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Crataegus - the hawthorns

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Perfect Sunday walk around Dale Dike and Strines Reservoirs (Part 1): ancient oaks & Boot’s Folly

Impressive ash on the way to Dale Dike Dam.

On Sunday I went walking with a couple of buddies in perfect weather through some beautiful countryside. Even though we’re not yet halfway through March it was a very good impression of summer: hot and cloudless and lovely. We set out from Lower Bradfield in the morning and walked along the south-eastern shore of Dale Dike Reservoir, looped around Strines reservoir via Boot’s Folly and the Strines Inn, then followed the north-western shore of Dale Dike back to Lower Bradfield, before climbing the hill to Upper Bradfield where we enjoyed a pint and some pub grub in the afternoon sun. It was a great way to spend a Sunday.

I’m 99% sure that this is Daldinia concentrica, a fungus going by the common names of King Alfred’s cakes, carbon balls, and cramp balls. There were a few of them growing on a dead tree by the dam wall at Dale Dike Reservoir.

This is a seriously ancient oak. It grows between the two reservoirs and when I first spotted it I was amazed – amazed because this is the first veteran oak of this class I have found in my local area. Then I was excited. It looks smaller it really is in this photograph – my photos never seem to do big trees justice – but you can see it is a tree of great antiquity; an old pollard, from the look of it. 400 years old? 500? I look forward to putting it to the tape measure!

A nice little hawthorn.

A pause on the climb up to the folly for a look back over Dale Dike Reservoir.

Boot’s Folly! This 45 foot high tower was built in 1927 by Charles Boot of nearby Sugworth Hall (son of Henry Boot, founder of the eponymous LSE-listed company) to keep his workmen occupied during the Great Depression. There are stairs inside the tower but only at the very top – the story goes that they were mostly removed in the 1970s after a cow got itself stuck up there. The folly is a well-known local landmark that can be seen from much of the surrounding country, to which it adds character. It’s my opinion that it looks most impressive when viewed from up close, with the countryside as a backdrop.

This big ash grows just south of Strines Reservoir. The two branches on the left sure reach a good distance from the stem.

Another ancient oak pollard! This one is more squat and not so tall as the oak already passed, but it’s still a reverential veteran that has witnessed the passing of more than a couple of centuries. It’s part of a line of old trees that follow the stone wall on the left.

Continued in Part 2 & Part 3.


Posted in Gone for a walk + Notable trees





It’s never too cold to go looking at ancient alders

On Friday afternoon I took my father on a little walk to check out some ancient-looking alders I’d spotted last weekend, when I was unable to get close enough for a good look because the Little Don was in the way.

It was so cold that the Little Don had actually started to freeze over! At work in the morning one of the vans had given the outside temperature as -5 °C, but that was in the middle of Sheffield where it was almost certainly warmer. Proper face-numb-er!

I love these two Scots pines. I love this whole area! It’s brill!

These icicles highlighted the bedding planes in one of the little land-slips.

Looking down on one of the old alders (Alnus glutinosa)…

Here’s another. It’s certainly an old one – look at the girth around the bottom of the trunk. Still, I was hoping they would be a bit bigger. If my memory is correct, the one I found in the autumn a short way away up Mickleden Beck is much bigger and more ancient (in appearance at least).

As well as old alders, five or six yews (Taxus baccata) grow on this side of the river. All of them have thriving, healthy crowns, although none have any serious trunk girth. The smallest of the yews (not the one in the photo) is interesting in that almost the entire tree had died off in some catastrophe, but it has regenerated with a vengeance and the crown is so well-formed and hale that from a distance you wouldn’t believe what a disaster befell it. Up close, you can see the old dead stems and branches and see how only a small line of living bark runs up the back of the trunk, although this appears to be doing its best to encircle the rest of trunk. No wonder yews live forever if this is what they can do!

This, the alder seen from above a few photos back, is the biggest of the handful of alders here. They all look to be coppices – but whether they are naturally coppicing themselves as old stems die off and new ones grow, or whether they have been managed in the forgotten past, I couldn’t possibly know.

It’s a lovely old tree.

When I turned around this hawthorn was trying to limbo or something.

