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.

Saturday 20 September 2014

Winnie the Pooh land

The Vanguard Way will take you right into the area on which the Winnie the Pooh stories are based. We ventured up to the Ashdown Forest in August and were rewarded by fabulous views and some interesting plants to look at.  No sign of Pooh, Piglet or Eeyore but some of rabbit's friends and relations had been at work.  At the Gill's Lap car park you can usually pick up a leaflet with a map showing where to find the Hefalump trap, 100 acre wood, Pooh-sticks bridge etc.  You should also be lucky with an ice cream van at Gill's Lap car park, or in Kings Standing car park.
From Amalgam of April to Early Autumn

This summer in South East England has again been unusual weather-wise.  The soft fruit harvest has been particularly bountiful, due probably to the warm weather we have enjoyed.  Now well into September it is still very warm and conditions for our walk around the Woldingham area yesterday were really a bit on the hot side.  Rainfall has been largely absent and the rain we have had this summer has often come in extremely heavy showers. 

Wolds of Woldingham, no green dragons present

Mating Damsel flies

Trying to produce a blog on flora and fauna has been quite challenging as the fauna in particular is tricky to get clear sighting and photos of, especially when walking rather than sitting still and watching/listening.

We have been out and about when there have been some fairly dramatic cloud formations never sure whether we should have packed a waterproof but generally we haven't needed one this year.

This, of course, is the ford, not a rain puddle

Of course I should emphasise that you should never eat any plants in the countryside unless you are certain that they are not poisonous.
Hips (rose) and Haws (hawthorn) - generally edible, at least for wildlife

Spindle tree with unopened fruits - poisonous

Do post a comment if you can add any information for the photos.

I have lots of photos to show but have been having trouble uploading them.  There is a slide show below that you can click on - it shows photos from Crockham Hill and Limpsfield Chart earlier in the summer.  Then Ashdown Forest in August and Woldingham in mid-September.   Just click on the photo, not the big arrow.  If you would like to see the Picasa web album to look more closely, click on the Picasa icon on the bottom right.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

From October - autumn - to April- it's spring again, hooray!

With so many months to catch up on and so much weather to comment on, I'll start with a rare sighting of some Vanguards on the Vanguard Way near Moorhouse Bank.  This photo was taken on the final day of October 2013 at the beginning of some exceptionally wet weather set to last until March.

We walked up to Limpsfield Chart village, paddling most of the way!  Leaves were quite late to fall last year though the beech leaves were beginning to turn to their beautiful golden colour on this walk.  You will note that a Vanguard's work is never done in the first photo of this sequence where a route marker is being replaced.

The winter of 2013/2014 was the wettest and stormiest for many, many years.  Huge numbers of trees were blown over or damaged in the area of Southern England crossed by the Vanguard Way and many areas were flooded or water-logged.

In the absence of photographic evidence for this period, I am including a couple of photos taken in January 2013 submitted by Micky, to give people from drier climes an idea of what footpath walkers had to contend with:

 Copyright M Kohn

Copyright M Kohn

Almost as dramatically as the wet weather started, it finished in March and early spring has been unusually warm, dry and sunny.  Unlike 2013 when spring was late, this year it is pretty well 'on-time' with Hawthorn blossom (May) almost ready to burst its buds.  Bluebells are at their most beautiful being almost fully 'out'.   Woods and verges are carpeted with them, interspersed with the tiny white flowers of stitchwort.

 Our bluebells are the native British Bluebells which can be distinguished from their invading Spanish cousins because the native flowers are grouped on one side of the stem giving the characteristic curved shape of the flower spike.

Trees are rapidly coming out into leaf - leaves at this time of year are a stunning bright green, soon to change into the darker summer colour.  The warm sunny weather seems to have brought a rush of bright green and many trees are beginning to show their flower buds.  Most of our deciduous trees have insignificant flowers but excess pollen can give hayfever sufferers early symptoms.

Another of the old wives tales we knew as children gave weather forecasting advice from whether ash trees or oak trees had their new leaves first.  The saying goes:

Ash before Oak - SOAK
Oak before Ash - SPLASH

If this is correct, we should only have a small amount of rain this summer - splash - because the oak trees are unusually early with their leaves while the ash trees are still looking very dormant.

Oak with new leaves and flowers

Hawthorn with new leaves and flower buds (May)

Field maple with new leaves and flowers

Do keep in touch, enjoy any walking you are doing, especially if it is along the Vanguard Way!

From Crockham Hill towards Limpsfield Chart

From south of Crockham Hill looking north towards Limpsfield Chart
We invite you to come and sample the beautiful countryside of the Vanguard Way!

You can look at this collection of photos by clicking on the web album cover below and running the slide show.  Choose 'Picasa' if you are given the option.  You may need to press esc to return to this blog.

Oct 2013 to April 2014