Scrapbook ~ Wildlife walks throughout the year
Saturday 22nd March 2014
Black Down - Gospel Green - Northchapel - Lurgashall
The weatherman had
warned us it was going to be a cold, wet day but we'd decided to risk it anyway.
As usually happens it started to rain just as we got
the bike out of the garage
but the moment we left Crawley the rain stopped and the skies cleared. We find
this happens a lot and our town seems to have its own miserable microclimate that
we leave behind us every Saturday.
We had a great ride to
Lurgashall, the sun was shining, the roads were quiet and there were no
hoards of bikes like last week. We find it really dangerous to be on the road
when all the fair-weather bikers come out to play. They are generally bald 40
year old men who ride about 2 weeks a year and try to go as fast and as furious
as possible, the emergency services and hospitals must be completely
overwhelmed. They think that because we're on an old Harley that we must be slow
and stupid so must be overtaken as fast as possible. In fact we let them go past
so that the idiots are out of our way as soon as possible! They are not skilled
riders and are very dangerous to themselves, motorists and most of all to us. We
don't see any of them when there's even a hint of rain or when the temperature
dips down the slightest bit.
Gill had asked that today's walk be through woods and that's just what she got.
Apart from a few open areas such as Blackdown Estate and a few other farms where
the views opened out we were under the canopy of beech, hazel, pine, birch and
yew all day long. On gorgeous Black Down itself we were surrounded by heather,
gorse and Scots Pine and walked down old sunken tracks on sandy loam soil. The
views from the highest point in Sussex are beautiful and you can see virtually
the whole of our lovely county from up there.
We practiced our pacing
technique and at one point I worked out that our next turn was 18mm on the map
corresponding to 450m in reality. This in turn meant we had to walk 283.5 paces.
We were bang on - even down to the half pace!
A good day for birds,
at one point we had 7 Buzzards over our heads plus we also had 2 Red Kites, a
Treecreeper, woodpeckers, all manner of woodland and farmland birds and a couple
of Kestrel. Daffs were everywhere along with Wood Anemones, Primrose and even a
few bluebell were starting to flower.
As we neared
Northchapel a huge
cumulonimbus storm cloud started to form behind us and it chased us back to
Lurgashall, providing a spectacular backdrop to an otherwise bright sunny
parhelion showed that there was plenty of ice in the sky and the low
temperature at ground level showed me that my hands were going to get very cold
on the ride home. As we closed in on the finish of the walk the cumulus clouds
around us started to grow into
Cumulus Congestus, with some of them starting to spread out into more
anvil-shaped monsters too. It seemed we were surrounded by imminent storms.
Amazingly we were able to circumvent the big storm on the bike on the way home
and stayed in the dry all the way back. My hands were nearly frostbitten by then
though but who cares, we had a perfect Spring day in the woods.
Lurgashall churchyard - our 1200 year old start/finish point.
A carved dragon in St Laurence's, Lurgashall.
A church coffer with some very amateur 17th
The poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson lived and died just around the corner on
the flank of Black Down itself.
He was rich enough to live anywhere in the world he wanted but chose this corner
Exploring the top of Black Down.
View of Blackdown, painted by
A sunken path coming down off Black Down.
We skirted the edge of Surrey today.
Northchapel church was closed by the time
we got there.
It's coming to get us!
Heading back into Lurgashall with bright
sunshine ahead and black horror behind.
Take the time to read
countryside code for yourself and please stick to it at all times.