View towards Stour Provost
After an elapse of some three months (when we have at least made major progress along the South West Coast Path) we resume the Stour Valley Path at Fifehead Magdalene). We set off east across the fields towards Stour Provost.
Almost immediately a large clump of wild flowers, notably Common Fleabane, with lots of butterfly activity caught my eye. Almost immediately I was delighted to see my first Brown Argus of the year, closely followed by a pair of mating Common Blues. Also lots of Small Tortoiseshells.
Stour Provost is seemingly so named because between 1450 and 1925 it was owned by the Provost, fellows and scholars of King's College, Cambridge. Your first sight of the village is the restored water mill, now some distance from the river.
We also made a small detour to see the 14th/15th century church of St Michael.
Now we walked across fields to West Stour where we stopped for a rather premature lunch at the very good Ship Inn. We ate in the garden next to a large Buddleia bush which was absolutely covered with Small Tortoiseshells, a hundred or more. Some flower heads had four or five butterflies jockeying for position.
Suitably refreshed, we headed across a series of fields, many growing Sweetcorn, surely one of the the most boring of crops: its unattractive in itself and it blocks the view. The final field was mercifully open and offered a great view across open country to the north east.
There was also a view back (south) along the Stour Valley.
The river is by now very narrow and somewhat overgrown.
At the end of the fields we followed a road, the intriguingly named Nations Road, to reach the outskirt of Gillingham (unlike the one in Kent, it is pronounced with a hard G). We passed through newish housing developments on the edge of the town, which seems to have had substantial growth in recent years.
At Wyke we passed an imposing former brewery. The classical columns and statue on the right are part of the architectural antiques shop next door.
Further fields brought us to Milton on Stour from where we followed the road up to Silton.
Conditions: warm and sunny for the most part, but quite a lot of cloud.
Distance: 7.5 miles. Total now covered 54.5 miles.
Guide: The new Stour Valley Path by Edward R Griffiths, Greenfield Books, 1998, but sadly out of print.
Map: Explorer 129 (Yeovil & Sherborne).
Rating: three stars. Not really very interesting walking, although the butterflies made up for it.