We start at the weir at the back of St Helen’s Court and the vicarage. At this point the two branches of the Ock join together and flow into the Thames.
We follow the path between the two branches. There are many species of tree along the route, various types of willow, alder, silver birch, chestnut, poplar, aspen, oak, elder and guelder rose. On the right, there are trees planted by Green Gym in past years, which we are trying to nurture and keep alive. They were donated by the Woodland Trust – oak, beech, silver birch, willow, aspen, cherry and rowan. The vegetation grows very fast in summer – large quantities of nettles , rosebay willowherb, goose grass/cleavers/sticky willy, and comfrey followed by Himilayan Balsam. This is an invasive weed, which grows along and close to waterways and we wage annual war on it.
We pass a couple of donated and memorial trees on our left. Then, on our right, we come to an area where the Town Council, which is responsible for the path up to the middle bridge, has cut down a number of trees. Here, Green Gym has planted a memorial tree, a black poplar, for one of the Green Gym leaders who died suddenly just a few years ago. We have planted spring bulbs around the tree and spring wildflowers such as wood anemones, ramsons and bluebells around the area in general.
We now turn off to our right and walk back along the woodchip path, which curves around to meet the main path again close to where we started. Green Gym keeps this path clear and renews the wood chippings about twice a year. As you can see, the area gets very overgrown with nettles in Summer and Green Gym to clears circles around the young trees and cuts back a bit where the vegetation is overgrowing the path. It always seems that one minute the area is bare and the next it’s totally overgrown. Former Councillor and Mayor, Peter Green took a great interest in improving the Ock Path and planting trees and supported the setting up of Abingdon Green Gym about eleven years ago.
We retrace our steps along the main path and cross the middle bridge. The area narrows now as the two branches of the Ock get closer together. Birds you may see include the usual garden birds but there are also frequent sightings of kingfishers. Water birds include mallards, swans, coots, moorhens and great crested grebes. Bats also frequent the area at dusk and you may spot muntjac deer.
The path leads out to a green area. We turn right across a wooden bridge, and on to the footpath, as you will see, one of Abingdon’s worst litter blackspots, which leads to Ock Street.
Photos by Kevin: