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

Wednesday 6 May 2015

May Day Bank Holiday expedition

For details of the next opportunities to 'Walk the Vanguard Way with the Vanguards' please refer to the programme posted on April 6th, 'Our Golden Spring'.

On Monday we walked from Oxted via Limpsfield Chart, Crockham Hill and Haxted Mill to Edenbridge. 

Spring in East Surrey and West Kent has advanced a pace since our Good Friday outing.  Bluebells are in full bloom and most trees are now in leaf, if not in flower.  The Hawthorn bushes have leaves and flower buds but aren't quite 'out' so they're a bit late as the common name for Hawthorn flowers is 'May'.

As our Good Friday walk missed the Vanguard Way Plaque at the point where the Vanguard Way and the North Downs Way cross the Greenwich Meridian,  our May Day walk included a photo-call for Vanguards at the Vanguard Way Plaque.

Blue and bright green were the colours of the day - bluebells and new beech tree leaves were waiting for us as we walked up to Limpsfield Chart.

Although yellows were more dominant as we passed  the Moorhouse Bank sandpits.

There was even a glimpse of yellow archangel, or yellow deadnettle, in amongst the lush spring growth.

I was surprised to get a close up of an ash tree flower - normally they are way above head level.
Elm trees were also in flower, unusual in this post Dutch Elm Disease time.  Hopefully some will be immune.

Once we were down near Crockham Hill, spring lambs were up to mischief - though the guarding alpacas didn't seem bothered.  The calves in the same field were much more placid.

Then we went down to the woods to find more stunning bluebell vistas and also some goldilocks buttercups.  No porridge nor broken chairs though.

We soon arrived at Haxted Mill where the restaurant has re-opened as a 'Pop-up' Tea Room and Gallery.  They hope to appeal to the walking and cycling public as well as car drivers.  It is planned that it will open Wednesdays to Sundays for coffee, light lunches and afternoon teas.  The patio seating area behind the restaurant is in a lovely setting next to the Mill Pond - just like being on holiday!  The Gallery showcases the owner's stunning photographs - worth a visit on its own!

Still on a yellow theme, dandelions were evident throughout but the water meadows alongside the River Eden into Edenbridge had the largest collection of dandelion 'clocks' that I think I have ever seen.  Also still proudly on display are last year's bullrush flowers.

Lost and Found:
Are these your boots?  You'll find them opposite Haxted Mill.
You can look at the whole web album for this post by clicking on the photo below - take the opportunity to click through to Picasa web albums then clicking on slideshow from there will do just that with each photo captioned (Google + won't show you the captions):

May Day Oxted to Edenbridge