Mayday bank holiday. A lovely warm day for a stroll in the countryside.
We put on our walking boots and head for the park, stopping to admire the tulips in the ancient walled garden by the church, site of the Charter Tower, where Henry VIIIth was said to have handed down the document that authorised Hemel to hold a market. Actually the building is slightly more recent, but never mind.
Clematis drapes delicately over the wrought iron gates.
The river Gade flows fast and clear under the bridge, and the Iris is just coming out.
We cross the road through the underpass and up the hill to Warners End Wood.
The gnarled and cracked horsechestnut tree
flowers exuberantly with delicate pinks and yellows. On the slope where the cow parsley hides the traces of daffodils, we hear green woodpeckers calling, but we can’t spot them today.
We pause to admire the view of Marchmont House, now a pub, and the beautiful May blossom on the hawthorn bushes.
The path leads us through the wood with enticing views of buttercup fields through gaps in the hedge. The forest floor is dotted with ultramarine bluebells. These are native wild ones with the flower on one side of the stem so they lean over when all the flowers are out.
Brimstone butterflies, folded like leaves, forage in the brambles, and a family of long tailed tits waits patiently till the fussy parents feed them.
Rotting trunks of fallen beeches provide a home for wildlife and a contrast for my photos!
Wild garlic flowers light up the undergrowth like little white stars.
Now we are deep in the wood, and the glades are full of the flowers. The new beech leaves are acid green in the dappled spring sunshine. This is the furthest part of the wood, and the loop path has fewer visitors so the flowers are amazing.
We decide to take a different route home, crossing the wood through a gate to the path that leads past the farm and down to the old mill. The new oak leaves are multicoloured and have not yet turned dark green. Near the bottom of the hill we look back along the path to the wood.
The route home takes us past Piccotts End Farm, where house martins are busy in the eaves, swooping low over our heads as we walk past. The daisies on the bank at the edge of the old town are a wonderful surprise to delight us on our way home.