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.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Weever fish alert!

We have heard from one of our correspondents in the south of the route.  Weever fish have been found in the Tidemills stretch of shore recently.  Lesser Weever fish hide in the sand in the shallows waiting to ambush their prey of smaller creatures.  The problem for us is that they have venomous spines and a triangular black dorsal fin which will inject poison into a foot that might step on it unawares.(Or other part of the body, perhaps into a hand that picks it up or detaches it from a fishing line.) The advice is to wear something on your feet when paddling or swimming in the Tidemills area.

I have found a very informative section on the British Sea Fishing website, if you would like further information. 

The lesser weever fish appears to be widespread in sandy beaches around the British coastline, as are jelly fish - some of which can also give a painful sting of course.

Do let us have information of other wildlife sightings along the sea shore!

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Mid August, mid Vanguard Way

We went on a route description checking ramble of links and main route between Buxted station and East Hoathly bus stop.  A Vanguard's work is never done!  Currently the most up-to-date revision of the route description for the main website is being checked before it is put up onto the website in a few months time. 

Weather-wise 2013 has been an unusual year: exceptionally cold winter, late spring, heat wave in July and beginning of August, warmest summer since 2006.  Plant life has responded now with a lot of greenness and growth, there has mostly been enough rainfall to provide optimum growing conditions in the warm weather.  The soft fruit harvest in the southeast of England has been prolific this year and it looks as though the autumn harvest of grains, fruits, berries and nuts will also be good.

Some highlights of our walk which might be of interest:

Purple and mauve are still dominant colours in the countryside.

Rosebay willowherb

Rosebay willowherb

Great willowherb

Spear thistle with thistledown
We found both types of tall willowherb (Rosebay and Great)and many thistles.  Both willowherbs and thistles produce huge numbers of white seeds which have downy parts to be caught in the wind to disperse them.

There are plenty of bindweed flowers in the hedges and verges but these garden Morning Glory flowers caught my eye at the Blackboys Inn.  These flowers only stay open for a very short time and these had already faded by the time we had finished our lunch.

Guelder Rose


Rowan/Mountain Ash

The hedgerows are beginning to show promise of fruits to come, though the brambles/ blackberries are still far from ripe.  I was interested to see a Guelder Rose, this is a native species in the viburnam family, which has stunning white sprays of flowers followed by red berries and later the leaves turn red before falling.
Cereal crops such as the wheat below, are ripening well and the harvest is well under way.

Although most farms with animals make silage these days, there are still plenty of fields being used for hay and, in this one, the tractor is using a baler which makes the now old fashioned rectangular bales.

We saw a few different types of butterfly.  Below is a gatekeeper butterfly on a ragwort plant and a small tortoiseshell resting on a bramble.  Small tortoiseshell butterflies' caterpillars' food plants are stinging nettles. It may be coincidence that this butterfly is beside a stinging nettle or perhaps it's been laying eggs or even just emerged from its pupa.  

The video below was taken from the Vanguard Way as it winds through Blackboys village allotments.  This allotment was a wonderful herb and lavender garden and the bumble bees and cabbage white butterflies were making the most of it.   Click on the arrow unless you have already done so at the end of the slide show at the beginning of this post. 

Some oddments from along the way
Bracket fungus - appearing to give this tree trunk a face?

Meandering stream where the water appeared to be reddish brown - iron in the soil?

A strange white thistle

Scentless mayweed - as opposed to pineapple scented mayweed, keep you nose alert to find that.

Yellow water-lily, we called the seed heads of these 'brandy bottles' as children
We enjoyed a lovely walk and I hope this post gives you a flavour of the things we saw.  Click on any of the photos to see a larger version.  You may need to press your esc button to get back to the blog post.
Should you wish to see the whole slide show, it's right at the top of this post.
Do let me have any comments and/or contributions to the blog from your own walks along the Vanguard Way.