Tufted Vetch
Dog Rose
Scarlet Pimpernel


One of my other passions, apart from my love of flowers, is cross country running. I joined Abingdon Athletics Club this year and am enjoying taking part in races. The Chiltern Chase this month has been one of my favourite events so far.

It was a beautiful sunny day and I was amazed by the number of pretty wild flowers I saw as I walked from the car to the start-line at Cow Common in Ewelme.



Wild Flowers, Cow Common, Ewelme

Scarlet PimpernelScarlet Pimpernel 

 Scarlet Pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis

Primrose Family.

Hairless annual plant to 10cm with straggling stems. Leaves opposite, up to 2cm long, oval to lanceolate, pointed and stalkless. Flowers in the leaf axils, solitary on slender stalks. 5 petals, usually scarlet.  Sepals 4 – 5 mm long.Corolla 5 – 7mm long, usually red, sometimes blue and rarely pink.

Flowering Season: June to October

Habitat: Cultivated land, waste ground


Hedgerow CranesbillHedgerow Cranesbill
Hedgerow Crane’s-bill, Geranium pyrenaicum

Crane’s-bill Family

Very hairy 5-9 lobed leaves. Flowers have 5 oval, purple-red petals 7 -10 mm with darker veins and notched. 10 stamens

Flowering season: June to August

Habitat: Meadows and roadsides, rough ground


Lesser StitchwortLesser StitchwortLesser Stitchwort
Lesser Stitchwort, Stellaria graminea

Campion Family

White flowers on slender stalks. Petals notched and longer than the green sepals. Narrow leaves.

Flowering Season: Apr – Jun

Habitat: Hedges, banks and wood margins

Lesser Trefoil, Trifolium dubium

Pea Family

Flower heads 5-7 mm across of mostly yellow flowers, each 3-4 mm long. Stem branched, straggling or creeping.

Flowering Season: Summer

Habitat: Dry grassland, roadsides and bare ground

Germander Speedwell, Veronica chamaedrys

Figwort Family

Creeping and ascending hairy stems up to 20cm tall. Leaves are opposite, toothed and hairy. Flowers are bright blue with a white eye. The stigma points down and the stamens to the side. The flowers are pollinated by hover-flies.

Flowering Season: May – August

Habitat: Open Woodland, grassland, meadows, scrub

Chiltern Chase 10K Route 

The Chiltern Chase comprises 5.4km,10km and15.4km  multi-terrain runs, in and around the beautiful South Oxford village of Ewelme. Being situated in the Chiltern Hills the courses take in the Chiltern Way, bridleways and off-road sections with numerous red kites flying overhead. 

Chiltern Chase 10k Route

Chiltern Chase Route

 Start of the 10K 

There were 299 runners competing in the 10K race this year and the start involves a hill. I kept a steady pace at the back of the pack.

Chiltern Chase Start


Chiltern Chase Start

As I set off up that first hill I knew it wasn’t going to be my fastest 10K time ever. It was hot and my legs were aching from a fair bit of running the previous week. My aim was to get round in a reasonable time for me, but to enjoy the countryside at the same time.

Someone had mentioned that a tactic to keep going when the run gets tough is to mentally count down from 100 and then repeat. The aim is to take your mind off being out of breath and to stop thinking about how much your legs ache. I tried this tactic and it kept me going. However I found it took away some of the enjoyment out of focusing on the view. I therefore devised my own tactic. I am passionate about flowers and I love spotting wildflowers. I made the run into a memory game. I actively looked about trying to spot a new wildflower. I then added the name of the flower to a list in my mind and kept repeating until I saw a new one. Then this new wildflower was added to my list and so it went on. So instead of repeating 100, 99, 98, 97 etc in time to my stride I was repeating Scarlet Pimpernel, Cranesbill, Stitchwort, Trefoil, Speedwell etc etc. It was quite fun, making me look closely at the hedgerows and field margins and kept me going up and down the hills.

Cow Parsley

Cow Parsley,  Anthriscus sylvestris 

Carrot Family

Almost hairless branched plant to 1.5m tall. Leaves 2 to 3 pinnate, dark green, with divided lobes. Flowers arranged  in a double umbel.Petals to 2mm.

Flowering Season: May to August

Habitat: Roadsides, meadows, woodland margins

Common PoppyCommon PoppyCommon Poppy
Common Poppy, Papaver rhoeas

Poppy Family

Hairy plant grows up to 70cm tall. Feathery leaves and toothed leaflets. Droops in bud, becomes upright in flower. Sepals fall away during flowering.. Four red petals, about 4cm long, often with black spots towards the base. Numerous stamens. The fruit are hairless round capsules with 8-18 ridges with many openings beneath.

Flowering Season: May to July

Habitat: Arable fields, waste ground, edges of footpaths

Ox Eye DaisyOx Eye DaisyOx Eye Daisy
Oxeye Daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare

Daisy Family

Erect slightly hairy plant, 20 – 70 cm tall. Lower leaves are spoon shaped, notched  or pinnately lobed. Stem leaves are long, entire or pinnate.  Daisy like flowers, 2.5-6 cm across. Ray-florets white, disc-florets yellow.

Flowering Season: May – Sept

Habitat: Grassland, roadsides, Meadows

Buttercup Ranunculus

Stems tall and erect. Lobed leaves. Golden yellow flowers.

