The Vanguard Way Blog has been started to complement the Vanguard Way official website: The Vanguard Way is a 66 mile, long distance footpath between East Croydon (South London) and the South Coast port of Newhaven.
Primarily we hope to record interesting sightings along the Vanguard Way with an emphasis on flora and fauna and other 'natural' phenomena. To offer a contribution, please email We will be interested to receive details of what has been sighted, where and when, together with a photo if available.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Merry Month of May

Look back to April 6th post, Our Golden Spring, for the programme of the remaining 50th Anniversary walks with the Vanguards.

The next section of our Golden Vanguard Way walks was from Edenbridge to Forest Row - we have photos taken with a 2 1/2 week interval.  It is still the 'Merry Month of May' and the May (Hawthorn) flowers are now well out.

On the link from Edenbridge buttercups are  providing a colourful carpet.
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Alien species are on show - Rhododendrons of varying hues in particular.  They look exotic and brighten up many a spring garden but they are difficult to control once they've 'escaped' into the wild.

Spanish bluebells don't seem to be threatening our area too much but we did find this clump near Starborough Castle.  Again, they are big and bright in gardens but a threat to  our native species as they cross breed.  The native bluebells look more delicate and the flower stem bends over because there are no flower heads up one side of the stem.  The Spanish ones have flowers all round the stem and the flower is upright.

Otherwise bluebells are still evident but the flowers are going to seed and other vegetation is growing up around them.  In particular stinging nettles are making a lot of growth.  Not the best of news for ramblers but many butterfly species' caterpillars depend on them as food plants so they're not all bad.  We spotted a hairy caterpillar which may be that of a small tortoiseshell butterfly - these caterpillars feed on stinging nettles.

There was also a shrub/tree with several caterpillar 'nests'.  This time the caterpillars were smooth and much smaller.  They look like the caterpillars that frequently infest my cabbage plants but are on the wrong 'foodplant'.
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I forgot to mention that we spotted a buzzard on the previous walk between Oxted and Edenbridge.  This time we saw a green woodpecker - though they always look more yellow than green and are often seen searching for food in grassland rather than pecking in woods.  Robins were very busy with beaks full of small creatures and blackbirds noisy with their alarm calls.

As the Vanguard Way gets further from urban areas, a walker can catch many glimpses of lovely buildings.
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The next opportunity to 'Walk the Vanguard Way with the Vanguards in their 50th anniversary year is on Saturday, 27th June.  For details see the 6th of April Post - 'Our Golden Spring'.
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From the lane look left over the fields to see the Ashdown Forest appearing as a faint blue line on the far horizon.  We will be there on the next leg of the walk!

If you would like to view these photos and others taken on this route section, please click on the album below. Clicking through to Picasa will enable you to run a slide show with captions to the photos.  Look out for the orchid and other items of intrigue.
Spring - May Edenbridge to Forest Row

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If you have information concerning a new 'sighting', please email