A sunny April afternoon walk with Valeways is just what the doctor ordered after all the rain we have had in the last few weeks. I meet the gang at Rhoose railway station car park and we set off by walking through the housing estate. There are hazy views towards the Somerset coast. Cargo ships are sailing in the Bristol Channel from the docks towards the open sea, and more houses are nestled below us in the confines of the old Quarry. Our route takes us towards them. Charlock, Celandines, Dandelions, Buddleia and Brambles line the path, with glimpses of the wetlands through them. We continue on the pavement, through the houses, leaving the path to Rhoose Point to snake away from us. Here Gorse, with bright yellow flowers, and Goat Willow, with fluffy pussy-willows, predominate.
The Quarry pond is encircled by these plants, together with Buddleia, Sea Club Rush and Valerian, while Swans serenely glide upon the sparkling waters.
We cross the fields around the quarry, and then gird our loins to tackle the steep steps which will take us onto the Coast path. Celandines, Primroses, Dog-Violets, the remains of Bluebells and the strap-like leaves of Irises are growing in profusion beside the steps, at the top of which are flowering Blackthorn bushes which line the path for a little while. The leafless branches, sporting white starry flowers with their yellow anthers, are looking glorious against the cloudless blue sky.
Once we are on the path, a confusion of plants assails the eye: Brambles, Gorse and Blackthorn, with Ivy rambling through it all, and lichen, both lacy silvery green and yellow split pea-like, clothing the branches. In the undergrowth Clevers, Vetch, Lords and Ladies and Hogweed are vying for space. Overseeing the vegetation and us are Magpies, sitting pretty upon the fence posts.
Below us, to the left, are the rocks and tessellating pavements, while to the right is the wetland, viewed from a different perspective. We pass Rhoose Point and descend towards the Blue stone sentinel, which I mentioned in a previous walk (Porthkerry to Fontygary). There are glimpses of the sea and rocks through openings in the cliffs which have been caused by erosion and landslide. We keep to the coast path, with views of wetland, Limpert Bay, the Power Station and coastal rocks. Buzzards, Rooks and Magpies circle overhead, landing with grace in bushes and reeds, then disappear without trace. Along here, Teasel, Yarrow, Common Field Speedwell and Ground Ivy intermingle with the other plants already mentioned.
Soon the culvert is reached; the stream is choked with Water-cress, Celandines, Hogweed, Flag Irises and Nettles. We spy alighting on the Celandines a Small Tortoiseshell which quickly flies away as soon as we approach. Our route leads across a field then down a slope, with handy steps built into the gravel, and into the shade. Ivy, Ground Ivy, Ribwort Plantain, Alexanders in flower and Brambles populate the ground beneath the Hawthorn bushes, which are just coming into bud, and Elder, which surprisingly is beginning to flower. A Speckled Wood has taken the opportunity of the sunshine to flit among the bushes.
We make our return journey through fields, whose hedges have been cut and new growth is beginning to emerge. Sycamore shoots which are bronze in the sunshine, strap-like Stinking Iris leaves pushing through the new Bramble growth, Buttercups, Daisies and Dandelions all are dotted about the scrub fields, which are waiting to be fertilised and ploughed. We can see the manure piled high in the corner of the field. It is here that Teasel, Dandelions and Clevers have taken root. Insects are buzzing around, including a rather bright red Leaf Beetle. It is also here that another butterfly has braced the sunshine and taken to wing; it is a Small White. Linnets are also grubbing in the dirt and landing on the pavement in this area.
After a lovely sunny spring day walk, along paths which were muddy in places, we return to the car park and divest ourselves of our slightly wet boots and wet weather gear, say our farewells and make our separate ways home. All day the Somerset coast has been hidden in the haze.
Thanks to Valeways and especially Jan and Babs who led the walk.