Category: Poppy

Dogwalks in Hampshire – Keyhaven to Lymington

While we were on our glamping holiday a few weeks ago, we knew we wanted to explore the area, as it was fairly new to us. We also wanted to do some birdwatching and take Poppy on some amazing walks. So Phil found us a lovely circular walk from Keyhaven to Lymington that took in the Keyhaven Nature Reserve. There are a number of different walks you can take, as you can see here on this map, and we walked along the coast on our to Lymington, but we were knackered on our way back so went on a shorter route to get back to the car.

Keyhaven Yacht Club Keyhaven Nature Reserve Coastal Flowers

The weather was a bit chilly and overcast to begin with, but straight away we spotted a reed warbler by the yacht club. It was a sign of things to come. The views across to the Isle of Wight were amazing and I had no idea we were so close to it. As we neared the nature reserve, we could see more and more birds that we hadn’t seen before. We turned a corner to find a little egret, two spoonbills and quite a few shelducks. Having never seen these birds before, we spent a long tim watching them. Poppy was brilliant, as she must have been very, very bored!

Little Egret ShelduckSpoonbill

When we finally got moving again, we noticed how busy the walk was. There were lots of people walking, cycling and dog walking along the coastal path. (Dogs should be kept on leads as there are some ground nesting birds about.) The different pools used to be used to make salt so it’s lovely to see so many different species enjoying their return to nature, including the painted lady and lapwing below.

Painted Lady Butterfly LapwingKeyhaven to Lymington walk

The walk was longer than we’d anticipated. We thought that it was 3 miles in total, but it isn’t. It’s three miles each way! We hadn’t planned particularly well and hadn’t brought any snacks. Rookie error! So by the time we arrived at Lymington marina, which is an amazing place in itself, we were desperate for some lunch. Phil had done some research and we headed for The Mayflower, where we enjoyed an amazing ploughmans lunch in the beer garden. The garden is pretty big so we were able to find a table in the corner where Poppy could rest up.

The Mayflower Ploughmans

As the walk had taken longer than anticipated, our return journey was via a shorter route, as we had to get back to the car (plus, I needed a lie down!) After a quick stop at the shop for a 99 each, we headed back. By this time, the sun was out and it was boiling. We were keen to get back to the hut and take our walking boots off. It was a brilliant walk and just looking at the pictures writing this post, I want to go back and maybe even take a boat trip over to the Isle of Wight!

The Walk: The walk is mainly flat and easy to navigate. There are a number of shortcuts you can do if you don’t fancy doing the 10 mile circular walk we started!
Cost: Free
Car Park: We parked at the car park in Keyhaven and paid using Ringo (a godsend!) It is easy to find and has toilets and plenty of spaces.
Refreshments: I highly recommend visiting The Mayflower in Lymington. They do a great range of food and it’s a lovely treat part way through the walk.
Toilets: There are some really fancy (yes, fancy!) toilets at the Keyhaven car park which are well worth a visit!

Dog Walks in Buckinghamshire – BBOWT’s Dancersend Nature Reserve

On the last bank holiday in May, we eschewed the traditional lie in and headed out into the sunshine in search of wild orchids, gorgeous views and adventure. We were heading further afield to the BBOWT Dancersend reserve. Not only that, but we were planning on a circular walk that would incorporate part of the Ridgeway and Tring park, both of which were incredibly beautiful places worth a visit in their own right. We parked at the BBOWT car park next to the water works and headed up through the wood to the Ridgeway. We used this invaluable map on the BBOWT website for the 6.5 mile circular walk. A short walk through the village of Hastoe and we came to Tring Park, which was a really amazing space that I’d like to visit again.

Dancersend WalkRidgeway walkPoppy making friends Tring Park

Tring Park is managed by the Woodland Trust and it has an amazing history – it basically used to be someones garden! There are loads of things to see while you’re there, not only are there the amazing carvings like the one above, but insects, plants, spectacular views and cows and sheep. (The cows are in the field you walk through so please make sure they, you and your dog stay safe by keeping your dog on the lead.) When we got to the Natural History Museum, we didn’t head to the train station, but carried on heading to Dancersend. The map gets a bit tricky at this point (plus we got impatient and wanted to be the reserve!) but trust the map and you’ll get to the reserve.

Dancersend orchidCommon orchid Fly orchid at Dancersend

We were there quite early on orchid season and since then, the orchids have really bloomed. We spent quite a while looking for these little fellows and thanks to other people who had shared their Dancersend orchid findings on Twitter and Google images, we were able to spot and identify the orchids. The main reason we were there was the amazing fly orchid. I’ve never seen anything like it before! It was amazing and it’s made me a lot more interested in finding and identifying wildflowers. By this time, we were hot, exhausted and hungry. So after a few more hills and stiles, we made it back to the car park. A quick change of shoes and we were back in the car, heading for Hemel Hempstead. Phil had found a veggie cafe that looked perfect for a late lunch.

Veggie crepe

After finding a parking spot (which are recommended on the cafe website) we arrived at Woody’s cafe. We sat outside with Poppy and enjoyed the comings and goings of life on the canal. We both ordered the roast veg crepe, not quite sure what to expect and we were blown away! It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had and my mouth waters now when I think about it. It was the perfect lunch after our six mile walk. Not only that, but they do amazing cakes which you can take away – make sure you do as they are amazing!