Flowering Season: May to June

Habitat: Meadows, scrub, farmland, footpaths, wasteland

Elder, Sambucus nigra

Honeysuckle Family

Shrub or small tree. Creamy white flowers are umbel like, flat topped

Flowering Season: Summer

Habitat: Woodland, scrub

Dog RoseDog RoseDog rose
Dog-rose, Rosa canina

Strong arching stems to 3m. Leaves with 2-3 pairs of toothed leaflets. Flowers are 4-5 cm, pink or white.

Flowering Season:June to September

Habitat: Hedges, scrub and woodland margins



These photos were taken by Barry Cornelius and at this stage I look quite cheerful on my quest to find Wildflowers on my run. I even got my feet off the ground at one point!

Barry Cornelius PhotosBarry Cornelius Photos

Barry Cornelius Photos

Herb RobertHerb Robert
Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum

Geranium Family

Spreading plant to 10 – 50 cm tall, with hairy stems and leaves. Stalked leaves opposite with 3-5 lobes. Lobes deeply separated. Petals pink 8 – 14 mm, unnotched. Anthers orange or purple.

Flowering Season: May – Dec

Habitat: Woods, scrub, clearings, walls, shingle and rocks near sea

White Campion
White Campion, Silene latifolia

Campion Family

Leaves are oval or lanceolate. Flowers white, 25 – 30mm. The 5 white petals are lobed. Where this species grows close to Red-Campion hybridised pink flowers are found.

Flowering Season: May to October

Habitat: Waste ground, , rough field margins, hedgerows

Common Bird's Foot Trefoil
Common Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus

Sprawling or creeping perennial. Leaflets ovate to lanceolote. Flowers yellow about 15 mm long. Pods long, dark brown, spreading out like a bird’s foot.

Flowering Season: May to October

Habitat: Dry Grassland, pastures, edges of footpaths and heathland

Bugloss, Anchusa arvensis

Borage Family

Erect, very bristly plant. Bright blue, flowers.

Flowering Season: June to September

Habitat: Sandy and light soils, grassland,dunes and wasteground.

Wood AvensWood Avens
Wood Avens, Geum rivale

Rose Family

Also known as Herb Bennet. A rather straggly plant to 60 cm tall. Hairy stems and pinnate leaves. Open, erect flowers turn into slightly prickly fruitheads.

Flowering Season: Jun – Aug

Habitat: Scrub, hedges

Lesser Periwinkle-1Periwinkle
Periwinkle, Vinca

Creeping woody shrub with evergreen untoothed leaves. Blue/violet flowers.

Flowering Season: Apr- Jun

Habitat: Deciduous woods, scrub, calcareous soils

My Wildflower spotting kept me going. Icknield Bank Plantation was pretty, but also pretty hilly through the woodland. Just round the corner of an incline I spotted Barry Cornelius with his camera at the moment when I was about to be overtaken by a speedy 15K runner. I gave it my best shot and sped up for the camera as I knew I’d look like I was competing in the 15K!  That’s a lesson learnt in the past. Keep your eyes out for a man with a camera and perfect your smile and posture for the photographic evidence.

Barry Cornelius PhotosBarry Cornelius PhotosBarry Cornelius Photos

Photo credit Barry Cornelius

I was now over half way and the sun was shining brightly. The water stops were a welcome relief and it was nice to be cheered on by the friendly volunteers. The second half included fields of rape and pretty cottages.


Rape, Brassica napus

Cabbage Family

Tall annual to 2m. Pale yellow flowers.

Flowering Season: May – July

Habitat: Field margins

White Dead Nettle

White Dead-nettle, Lamium album

Leaves ovate, heart shaped at the base. Common nettle shape, but not stinging. Flowers white, 20-25 mm.

Flowering Season: Apr – Dec

Habitat: Grassy, disturbed and semi-shaded habitats

Tufted VetchTufted Vetch

Tufted Vetch, Vicia cracca

Downy perennial. Leaves pinnate, with 6 -12 pairs of narrow-oblong leaflets. Bluish/violet Flowers in long raceme to 10 cm.

Flowering Season: Jun – Aug

Habitat:Grassy and bushy places

I must admit it was hard work crossing the open fields in the sun nearer the finish. Particularly as the faster 15k runners were passing me thick and fast. However they were very encouraging calling out `Well done Abingdon!’ I stuck to my course and let the faster runners go round me to overtake. I’ve learnt that it doesn’t work trying to get out of the way. I fall over and the other runner gets confused and delayed.

As I came back into Ewelme village the marshalls and villagers cheered me on. Then I rounded the corner to the finish and was met with a roar of applause as my name was called out towards the finish line. I gave it my best sprint finish and was ecstatic to make it over the line.


Photo credit Andrew Casey

Just behind me was the chairman of Didcot Runners hand in hand with two of the Abingdon Athletics Club Ladies. Lovely to see the sense of positivity and camaraderie as they crossed the line together.

Chiltern Chase Finish

I found the running difficult on a hot June day. However my wildflower spotting got me through and I must admit it was a lovely jaunt out into the countryside. I will be back next year!

Chiltern Chase Certificate

Chiltern Chase Finish

I’d also highly recommend the tea and cakes provided by the Local school and the Hog- roast. The Chiltern Chase really does have a sense of community and a village fete atmosphere. Lovely!



3 Comments on Chiltern Chase Wildflowers

  1. Sandar Wade
    30th June 2016 at 5:56 pm (5 years ago)

    Enjoyed reading it very much. Loved your drawings.

    • Patsy Smiles
      30th June 2016 at 6:31 pm (5 years ago)

      Really pleased you enjoyed the race and my drawings Sandar.

  2. Sue
    4th June 2018 at 1:39 pm (3 years ago)

    Very lovely blog page, thank you.


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