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Saturday 26th April 2008
Christ's Hospital - Itchingfield - The Haven - Slinfold - Christ's Hospital
12 miles

Spring had definitely sprung today with Red Admiral, Orange Tip and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies fluttering around and Early Purple Orchids, Yellow Archangel, Cuckoo Flower, Cowslips and Wild Garlic flowering in profusion. We even had Nightingales singing for us. But the real stars of the day were the bluebells. They were at their most stunning and the woods that we walked through showed them off at their very best. A real British spectacular! The lilac-blue colour that filled our views plus the intoxicating perfume of the millions of flowers, put us into a sedated state of relaxation and we could easily have stayed there all day taking in the atmosphere. Our advice if you're on anti-depressants is to throw them away and go out into the woods instead. The sight is not only visually stunning, but we're positive it must have medicinal qualities too!
Lots of woodland and farmland birds about today, especially woodpeckers and Chiffchaffs, but even on the journey home there was more to see. At Christ's Hospital station a sparrowhawk flew over us, and on reaching Crawley station we saw our first swift of the year, a full 10 days earlier than normal.

Male and female Orange Tip butterflies (Anthocharis cardamines)

The fruiting bodies (aethalia) of
a slime mould known as Wolf's Milk or Toothpaste Slime (Lycogala epidendrum).
These amazing organisms travel around as tiny amoeba-like cells that congregate to form aethalia and reproduce.

Cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis). You mustn't bring this flower indoors, as it is sacred to the fairies. Apparently.
You do NOT want to upset the fairies!

Gill strokes a very friendly sheep

Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula)

Bluebells (
Hyacinthoides non-scripta) seemed to be growing everywhere they possibly could in this area.
Go out and enjoy them NOW while they are at their best.

Please don't pick the bluebells and don't run about on them. They need our protection.

The bluebells have been here since the glaciers of the last ice-age pushed them all here.

This view is a part of our national natural heritage. We are very lucky to have it.