Sunday, 26 October 2014

Itchen Way and Navigation

At risk of being a stuck record (people still know what they are, right?), I am an introvert, so tend to do introverty things. This includes going on long walks on my own. Okay, it wasn't actually that long distance-wise, but it took a long time because I really wanted to notice everything. I wanted to enjoy the sights of autumn, savour them and record them for me to enjoy later. (Also, I ended up chasing a pheasant half-way to Winchester, but more on that later).

I am so fortunate to live where I do. I live in a city with many amenities on my door-step. I am a ten minute (or less) walk away from a train-station, a co-op, two ice-cream parlours, a sweet-shop, a bakery, a butcher's, three pubs in the Good Pub Guide, really good Indian restaurants, a really good pizza parlour, some really good chippies and Sainsbury's. I'm also very close to some really nice parks, and within a twenty minute walk I'm basically in countryside.

That's where I headed today. The Itchen Navigation runs along an old canal route, between Southampton and Winchester. It passes through a Natural Conservation area, the Itchen Valley. I headed to my local Co-op and bakery for fuel (a bacon and cheese pastry wrap and a bottle of Pepsi), as I embarked on my adventures.

I really loved the colours of autumn in Riverside Park. The sky was bright blue, and the leaves are turning into their delicious golds, red, and greens. At the end of Riverside Park, there is a row of maples (maybe sycamores) that are ablaze with reds and oranges.

Riverside Park


At the end of the park, you come to Mans Bridge, which has had a bridge at that site since the 900s. It used to be the southern most crossing of the River Itchen. Here you walk up towards the Itchen Way, which is the old tow path along the Itchen Navigation (a series of canals that run the course of the Itchen River). Just before getting to the tow path, I met this little critter.

The Itchen Navigation still has evidence of locks along it, including these 300-year-old walls, that would have supported the lock gates.

Along the way, I met another little critter, this time a dragonfly (I think it was a common darter).

We even became friends.

I was amazed by the array of colours that I saw on my walk. Yellow...

Sometimes, all together.
After a while, I decided to head back. Then I spotted something: a flash of shimmering green, a pearly band and russet. It was a pheasant. I became determined to get a photo of him. So I chased, the little rotter a mile up the Itchen Way. I stalked him through crackling leaves, straddled muddy slopes and slunk through nettles. This was the best photo I got. The bird then got away.

However, the chase did lead me past some interesting sights (including the berries above).

It's these sights and scenes that make autumn such a special time for me. The variety of colours and the strange quality of the light make everything magical. It's the last burst of life before winter.
There were some things that I didn't get a photo of such as a dog that looked just like a red panda and a woman picking her nose at the play park. Oh, and a close up of that ruddy pheasant.


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