
No cobblers along Shoemaker’s Lane, but an allotment with a warning on the gate;
A small and beautiful barn at the out-of-the-way Town Farm;
Traditional Breckland pines at Castle Acre Bottom;
Pine Row at Castle Acre Bottom
And a quiet picnic site in the depth of the forest.
Thanks to Sue for words and pictures
The Wednesday Walkers were coming along Ride 105 on this month’s walk when we were very lucky to see a Clouded Yellow butterfly as it flew rapidly from one flower to another.
Clouded Yellow butterfly
The Clouded Yellow seldom survives our cold wet winters and the ones we occasionally do see have come from Southern Europe usually after hot weather when warm winds blow from south. Although large numbers of these butterflies do visit Britain some years, in other years none are recorded, so our sighting is an event worth recording.
The Brimstone is the only common yellow butterfly that we do see in our gardens and in the countryside, but its shape and colour is so different that it cannot be confused with the Clouded Yellow.
A Brimstone butterfly
Words and Photos: Sue Pennell
Well actually there weren’t any prickles involved, but one or two of the plants we noticed on our Thursday walk were not well known to us. So I have got out the books and found the following.
The shrub with the white flowers near the bridge in Murgot’s Lane is called a Wayfaring-tree (Viburnum lantana) and is closely related to the guelder rose. The black fruits ripen in late summer and are eaten by birds, although humans find their taste unpleasant.
John Gerard, a 16th century botanist, gave the shrub its name because it was so common along the lanes of Southern England, but I’ve never seen it elsewhere in our hedgerows. Have you?
The feathery plant with tiny yellow flowers we noticed besides the footpath running across the fields at St John’s Farm is Flixweed (Descurainia sophia). It is an annual and one plant can produce 700,000 seeds. It is possibly native to Britain or a long-term introduction. It was a common plant of waste ground in the 17th century but is now rarely found. Distribution is scattered through England and Wales. It grows on sandy soil in East Anglia and the Breckland is the centre of distribution. It is the main larval food plant of the rare Grey Carpet Moth, a speciality of the Brecks.
And of course we didn’t need the book to recognise Dog Roses blooming in the hedgerows . But which species did we see? – there are many different sorts!
Words and Photos: Sue Pennell
Following Dr Sarah Spooner and Dr Jon Gregory’s visit to the Connecting Threads walk last Thursday evening, Sue and I have decided to broaden our approach to the Wednesday Walks. These are a series of monthly walks which we started in October 2012 and our aim so far has been to help people enjoy the many footpaths around our village and to introduce some of the history of these paths. For the next walk on 3 July we have decided to focus on flora and fauna.
A flower rich forest ride
Today we reconnoitered the route for next Wednesday’s walk. We walked in warm sunshine across fields, down ancient tracks and forest rides. In two hours we saw over 40 different varieties of wild flower and recognized that some, like viper’s bugloss, are indicators of the old Breck landscape, thriving as they do on dry sandy soil. In their turn the flowers attract butterflies and moths and Sue introduced me to a number of species today, including the large skipper and the painted lady.
Large Skipper on Viper’s Bugloss
I am sure that whatever the weather on 3 July, we will enjoy another interesting and enjoyable morning and that what we discover will feed into the Connecting Threads project.
Words: Leah Spencer; Photos: Sue Pennell
Wednesday Walks take place on the first Wednesday of the month starting at Beachamwell Village Hall on The Green at 10.30am. Everyone is welcome – just turn up! The walk usually lasts about 2 hours and is quite relaxed and friendly. (Dogs on leads please.)
The grey and dull evening didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of our walking group on the second in our series of Thursday evening walks when they set off to explore the rights of way around Shingham in the company of Sarah Spooner and Jon Gregory from the Landscape History Department of UEA.
Looking at St Botolph’s Church, Shingham
Sarah and Jon talked about the significance of natural, archaeological and social features in the landscape and how these elements can be used to help reveal the age and original use of tracks and paths.
Jon and Sarah – landscape history can be fun!
We carried copies of the Ordnance Survey map printed in the 1880’s so we could check where and even if, our paths existed some one hundred and thirty years ago. We also learnt what plants could indicate the age of woodland, and how to gauge the age of the massive oaks in Sawpole and Stamble’s Plantations.
One of Beachamwell’s 24 paths
The number of rights of way – threads connecting locations across time – impressed our academics and we were urged to research each and every one of the twenty-four rights of way in the parish of Beachamwell. And so now researchers …
We are grateful that Jon and Sarah travelled to west Norfolk to meet and to inspire us – thank you to you both.
Words: Sue Pennell; Photos: Mike Walker
The first of a series of four evening walks took in a wide range of Beachamwell’s history. We began by passing close to a wayside medieval stone cross as we headed towards Beachamwell Warren. Pausing to rummage in the undergrowth for an 18C (?) boundary stone, we next made our way across Toot Hill along a recently restored footpath.
Examining a boundary stone
Of course hills in Norfolk are not quite in the same league as hills elsewhere; nevertheless the slight elevation does give a view over the surrounding countryside, and Neolithic finds here confirm that it was probably a favoured site for settlement. (Incidentally does anyone know the origin of the word ‘Toot’? The name Toot Hill occurs in several other places in Britain.)
Toot Hill path
The path led us to the site of the Warren Lodge, where all that remains now are the vestiges of some Victorian brick stables. We are hoping to find out more about the paths used in and around the Warren.
En route from Toot Hill to Bitchamditch
Our next objective was Bitchamditch (aka The Devil’s Dyke). A well preserved section of this early Saxon linear earthwork is still visible alongside Smeeth Wood.
Looking towards the ROC listening post
By now the sun was setting and we returned via Long Drove in slanting orange light, looking across to the site of a Royal Observer Corps underground listening post used during the Cold War.
Threads Connecting Space and Time?
Photographs: Dave Richards.
Many thanks Dave!