Thursday, February 03, 2011

"It's Like A Bloody Spring Day Innit"...

Great Swifts was the starting point for today's ramble. Accessed from a little footpath beside the vicarage it's a property of some substance. Recently for sale at a tempting £9,000,000 (surely a snip?) I did consider cold-calling the house with an offer of my own but like the Queen, I don't carry cash! it nestles in a 370 acre estate that dates back to the 1600s.

It's one of my walks that I choose when I want solitude as my thoughts rarely get interrupted by fellow walkers. The first few fields are usually empty but today contained a large number of sheep but they didn't have much to say.
The footpath runs along the edge of the land and to the left of the tree in the foreground of this photograph.

At the far end of these fields is a little gate that takes you through a small area of woodland. It's here that I'm usually distracted by bug hunting, in fact, always distracted by bug hunting to be fair.
The new owners of the estate have placed a whole raft of 'PRIVATE' signs around this area and so as to be sure I wasn't about to trespass I sent Herbie the terrier to check the sign out first.

He confirmed that it was indeed still a public footpath and that we could safely continue on our way without fear of transgression. I was amazed by this, after all Herbie is very bright but even I didn't realise he'd mastered the English language to such an extent. Anyhow, he  seemed assured that everything was in order but even so insisted on checking the rest of the area out before allowing me to proceed.

And so off we both went through the little kissing-gate and downhill to the wooded area.
Herbie knows only too well that he can take advantage of my distractions here and no sooner are we t'other side of the gate than he's off at full speed under the wire and into the wood proper barking at fleeing squirrels.
Even by staying to the footpath there was wildlife to be seen today and the macro was soon pressed into action with several species attracting my attention.

Being still wintertime of course the bugs that I do find are fairly small, the big guns have yet to arrive although even this early in the year on better days the choice of subjects seems to be growing.

On a fencepost beside the path I spotted a tiny green leafhopper (probably less than 4mm) This was Empoasca decipiens a familiar and common species in low vegetation. Belonging to the family Cicadellidae these little ones at first sight appear to be uniformly green but actually vary quite a bit and can even be almost yellow in colour.

Empoasca decipiens

Herbie & I somehow seemed to arrive at the end of the path at the same time before making our way through another gate, into a small field and then by way of a third gate onto a road, past a few houses (this is like a virtual tour isn't it? stay with me) and eventually into open fields again. The walk down this road isn't my favourite part of this particular jaunt (neither is it Herbie's actually) but it was made all the more pleasant today by the sight of a winter flowering cherry tree in one of the gardens.

Where was I ? Oh yes...the open fields again. These are bordered by some larger trees (did I mention that I like trees?) There is also more woodland beyond but being private property I have to restrain myself. 

Respecting the notice boards that proclaimed  'Dogs should be kept under close control at all times when livestock is present' even though I couldn't  spot any animals at first, I was glad I'd heeded the signs when Herbs began to suddenly get very interested in one section of the second field and was starting to pull on his lead. A few steps further and I could see the object(s) of his desire. A small flock of sheep and not only that, probably the friendliest sheep known to mankind. Perhaps they'd been hand-reared?

Just one little bitty moment though! That one in the front there? 'Dahli' I think it's name is.That looks like no ordinary sheep to me. Is this a recognised British breed? (Please tell me if you know) I've 'Googled' the subject and drawn a blank as far as identifying it thus far.

To my untrained eyes it looks very much like a cross between a sheep and a larma! That's why I feel it's name could be Dahli.............I'm sure I recall somebody talking about the Dahli Larma? (that's almost comedy)

'Dahli' the Sheep/Larma

Much as I'd have loved to get further acquainted with Dahli and friends, Herbie wasn't as keen. Well when I say he wasn't keen, he was doing his utmost to get them involved in a game but sheep being sheep they were having none of it.
Anyhow time was marching on and by now I'd been out walking for close to 2 hours. Stretch it too much further time-wise and the search parties would be gathering.
And so, reluctantly I began to make my way back, retracing my steps. I could have chosen another more circular route but the pull of knowing that the little footpath through the wood awaited once more was too strong.

Only time for a cursory look this time. Even on a fabulous day such as this the sun was sinking fast and sunset seemed to be creeping up on us.
As is almost always the case on my walks I became lost in my thoughts and before I knew it we were 'back at the very beginning' as the children's song goes.
Having been shaken from my cerebral musings by the realisation that we were now close to a main road and Herbs needed to be put onto his lead, I could see in the near distance the familiar sight of the old smock mill outlined by darkening skies in the fading light.

The inbound route takes me in a westerly direction and hence I'm looking directly into the ever lowering sun. Almost impossible to see the footpath without shielding my eyes with my hand it was little surprise then that I wasn't aware of another walker on the path and the first clue I got as to their presence as we passed was hearing a loud, booming voice proclaim "It's Like A Bloody Spring Day Innit"

Until the next time then...


  1. Of course the Herbster is bright he is a terrier...I enjoyed your walk I was almost there with you

  2. Really enjoyed your walk with you even though only in print, an interesting and fun jaunt through nature..

  3. Many thanks.
    I hope to be able to increase the number of new postings as the weather improves.


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