Reptiles at Rammamere

Written by Diana Spencer on . Posted in Uncategorized, Walk Of The Week

Location

– Rammamere Heath from Stockgrove Country Park

Distance

– 2 1/2 miles

Click on the map to see the full route on the Walk4Life website.

Time Taken

– about 2 hours

Great For-

Wildlife- A wander through some stunning heather heathland, and a hot spot for lizards

Good for Kids?

– Maybe. There is a playpark by the car park and it’s quite easy walking

Good for Dogs?

– No dogs allowed on the heath at the moment because of livestock, you can take dogs along the perimeter of the heath on the bridleway

Admission/Parking Charges

– £3 to park at Stockgrove

Café/Toilets

– Small cafe and toilets at the Stockgrove car park

Footwear/Clothing

– Unsurfaced paths which were quite muddy in places so good shoes/boots. There are also quite a lot of ants on the heath so wouldn’t recommend sandals. It can get very hot on the heath in sunny weather so take water and a hat if you need them

Accessibility

– Unsurfaced paths and field edges for much of the walk, muddy in places. Four kissing gates and a set of steps to go down in Kings Wood

Alternatives

– There’s a shorter alternative back from the heath to the car park missing out Kings Wood. For a longer walk park in the main Rushmere Country Park car park and walk up to Stockgrove and back.

How To Get There

– From Woburn follow the Leighton Buzzard road, cross the A5 and head to Heath and Reach. The turning for Stockgrove is just before the village of Heath and Reach, signed to Great Brickhill

Other Info

– The car park can get very busy as weekends, if the car park is full maybe go to Rushmere instead, or come back later. Parking on the roadside isn’t recommended as it’s a narrow road and can get blocked easily.

The Walk

From the Stockgrove car park, cross over the road following the signs to Rammamere and the Greensand Ridge Walk. Once through the kissing gate turn left and walk up into the dry valley.

As I set out this morning the sun was just starting to heat things up after an early shower and the lowest bar of the wooden fence on the right was littered with about 30 tiny and half a dozen full-sized Common Lizards basking in the sun. They’re very alert and quite twitchy but some of the posed for long enough to be photographed.

In the grassland on the left are big, raised cushions of earth, these are mounds of soil over the nests of Yellow Ant hills. There were also a few huge parasol mushrooms the size of my hand just starting to spread through the meadow.

At the end of the dry valley is a kissing gate in to a little, low, brackeny woodland.

Go through the gate and keep to the right-hand path through the wood. This is muddy and a bit jungle-like in places, but the wood was really pretty with the sun coming through the trees and the tall bracken.

At the end of the wood you hit the  wide track of the Greensand Ridge Walk. Turn right along the walk and then left at the junction.

This track is a well-used and busy bridleway and I met three separate groups of riders in about five minutes of walking, so if you’re out with a dog please keep them on a lead if they’re likely to get excited or bark at any horses.

The bridleway runs along the edge of the heathland and you can see over onto the heath itself for most the walk. I walked past one gate into the heath (you can go in here if you want) and kept walking until the fence bent in to the right, followed the fence line and then went through the gate onto Rammamere Heath.

From here you can explore the heath itself as much as you like. This is one of only three major areas of heath in the Greensand Country (the other two are Coopers Hill in Ampthill and RSPB The Lodge over at Sandy, both of which will hopefully be in future walks of the week at some point!).

This is a perfect time of year to be out as the heather is just coming into full flower and the heath is a carpet of purple. The lie of the land means that most of the roads and villages are completely hidden and you can look out over a view of open heath and woodland, without even a powerline or telegraph post in sight.

The heath (and Kings Wood next door) are owned by The Wildlife Trusts, Lafarge Aggegrates, Tarmac and The Greensand Trust, who manage Rammamere to stop the rare and precious heather heath turning back into woodland.

There’s a herd of Hereford cattle, and a flock of Hebridean sheep graze the heath in the summer to keep down the grasses and scrub, let the heather thrive, and help create patches of warm, bare sandy ground. The sheep are very curious and at least one of them was particularly interested in my flapjack and we had to have a brief discussion about why it absolutely wasn’t allowed a piece before it wandered off back to eat some grass.

These patches are great for Adders (which I didn’t see today but are seem fairly often around the heath) and Green Tiger Beetle, which I did mange to spot scurrying along a path.

After a couple of loops of the heath (if you’re not feeling brave enough to wander you can just bear slightly right from the kissing gate and follow the main track across the top of the heathland) head for the main gate out on the Kings Wood side of the heath (I somehow managed to forget to take a picture of the gate but

 

At this point you can follow the broad track straight back to the car park, or look for the sign into Kings Wood on your left and head up the hill through the trees.

Kings Wood is a lovely, open woodland full of hornbeam and small-leaved lime. It’s history goes back centuries, and it’s still surrounded by a massive bank and ditch marking the ancient boundary of the wood. If you’re lucky (and visiting a bit earlier in the year you might spot Purple Emperor butterflies fluttering around the taller oaks.

 

There are lots of paths to explore here, but I just kept following the bridleway as it curved through the wood and the back down to meet the main path again. At this point you turn right through a little fenced bridge (this was put up fairly recently to protect the wood bank from people climbing over it to get into the wood) then immediately left and through the gate.

This drops you back at the start of the dry valley and it’s a few yards stroll (after another stop for lizards) back to the car park.

Walk Report- GSCLP

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