"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

Thursday, 30 March 2017

A Walk Around Temple Balsall

Last weekend on Mothering Sunday afternoon we went along to Temple Balsall. It is a lovely area, steeped in history, and is one of my favourite short walks.

This is The Court - the Foundation of Lady Katherine Leverson Housing. The buildings are early 18th century.

The Old Hall or Templar's Hall - which was a Preceptory of the Knight's Templar in Warwickshire. It is a 13th century aisled hall encased in brick during the 19th century Sir Gilbert Scott Restoration.

In March 1312 the Pope abolished the Order of the Templars and transferred their properties to the Knights of St John (the "Hospitallers"). St Mary's church was built in the 14th century initially as a chapel for the Hospitallers.

The churchyard was full of flowers - Primroses, Lesser Celandine, Grape Hyacinth, Daisies, Squill and Violets.

Leaves of Wild Arum or Jack in the Pulpit

We continued along the Bread Walk

to the brook

and then followed the Green Man Trail through woodland.

View of St Mary's from the wood.

We walked along the lane to Temple Balsall Nature Reserve seeing Dog's Mercury in the hedgerows

and on to the small Warwickshire Wildlife Trust reserve

Yet again this year Butterbur was past its best (I never seem to time my visit for the right time!)

but I found some Scarlet Elf Cup in its usual spot.

Plant and mosses growing on the stone bridge as we walked back towards the Cemetery.

Lots of flowers on the grass verges - Daffodils, Dandelions and clumps of Lesser Celandine

Male Yew Flowers in the Cemetery

and more Primroses and Wood Anemones as we walked back along Bread Walk.

The garden of the Old Hall was full of flowers too - Forsythia, Hellebores, Flowering Currant, Lungwort and Snakeshead Fritillary.

I think this is probably Quince?

There were quite a few Bumble Bees around but I am still waiting for my first butterfly sighting of the year!

Primroses in the churchyard.

A snippet of information - for those who love the "Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady", Edith Holden writes of visiting this area in her nature journals.

I've done so many posts on this lovely area that this time I have kept the text on history to the minimum. It is a very beautiful place to wander - I always feel as though time stands still here.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Kingsbury Water Park

Kingsbury Water Park, a 600 acre Country Park, comprising 15 lakes and pools plus streams, marshes, woodlands, meadows and the River Tame is part of the Tame Valleys Wetland Project. The Partnership consists of a number of organisations led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and the aim is to protect and improve the area creating a wetland living landscape which is rich in wildlife and accessible to people. The wetlands are located between Birmingham and Tamworth, cover 104 square kilometres and the River Tame, floodplain and canals form the core of the region. We do occasionally visit various reserves in the Wetlands such as Ladywalk and Whitacre Heath Nature Reserves, Shustoke Reservoir and RSPB Middleton Lakes but I've only ever been to Kingsbury Water Park once before over 30 years ago! To be honest we parked in the main car park and I think it must have been a bank holiday weekend because it was absolutely heaving with people - not my idea of fun at all! Yesterday we decided to finally make a return visit. The country park contains fishing lakes, a children's farm and playground, a sailing area and a miniature railway but there is a more "wildlife" type area with bird hides so this time we parked in Broomeycroft car park near the reserve part.

Rather controversially, from several people I know who visit the Water Park regularly, 100's of trees have been cut down. I think from memory the reason given for this was to improve visibility of the lakes - to me it looked a bit bleak and barren in places :(

You can just make out some pussy willow in the distance - sadly, couldn't find a tree near enough to get a close up of the catkins.

For some unknown reason instead of exploring the nature reserve part the rest of the family made a bee-line in the direction of the main car park! However, if they hadn't have done that I wouldn't have found a memorial bench mum had erected for my father (she and Dad used to visit Kingsbury all the time). These are the views from the bench.

It was a lovely walk although we did at one point get hopelessly lost but we walked past pools and then through woodland.

At one stage when I had lagged some way behind the others to take photos I could see the family waving at me to hurry up. It turned out they had seen a Peacock butterfly. Of course, by the time I reached them it had disappeared totally from sight so I am still awaiting my first butterfly sighting of the year.

Not quite sure who or what this is but I suspected we were getting closer to the more popular area of the country park and main car park.

Arriving at the main car park. I could kick myself now for not buying a map of the reserve for future use.

I saw a few wild flowers on the walk -

Lesser Celandine



Wild Arum leaves


White Dead-nettle


Bird species seen included - Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Robin, Goldcrest, Canada Goose, Mallard, Mute Swan, Coot, Tufted Duck, Grey Heron, Chaffinch and Black-headed Gull.

Rather than risk getting lost again! we walked back to the car via the main road crossing over the M42.

An inquisitive calf

A tea-room and time for

tea and cake (lemon curd).

We will return and next time visit the nature reserve part where we parked. I would also like to walk along the canal to RSPB Middleton Lakes.