After a long-awaited rain the night before, ten dauntless members met Bob Markham at the park entrance. His enthusiasm for all things wet, muddy and strata-related soon became apparent as he showed us a plan of the park defined by sand, clay and loam layers.
We wound our way around the upper perimeter along a very clear line between clay and sand, indicated by change in vegetation and with natural springs erupting at intervals along the line. At the bottom of the park we stood on an area of ground which for over hundreds of years has been, and still is, slipping down the hillside. The old "canal" with retaining earth banks is remarkably close to the industrial estate and Myrtle Road. Various trial holes dug some time ago by Bob showed the layers of sand and clay.
Climbing up to the Bishops Hill boundary, we saw evidence of this dry summer in the cracking of the clay surface, with a few springs still visible. The hour-long walk, finishing at Nacton Road end of the park, found the uppermost springs still flowing strongly into the well known series of ponds (immortalised in Gainsborough's painting in Christchurch Mansion). This particular area was somewhat neglected not only being overgrown with shrubs and trees but by invasion of the dreaded Japanese knotweed. It was a most informative and enjoyable outing. Thank you, Bob.