Doctor’s Orders

 “How do you get to work?” – “I drive” – “Well that’s no good, you’ll have to take the train so that you can get a walk in each day.”

So with that sound advice ringing in my ears, I have been taking the train again. Which is how, last Friday I found myself walking past Warton church as the clock chimed five having got off one stop early at Carnforth to walk home over Warton Crag. It was a lovely afternoon, warm and bright, the views as I plodded up the crag were excellent, but too hazy for great photos unfortunately. Under the trees on the crag the bluebells were on the point of opening and the anemones and wood sorrel were already showing to good effect…

But it was tree and shrub flowers which caught my attention, particularly on the bridleway down to the crag road. There were ash flowers emerging…

…and fully opened…

Sycamore (again) with flowers emerging with the leaves…

Blackthorn…

Wild cherries…

Hanging tassels of flowers on currant bushes (planted or naturalised?) on the verge of the track. Tiny gooseberry flowers. Emerging leaves on the whitebeam…

These yellow flowers…

…on a tree I didn’t know, but now suspect to be Norway maple. Another tree I didn’t recognise, also without leaves as yet, had clusters of yellow flowers or seeds…

(Sorry about the photo) which lead me to believe that it is some sort of elm, maybe wych elm.

After leaving the woods on Warton Crag, I returned via Quaker’s Stang and Fleagarth Wood. When I turned on to the track which leads towards Quaker’s Stang, and the RSPB car park for Morecambe and Allan hides, I found myself noisily honked at by six adult greylag geese who were shepherding a gaggle of goslings.

Two of the adults flew off, whilst the rest took to the dyke beside the track to avoid me.

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Doctor’s Orders

Unfurled

The day after we returned from Cornwall (so over a week ago now – as ever, I’m way behind) I took A and B for a walk in Eaves Wood. Of course they were there to climb trees and to revisit the den they had helped to build on our previous visit.

Whilst they were busy climbing I was at liberty to take a look around and see what I could find to interest me. Perhaps even more than spring flowers, it’s the emergence of leaves on trees which really heralds the arrival of a new season for me. In Eaves Wood the hazel leaves were out…

…but what is the hairy stemmed proboscis at the front?

I particularly like new beech leaves when they hang pale and limp, like washing hung-out on a windless day, but they hadn’t quite reached that stage and I was more taken with the colours and textures of the opening buds from which the leaves were emerging…

Sycamore buds are enormously cheerful…

And the leaves can be equally colourful, for a while at least…

Meanwhile, down amongst the leaf litter I noticed a great deal of activity.

I’m pretty sure that this is pardosa lugubris a wolf spider which doesn’t build a nest, but which hunts on the woodland floor. Lugubris is ‘mournful’ perhaps because of the very dark colouring?

I wonder, do wolf spiders hunt in packs? There were certainly a lot of them about in a very small area.

The kids were very busy now, having found another den which somebody had built. (We think that we know who.)

They were intent on adding a bark roof, but eventually I dragged them away and on up to the Pepper Pot.

Where the blue moorgrass (?) was flowering.

Yew flowers.

Unfurled

Scurvygrass

 

Like Alexanders, not common in this area but abundant in north Cornwall, and also once grown in kitchen gardens. We saw it around Tintagel and elsewhere near sea-cliffs. As the name suggests, it was prized for its vitamin C. However, Richard Mabey writes that it is ‘unpleasantly bitter’.

Captain Cook is known to have taken quantities of Scurvygrass on his famous voyages…

Hatfield’s Herbal Gabrielle Hatfield

Scurvygrass

Alexanders

Not something that we find growing in this neck of the woods, but in north Cornwall thriving on unshaded road verges. Once a staple of kitchen gardens, and apparently a native of the Mediterranean introduced by the Romans.

In ‘Food for Free’ Richard Mabey suggests pickling the flowers, using young leaves in salads and cooking blanched pink stems like asparagus. I didn’t try the leaves so I can’t report on the flavour, but it was certainly popular with a wide variety of insects.

One plant I examined had this…..

….thing….quite large, pink-striped, not a leaf I don’t think?

Alexanders

Tintagel

On our drive down in the car we had listened to tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table so an early visit to Tintagel seemed appropriate. Our visit to began with a picnic in the garden of the old post office, our second picnic in the garden of a National Trust property that week since we had stopped at Mosley Old Hall on the way down. The ‘old post office’ is actually a 14th Century farmhouse. We really appreciated the sheltered garden because there was a very bitter wind blowing.

There isn’t a great deal left to see at Tintagel Castle and what there is, is medieval; so very old, but not far enough back to be the birth place of the legend, although there was something here before apparently. The setting is fantastic though.

The tide was in, so we didn’t get to visit Merlin’s Cave which disappointed the boys who I think fully expected to find a dragon in residence.

The Castle Garden.

 

After two years of fruitlessly waving my camera around and taking photos of empty sky, I finally caught a bird in flight!

Tintagel

An Early Morning Walk

Our first morning at Woodford started very early, a consequence of general excitement and the very thin curtains which let the morning sun stream into our rooms. South of the farmhouse the fields dropped away into a steeply wooded valley which winds its way down to the Coombe Valley and then to the beach at Duck-pool. We didn’t get that far, but with the chiff-chaffs, chaffinches, robins and great tits singing their little socks off, it made for a great start to the day. At least until S fell on a muddy stretch of the path!

An Early Morning Walk

Floral Dance

Down in Cornwall everything was a little ahead of home, so that there were even more spring flowers to enjoy. The distinctive banked hedgerows were home to many flowers, particularly primroses which were almost ubiquitous.

Elsewhere the primroses were mixed with other flowers with, in my opinion at least, the whole being greater than the sum of the parts:

With the primroses on this one small stretch of bank were violets,

barren strawberries,

and ground ivy…

Down in the woods the bluebells were threatening to emerge and in a boggy section in a valley bottom we saw a magnificent area lit up with golden saxifrage.

Stitchwort.

Floral Dance