Downy brrrrrch.

This is my absolute favourite kind of light – the late afternoon, pre-sunset light you get on a cloudless day that bathes the landscape in a golden glow. It has the power to make a photograph feel warm even despite it having been taken in Baltic conditions!


Posted in Gone for a walk





A glorious Indian summer: Five familiar friends

A familiar rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) on Whitwell Moor.

The weathermen forecast a startlingly hot few days last week – 25°C for the end of September in Sheffield certainly made me open my eyes – so I took measures to make the most of this unexpected resurgence of summer by taking a couple of days off work. Instead of sweating buckets trapped in a pair of chainsaw trousers, I was out roaming the moors and woods having a whale of a time. Wednesday was incredible but Thursday was truly the epitome of an autumn day; it’s just a shame that the sun sets so much earlier now than it did in the height of summer.

A familiar downy birch (Betula pubescens) of extraordinary girth, also on Whitwell Moor…

…and growing beneath its spreading branches, this little bolete (some kind of Leccinum, I think).

Hallo! It’s the famous Lonely Oak!

Last year I couldn’t find any acorns on the L.O., but there were a few on one side of the crown last week. I confess I collected some. Perhaps there will be a treeblog Set E next year?

One of my acorns. The Lonely Oak is an English or pedunculate oak (Quercus robur), so the acorns are attached to the tree on little stems.

Looking north from the ‘back’ of the L.O. towards Hunshelf Bank. Looking over its shoulders?

A familiar pair of Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) between the Salter Hills.

Chilled-out cows in the next field.

The eastern Salter Hill, complete with solitary hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna).

Gorse (or furze or whin: Ulex europaeus) - one yellow drop in the ocean.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Mushrooms of Langsett (Part Two)

…Continued from Part the First.

The black patches on this sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) leaf, known as tar spots, are the fungus Rhytisma acerinum. Those clusters of red spots are galls caused by the mite Aceria macrorhynchus. Neither have any significant impact on the host tree.

A razor strop or birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) juts from a dead downy birch (Betula pubescens).

An immature fungal fruit body begins to emerge from the soil. Maybe an Amanita?

?????

As above.

I’m fairly sure this is a Suillus something - perhaps a dried-out slippery jack (S. luteus)?

Another Leccinum, but which one? There is so much variation within the different species, I just can never say with any certainty. Could this be a blushing bolete (L. roseofractum)?

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and a dry stone wall – a lovely combination. At this time of year the hawthorns are covered in little red fruits called haws. I suppose you could make a jam from these (edit: of course you can!).

Looking up into the rather open crown of the same hawthorn (or one of its neighbours).


Posted in Gone for a walk





Idyllic rurality in the lower Ewden Valley

Not yet in the Ewden Valley – this is my favourite hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna).

One hell of a bull at Hunger Hill.

Leaving Heads Lane, I walked through an old farm and started down to the bottom of the valley…

The pleasant, pastoral view back across the valley from the other side (near Snell House).

Lamb’s eye view?

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).

More Hall Reservoir is looking empty again. It was about this empty at the start of the year, before briefly filling up in spring.

I passed this imposing and impressive ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in Wantley Dragon Wood. The tree would have been twice as big in its heyday when its stem forked into two equal stems a couple of metres off the ground, but one of them has been removed. The size of the trunk at ground level was incredible! It must be one of the largest ash trees in the local area.

Nearby a dragon slithers into a grassy clearing. According to the information board (sited close enough to ruin any photo from this angle) it was created by wood carver Mark Bell and dry stone waller John Alston, with the head made of elm. The sculpture represents the eponymous monster of the ancient satirical ballad The Dragon of Wantley, first published anonymously in 1685. The dragon lived across the Don valley in a cave on Wharncliffe Crags and devoured children, cattle, buildings and trees. The locals called upon More of More Hall to rid them of the dragon. After donning a special suit of Sheffield armour bristling with six-inch spikes, he hid in a well and kicked the dragon in the mouth as it went to drink, killing it. According to the information board, a “later version [published in 1765] included an explanation that it was based on a lawsuit against Sir Francis Wortley (the dragon) by other landowners, where the lawyer was More (the knight). It is difficult to know if this is true. Some of the elements could be a satire about a lawsuit; others are classic to dragon myths in this area. It is possible that this story is a combination of several tales.”

