A Herb Walk at the Long Man of Wilmington, May 2011

What a glorious walk we went on today. It was one of those perfect days, blue skies and little fluffy clouds. Not too hot and not cold.

We are looking after our daughter’s dog while she and her boyfriend are on holiday.

Her name is Bo but AS-BO suits her much better as she tries to rule the household somewhat.

We took her and Henry dog and ourselves to the long Man in Wilmington which is about a 10 minute drive from our home and in the South Downs.

The long man is a chalk figure carved into the hillside, but is a bit of an enigma as no one knows its actual date. It could be ancient or it could be Victorian. Certainly the Victorians are known to have put white brick on the figure to preserve it.

It is an unusual chalk figure as it appears to be holding walking sticks and has no male bits and pieces which makes me favour the Victorian theory, or it is actually a long woman.

At the Foot of the Long Man of Wilmington

Above the long man are some very ancient burial barrows so the whole area has a magical feel to it.

Today I wanted to go and photograph a hawthorn tree that is half way up the hill, which I have been photographing in all seasons and all  weathers.

On our way up the hill I saw that the elder flower in the hedgerow is just starting to flower and the wild plants in the hedgerow, cow parsley, nettles, dock and herb Robert were all growing so profusely the path was about half the size it normally is.

There were sky larks singing whilst on the wing and sheep in the field. The colours seemed exceptionally vibrant with the grass very green, the sky very blue and the sheep with their babies very white and fluffy.

We walked right up above the long man and stood on the barrows turning a 360 circle to see the countryside around us.

View from the Long Man

From there you can see the sea towards Brighton, the White horse chalk carving on the opposite hill, Arlington reservoir, the undulating weald and the South Downs heading off towards Eastbourne where they end. It is a view that makes you catch your breath every time and not just because you are panting and puffing from having climbed the hill to get up there!

Very often on our walks on the downs we find off cuts of worked flints which would have been used as small knives and scrapers, but today I kicked a piece of chalk on the path and when I looked down at it, saw that it had an Ammonite imprint on it as well as some shell imprints. Just a little reminder of how the South Downs were formed!

Right at the end of the walk and due to the dog running in to the edge of the field we saw a largish patch of fumitory growing. I was rather pleased as I have not seen fumitory growing in East Sussex before although I know it likes scrubby land.

I love that walk and confess I take all our visitors there.

To read more about the plants seen in this video, go to the ‘Herbs and Health’ section of the site. To find out more about the conditions mentioned, go to the ‘Health’ section

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist

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