It was a beautiful spring day, the sun was beaming from a cloudless sky, and everybody met up at Kintbury station on time. Despite Rhoda’s valiant efforts at train times etc, everybody actually had opted to drive.
The group set off along the canal and through Kintbury Churchyard into a beautiful and freshly rinsed countryside, which made for a number of very muddy patches along the way, demanding precarious balancing on logs or mighty jumps over quagmires. We took the long way round to work up a healthy appetite for lunch, and took in some large houses with hosts of golden daffodils, punk chickens with mohicans, llamas, a herd of deer in the wood, some friendly horses, and several kestrels and buzzards.
Lunch was taken at the organic Swan Inn, with the healthy-salad-ordering people gazing in poorly disguised envy at others’ steaming sausages and mash, and steak and chips… not to mention the red cabbage! So fortified, we took to the mud again, making our way ever closer to the elusive field containing 400,000 Crocus vernus, to cries of ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ As we approached the field, we happened across a number of walkers coming the other way, some of them ominously equipped with spades! The crocus by the way are rumoured to have been brought over as a substitute for saffron by the Knights Templar, other origins are possible but this seems the most romantic. They have been there for at least 200 years, possibly over 700 years. Having finally made it to the field our expectations of a dazzling unbroken carpet of purple crocuses were quickly replaced by the green vista of a small field which did, indeed, contain a lot of beautiful purple crocuses, albeit somewhat spread out. After taking photos of some fine examples, including a few white variant crocuses, we made our way across a spring fed stream, to the other side of the field, and back over the stream to exit the crocus field where we had entered. But it was well worth the detour as we found a Cumberland sausage … sorry I mean a grass snake sunning itself on the heath – sadly, it disappeared before we could take a picture of it so beautifully curled up in a spiral (there was no mash this time!)
We then made our way across Inkpen Common and nature reserve and headed back toward Kintbury. On the way we happened upon… wait for it…. the opportunity to purchase a Helter-Skelter! We passed on this for some reason (although club funds would have covered it) and made our way past a mysterious office like house, a grey wagtail momentarily showing us the way. The rest of the walk proceeded well, with the most muddy bit right at the end, we all then arrived back in Kintbury in glorious sunshine (and that’s the first mention of sunshine this year – Ed).