Finally, the approach to Bolsterstone from a footpath just uphill of Sunny Bank Road. Broomhead Park and Moor are seen in the background.


* * * * *

This month the Festival of the Trees returns to Via Negativa for its fifth anniversary. Go read!


Posted in Gone for a walk





A summery walk in spring (Part One)

As evident from the buds on this tree, the local hawthorns (Crataegus monogyna) are primed and ready to explode into flower. Driving back to Yorkshire from Wales on Easter Monday, I saw plenty of hawthorns further south that were already white with blossom.

The ashes (Fraxinus excelsior) are in flower at the moment. The structures in this photograph are female inflorescences; I could see no male flowers on this tree. Apparently ashes can be monoecious or dioecious, but dioecious individuals are rather more common.

The bilberry bushes (Vaccinium myrtillus) were also covered with flowers. The new leaves are such a vivid green – they really liven up Whitwell Moor.

Seen on a larch (Larix decidua): something caught half-way between being a flower (larch rose) and a cone.

I saw lots of beeches (Fagus sylvatica) in full leaf; I also saw plenty that still looked bare, like this one on the edge of Millstones Wood.

A closer look shows that it has at least begun to adorn itself in greenery, and reveals that the tree is actually in flower. There are both male and female flowers in this photograph.

Poking up through the leaf litter: a wee rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) seedling.


* * * * *

This post is continued in Part Two.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Spring is sprung

The weather did an amazing impression of summer this weekend. On Friday I went for a little walk to take in some of the spring greenery that has suddenly appeared. It took me past this picturesque hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) that grows in the field between Whitwell Moor and Hunger Hill.

These pictures of a neighbouring hawthorn show how far along they are in unfurling their new leaves.

What a tangle!

I’m looking forward to seeing all the hawthorns clothed with white flowers in a couple of months, but right now it’s great seeing them clothed in green again.

Hole in the bole.

Looking down into Ewden Valley from Heads Lane.

Sycamores (Acer pseudoplatanus) are beautiful at this time of year with their unblemished leaves illuminated by the sunlight.

The bluebells are out in Yew Trees Wood!

I saw these catkins on a male goat willow (Salix caprea) in Ewden Village. My friends’ new house has a female goat willow growing in the garden – it too was covered in catkins yesterday.

* * * * *

April’s edition of the Festival of the Trees is hosted by Georgia of local ecologist. Go read!


Posted in Gone for a walk





Lambs’ tails & other signs of spring

Lambs’ tails - the all-male catkins of hazel (Corylus avellana). I took the photographs in this post today in the rural Ewden Valley, but I saw hazels with their catkins already fully unfurled in the middle of January in Sheffield.

This is a female flower, which will hopefully grow into a hazelnut one day. Both male and female parts are found on the same individual, i.e. hazel is a monoecious species.

This hazel growing at Carr House Meadows (a nature reserve in the care of the Sheffield Wildlife Trust) was absolutely covered with golden catkins!

I only found out about the flowers of hazel a couple of years ago, but I now know them as a most welcome sign of approaching spring. How could I ever have missed them?

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) buds are almost ready to open...

…and these beech (Fagus sylvatica) buds have certainly grown in size, tiny cigars no longer.

What a display!

Hazel catkins have been out in force for a few weeks now and many of them are now past their best, turning brown and dry.

More of the female flowers. Is it just me or do they bear a slight resemblance to tiny cuttlefish?


Posted in Gone for a walk





BudWatch (21st March 2010)

I went out for a wander on Sunday and was slightly disappointed to see such little springly progress from the buds on the locally-growing deciduous trees.

Hazel (Corylus avellana) buds and catkins. The catkins – some folks know them as lambs’ tails – are made up of male flowers. A female flower is hiding in the upper-centre of this photo.

Birch (probably downy birch, Betula pubescens).

English oak (Quercus robur). I’ve noticed that the terminal buds are often flanked by a pair of smaller buds, although the terminal bud in this photo has lost one of its two buddies. (It’s the Lonely Oak!)

