"A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare" - William Henry Davies
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I have to thank a friend for sharing this walk. Thanks Becky! Becky has the great fortune to live in Kemerton which is a stunning part of the world I probably would never have known existed if she had not invited me to visit. This has been an unexpected and very enjoyable bonus of setting up this website - I get to enjoy other peoples' favourite walks and sometimes have a guided tour with local info thrown in, as in this case.
So I got to enjoy this walk first of all in Becky's company with her bonnie, if somewhat grouchy pooch Billy. He is about 16/17 years old so I feel has earned the right to be a grouch and he certainly carries it off with some gusto. Haha. As it had been a while since we last saw one another, we did chat rather a lot and so, although Becky tried her best to point out all of the noteworthy points of interest along the way, it might have appeared as if I was not paying attention as I was enjoying the company so much. Not true I promise.
And so it was that I decided to revisit the walk only a week later so that I could fully appreciate all that this walk has to offer and boy it did not disappoint. If birdwatching and butterflies are of any interest to you I would certainly recommend doing this walk at least once on your own so that you can enjoy both as there is much to see.
The walk begins its life in the villages of Kemerton and Overbury, 2 beautiful villages with only about 1/2 a mile separating them. Apparently most of the houses are owned by the estate and so a lot of the residents rent their properties. As you pass the church pictured above the Manor House comes into view, a stunning Edwardian property. The lane leading away from the Manor House enjoys an annual street fete and the owner of the house pictured above opens their gates to the village so that all can enjoy their most beautiful gardens. Another lady who passed away donated an orchard she owned to the village of Kemerton so that all could enjoy the peace and quiet it offers - stuff of proper village life don't you think.The walk through the villages offers a real feast for the eyes of stone cottages, hollyhocks, house martins nesting in the eaves, ponds, churches and so on; simply idyllic.
As you move away from the pretty Cotswold-stone-festooned lanes and into the fields the slow and steady climb begins. Because it is a gradual climb the impact on your legs is not too bad, but it sure gets you huffing and puffing. In addition, I elected to revisit the walk during our recent heatwave with temperatures hitting the high 30s, so I was soon in a bit of a lather. The butterflies start making an appearance right here, and accompany you throughout your walk, reaching a crescendo in the meadows you walk through on your descent from Bredon Hill. I will list here the ones I was able to identify:
Comma, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown (everywhere and in bucket loads), Small Heath, Small Skipper, Marbled White (very excited with this one as had never seen one before), a Fritillary of some denomination (it was the most brilliant orange and, despite chasing it up hill and down dale it would not settle so that I could take a picture - the air was blue), Scarlet Tiger Moth, Ringlet (again in spades, but only on one section during the descent), Speckled Wood. There were several I simply could not ID and all-in-all my butterfly obsession added a good half an hour to my walk.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this walk - a visual feast. I will be returning, without Monty to enjoy another wander back through time without worrying about logging the route and checking my map.
Back to the climb and, I was soon entering a wooded section where the songs of birds filled the space around me. Chaffinches, Blackbirds, Chiff Chaffs, Coal Tits, Willow Warblers and oh so many more, but my enjoyment thereof was more than a little hampered by my new walking companions - flies. Now when I walked with Becky just a week earlier, there were none to speak of, so either that is because Becky smells so sweet and my body odour is rather more pungent, or it is because of the already mentioned heatwave, and I choose to believe it is the latter. Part of the way up through the woods I managed to ditch my irritating, irksome, insistent insect escorts, as we passed some better smelling excrement than I lying on the path.
You emerge from the woods into open fields, currently displaying poppies along the edge of the path. Becky tells me that, not long hence, the fields were completely golden, filled with rapeseed. This, like all the other walks, will be interesting to try out at different times in the year.
It is here that the skylarks entertained me. There were too many to count or even be able to guesstimate numbers. Their chirruping filled the air to the left and right with numerous birds alighting on the stone wall alongside me and also on the dry, sandy path ahead of me, enjoying a sun bath in the dry dirt. I got so many good shots of them and found it difficult to narrow them down to these 2 for the website. My favourite one is below as I just love the composition of this one.
