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Group Walk Sunday 19th May

Hat Gate, Wootton Rivers. 4 miles

Crofton beam engine tower and building

Date: Sunday 19th May 2024

Time: 11.00am - 13.00pm

Location: Wootton Rivers

In May our group of 21 walkers were accompanied by Judy Hible of Wiltshire Ramblers. Judy’s ‘official’ title is ‘Volunteer Ecological Surveyor’ and she acted as a very knowledgeable guide along our route.

We assembled at the Village Hall in Wootton Rivers and, even along the short stretch of road between the hall and the pub, Judy pointed out 9 different types of flower growing in the verge. These included cow parsley, green alkanet, lady’s smock (cuckoo flower), red campion and Welsh poppies.

Just past the pub, we took a left turn along a footpath where Judy continued to point out various interesting plants and flowers, adding extra information such as that greater stitchwort is an indicator of ancient woodland.

As well as the flora, Judy was able to recognise the birdsong as we wandered through the lovely Wiltshire countryside. We heard the unmistakable onomatopoeic sound of the chiffchaff, and the song of the chaffinch which apparently is likened to a bowler running up to the crease.

We had not been walking very long when Judy spotted our first butterfly – a red admiral. The chance to spot butterflies was the main reason for taking this particular route and I’m sure many of us would have missed the Speckled Wood butterfly as it fluttered from plant to plant, had it not been kind enough to rest in a sunlit spot on the path in front of us for a while, giving everyone in the group opportunity to see it. A female Orange-tip (who actually doesn’t have orange tips to her wings) was next to make an appearance, followed by a Brimstone. These beautiful small creatures are so easily missed and it was a delight to be able to appreciate them.

Our route continued along Mud Lane to the small Hat Gate wildlife reserve which has been created on part of the disused railway line. From there we walked through Brimslade where we paused at the poignant memorial for Paul PG Gunnell and Gordon Davis who were sadly killed in a light aircraft accident in July 2017.

We then made our way along the picturesque canal tow path back to the village, where 18 of us were served a tasty lunch at the Royal Oak.

No stiles. There’s an uphill stretch to reach Mud Lane which can live up to its name in wet weather. Two flights of steps to reach the reserve embankment.


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