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November 2010

Hallowe’en (Part Two)

Continued from Part One

After descending down a steep slope I was pleasantly surprised to come out on the banks of the Little Don River, only a few hundred metres upstream of Brook House Bridge, a place I have been many times before. But I have never been here. The river at the bridge is a lovely stretch, well known to the picnicker and the paddler and always busy with families on a hot summer’s day. The place I discovered on Hallowe’en is just a short walk upriver but it’s a different world; one that I suspect (and hope) doesn’t get so many visitors. This was a world that reminded me of Scotland: a fine river with great stony deposits, meandering through the mist, sharing the valley with heather, bracken and numerous fine Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris).

Scots pines by the Porter or Little Don River.

Looking further upstream…

…and downstream from the same spot.

No flies, but this spider won’t go thirsty.

Scots pine bark.

The tree on the left was a fine specimen of a Scots pine. I’d love to see it in a hundred years’ time.

The same trees, in context. Not Scotland, but the Peak District near Sheffield. I’m very lucky to live here.

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Hallowe'en (Part Three)

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The fifty-third edition of the Festival of the Trees is online at Trees, Plants & More. Go read!

Posted in Gone for a walk

Hallowe’en (Part Three)

An ash (Fraxinus excelsior) with interesting feet. This may be a tree that has been coppiced (by man or by nature) in the past to leave a great, gnarly stool; while the two stems are not that old (half a century or more?), the stool and roots could be many times older. It is growing on a slope just above a steep drop into a river - years of soil creeping down the hill and falling over the edge have probably given rise to the stool’s exposed position.

This larch rose has me bamboozled. It’s either really late or really early (larch roses come out in the springtime). Maybe when all of its friends started to turn into cones, its development was somehow suspended.

This is one bombed-out wreck of a tree. The trunk is extremely rotten and, as you can see, not all there. Yet this ash still lives – see those branches at the top of the photograph!

On larch (Larix).

This little brook in Crookland Wood joins the Porter or Little Don River just above Brook House Bridge. I can’t find this short section named on any map, but the three tributaries that combine to form it are Hagg Brook, Kiln Bank Brook and Badger Lane Brook. It is probably one of those, although much of the water came cascading out of a mysterious stone culvert.

While I can’t recall ever seeing this stream before, I’ve certainly heard it. No wonder it’s so noisy – thing’s full of little waterfalls.

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Hallowe’en (Part One)
Hallowe’en (Part Two)

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Have a look at this new blog written by a British ex-pat living in France and managing his own woodland: My French Forest. There aren’t many posts up yet but it is an interesting read from someone who has obviously got a lot of experience.

Posted in Gone for a walk

The Petrified Forest of Lesvos

A long, long time ago… in August 2003, I holidayed with my family on the Greek island of Lesvos (or Lesbos). One day during our stay we paid a visit to the Petrified Forest of Lesvos, which just so happens to be the largest petrified forest in the world, covering as it does an area of several thousand hectares. The forest was declared a Protected Natural Monument in 1985; it is also designated as a European and Global Geopark.

Fifteen to twenty million years ago, a sub-tropical forest flourished on the north-western part of the island. But this lush ecosystem was suddenly entombed completely by pyroclastic material produced by volcanic activity in the northern Aegean Sea. This rapid burial coupled with the hydrothermic circulation of heavily silicated fluids within the sediment ensured that some plant tissues were perfectly fossilised. Inorganic matter replaced organic matter practically molecule for molecule in a process known as petrification. As a result the internal structures of many trees have survived, perfectly preserved, to the present time. Annual growth rings and even individual cells can still be seen clearly today, and several large trunks remain standing upright on their intact roots.

It’s hard to imagine a forest ever existing in such a dry and barren landscape.

This stump is seen from another angle in the photo below:

There’s me, aged seventeen, taking photos with a film camera. How old-fashioned!

Disclaimer: these photos were taken by my father with an early digital camera, the Fuji FinePix 1300. It was capable of capturing a whopping 1.3 megapixels.

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Some of the information in this post was taken from the Petrified Forest of Lesvos pages on the ‘Global Network of National Geoparks’ site. Further information can be found at the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest site.

Posted in Holidays and field trips

The first snow of winter

I love this pine tree. It’s got a great shape, it’s in a great position, and it’s got a great friend…

It snowed a bit on Friday night. Only a centimetre or two settled but it was enough to bring a real feeling of winter to my walk up to the trig point.

Silhouette: European beech (Fagus sylvatica).

Silhouette: Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris).

Silhouette: downy birch (Betula pubescens) (and a Scots pine).

Silhouette: the Lonely Oak. I arrived with perfect timing to see the sun setting behind my favourite oak tree.

And just over the hill, I arrived in the nick of time to catch my favourite pair of Scots pines basking in the last of the golden sunlight.

Silhouette: Scots pine skeleton (or possibly a larch skeleton).

Posted in Gone for a walk

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