Brean Down Nature Walk
In our spring Bulletin there appeared the item "Nature walks 1983", and for Sunday 22nd May "Brean Down". I was delighted at the prospect, and at once entered that date in my engagement diary and determined that nothing short of illness or a thunderstorm should prevent my joining the party. The point is that I Knew that May was the best month for a walk on Brean Down, at any rate for those interested in Botany. I shall never forget my first sight of the white rock-roses which grow in abundance on the South face of part of the cliffs. That was in 1957, and I hadn't seen them many times since then, though I had often wanted to do so. Did you Know that they are not to be found anywhere else in England except, I believe, near Torquay? They are among Weston's treasures.
Well, May 22nd dawned at last, and a grey day it was. But it was dry. I had two friends staying with me at the time, but an outing to Brean Down in my car wasn't their idea of a pleasant Sunday afternoon, so they stayed. at home. I knew of no other members of the Archaeological Society who were going, so after telephoning Norman Franklyn we arranged that he would call for me and take me in his car, together with three others.
Having arrived at the car park at Brean Down we waited a while for other enthusiasts to arrive, but none appeared, so we set off up the newly-made steps on the west side of the tarmac path. It was a steep climb, but comparatively short and we soon got the top of the Down and began to walk to the point. On the way up we could see over to the left some white patches on the cliffs. "There they are" we cried, so we were assured of success in finding the white rock-roses near at hand. There were very few people besides ourselves, but it was a good day for walking: the short turf for our feet, delicious air for our lungs and a variety of flora for our eyes. I had a flower book with me and we stopped several times to consult it and each other when we found. an unusual flower. We saw drifts of bluebells over to the right hand-side of the ridge, and after a while found the 1onged-for rock-roses growing in great swathes down the cliff face. They were at their best and we lingered there.
At the old fort two members of the party were interested to explore the old buildings and underground places but I preferred to stay above ground and look for more flowers and enjoy the view. There wasn't much towards Weston, but from one part of the Down we could see bright patches on the Quantock and Welsh Hills; these were yellow fields of rape which delightfully light up parts of our landscapes in May.
We walked back along the road on the North side of the Down. It is good to know that vehicles are prohibited from it now-a-days. I remembered that there were motor-bikes tearing along it years ago completely spoiling one's enjoyment of the Down. All was very peaceful on May 22nd. Unfortunately, I didn't make a list of the different wild flowers we found, but I believe they numbered about 50, including violets, cowslips, scurvy-grass, sea-pink, bugle, bird's foot trefoil, sea campion, red, campion, salad burnet, but the ones which thrilled us were the bluebells and the white rock-roses.
There were very few birds to be seen that day. We noticed. some small ones flitting about the bushes as we made our way back to the car-park and thought they were pipits. We returned to Weston exhilarated and ready for tea.
How was it that we were the only enthusiasts from the Archaeological Society that day? You missed a treat.