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"A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare" - William Henry Davies

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Blog - Horsbere Brook

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Walk 4

HORSBERE BROOK BLOG

This is an area that is in effect a reservoir designed to collect and hold surface water and in the process “buffer” water outflow, thus preventing flooding by the Horsbere Brook. As soon as you enter the reserve, the reservoir is visible and, if wild birds are your thing, you may want to stop and stare for a while. The varieties of birds seen here regularly include: herons, kingfishers, egrets, ringed plover, sandpipers, mallard, meadow pipits, sand martins, teal. I personally have seen grey herons, swans nesting, an egret, grebe and coots.

Earlier this year there was great excitement as penduline tits were spotted hanging from the bulrushes, a very rare bird that brought a flurry of twitchers to the site for a few weeks.

I began this walk by parking at the Premier Inn and crossing the footbridge. However, just like Dory who was always so easily distracted from her mission to find Nemo, I hadn’t even climbed down the stairs of the footbridge before my eyes were drawn towards some very plump, juicy blackberries. Oh what a lovely crumble they would make thought I. Now, it would have been sensible had I thought to collect the blackberries upon my return from the walk being so close to the car and not having come prepared for this eventuality. However, my fingers were soon plucking the berries from their stalks and I had the bright idea of putting them in my very deep raincoat pocket which I was carrying tied around my waist for fear. I was very pleased indeed with my haul. Now, what was I doing? Ah yes , the walk. I strolled along by the lake looking out for wild fowl, took some snaps and then headed off up the path.

Horsbere Brook lake

As you move away from this area there is a footpath that follows quite a busy dual carriageway for a few minutes. The carriageway is screened by trees but the sound of passing vehicles is very noticeable. However, as I have mentioned in the walk details, I like this site because you get the perks of being in the countryside without having to drive 30 minutes to get to it.

The path quickly moves away from the busy road, and you find yourself amidst fields of corn walking down a lane where no vehicles are allowed. We kept our dog off lead for the whole of this walk which was great. As always, I was accompanied by what has become one of my favourite birds, the swift. On every walk I have undertaken so far I have had my very own personal escort in the form of these delightful wee birds. As I walked down the lane they ducked and dived ahead of me; they never fail to make me smile.

 

Horsbere Brook fields on walk Horsbere Brook lane Horsbere Brook view

And that’s it really. A handy, short walk that we like as an alternative to our usual early evening dog walk around Plock Court, but which also offers an opportunity to see some pretty special wildlife in the heart of Gloucester.

 

As a footnote, I did try to elongate this walk with slightly disastrous results. No surprise there. My husband and hound joined me on what can only be described as some kind of Crystal Maze nightmare. We followed footpath signs that took us into fields where paths melted away into knee-high thistles and nettles as is usual and, rather than turn back, we elected to squeeze through a little nick into another field and a gap in a hedge into another , always heading in the direction we needed to go, until finally we ran out of gaps and nicks and reached an impasse. The problem was, when we turned round to retrace our steps, we couldn’t remember how many fields we had crossed nor where the gaps in the hedges had been. We trekked around and around those fields for about 1 1/2 hours trying to find our way out. Dusk was falling and we were exhausted and slightly traumatised when we stumbled across the final nick and made our escape. We were worried our daughter might have sent out a search party, only to find her stuck to her phone as usual. I believe she raised her head to check the clock at the point her stomach started rumbling, cursing her mother for not having her tea on the table yet, but Pikachu needed help at some Pokemon stop so her parents’ whereabouts were quickly forgotten. As for us, once we had cracked open a bottle of vino we managed to slowly mellow and I was soon thinking about revisiting the walk once  more. I haven’t given up on this yet and may still add a longer version…………………….. watch this space. Check out Blog on 5th October 2016 when I did just this.

As I reached the point where I have suggested a slight detour, I sat down to check my map and to write some notes. After a short break I walked on but quickly felt a damp sensation on the back of my thigh. I cursed the fact that I had managed to sit in the only wet bit of grass in the field. However, the damp patch turned into a trickling sensation down my leg and when I looked  down the penny dropped. I had managed to sit on the pocket containing my haul of fruit which was now a fruit puree soaked into my coat, my shorts and soon to invade my sock and shoe. No crumble for us when I got home; instead I spent the rest of the day trying to get blackberry juice out of my clothes. There is a bit of a theme running through my blogs - I am a bit of a disaster area. Despite my unpleasantly soggy apparel, I managed to enjoy the rest of the walk and I would highly recommend taking the slight detour around the field as the views from the top are super. See below.

Footnote added 20.12.17. I have now reread this blog having just had the extroadinary honour of being the person to spot and identify a Penduline Tit at Plock Court on 16th December 2017 in the very spot where we regularly walk our dog. I had never heard of one before their appearance at Horsebere and feel like, rereading this, it was my destiny to stumble across one in the very place I compared to Horsebere in my blog.  It's a funny old world. This was one of the pictures I took at the time which made local news.

Blog - Horsebere Brook - 5th October 2016

And so, I managed to elongate the walk by walking backwards. Not literally a la Ministery of Funny Walks. I began the walk by walking through the gate on the left as you enter the reserve, continuing until I joined up with the field at the back of Zoons Court, then walked back again making notes of the lefts and rights, gates and bridges.

 

I LOVE THIS WALK!! It was a beautiful sunny autumn afternoon as I walked away from the dual carriageway and was once again blown away by the fact that, within a few hundred yards, I was transported away from the speeding cars into a landscape of fields and trees. The peaceful surroundings are intermittently broken by a passing train along the tracks that run through the landscape, and by the dual carriageway that surrounds this picturesque bubble, but only briefly and only serves to remind me how lucky I am to be walking in such beautiful surroundings given the location. Straight away I disturbed a grey heron who lifted off out of the first field I entered; followed by a second heron within a few minutes. This is obviously a favourite spot of theirs, because on my return trip I had a repeat showing from the exact same spot, so keep your eyes peeled. These are the views from the field at the end of your walk but at the start of mine today.

Horsbere Brook fields Horsbere Brook fields

Back to your walk and the next stage as you will be experiencing it - once you have taken the path from the back of Zoons Court field, you will enter woodland. The light on this October afternoon was just beautiful, and I am a sucker for an archway of trees, so the 2 combined were enchanting.

Horsbere Brook arched walkway

Monty and I meandered back through the fields, soaking in the views before climbing back in the car for our 5 minute drive back home. Happy days!

Horsbere Brook dog walk Penduline Tit at Plock Court Gloucester