Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Following in the Footsteps of an "Edwardian Lady" - Part 7 : River Blythe, Marsh and Meadow at Widney, Solihull
Two of my favourite books are the "Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" and "Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady" written by Edith Holden in 1906 and 1905 in the form of Nature Diaries and published in facsimile form following their rediscovery in the 1970's.
Last year I visited a number of locations mentioned by Edith in her diaries and did a series of "Following in the Footsteps" posts. There are still many places she mentioned in her diaries that I am hoping to discover and visit.
In the "Country Diary" she writes of visiting the Widney area of Solihull several times in June 1906.
The week before last I drove over to Widney and parked by the River Blythe near to Blythe Bridge.
On 2nd June, 1906, Edith mentioned that at Widney "many of the meadows are golden with buttercups...." and on the 8th June when she cycled to Widney she mentions that "all the buttercups were flowering in the meadow - bulbous and creeping varieties".
So you can imagine my delight to find meadows shimmering with gold as far as the eye could see!
Unfortunately no public footpaths run through this particular meadow so I was unable to see if other flowers she mentioned later in the month such as sorrel, purple tufted vetch, yellow vetchling etc. were in flower.
One thing is certain Edith wouldn't have been listening to the hum of traffic from the M42 just a hundred yards up the road nor would her views have been cluttered by electric pylons!
Sadly nowadays you cannot access the River Blythe in either direction from the bridge at Widney but when I did my plant survey at the beginning of the month I did walk as far as I could along the public footpath towards Widney until eventually it petered out and I got quite close to the Widney area so here's a few photos of the river, woods and a stream.
Edith mentions seeing yellow irises flowering in the marsh on 23rd June but when I visited there was no sign and I was probably too early for them - oh well, there is always next year! She also saw a Beautiful Demoiselle over the River which landed in the rushes. No sign of any dragon or damselflies when I visited.
And another photo of the beautiful buttercup meadow.
Edith and her family moved from the Dorridge/Knowle area in 1905 to a house which they rented in Kineton Green Road, Olton where she lived until 1911. They called the house Gowan Bank. At the time there were only four houses in the road and looking at an OS Map from 1901/02 the house was surrounded by fields and country lanes. Today Kineton Green Road has hundreds of houses and is surrounded by housing development.
Gowan Bank today