Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snowdrops - 11 February 2006

Painshill Park grotto looking out to lakeSnowdrop time has rolled around once again so it was time to hit the road and go snowdrop hunting. Since there was a small task requiring attention in Reigate we headed to the south of London once again.

Painshill Park grottoPainshill Park (visited in December) advertised Snowdrop Sunday for 12 February so it was a fairly safe bet that the snowdrops would also be there on Saturday 11th. Added to that was the fact that we could not see the Grotto last time as Santa was in residence. The grotto at Painshill Park turned out to be the best we have seen so far, The whole Painshill project bankrupted the chap who built it and when you see the effort that went into the grotto it is not hard to see why. (Note the small daylight opening in the photo: when viewed from a grille by the entrance it provides a marvellous optical illusion that the grotto is much longer than it actually is.)

Painshill Park grotto showing timber frameworkHe attempted to recreate nature as in the caves he had seen on his Grand Tour of Europe: volcanic caves lined with stalactites. The “volcanic” rocks are hot-house cinders and the stalactites are crystals of gypsum, calcite, quartz and fluorite held in place by plaster on wooden formers.

After inspecting the grotto and the fake underground waterfalls and streams we wandered over to the snowdrops and then drove to Leigh (pronounced lie) to start a walk to Betchworth and back.

River Mole

There was no particular attraction that drew us to Betchworth: that was just where the walk went. However, the Betchworth church was the scene of the first wedding in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and the Dolphin Pub offered delicious Broccoli & Stilton soup for a winter lunch. We came across snowdrops in the wild along a stream bank on the return journey.
Map courtesy of Ordinance Survey website

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

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