The outdoor meeting for July was a circular walk to the north west of Breamore House which is situated near Fordingbridge.

This was a new venue for the society and a relatively long walk of about 5 or 6 miles in length which entailed rather more walking and less loitering to identify fauna or flora.

The weather had changed a few days before the walk from cool wet and showery to hot, humid and sunny. Sunny days are normally welcomed for walking but hot humid conditions are rather wearing on a long walk and so it proved.

Breamore is derived from Brumore meaning a moor covered in Broom.

The original manor of Breamore was an area of land centred on the village of Breamore and administered from the manor house on the site of what is now Home Farm.

Breamore House was built in 1583 by a member of the Dodington family and sold in the eighteenth century to Sir Edward Hulse.

The Elizabethan Manor House has been in the Hulse family ever since and is still a private residence.

It is open to visitors on selected days of the week and other attractions include a museum, a church and a mizmaze not far away.

Grand though the house appears to be it is the location in rolling English countryside that attracts many walkers.

The walk itself can best be described as a mixture of ‘Larkrise to Candleford’ and ‘Toad of Toad Hall’.

The latter was due to a Classic car rally taking place in a field on the estate. Old cars from Rolls Royces to Minis were trying to reach the event along narrow country roads causing walkers to step aside into gateways until they had passed.

Eventually a narrow lane was reached in the hamlet of Upper Street that turned into an old sunken drove road between two hedges and opened eventually into countryside that had not changed since the time of ‘Larkrise to Candleford’.

The drove road had become overgrown with nettles and blackberry runners so it was slightly easier to walk along the side of a field of Oilseed Rape.

Scentless Mayweed grew in profusion along the edge of the field making walking difficult but eventually the broad path of Long Steeple Lane was reached and also a greater variety of plants.

Walking along a wide country lane it was no surprise to find the white umbellifers dominating the scene.

Cow Parsley had finished flowering but the fruiting seeds could be identified by their long oblong shape.

Rough Chervil had also finished flowering and the seeds are similar to Cow Parsley but the whole plant becomes suffused with purple.

Hedge Parsley was still in flower and its seeds are in the shape of a sphere with red hooked spines on the surface.

Hogweed was readily identified by its large size and Wild Carrot coming into flower has many branched bracts and sometimes a red floret in the middle.

Field Roses were in flower along the hedges together with White Bryony and Old Man’s Beard.

Hemp Agrimony and its unrelated Agrimony were both in flower with Wild Mignonette and Tall Mellilot.

Tufted Vetch and Self Heal covered the shorter grasses and Scabious flowers were beginning to appear.

Breamore - Essex SkipperSeveral different butterflies were seen including Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Comma and both Small Skipper and Essex Skipper.

Later in the walk two pristine Red Admirals were seen taking minerals on a piece of dung. Underneath several dung beetles were trying to move it by all heaving at once which moved both dung and butterflies at the same time.

The walk continued along Long Steeple Lane before eventually turning right to Gallows Hill on Wick Down. Another right turn round Breamore Down brought the walk to South Charford Drove and a stop to look at the Mizmaze.

This is a circular maze in the form of a labyrinth where all paths eventually lead to the middle.

It was originally used on holy days in pagan times but later as a penance by monks crawling on their knees saying prayers at stops on the way.

The mizmaze at Breamore has a particular atmosphere being far from any road and surrounded by trees some of which are very old Yews.

Eventually Breamore House was reached and more importantly on a hot day the café where drinks could be obtained.