The next point of interest is Bredon Hill itself. It is a flat circular expanse surrounded by a low stone wall, with a 360 degree view of the surrounding landscape identified for you by a map sat atop a flat stone. You will probably not simply need a pitstop here, but will want to take a while to soak it all in. There is a tower here, named Parsons Folly, owned by Overbury Estate which was originally built by John Parsons MP as a summer house from which to enjoy the views, and which is now leased out as a mobile phone base station - ah well that's progress for you. The tower was surrounded by scaffolding when we visited, which is apparently there to enable repointing to take place - about a 4 week contract apparently. Next to this tower, and to be honest of far more interest in my opinion, are the pile of rocks resembling an elephant - awesome or what! Apparently all the local kids climb up and sit on it, and had I taken my daughter up there when she was young I would most definitely not have missed this photo opportunity. You will have to accept a picture minus laughing children.
As you may be able to see from this picture, it was a particularly hazy day despite the incredible heat, or maybe because of it. Whatever the reason I am not sure any of my pictures of the view do it justice, but here's one with a random cyclist enjoying the fruits of his labours.
After exchanging pleasantries with man on bike, and 2 elderly hikers and of course after touching the stone of choice on the tower which is Becky's, formerly Becky's dad's, and now it seems my custom, I began my descent. My eyes were straight away drawn to 2 humming bird hawk moths flying over and behind the stone wall; again no photo to be had unfortunately but no doubting what they were. Onwards then to butterfly meadow. An extroadinary display of so many beautiful butterflies it takes your breath away. Also a ridiculous display of a 50+ lady running in and out of the long grass, camera in hand trying to get the money shot of said butterflies, cursing profusely as each in turn flitted left and right, up and down, to be quite honest clearly taking the proverbial...... I just hope nobody was watching me. Having already listed my sightings, I will move on
Walking on I heard the unmistakeable cackle of a Green Woodpecker and looking up, caught sight of its tail end bobbing off ahead of me along the path and up away over the trees. Further down the path I heard bird song that I knew I didn't know, so picked up my phone to record it. I looked up into the tree to catch sight of a Yellowhammer. Great excitement again but he had managed to position himself on a high branch which was directly in line with the sun, so again no picture to be had.
The next point of interest brought to my attention by Becky and without which I don't believe I would have noticed them, are the King and Queen stones. They are to the right of the path down a steep incline in the middle of trees. They are quite a sight and according to folklore have healing properties. The story goes that anyone feeling under the weather should walk around and through the stones to be healed; although how anyone feeling under the weather could get up to the top of the hill, never mind abseil down the incline to the stones in order to enjoy their healing qualities goodness only knows.
A couple of amazing Scarlet Tiger Moths later, together with a smattering of Ringlets, another brilliant red butterfly/moth I could not identify, and capped off with a Swallow sat atop the aerial of a house in Westmancote, and I truly felt that Bredon, Kemerton and Overbury had delivered everything I could have wanted from a walk. Thank you for sharing Becky. I will definitely be back.
Oh and there is of course a pub - The Crown at Kemerton if it takes your fancy.
My introduction to Bredon Hill has transformed into something of a love affair. I was so captivated by all the hill had to offer in the way of views, countryside, wildlife and in particular butterflies that I decided to set up a Transect on a countrywide database that logs sightings of butterflies and dragonflies. A Transect is a set route, broken down into sections according to variations in terrain, which has to be walked once a week from March to October only on days with permissable weather conditions. Sightings are then logged onto the database and the information collated and analysed to assist in butterfly conservation projects.
Hence the dates above. I have been walking up Bredon Hill once a week for the past 3 years. In order to make the Transect a manageable length I use a different starting point to the one specified in the Kemerton walk details. However, it basically covers the downhill section of the Kemerton walk. I simply walk up to the tower from Lower Westmancote and then back down again.
I have seen so much wonderful wildlife over these 3 years and will share some pictures with you here. I have put the Scarce Chaser on the map at Bredon Hill, a dragonfly that has been on the conservation red list and had not been logged at this spot before. I have seen Dingy Skippers, a pretty rare butterfly....... and so much more. My favourite encounters were with a young fox and a stoat both of whom, as you can see in the pictures, made full eye contact with me before saying farewell. I was rereading my blog and my excitement about the Yellowhammers. I would not want to become blase about these magnificent birds, but certainly this year, they have been prolific on this section of the walk and I have managed to take some lovely photos of them. I have too many photos of wondrous things to include on this site so have had to narrow it down to just a few.