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Presidential Progress Part 1 – Tony’s 42 to Do

August 9, 2011

Presidential Progress

Tony’s 42 to Do Part 1

You can sponsor Tony on his journey here

Our 50th anniversary year is moving on and I thought it about time I set off on my bike again to repeat my tour of the reserves that I did 15 years ago . So I had my bike given a good going over which included a change of handlebars from my touring drops to a more sedate ‘moustache’ design as befits someone of a more mature age. The question was where to start from my home in Bere Regis. At Simon Cripp’s suggestion I pedalled off to Wareham and put my bike on the train and set off for Christchurch.

The only problem I experienced was I was not aware that when the train stopped at Bournemouth that they added 5 more coaches and an announcement was made to instruct all passengers for Christchurch to move to the front. This got me pondering as to whether I could cycle up the corridor – this I assumed was not allowed so I eventually got out and the train set off in the direction of Christchurch without me and my bike! All was well however as there was another train in 45 minutes.

Alighting at Christchurch  I was interested to spot my first bit of wildlife in the form of Hare’s foot clover growing on the edge of the platform.

Then off we went!

Off we set northwards along the busy road towards Hurn – feeling glad that I had a high visibility jacket. My first reserve was Troublefield which was looking green and lush and clearly bred some very active mosquitoes that quickly found me.

Just up the road then to Sopley Common.

No time to look around but the notice board was guarded by some very impressive stinging nettles which had a go at me as I stamped my card. The road passed Hurn airport and through West Parley had a good cycle track and it was pleasing to see that the airport perimeter fenced displayed a colourful array of wildflowers.

Onwards to Wimborne skilfully negotiating the most difficult roundabout (for cyclists) at the east end of the bypass. Up the hill out of Wimborne on to the Old Wareham road and right to Corfe Mullen Meadows.

The entrance to which was guarded by a large white van.

The meadow looked in good shape – the orchids for which it is famous having long gone.

A short distance then to Beacon Hill where Kerry photographed me  and I met the team over lunch hearing more details about the recent fire.

I then set off south – pushing my bike along the sandy track along the edge of the part of Upton Heath that the fire had not reached which was looking colourful.

I left the heath via the footbridge over the A35 and proceeded from Upton country path following the good track along the edge of Upton Country Park and then round Holes Bay.

It was low tide with lots of mud and some good floral displays including Sea-lavendar and Spartina grass.

I passed an earlier model Sunseeker boat doubtless owned by someone who lost his money in the current financial crisis

and a newer model that I think Simon might have his eyes on.

The route on to Sandbanks was easy where I was allowed to put my bike of the John Lewis boat to Brownsea Island. I was photographed outside the castle and on arrival at the villa a red squirrel looked at me with interest. Doubtless he hadn’t seen a bike before.


I had a very pleasant overnight stop at the villa – where Chris and Abby entertained me to dinner.

The lagoon was looking grey and misty but other Brownsea attractions looked as good as ever.

Next morning I left the island again in the rain and traffic was busy in the harbour. Over the Studland Ferry and onwards through Swanage. Then the first climb – up the back roads to that rather difficult to find reserve Townsend which appeared to have a good covering of a forest of Wild Parsnip.

Rather that take the road through Corfe Castle to Kimmeridge I decided to take the track from Kingston to Swyre Head which turned out to be a good move with quite a bit of bike pushing but much shorter – still hazy but not raining. So down to the centre, noting the odd interesting plant on the way such as Ploughman’s spikenard. At the centre it was a busy day and Julie and volunteer Sue were busy collecting Petition Fish signatures. There were a few attractive plants in the centre garden area – the yellow horned poppy and common mallow. Then the steep climb out of the village where wild arum seed heads provided a colourful splash of colour in the hedgerow. My route then took me via Cocknowle where meadow cranesbill and rest harrow were flowering by the roadside to Stonehill Down, where I noted that messages picked out with stones were prominent again on the steep slope of the reserve. Just 200 yards or so and I was at the entrance to Kilwood– no time to visit this lovely reserve but plenty of nettle-leaved bellflower was in flower.

Heading off now towards home in the mid afternoon my next target was Coombe Heath, a little off Bindon Abby Lane near Wool. This is a fine reserve but the signage looked a little bit sad. Good to spot common cow-wheat here. Back to the road and a short distance across a field to East Stoke Fen. I must apologise at this point to my fellow 42 to do’ers as I was the key route planner and got the position of the path from the road wrong! This is a wet boggy area on the edge of the river Frome and I recalled how Helen Brotherton once told me that once she was leading a walk here, fell over and her Labrador dog Fred walked over her to get out of the bog! A stream here is strongly coloured with iron oxide leached out of nearby sand. The river had a quite awesome and ominous display of the invasive non native himalayan balsam as well as plants of water plantain.

Through Wool now and my last reserves for the day – Winfrith, Tadnoll with a nice view from the entrance up ‘The Gallops’, and then back home in Bere Regis via Higher Hyde Heath.

You can sponsor Tony on his journey here

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