7 posts tagged with

Ilex - the hollies

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Perfect Sunday walk around Dale Dike and Strines Reservoirs (Part 3)

This post continues from Part 1 & Part 2.

The woodland floor is coming back to life (nearly a fortnight ago now). Perhaps these are bluebells?

Another toad has found a good hiding place in amongst the leaf litter.

A nice holly (Ilex aquifolium) that actually has a decent ‘tree’ shape – which is fairly unusual for holly.

Reflections on Dale Dike Reservoir. The current dam was completed in 1875, but there was an earlier dam on the site which was completed in 1864. Tragically the original dam collapsed on the night of March 11th 1864 causing the catastrophic Great Sheffield Flood in which 244 people were killed and terrible destruction was wrought all down the Loxley valley and into the centre of Sheffield. The story of the disaster is one I remember well from my childhood.

Briefly: On the night of a storm, a crack was discovered in the earth embankment and the chief engineer, Mr Gunson, was sent for from Sheffield. When Stephenson Fountain, the son of one of the contractors at the dam, was dispatched to fetch Mr Gunson, the crack ran for fifty yards along the embankment. When he arrived at Dale Dyke, Mr Gunson was met by the contactors Mr Fountain and Mr Swinden. The crack was inspected and was wide enough to admit the engineer’s hand; it was in the centre of the embankment. Mr Fountain ordered gunpowder to be brought to blow a hole in the masonry of a weir (this must be the overflow) in order to lower the water level in the not-yet-filled reservoir; the valves were already fully open. The gunpowder was lit, but it failed to go off.

[The following paragraphs are an excerpt from The Dramatic Story of the Sheffield Flood by Peter Machan (1999).]

He [Gunson] and Swinden returned to examine the crack once more, Gunson still unsure about its cause. He wondered if the cracking extended into the puddle clay core, so the two men set about measuring the distance to the top of the wall to establish if the water in the dam was at the same level. Intent on making careful measurements Mr Gunson was stooping over his lantern at one end of the crack. On glancing up again he couldn’t quite believe his eyes. A foaming white sheet of water was flowing over the embankment. It rushed towards him and plunged down into the widening gap. Thinking quickly he shouted to George Swinden. “I’m going to the valve house to see how much water we’re losing.” He made his way, more cautiously now, down the embankment and into the small building. The others were following down the slope but realised they were no longer safe. Swinden shouted a warning to Mr Gunson to come out and, as the engineer emerged he looked up, his whole life of fifty five years seeming to have led up to this moment. As if in slow motion a central segment of the top of the wall, about thirty feet wide, was collapsing and with a great rumble a white torrent taking its place. Gunson stood transfixed. Swinden was fortunately close enough to grab his arm and pull him out of the path of the surging water and, as they fled across the base of the embankment, the ground shuddered and the whole central portion was swept away.

As they ran another loud explosion above them revealed that the gunpowder had ignited, blowing a now pointless hole in the waste weir. The volume of water crashing through the breach in the dam was awesome. It was as if the great basin of high Pennine moorland was tilting, tipping its contents down into that narrow wooded channel. … John Gunson, as he stood now gazing on the widening breach in impotent horror, was only too aware of the menace that now roared down the valley. He felt the blood draining from his face and released a gasp, experiencing a sickening churning in the pit of his stomach. “It’s all up! The embankment is going,” was all that his dry lips could utter. …it was exactly midnight.

Tangled birch roots.

A couple of oaks lean dangerously over the reservoir, mesmerised by their own reflections.

A fine oak growing on the other side of the path…

…and another oak, dipping its branches in the water.

After the walk, a pleasant meal at the Old Horns in Upper Bradfield to nicely top off a perfect Sunday.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Caledonian pinewood in Ryvoan Pass, Glenmore (Part Three)

Following on from Part One & Part Two

Scots pine – probably my favourite photo of the trip.

Another fine pine, but you may have noticed that the lower trunk is dead and barkless on the left-hand side. The crown still looks healthy though.

Orangey Scots pine bark caught in the late afternoon sun must be one of the nicest colours a tree can possibly be, don’t you think?

A hydra-like downy birch (Betula pubescens).

Downy birks and a pointy holly (Ilex aquifolium). Down in the bottom, the Ryvoan Pass runs gently uphill from Glenmore, which is off to the right / south-west. You can get across to Nethy Bridge if you follow the Pass, but I looped back to my base at the youth hostel in Glenmore.

The lower slopes of Cairn Gorm occupy the distance. I climbed to the top a couple of days later, it becoming my sixth Munro bagged to date. Only another 277 to go then.

The junipers sure looked lovely illuminated by the setting sun.

This pine was an absolute monster! The stump and wound at the bottom of the tree coupled with the lack of any branches on this side of the trunk show that this monster was, until recently, a twin-stemmed monster – i.e. it was twice as big as it is now!!

Here it is from a distance: look at the crazy spread of those lower branches! It’s three trees in one, arranged like the ace of clubs! And to say half of the tree is missing… Wow.


Posted in Gone for a walk + Holidays and field trips + Notable trees





A walk through Yew Trees Lane Wood (Part Two)

Hazel (Corylus avellana).

