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A Bit Too Green and Pleasant?

May and June are my favourite walking months, not least because it is the greenest time of the year. But this year, with ideal growing conditions for nettles and the like, it seems things might be just a bit too green and pleasant out there…


Overgrown footpathI associate May and June with lots of the things I love about countryside walking … woodland wildflowers, longer days, frolicking lambs, trees bursting into leaf, fledgling birds, early butterflies and hedgerows brimming with haw blossom. Oh yes, and Chris Packham and the brilliant Springwatch team reporting live from Minsmere with stories of everything from sticklebacks to sparrowhawks.

In fact, for me (as a dog owner) the only downside of these months is the increased risk of difficult cattle encounters while the herds are (understandably!) protecting their calves. But it’s not just about what May and June bring to the table, it’s also about the things that are notably absent at this time of year. It’s too early for wasps, (usually) too dry for deep mud and (usually) too early for the nettles, brambles and scrub to have staked their claim on the narrower footpaths.

But not so this year it seems. As first I thought I was imagining it, but I’ve been chatting to lots of other walkers and they seem to agree. It appears 2016 might just be the year of the nettle. Particularly in the south east, the weather conditions this year have been mild but very wet. This, it seems, has led to jungle like growing conditions. And whilst I’m grateful for that when it comes to our allotment, it’s not such great news for some walking routes. For the next few months you are very likely to come across overgrown sections of public footpaths, low hanging branches laden with foliage and nettles and brambles waist high and above.

nettlesatstileNo use moaning though…nature will always challenge us and it’s our job to adapt and cope. So here’s my tips for surviving the green and pleasant jungle season…

  1. Wear trousers not shorts, that way you’ll have a bit more protection from nettle and thistle stings
  2. Carry a stick to help beat back the undergrowth, this will help you and also the walkers that follow you…you can get some really good folding ones meaning they slot nicely in your bag and can be pulled out only when needed
  3. Carry a light pair of secateurs to cut back any difficult brambles or thorny stems…again this will help you and also your fellow walkers
  4. Walk more! Walking footpaths is the best way of keeping them open and keeping the undergrowth in check

So happy summer walking and enjoy the jungle season!

24 June 2016

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