This is our first walk in 2021, a little away from home, all of 5 miles . Neither of us are fit enough for a proper walk, but a walk to a bench with a view on a glorious day is the best thing. The Bench is right at the top of a large field that leads down to a farm. The field where sheep were grazing is bordered on three sides by Little Stoke, and Stoke and Big Stoke Woods. Big Stoke is part of Rodney Stoke National Nature Reserve.
It was hazy and this showed up the the small hills running parallel to the main Mendips which make the 'levels' not so level at this point. The walk down between Stoke and Little Stoke Woods is fairly steep. I was pleased with my walking stick, as my eyes which ought to have been on the path were attracted to the numerous wild flowers open, old rotting branches and leaves litter the floor and with the deep shade of summer not yet cast, the sunlight picked out the violets, wood anemones, primroses, these will be followed by the bluebells. Their leaves are up and one of two are just coming into flower.
Primroses (Primula vulgaris)
Wood Violets - Stoke Wood
On our way back up a shaft of light lit up a patch of leafless inflorescences emmerging from the woodland floor close to some hazels. Since the information board at the top of the woods indicated that the area does have Bird's Nest Orchids, I thought this may be this flower, but in all the pictures I can find it is shown as yellow.
We might have to go again in a few days time to see what they look like. I have heard from a fellow member of Somerset Wildlife: Les Cloutman, that this is Toothwort Lathraca squamaria. " It is actually fairly common in older woods along the Mendips but is under recorded as it flowers so early in the year. It is a parasite on several trees, mainly on hazel."
On the walk to the woods, the outcrops of limestone and the gnarled thorn trees shaped by the winds.
I hear that you can expect to see adders, so we shall be on the look out on our walks for these beautiful reptiles.