• Spotting wildflowers along the river Stour in Canterbury

    Posted on January 6, 2019 by in Nature, Outings, Walks, Wildflowers

    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.

    Wildflower meadow

    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.

    steel bull wildflower meadow canterbury

    ox eye daisies wildflower meadow canterbury

    greater knapweed wildflower meadow canterbury

    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.

    geranium pratense canterbury

    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!

    ox eye daisy, st johns wort, plantain, stour

    Nearby I also found vetch, probably Vicia cracca, alongside other flowers in the long grass.

    purple vetch canterbury

    Tall species spotted towards Chartham

    giant hogweed white inflorescence
    Giant hogweed, Heracleum mantegazzianum, has gorgeous white umbels but is poisonous and non-native I believe. This one was more than 2 metres tall and the inflorescence almost glowed in the sunshine.
    stour river canterbury

    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.

    wild teasel Dipsacus fullonum

    Land management

    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.

    river stour land management

    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.

    willows ponds stour

    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.

    reeds nettles canterbury river