Larch (probably European larch, Larix decidua) pegs and a ‘bud’ of some sort – maybe a flower very early on in development? I was very disappointed to find that there were no larch roses on this tree at all; this time last year they were out in force!

Goat willow (Salix caprea). On some of the trees catkins were already forming! I noticed that the buds on the trees with catkins were a light green while the trees without catkins had reddish buds (as in the above photo). Is this a way to tell the male trees from the female trees?

Common alder (Alnus glutinosa). Distinctively purply-velvety buds.

Hawthorn (probably the common hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna).

Here’s a wee hawthorn story: I was at college today, being taught how to use Tirfor winches in the context of stump removal. It is an agricultural college, and someone in the equestrian section pointlessly wanted a small section of hawthorn hedge, about five metres long, removing from a little patch of grass next to the stables. It was the remnant of a hedgerow that was mostly destroyed when the stables were built – a hedgerow probably laid down hundreds of years ago. Our instructor, an arboricultural legend (who shares my view that it is a great shame to get rid of something planted so long ago), reckoned it probably dated from the mid-eighteenth century, perhaps from medieval times; possibly, if it was Midland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), it may have dated from as far back as the tenth century! The roots were certainly grand old things.

European beech (Fagus sylvatica). The buds are easily identified with their long and pointy ways. ‘Cigar-shaped’, some say.

Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa). Unassuming, eh?

And of the buds of other locally-growing tree species that I saw up close but are MIA from this post… Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) buds showed no signs of opening yet, sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) buds were green and swelling, and elder (Sambucus nigra) – I saw a couple of elders with closed buds but one growing on a south-facing slope was covered in tiny green leaves, yippee!


Posted in Gone for a walk





Finding a way (20th February 2010)

Hawthorn (Crataegus, probably monogyna).

Not much snow on Ewden Height.

Snow on a rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) branch.

Linear shadows cast by a cluster of stick-like junior rowans growing around the trunk of their parent.

A stunted larch (Larix, probably decidua) surrounded by rowan saplings. This part of the moor is fenced off, presumably to prevent sheep grazing and thus promote tree regeneration (although one sheep had somehow gotten into the enclosure). Aside from this larch, the trees were mostly young rowans (berries, dispersed by birds), with several birches (tiny seeds, wind-dispersed). I also saw a holly (berries, dispersed by birds) and an oak (acorns, ???!).

This picture brought to you by the nineteenth century. Well, it could be!

Hey Paul, your hat’s falling off. That’s Millstones Wood in the background.

A wee lichen growing on a wee hawthorn. None of the buds on the trees I saw yesterday were showing signs of opening just yet. Give it a month…


Posted in Gone for a walk





A walk through Yew Trees Lane Wood (Part One)

A goat willow (Salix caprea) with birch saplings on Whitwell Moor.

This set of photos isn’t very recent. I took them three weeks ago, on the 26th of September – the day I collected cut-leaved beech nuts for treeblog Set D. It was a beautiful, beautiful day.

A hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) below Hunger Hill.

Entering Yew Trees Lane Wood from the fields, you are plunged into an amazing environment of dense foliage and huge pine trunks.

A Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) looms overhead…

Scots pine bark.

It may not look very big in this photo, but the tree in the centre is a very tall, very straight beech (Fagus sylvatica). It’s a cracking specimen!


Posted in Gone for a walk





Out on the moors: to Pike Lowe and beyond! (Part One)

I went out on the moors on Saturday with the intention of making Pike Lowe, and, if I had the time, of finding the mythical waterfall far up the Ewden Beck...

First checkpoint: the Lonely Oak of Whitwell Moor.

It doesn’t appear to be doing too well, our Lonely one. Most of its leaves are crinkled and ragged-looking, whereas the rest of the oaks I saw on my ramble were all healthy. So it’s not a weather thing. I couldn’t find a single developing acorn on any of the oaks, which is disappointing as I was thinking of planting some for treeblog Set D. The red balls on the leaf in the photo are galls.

A Jew’s ear (Auricularia auricular-judae) –like fungus growing on a dead branch attached to a living English oak (Quercus robur) in Millstones Wood.

