14 October 2014
This blog is called I walk Alone and all I appear to have done so far is sit in front of a computer crying. On Tuesday I thought it was probably time to actually go outside and do some of the aforesaid walking alone. The fact it was raining didn’t exactly endear me to the idea but then I began to think of the trades description act and being sued for false advertising. Obviously I didn’t want to go too far in the rain but reading through some of my old blog posts gave me an idea. How about revisiting some of those walks?
The walk I chose to revisit was the Riverside walk, one I actually do quite often, although not the exact same route. It was raining in the post I’d been reading but that day it was also flooded. I had my fingers crossed it wouldn’t be flooded this time too. For once my luck was in and it had at least stopped raining when I left the house.
There were a few puddles in the usual places when I got to the park but nothing out of the ordinary and the river was low, very low. For once, no one was throwing bread from the jetty so the usual seagull melee was conspicuously absent. The swans followed me along the bank for a while, looking greedily at my rucksack. Once they realised I didn’t have any bread they lost interest. There was only one black swan amongst their number today and a handful of almost grown cygnets.
By the reed beds I thought I detected a hint of colour to the trees. Seagulls were huddled miserably on the mudflats, missing their bread no doubt. There were more gulls on the river at Woodmill where water barely trickled through the sluice.
On the other side of the road the birds were having a better time of it. Someone had spread some seed on the bank and they were gathered enjoying the feast. The path here was a mass of sodden leaves and, in the distance, some fishermen sat on the bank. Red berries added some contrast to all the greenery and I noticed the big willow tree was looking quite bare in places. A little further on the colour of the changing leaves was echoed in reflections on the river.
Around the bend in the Itchen more shades of autumn greeted me across the park but the real show was yet to come. A row of maples line the path before the river meanders under the bridge at Mansbridge, their flaming leaves light up this stretch of the river every year. Maples have to be my favourite autumn trees, outdoing all the others in their brilliance. Multicoloured leaves littered the grassy bank and I climbed to look at them. These trees seem to be perfectly synchronised creating a long, leafy strip of red, gold and green along the path.
When the bridge came into view I was pleased to see no sign of any flooding. A family were playing Pooh Sticks, they’d dropped their twigs into the water on the far side of the bridge and were waiting for them to be washed through. The child squealed excitedly when her stick appeared then the whole family went back to the other side of the bridge to start again. Pooh Sticks always makes me smile, even if I’m not playing.
The path may not have been flooded but the woods behind it most certainly were. They tend to be boggy at the best of times but today the green algae on the brackish water combined with the bright leaves made a pretty picture. Under the big road bridge the path to the pub was littered with leaves and I had to negotiate a row of fishermen half blocking my way. At least the path way dry.
As expected the car park was partly underwater. We’ve had a lot of rain over the last couple of weeks and it doesn’t take a lot to flood here. In the great scheme of things this was pretty minor, back in the spring there were times when the pub looked like an island, completely surrounded by water. Today it was dry and open but I didn’t stop for a coffee tempting as it was.
On the opposite bank the fields that had been waterlogged in January were filled with grazing cows today and more fishermen were setting up on my side of the river. Now I had a tough climb up Gaters Hill. There are less trees lining the route than there were in spring. Many fell victim to the combination of floods and gales and toppled. At the top, slightly out of breath, I turned onto Cutbush Lane and the final leg of my walk.
This part is mostly uphill which may explain why I prefer to go back along the river. Sometimes the climb is rewarded with interesting fungi at this time of year so I had my eyes peeled. Sadly, I didn’t see any but I did find some attractive lichen on a fallen branch and a lone cow parsley flower that doesn’t realise it’s autumn. Long strings of bindweed were hanging from the trees.
The final twist of path leading up to the village is the steepest and narrowest. Here the path is barely visible under all the fallen leaves and, in places, slippery. There were plenty of rotting logs, courtesy of the spring gales, but no fungi at all. One fallen tree, peppered with worm holes, had such beautiful patterns on the decomposing wood I stopped to take a photo. Right at the top I was rewarded with a single pink hydrangea flower.
Unlike my January walk I managed to dodge the showers and there was no wading through floods. Two different seasons and two very different walks. Tomorrow I will share the January post so you can see for yourself.