Cavenham Heath and the River Lark

A wander at Cavenham Heath and alongside the River Lark (4 miles)

Tuesday 1 January 2019
Weather: mild, 8˚C, north-westerly breeze, mostly cloudy
Parked on the track from Tuddenham village green.
(please click on the photos to enlarge them)

Our first walk in 2019 was a wander at Cavenham Heath and along the River Lark, we were hoping to spot some interesting birds or even an otter (though chance of that at around midday was slim).

Cavenham Heath is accessed via a track from Tuddenham village green, we parked at the point where the woodland ends and the open access heath begins ... the track is very very bumpy!

The heathland is open access at this time of year but closed when the Stone Curlews are breeding in the summer. We walked along the main track which is part of the Icknield Way, one of the ancient routes of Britain.

Sheep were grazing the heathland, they are part of the management of the area to retain the delicate balance to rare plants and wildlife.

Gorse in flower in front of Silver Birches on the edge of the heathland.

This is the crossing point over the River Lark over a weir at the Temple Bridge where the Icknield Way crosses the river and turns right (upstream). We turned left and walked downstream with the river on our left until we'd walked 2 miles, then turned and retraced our route back to our parked car.

We didn't see an otter but there were signs (otter poo) that they are about. It was very quiet and still, apart from a couple of Wrens and some Moorhens, the highlight was a large flock of Redwings ... which is usually a sign that there is cold weather a few days away.

A large Alder tree (Alnus glutinosa) on the river bank, Alders love damp places. In winter the pinky-red catkins and small brown cones give the Alder trees a deep red colour. I looked out for flocks of Siskins that love feeding on the seeds but there were none about, as the weather has been so mild fewer winter migratory birds from the north have arrived (yet).

I was surprised by the number of plants in flower and fresh green leaves, so here's a selection of New Year's Day flora ...

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus), the flowers are coconut-scented.

Winter Purslane or Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) is a plant that was introduced to England in the 1790s as a salad crop ... it is worth growing for the crisp fleshy green leaves. These spoon-shaped leaves are the basal leaves which have a completely different shape from the disk-like leaves which will grow on the flowering stems.

Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum), this can be found in flower for most of the year and is a good nectar source when there's not much else in flower.

Common Dandelion (taraxacum officinale) I was surprised to see this but we have had some unseasonally mild days in December. The leaves shape varies from plant to plant, these leaves have particularly vicious looking lion's teeth!

Wood Speedwell (Veronica montana) was another surprising find.

Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) the 'flowers' look like daisies without their petals. This one is tiny, growing among the mosaic of miniature plants that make up the heathland turf.

Heather (Calluna vulgaris), the tough woody-stemmed hummocks give the heathland its characteristic pinky-mauve haze.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is another wildflower I've noticed flowering throughout December.

Winter hasn't yet arrived in Suffolk but I'm sure the sighting of such a large flock of Redwings is a sign that we've some brighter chilly days ahead ... my favourite kind of walking weather.


  1. Gosh we have gorse (as always) but not so many other wildflowers at the moment. It's very chilly and damp here though so a week of two and we'll have started to catch up. xx

    1. I think we are due some colder weather soon but the winter so far has been very mild and there are lots of wildflowers about.


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