Also in Millstones Wood, a beast of a beech (Fagus sylvatica). This looks like an old coppice to me. There may not be any acorns this year, but there’s no shortage of beechnuts: the floor was covered with cupules!

Leaving the wood behind, I was confronted with a field full of near fully grown cattle. I had to pass within a metre of these two, but they seemed completely indifferent to my presence. I was glad to avoid a trampling! Broomhead Hall Farm can be seen across the valley in the background.

Developing hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) fruit, or haws. The hawthorns hereabouts were in full flower at the end of May / beginning of June.

Looking back across the moors to Millstones Wood from near the summit of Pike Lowe, just over an hours walk away!

The cairn on the summit of Pike Lowe (OS grid. ref. SK 208 974 or 53.4726° N, 1.6865° W), 476 metres above sea level. So close to civilisation, yet so isolated.


Posted in Gone for a walk





A walk in the sun (Part 3): on to Mortimer Road

Continuing this series of photos from a walk in the sun on the glorious first of June… carrying on down the salt path to reach Mortimer Road.

Flowering hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna).

A big old yew tree – in the Ewden valley. Is Ewden a corruption of Yew Dene, dene being an old British word for a wooded valley? There aren’t very many yews in Ewden today at any rate!

Yew (Taxus baccata) leaves.

The green roof overhead.

From woodland the path opens into this sloping grassy field. I bet it would be perfect for cheese rolling.

Which one do you prefer?

Bear in mind that this photo was taken three weeks ago, but look how far behind this ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is lagging in the leaf stakes. Ash is the last tree to come into leaf in these parts, but the majority of the local ashes were by this time halfway through flushing.

Shady woodland on the bank of a tiny stream, a tributary of Ewden Beck

Mortimer Road just above where the path comes out. From Jack Branston’s History of Stocksbridge:

[Mortimer Road] was named after Hans Winthrop Mortimer, Lord of the Manor of Bamford who died in 1807. He had the idea of linking the Peak with the woollen manufacturing districts of the West Riding and so reap a profit from the road-tolls. This road was to run from Penistone Bridge to Grindleford Bridge, starting from Penistone, over Midhope Bridge to Bardike and Agden Bridge, past the Strines Inn and so on. In the wall at [I think he means outside the Strines Inn] you can see a stone built in which reads “Take Off”. This was another of Mortimer’s ideas; whilst wagon horses were resting he used chain horses to pull the wagons to the given point, then took them off and returned for another wagon.

The Sanderson – Bradfield and Beyond site says that the road was built in the 1770s and that Mortimer died in poor circumstances after failing to comply with the Authorising Act of 1770. And from this Flickr page, part of a comment by ‘evissa’, who mentions a small book called Mortimer Road: the turnpike that failed:

[Mortimer] owned property in Essex, Derbyshire and London and was MP for Shaftsbury. Alas he died bankrupt.


Hawthorn flowers in their prime.


Posted in Gone for a walk





A walk in the sun (Part 2): down the salt path

Delectable hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) flowers.

Looking up from the Ewden side at the saddle between the Salter Hills (the eastern hill is on the right and vice versa). A branch of the old salt way from Cheshire almost certainly ran close by here. Several local names on this path - which runs down to the goat willows - are linked with the route: Salt Springs Farm, Salt Springs Cottage, Salt Spring Beck, and of course Salter Hills.

This is the eastern Salter Hill, adorned with a lonely hawthorn.

The view south-east towards the wooded upper reaches of the Ewden valley, with the moors in the distance. If the horizon looks dodgy in this photograph, it’s because I replaced the original over-exposed sky with my ideal blues. I don’t normally go in for Photoshopping photos like this, but I’ve never been able to get a good shot of this valley and now I can pretend I’ve got a half-decent photo in the bag.

This year’s goat willow (Salix caprea) catkin arc on treeblog has just about come to an end. Here we see a ripe female catkin at the seed-dispersal stage. For earlier stages in the catkins’ development, have a look at some of the photos in these posts: on the 21st of March, developing catkins (not sure which sex); on the 29th of March, slightly further developed catkins (again, unsure which sex); and on the 3rd of April, pollen-emitting male catkins and female catkins around the pollen-receiving stage (this post also includes a photo of the eastern Salter Hill).

