April went out with great downpours and fleeting blue skies; the air cold-washed and crystal clear. Watched from the down at Fackenden, the slow but relentless passage of an evening storm creates a moving patchwork of contrast and colour with great folded blankets of falling rain. After the deluge catches the edge of the escarpment, a double rainbow emerges to welcome a final interlude of sunshine that pours across the Darenth valley.
The early purple orchids are bright and just going past their best along the top footpath; they are sheltered by leggy thorn bushes at the edge of the dense woodland. On freshly cleared ground, where the scrub has been hacked back by the winter work parties, the orchids are tall amongst the carpet of pale sun-washed primroses and sweet violets. It was a cold, slow spring; the blackthorn winter remained for more than a month and the butterflies were rarely warmed and on the wing.