Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Land of Water, Willows, Reeds and Marsh Grasses

We got up early this morning and went out for a walk before the heat of the day became oppressive. Even so it was sticky work towards the end, which perhaps accounts for Ted (who is not a water dog by any stretch of the imagination) flinging himself off the board walk and into the tidal marsh, then panicking when he couldn't get out. He was duly heaved out by the shoulders (with a panic stricken look on his face), shook himself all over me (and the camera) and spent the next ten minutes rubbing himself frantically on the dry grasses. He made up for this impromptu bath later by rolling in poo which is now stuck to his ear, so he'll need a second bath later to remove it. Lovely.

We walked a section of the Test Way near Totton, a town not usually synonymous with concepts of peace and rural beauty, but as is often the way with things, if you look hard enough you can usually find wildlife nearby. The nature reserve which follows the Test as it heads down to join Southampton Water is managed by the Hants and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. A land predominantly of water and marsh, it is navigable by boardwalks which stretch across the salt marsh and enable one to get right into the heart of it. It is a rich habitat where life is blooming, despite the close proximity of the busy port city of Southampton.

Evidence of man is never far away in the reserve (and I don't just mean L)

Looking across the marsh towards Southampton Docks.
A huge number of container traffic comes through the port every day, as well as luxury liners (above)

Incongruous in a rural setting: the high rise tower blocks of Redbridge 
are visible across the marsh (below)

The boardwalks through the marsh (above) and some stepping stones (below)

If you need evidence that this is a place of damp, 
look no further than the plants that call it home.

The main Portsmouth to Cardiff line runs alongside the reserve

The tide makes its presence known along the footpath,
 although it was dry when we walked it

Ted, after his unexpected submergence in the water

Can you spot the cricket/ grasshopper?

I got very excited about the butterflies: I thought I'd manage to snap some Green Veins,
 but on looking them up in my book when we got home I realised they were Large Whites. 
NOT complaining though!

Bramble blossom. Blackberry season approaches...

All in all a lovely place to visit. Also great for birds with the estuary so close, and a huge number of plant species too, which I am ashamed to say I didn't know the names of half of. Worth a visit if you're ever passing.


  1. Hi CT, it was lovely this morning, fresh and cool with a breeze. However the heat is up and the thermometer says 31 degrees! It's great to see wildlife thriving around such a built up area and industry. Looks like a lovely walk. Love the grasshopper.

    1. Hi Suze :-)

      Yes early mornings are a bit cooler but it ramps up by lunch time. So many interesting things to see all around us, even, as you say, close to industry, which always amazes me.

  2. Ted looks delightfully raddled! Lovely variety of views on your walk, too. (I had a very scary experience of stepping stones at Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire a few years ago. Andy still laughs about it now; your stepping stones look far more amiable. Less torrential water currents!)

    1. On the whole I think I prefer the shots without pylons in, but it's a close thing.

      Was the stepping stone experience similar to the shepherd hut arm one? Once when we were in the Lakes en route to visiting a colleague of M's (at which meeting I was to be introduced as his bride to be) we stopped off to look at a river which had stones roughly dotted across it. I decided to show off and lightly prance with delicate steps nymph-like over the stones and thus cross the river. It was all going so well until I slipped half way across and submerged myself a la Ted. M nearly fell in himself laughing and when we got to his friends I was thusly introduced: "This is Sue. She's just fallen in a river showing off trying to jump the stones crossing it and has got wet pants so I think she'd better sit on a plastic bag." Luckily they both have well developed sense of humours and roared with laughter, while procuring said bag for me to sit on.

  3. This looks a lovely walk, my daughter has just moved to Southampton. Would it be easy to find this walk from Totton station?
    Sarah x

    1. If she has car transport, or if you were with her, you'd need to go up the M271 (from the Redbridge Roundabout) and come off the slip road for B&Q, then at the smaller roundabout turn left onto Lee Lane. Follow and go over the bridge then look for the signs for New Forest Timbers, which will be on the left. That's Mill Lane and we parked a short distance down near the nature reserve sign. You can google" hampshire and isle of wight wildlife trust" and search under totton for more directions/ info. x

  4. Some great photos there CT - looks a lovely place for a walk (ignoring the pylons!!!) :)

    1. They are everywhere there sadly :-(

      But the wildlife didn't seem to mind all that much.

  5. This looks an interesting walk. I'm not surprised about the wildlife as so much of the 'best' wildlife is found right next to urban sites. Harry is also not a water dog, even in the heat. I don't think I've seen another dog walk so carefully around a puddle.

    1. It's so unlikely isn't it, but given that we as a race tend to concrete over so much that is beautiful and green I guess it's a good thing the Wild Things have learnt how to make the best of it.

      Interesting to hear about Harry and water. Dougal (Ted's best westie pal) is a total water baby and will go out of his way to leap in wet places. Ted generally squeaks if he gets even the tip of his paw slightly damp :-)

  6. Looks like a lovely sunny Sunday! Pretty flowers, fresh looking flutterbies and cool crickets!

    1. Couldn't believe I'd finally managed to see a cricket after hearing them all week and then two more of them turned up at home. It was a Day Of Crickets!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x