Goat willow leaves.

Looking back up the path from the group of goat willows. The non-tree greenery in the foreground is almost entirely bracken (Pteridium aquilinum), a very common fern that dies back each year but grows back often taller than a man.

The same view on the 29th of March. What a difference summer makes!

Cotton wool in the grassy ground layer. Actually, this fluffy stuff comes from the goat willow catkins. It holds several tiny seeds inside. I saw this fluff all over the place – the wind can blow it for miles!


Posted in Gone for a walk





Five favourite photos from 2007

As 2008 draws to a close, I thought it would be nice to look back on some of my favourite photos of the year. Then I realised that I never did this for 2007, so perhaps I ought to cover that year first, and look back on 2008 next week. This is good time to mention that I have been going through the archives and replacing a lot of the old lo-res (500px by 375px) images with higher resolution copies (1024px by 768px). To view the full-size versions, just click on the photo to be taken to its Flickr photo page, and then click on the ALL SIZES button (above the top left-hand corner of the photo).

To be included on this most exclusive of lists, each photograph had to satisfy the criteria of 1) having been taken by myself during 2007 and 2) subsequently featuring on treeblog while 3) being one of my stand-out faves. I limited myself to just five, and I had a hard job on narrowing it down. But here they, are in chronological order!

3rd May 2007 Yes, this photo did feature in the previous post (an unfortunate coincidence), but it originally featured in a post entitled ‘Blackford Hill gallivanting’. It was a sunny day at the end of my third year at Edinburgh when I photographed these new sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) leaves on a walk up Blackford Hill, which was my territory of choice back then as I lived so close by. I love how the sun highlights every detail of the tender young leaves.

16th June 2007 I took this photograph on a visit to Derwent Reservoir - the towers of the stunning dam wall are seen in the background. I love how the sunlight catches some of the hawthorn leaves.

16th August 2007 Just before I started my final year at Edinburgh, one of my classes went on a field trip to the Italian Dolomites, part of the Alps. It was a brilliant trip in every respect, and the scenery was most conducive to photography. In fact, three of these five favourite photos were taken on that trip! This photograph was taken on our first proper day, when Bruno, a local forester or park official, acted as our guide on a walk up a valley. I have never been anywhere so beautiful in all my life, and this photo is a good one in that it gives some sense of the enormity of the mountains.

24th August 2007 We visited this stunning locale twice. Another place so beautiful words or photos cannot do proper justice. I have got to go back one day, and that day can not come soon enough! The lake is called Lago di Calaita, and off this photo to the right is an old rockslide that we climbed up to reach a higher part of forest.

24th August 2007 The sky at night as photographed from our accommodation for the last three nights of the trip: two log cabins in the middle of nowhere perched halfway up a mountainside! It was really pitch black, but a long exposure brought out detail that the human eye couldn’t see. The remoteness from any kind of built-up area meant that the stars were very prominent, lending the sky a quality I haven’t been able to see in Britain. This photo featured in a post entitled Field trip to the Italian Alps (Part One). The previous couple featured in Part Two.

It’s funny how three of those five photos came in the space of eight days in the Dolomites. It might be something to do with associating the positive memories of the field trip with the photographs. No winter photos made it onto the list. I haven’t picked out five favourites from 2008 yet, but I wonder if any wintry pix will make it into those. Regardless, I can’t see the list being dominated by one trip!


Posted in Miscellany





Hope to Upper Midhope (18th September 2008) Part 1

Ha! There I was, moaning in the last post about the complete absence of any decent days this summer, when along comes the nicest day in weeks! Thursday was beautiful, and as chance would have it I had already set my mind to a long walk that day whether (weather) rain or shine. I stayed overnight in Sheffield at my mates’ flat, then caught a train into Hope in the Peak District. At ten o’clock in the morning I was striking out on a solo adventure beneath a beautiful blue sky, over moor and under tree. The weather gods hath smiled uponeth me.

Lose Hill from the south-east. The last vestiges of a morning mist linger over the valley.

A solitary hawthorn laden with berries (haws).