Photos taken on the 26th of September (Part One here).

Rose-bay willow-herb (Epilobium angustifolium) in a small area of clear-fell.

Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis).

Ewden Brows.

Holly (Ilex aquifolium). Psst. Wanna see a photo of the same holly in February?

Three brothers. On the left: a hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). In the middle: a fairly recently deceased beech (Fagus sylvatica). On the right: a longer-dead tree, probably a beech also.


Posted in Gone for a walk





A late summer's wander

Dyer’s mazegill (Phaeolus schweinitzii) at the base of a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).

This post shall send prose to his room and welcome poetry into the drawing room for a brandy. Let me spin thee the tale of last Saturday:


A Late Summer’s Wander

Late summer’s wander Saturday
Into the Peak our path did lay
On Whitwell Moor ‘neath a rowan, halted
To fill a bag wi’ red berries wanted
Through t’ first wood and up we walked
There wa’ no acorns on t’ Lonely Oak

Cresting t’ hill we entered t’ Wood
Where Millstones lie; it were right good
To find at t’ foot of a Scots Pinus
A great and gnarly yellow fungus
Over t’ lane and out on Thorpe’s Brow
T’ sky seemed somehow bigger now

We strode past ruins of t’ last war
Tanks aimed at targets high up on t’ moor
Long out ahead rose Pike Lowe
A cairn for t’ dead, or so I trow
For much of t’ way rose hummocky grasses
Eek heather and bracken and bogs and mosses
It hurt to see the cairn ruined
A wanton act: a villain’s doing

Now heading south across the heath
Our destination: watersmeet
Ewden Force wa’ running low
As fine a sight as in full flow
Where rowans glow wi’ crimson berries
And for a while t’ walker tarries

In Stainery Clough we traced a road
An ancient trail the river fords
O’er Oaken Clough a giant sags
Of berries now two heaving bags
A rowan great but broke asunder
When it tore it must ha’ thundered

Heath and bracken for miles a’ more
Bare shanks soon are feeling sore
Past t’ shooting lodge and Broomhead Hall
The veteran chestnut of Wigtwizzle
Summer’s fading fast and autumn’s near
Here’s hoping t’ rowans grow next year


A holly (Ilex aquifolium): the last tree before Pike Lowe.

A stunning berry-laden rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) near Ewden Force.

And another. The rowans around here, while absolutely covered with berries, had more or less lost all of their leaves already. Rowan berries seem to be much more abundant and redder than usual this year. I’m loving it.

A shady pool in Oaken Clough. Danger! Midges!

Looking across the Ewden Valley to Thorpe’s Brow on our way home.


Posted in Gone for a walk + The treeblog trees





Photos from a walk down Ewden (21st February 2009): Part One

My legs took me on a wee walk down Ewden valley the other day... I found a tunnel in the woods.

This young holly tree (Ilex aquifolium) looked beautiful bathed in the late afternoon sun, but unfortunately this photo doesn’t do it justice! And I don’t know whether it was this particular holly, or if I’ve just never noticed before, but the butter-coloured leaf margins were quite striking.

The vigorous-looking leading shoots of the same holly.

Three hawthorns (Crataegus monogyna) provide the backdrop for this barb. The hawthorns have spikes too.

A weird little twig sticking out of a sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) trunk. When this tree gets older the smooth bark will turn platey and flaky-looking, like this.

A tiny-weeny twig sticking out of the same sycamore. I think you can see it in the top left of the previous photo.

A reflection of sycamore and ash (Fraxinus excelsior) trees. Not in the Ewden valley, this one! Can you guess what is doing the reflecting?


Posted in Gone for a walk





A walk in the snow (2nd February 2009): Part One

Everything was white.

It snowed pretty heavily Sunday night and most of Monday up here - probably the biggest snowfall in our local area in seven or eight years. It put down a good six or seven inches in our garden; the roads were covered; the treeblog trees were covered; the roofs and lawns and trees and bushes were covered; the hillside was covered. Everything was white. So as a dedicated lover of snow, while the rest of the UK was plunged into chaos (according to the tabloid press), I strapped myself into snow-proof attire and headed for the countryside...

My first port of call: the ‘first wood’ on Whitwell Moor. The trees prominent in the foreground are Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris), but this part of the wood also contains plenty of beech (Fagus sylvatica), English oak (Quercus robur), and larch (Larix decidua).

This split English oak on the edge of the wood featured heavily in a mid-January treeblog post on galls.

Snowy holly (Ilex aquifolium) leaves – those Christmas card favourites.

Hello! It’s the Lonely Oak, last seen with a bit on snow on treeblog in January 2008.

Snow-packed Scots pine needles.

A pair of heavily snow-laden beeches in Millstones Wood, a veritable winter wonderland.

The view south-west from the southern edge of Millstones. Ewden Beck courses through the wooded valley, which splits Broomhead Moor on the left from Upper Commons on the right.

It didn’t snow on Tuesday or Wednesday, so the roads cleared up. But we got another inch or so on Thursday morning. It’s Friday afternoon as I write this and there has been no fresh snow today. The roads are clear, but the gardens and pavements are still covered. To be continued...


Posted in Gone for a walk





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





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