Following the Great Stour Way
June wildflower walk
I had a fab weekend away in Canterbury in the summer and went for a walk out of the city along the river Stour. I left the city to the Southwest and followed the Great Stour Way through Hambrook Marshes towards Chartham.
Right at the start of my walk I spotted this gorgeous bull who was guarding a planted wildflower meadow with ox-eye daisies, Leucanthemum vulgare, and greater knapweed, Centaurea scabiosa.
June flowers by the fields
The path follows the river beside some fields where I spotted big clumps of meadow cranesbill plants, Geranium pratense, along the fence.
View of the river with St John’s wort
At Hambrook Marshes below the old railway line, there were lovely views of the river with St John’s wort, more ox-eye daisies, and plantain flowers, Plantago lanceolata, which apparently enjoy waterside locations. I looked up the St John’s wort, which I think is Hypericum perforatum, and found that it has little glands in its leaves which produce a foxy odour. If I had known that at the time, I’d have checked the leaves and had a sniff!
Nearby I also found vetch, probably Vicia cracca, alongside other flowers in the long grass.
Tall species spotted towards Chartham
I was tempted by this access to the river, and would have paddled if it hadn’t been for the mud! More tall plants nearby – teasels, Dipsacus fullonum, these were at about 1.7 metres.
A lot of the river was congested with reeds and nettles, but there is obviously a management scheme in place as this part had been cleared of foliage.
It was a beautiful walk on a lovely sunny day. I was always aware of human activity, with the path going under the A2 at one point. These willows below adjoin private fishing ponds with a railway line behind.
But there was plenty of nature to be seen – I enjoyed watching sparrows chasing damsel flies and fighting over them, and saw some birds of prey soaring in the distance.
This part of my walk is on Route 18 of the National Cycle Network.
I found this spot (below) on the way back, to sit and enjoy the river – an uncleared patch except for the log bench, with nettles and reeds providing much cover for wildlife.
If you would like to know more about identifying St Johns worts, I have a page on Hypericum