Lose Hill from the north-east. Feeling very warm after climbing a hill.

The view from Hope Cross.

The view north-east across the River Ashop, not far from Alport Bridge.

Just across the bridge now, and a big-trunked holly grows over the River Alport.

The lane to Alport Castles Farm is lined with these old hawthorns, probably once a neat hedge but left to go wild and treeish.

The view across Alport dale to Alport Castles, an ancient landslip – reputedly the largest in England.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Duddingston Loch (26th April 2008)

Being free at last from the bonds of dissertation, yesterday I took a walk in the sunny afternoon to Duddingston Loch, only about ten minutes from my flat.

yellow sea of gorse

The yellow sea of gorse covering the foot of Arthur's Seat near Samson's Ribs.

willow and water

This willow grows at the bottom of a rocky slope, right on the shore of Duddingston Loch.

small hawthorn

A few stunted hawthorns are growing on the rocky slope...

new leaves on hawthorn

... and they are well advanced in putting out their new leaves relative to most deciduous species. Other early flusher I've noticed in Edinburgh include elder, gean, rowan, and certain silver birches and European beeches. The earliest flusher in town is probably the horse chestnut.

lichens on rock

Oooh, look: a token lichen photograph! One of the hawthorns can be seen in the background.

willow branches silhouetted against the sun

Dead and living branches of the willow silhouetted against Sol.

yellow gorse flowers

Let's end with a stunning gorse photograph. Doesn't it make you long for summer?

treeblog Set B update (Day 44 - yesterday) According to my father there are still no signs of life in the treeblog seed trays, except for something in the downy birch section that looks like a pine needle or blade of grass - probably a weed.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Derwent Dam tree photographs

alder in front of Derwent Dam

Alders (Alnus glutinosa) in front of Derwent Dam.

Derwent Reservoir, in the center of the Peak District, has quite an unusual style of dam wall. Instead of the grassy embankments used to dam most reservoirs in the vicinity of the Peak District, the dam wall at Derwent (and neighbouring Howden Reservoir) is much steeper and faced with huge stone blocks. Large gothic towers loom at either end of the dam wall, and in wet weather, water overflows between the towers and cascades down the great stone wall in a magnificant spectacle.

elder inflorescence in front of Derwent Dam

Elder (Sambucus nigra) inflorescence in front of Derwent Dam.

During World War II, Derwent Reservoir was used for bombing practice by the RAFs 'Dambusters' (617 Squadron). The dam at Derwent was used as it was of a similar design to those in Germany's Ruhr Valley, which were to be the target of RAF bombing raids; with the dams destroyed and the reservoirs empty, it was hoped that German industry would be seriously impeded and thus their war effort hampered.

rowan (mountain ash) in front of Derwent Dam

Rowan a.k.a. mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia) in front of Derwent Dam.

The barrel-shaped 'bouncing bombs' used by the Dambusters were designed by Barnes Wallis. The bombs were dropped spinning rapidly backwards at a low altitude in order for them to bounce over the reservoir surface to reach the dam wall. They would then spin downwards to the base of the wall before detonating.

Scots pine in front of Derwent Dam

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in front of Derwent Dam.

I visited Derwent Dam this afternoon and took these photographs. Thanks to the recent very wet weather, the water rushing down the dam wall made for a very impressive sight.

hawthorn above Derwent Dam

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) above Derwent Dam.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Whitwell Moor perimeter wander

The enemy in our midst. Rhododendron ponticum on heather moorland. The moorland appears to be under succession by birch woodland, although Rhododendron might end up taking over instead.

Photos taken on the 23rd of May 2007.

R. ponticum inflorescence.

Looking across fields towards the village of Bolsterstone between the branches of a hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna).

Female beech (Fagus sylvatica) flowers - these will transform into beechnuts over the next few months.

The twisted and tortured-looking trunk of a stunted Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).

A beech seedling with one pair of cotyledons and one pair of 'proper' leaves.

A nice bit of semi-natural mixed woodland. Lots of beech and Scots pine and plenty of oak off-camera. The low shrubs in the foreground are bilberry (Myrtillus vaccinium).


Posted in Gone for a walk





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