"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 4 August 2014

A Walk in the Warwickshire Countryside

We went on a lovely walk yesterday afternoon along the banks of the Stratford upon Avon Canal, through woodlands and across fields and up onto Yarningale Common. My parents used to take me to this spot many years ago when I was a child and it hasn't changed a lot apart from the construction of quite a few up market houses along the lane and there are nowhere near as many butterflies and wildflowers in the fields. The walk is close to the village of Claverdon just a few miles from Henley in Arden and its a really beautiful part of Warwickshire.

Berries are appearing on Cuckoo Pint in the hedgerows. This plant has quite a few country names - Parson and Clerk, Parson in the Pulpit, Lords and Ladies, Jack in the Green and Priest's Pintle. Starch from the root was used to stiffen Elizabethan lace ruffs.

We walked along Yarningale Lane towards the canal.

Blackberries are beginning to ripen - soon be time to go foraging :)

There are several sixteenth century buildings along the lane.

At the end of the lane you follow a footpath alongside "The Cottage" a short distance to the canal. The Stratford upon Avon Canal was constructed between 1793 and 1812.

The Yarningale Aquaduct

Bucket Lodge Cottage - the barrel roof design is unique to this particular canal.

We walked along the canal to the next Aquaduct watching mallard and moorhen on the water as we walked.

The split in the bridge, shown in this photo, was to allow ropes of horsedrawn narrow boats to pass through.

Banded Demoiselle

As I was faffing around trying to get photos of the damselfly B and D had continued walking and a young grass snake emerged from the canal and slithered across the path right in front of them. Of course I missed it :( By sheer coincidence it was along this canal that I saw my first grass snake when I was young.

Opposite an old barn and by a derelict aquaduct we left the canal and followed a path through woodland

and then across fields. Quite a few Common Blues were dancing among grasses in the fields.

Hawthorn berries are beginning to ripen.

We left the fields to walk through woodland and climb to the top of the common.

I just love this cottage - could quite happily live here. The garden was just full of flowers.

Finally, we reached the summit. Yarningale Common consists of woodland, grassland and scrub and a few areas of heath.

D used to cover this area as a journalist and he told me a moving story about the Paratrooper (who is commemorated on the bench in the photo above) who was tragically shot and killed when patrolling in Helmand Province. He and his regiment had adopted a stray dog which they named Peg (or Pegasus) after the flying horse emblem of the paratroopers. The soldier and Peg became inseparable and the dog followed him everywhere. He used to write home to his family about Peg and told them when he left Afghanistan he would like to bring the dog home with him. After Conrad Lewis had been so tragically killed Peg was rescued by an animal charity and smuggled out of the country and, after a period of quarantine, he now lives with the soldier's family. The family also raise funds for the charity that rescued Peg and have set up a charity to help soldiers.

Beautiful views towards Clent, Bredon and the Malverns - not the best of photos it was taken directly into the sun.

We saw a muntjac deer as we walked back to the car. It would have been nice to have stopped off on the way home in Henley in Arden and enjoyed one of their delicious icecreams but not one of us had thought to bring any money :(

For those who remember my Edith Holden - "Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" posts, Edith visited Yarningale Common on 6th June 1906. She writes of how the common was covered with short grasses and furze bushes and smelt of thyme. There were a number of flowers she recorded - Milkwort, Tormentil, Meadow Lousewort, Heath Bedstraw and 2 species of Vetch and Speedwell. She saw Linnets, Warblers, Whinchats and found 8 birds' nests in the gorse and bramble. She spotted several butterflies - Meadow Browns, Garden Whites and Small Heath and an Orange Tip.


SeagullSuzie said...

I have enjoyed this walk with you. Love canals and the pretty buildings and wildlife, thankfully many people are working hard to bring the canals back to life.

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Thanks so much :) I think there has been quite a bit of restoration work done on this canal too. I'd love to go on a narrowboat holiday :)

Ian said...

Brings memories of the delightful villages and countryside we enjoyed on our recent holiday. I also spent lots of time getting a photo of that same species of damselfly in the Avon at the beautiful Mill Street Garden next to Warwick Castle.

John Wooldridge said...

A lovely walk Robin.....thanks for sharing. Ironic, I think, that one of the bastions of the industrial revolution, the camel system, is now becoming a refuge both for people looking to forget the rat race for awhile and also for nature.

Ragged Robin said...

Ian - Thanks so much and really pleased it brought back memories of your holiday over here. The particular damselfly I photographed was, for once, quite obliging - I really should have got a better photo! I am very intrigued by Mill Street Garden - have just googled it. It looks rather beautiful - never realised it was there but have added it on my list of places to visit - thank you :)

John Wooldridge - Thanks so much John. Canals are a lovely place to walk - was only saying at the weekend we ought to visit canals more often :)

Em Parkinson said...

Always happy to walk with you RR. I find your posts very calming - thank you!

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson - Thank you so much for such a lovely comment :)

Toffeeapple said...

I do like to read about canal-side walks, water is so calming, isn't it?

Your Edith Holden references are favourites of mine, thank you.

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Thanks so much for your lovely comment :) Yes, I love canal-side walking very much - wish we did more of it - as you say its so calming :)

Glad you enjoyed the Edith Holden reference. Whenever I visit locations she mentions in her diaries, I can just imagine her wandering around and collecting wildflowers and watching the birds :)