The Vanguard Way Blog has been started to complement the Vanguard Way official website: The Vanguard Way is a 66 mile, long distance footpath between East Croydon (South London) and the South Coast port of Newhaven.
Primarily we hope to record interesting sightings along the Vanguard Way with an emphasis on flora and fauna and other 'natural' phenomena. To offer a contribution, please email We will be interested to receive details of what has been sighted, where and when, together with a photo if available.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

From October - autumn - to April- it's spring again, hooray!

With so many months to catch up on and so much weather to comment on, I'll start with a rare sighting of some Vanguards on the Vanguard Way near Moorhouse Bank.  This photo was taken on the final day of October 2013 at the beginning of some exceptionally wet weather set to last until March.

We walked up to Limpsfield Chart village, paddling most of the way!  Leaves were quite late to fall last year though the beech leaves were beginning to turn to their beautiful golden colour on this walk.  You will note that a Vanguard's work is never done in the first photo of this sequence where a route marker is being replaced.

The winter of 2013/2014 was the wettest and stormiest for many, many years.  Huge numbers of trees were blown over or damaged in the area of Southern England crossed by the Vanguard Way and many areas were flooded or water-logged.

In the absence of photographic evidence for this period, I am including a couple of photos taken in January 2013 submitted by Micky, to give people from drier climes an idea of what footpath walkers had to contend with:

 Copyright M Kohn

Copyright M Kohn

Almost as dramatically as the wet weather started, it finished in March and early spring has been unusually warm, dry and sunny.  Unlike 2013 when spring was late, this year it is pretty well 'on-time' with Hawthorn blossom (May) almost ready to burst its buds.  Bluebells are at their most beautiful being almost fully 'out'.   Woods and verges are carpeted with them, interspersed with the tiny white flowers of stitchwort.

 Our bluebells are the native British Bluebells which can be distinguished from their invading Spanish cousins because the native flowers are grouped on one side of the stem giving the characteristic curved shape of the flower spike.

Trees are rapidly coming out into leaf - leaves at this time of year are a stunning bright green, soon to change into the darker summer colour.  The warm sunny weather seems to have brought a rush of bright green and many trees are beginning to show their flower buds.  Most of our deciduous trees have insignificant flowers but excess pollen can give hayfever sufferers early symptoms.

Another of the old wives tales we knew as children gave weather forecasting advice from whether ash trees or oak trees had their new leaves first.  The saying goes:

Ash before Oak - SOAK
Oak before Ash - SPLASH

If this is correct, we should only have a small amount of rain this summer - splash - because the oak trees are unusually early with their leaves while the ash trees are still looking very dormant.

Oak with new leaves and flowers

Hawthorn with new leaves and flower buds (May)

Field maple with new leaves and flowers

Do keep in touch, enjoy any walking you are doing, especially if it is along the Vanguard Way!

From Crockham Hill towards Limpsfield Chart

From south of Crockham Hill looking north towards Limpsfield Chart
We invite you to come and sample the beautiful countryside of the Vanguard Way!

You can look at this collection of photos by clicking on the web album cover below and running the slide show.  Choose 'Picasa' if you are given the option.  You may need to press esc to return to this blog.

Oct 2013 to April 2014