Posted by: lensweb | May 13, 2013

Melbourne Pool Walk 29 April 2013

Melbourne Pool Walk, 29 April 2013

We were blessed by a perfect clear still evening as sixteen of us left Melbourne Church with everything we needed except Marion, our leader for the night! With the church tower as a landmark we hoped we couldn’t get lost!

Melbourne pool

Melbourne Pond looking towards the parish church

Melbourne Pool looked serene in the evening light, but noisy Canada geese announced their presence. Greylag geese, coot, mallard, tufted duck, mute swans and moorhens swam on the calm water and busied themselves at their nests. A grey wagtail and a sparrowhawk were spotted. We spent some time trying to distinguish the swallows from the house martins as they swooped low over our heads and the water, then up and away.  As we got our eyes in we could spot the chestnut throat and long thin forked tails of the swallows.

Alan Heath took several samples of water from the lake and showed us freshwater shrimps and a mayfly larva.

Large Bittercress

Large Bittercress

As we entered the woods we were entranced by a song thrush singing his heart out at the top of the canopy. We picked out the song of a chiffchaff from the melodic chorus of bird song, and spotted robin, chaffinch, goldfinch, bluetit and the omnipresent wood pigeon. The ground was yellow with lesser celandine in places. Butterbur, dog’s mercury, coltsfoot, large bittercress, goldilock’s buttercup and a few wood avens were already in flower. We noticed many small Himalayan balsam seedlings, which will not remain small for long.  A very white fungus was identified as slime mould. Amongst the trees which had been felled was a yew revealing a slice of reddened wood, which appeared to be ‘bleeding’ sap. Attempting to count the rings we estimated the tree to be well over 100 years old and learnt a new word, ‘dendrochronology’, the science of determining the age of trees.

Leaving the woods we walked round a cultivated field, with purple sprouting broccoli and celeriac ready to harvest. Along the field boundary grew forget-me-not, red and white dead-nettle and garlic mustard.

Goldilocks Buttercup

Goldilocks Buttercup

Looking back we noticed that our party had increased by one person. It was indeed Marion, who had been delayed by a bad traffic hold-up, but had managed to catch us up at last. She told us that Lord Melbourne, William Lamb, Queen Victoria’s first prime minister was named after Melbourne Hall, seat of the Lamb Family and Melbourne in Australia was named after Lord Melbourne. Thomas Cook, travel agent, was born in Melbourne.  His first foray into the travel business was to organise a trip for a group of temperance campaigners to travel by train the 11 miles from Leicester to Loughborough for a rally.

As we climbed the hill we admired the view over the roofs of the Georgian houses of Melbourne, then passed through a kissing gate, the best constructed we had ever seen, having been recently repaired by the Melbourne Footpaths Group. Passing along a narrow passage between stone walls we were rewarded by seeing several different ferns, ivy leafed toadflax and wall rue. Then the beautiful Norman doorway of Melbourne church came into view.

Joan Breakwell (photos © Marion Bryce)

Related Links;

Melbourne and Breedon-on-the-Hill walk (different to above)

Melbourne Historical Research Group


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