Meeting date: 7 June 2009
(Leader: Nick Sturt)
Last time the leader (Nick Sturt) convened a meeting on top of the Downs thunderbolts rained down and so, with storms forecast again, it was perhaps surprising how many turned out to support him. In the event it was a bright and occasionally sunny day with the views North over the Weald and South to the Solent from the agger of Stane Street offering compensation for some pretty routine tetrad bashing. In terms of special treats for the 22 legionaries in the cohort of Sturticus there were few, although a tiny Arenaria serpyllifolia ssp leptoclados (Thyme-leaved Sandwort) on the wall of Gumber Bothy pleased. It was disappointing to see how the embankment of the Roman road at its northern end had deteriorated from a fine sward to a less exciting grassland dominated by Bromopsis erecta (Tall Brome). Further South some ancient and spreading specimens of Sorbus aria (Whitebeam) were appreciated, one already, alas, split in half and languishing, the other probably doomed to the same fate; looking on impassively was an unusually large Rhamnus cathartica (Purging Buckthorn) in full, golden flower. After lunch just inside our second tetrad we moved into woodland and for a time the species were coming thick and fast, including three species of Dryopteris (Buckler Ferns) and Athyrium filix-femina (Lady Fern). Meanwhile, the more observant had noticed that the entire walk thus far had been downhill… Straggling back up into the first tetrad morale was good, except for a possible case of delirium – Helen chanting an incantation of the words ‘Brussels sprouts’. At the end the party was heartily commended for its discipline and the splendid haul of some 350 records.