Greeted by what is known as a mizzle, ten of us gathered in the first field at the top of the Midford Brook. The work to develop the 11 acre field owned by Avon and Tributaries Angling Association as a wildflower meadow has had to be put on hold while the Environment Agency completes the work on the measuring flume.
Maurice outlined the concerns of the fishing club: agricultural run-off, erratic weather (rain patterns), concretisation of the river bed and the damage done by cattle to the riverbanks (known as cattle poaching).
The route took us down the river bank for about a mile, interspersed with a walk along the disused Limpley Stoke-Camerton branch, until we got to Monkton Combe, where we enjoyed our packed lunches in the churchyard. The return was on the Tucking Mill Road, beside the lake, and then back to Midford largely by the cycle path (the abandoned Somerset and Dorset Line).
While Maurice drew our attention to the issues of riverside management, Alan Rayner pointed out the variety of fungi, bryophytes and vascular plants that could be found along the way. Amongst the more spectacular fungi were a prolific outgrowth of Purple Jellydisc (Ascocoryne sarcoides) along a recently cut Hazel pole, and some beautiful freshly forming Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) at the base of an old willow tree.
Bird life was rather less in evidence than usual in this beautiful valley, but we were entertained by a Heron wheeling around in the gloom and the busy probing of Wrens amongst the riverside vegetation. All present agreed that it had been a very informative and enjoyable meeting, notwithstanding the damp and overcast weather.
Maurice Tennenhaus and Alan Rayner