The Walk: I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy. It’s quite hilly (compared to what we’re used to) and despite proper walking boots and insoles, I managed to injure my knee. It was well worth it though, and despite my injury, I’m keen to keep extending our walks.
Cost: Free
Car Park: The BBOWT car park at the Water Works is quite small, but we got there early and had no trouble parking. There are others too, it just depends on where you want to start your walk. If you’re just visiting Dancersend reserve, then the Water Works car park is the one you want.
Refreshments: No. We didn’t go into Tring itself, but there are a few cafes in the town. We packed refreshments and there are plenty of spots to stop for a brew from your Thermos. Definitely head to Woody’s if you can.
Toilets: There are some in the Water Works car park, and while they’re perfectly fine, they are a little scary! There are no mod cons but they are useable.

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – Warburg Nature Reserve

It all started with a plan to try and find some early orchids. While Phil’s main focus is the birds, mine is flowers when we’re out and about. He had seen online about some early orchids at BBOWT’s Warburg Nature Reserve so a few weekends back, we headed there to see what we could see. Just outside Henley-on-Thames, Warburg is a lovely nature reserve, with a few different walks to do, depending on what you’ve got time for, two bird hides and plenty of plants and wildlife to practice your photography on.

Purple Orchid
BBOWT Warburg Purple Flower Warburg Poppydog at Warburg A Crafty Chai at WarburgWarburg Nature ReserveWarburg Bird HideBullfinchChaffinch Warburg Great Tit WarburgWarburg BirdsChaffinchFlying Chaffinch

We managed to spot an early purple orchid, thanks to the map at the visitor centre and some help via Google images. I was pretty pleased with our little find. I always imagine wild orchids to be as big as the ones we have at home, but the ones out during early spring are small so you really have to keep your eyes peeled. It’s well worth it because when you see one for yourself, it’s amazing!

We did the main circular walk, which takes less than an hour. There are open areas as well as woodland walks, which Poppy enjoyed. Then we spent quite a bit of time in the two bird hides, waiting patiently. We saw a bullfinch, a chaffinch, great tits, blue tits and many more. Between Phil and I, we managed to work out what the birds were using apps, binoculars and cameras. Thank goodness for technology, or we’d have no idea what we’d seen. It’s so hard to take pictures of birds with my camera, as they move quicker than I do.

We’ll definitely go back to Warburg Nature Reserve, though I’d like to walk there from Henley. Getting to the reserve isn’t easy, as it’s at the end of road in need of repair. The car park is also quite small so if you can walk there, it’s best to do so.

The Walk: There are a number of walks you can do around the reserve, depending on what you want to do. I would recommend making time for at least one of the bird hides, if you can.
Cost: Free
Car Park: The car park is small and free, though donations are welcome.
Refreshments: No.
Toilets: There are some in the visitor centre.

Dog walks in Oxfordshire – Farmoor Reservoir

I had high hopes for Farmoor Reservoir. Any walk near water is bound to be good right? Plus, if it’s big enough for sailing, it’s got to be a decent walk. The morning of our walk there was overcast and some rare birds had been sighted so we were really looking forward to it. I glanced at the website to double check that dogs were allowed, which they were as long as they’re kept on leads, so off we went. However, upon arrival, I noticed a restriction sign for dogs. Upon further inspection, dogs are only allowed on the Countryside Walk. Fine, I thought, that should be okay. But as we headed out on the walk, we noticed we were going in the opposite direction of the water. It turns out that dogs are not allowed anywhere near the reservoir. Not even on leads. Grrrrrrr! No rare bird sightings for us. Not only that, but the walk was really muddy and there was some kind of fly infestation that plagued us almost all the way around. I think I sulked for about half the walk, until we got the Thames and saw how beautiful it was.

Farmoor Wildlide walk Reservoir Sailing in Oxfordshire The Thames at Farmoor Wildlife Walk Dogwalk at Farmoor Farmoor Oxfordshire Farmoor Reservoir Farmoor Nature walk at Farmoor

The walk takes you away from the reservoir, along country roads. You pretty much cannot see any of the reservoir throughout the walk. However, there’s a really lovely wetland trail which is well worth visiting. We saw some nesting swans, a heron and some birds of prey. There was a bird hide, but it got burned down so there is restricted access here at the moment, which is a shame. It’s a great place for bird watching, even without the hide.

The final stretch of the walk takes you along the main road, which I really didn’t like and to be honest, it really put me off going there again. I’d happily go to the wetland trail again to do some bird watching but being kept away from the reservoir made me so angry that it’s unlikely that I’ll do the countryside walk again.

The Walk: As dogs are not allowed by the reservoir, the walk goes around the outside of the land owned by Thames Water. Not only that, it takes you out onto the main road and can be very muddy after heavy rainfall.
Cost: Free
Car Park: The car park is huge but not free. I think it costs about £3 when exiting.
Refreshments: No.
Toilets: There are some in the car park and these are the only ones in ‘dog allowed’ zone.