Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Highlights from the Scotish Islands (part 1) Arran

Tuesday 27th July 2010
           The following photos are just a snippet of the wonderful holiday we had on the Scottish Islands in June and early July on our holiday of discovery either cycling or on foot  finding the beautiful orchids that grow on these beautiful unspoilt islands.This was our first visit to the Isle of Arran.We were impressed with its varied landscape, it is known as Scotland in miniature.

                 Our campsite at Kildonan the most southerly point
                 on Arran with Ailsa Craig Island on the horizon

Probably one of the most tiring walks we've done for several years, this was a section of the coastal path along the southern coast which crossed a rockfall that was several hundred yards long

                               At last we past the rockfall

                           The long slog up Goat Fell

                  The glaciated landscape of the interior

                                The summit 2868 ft.

                 A mutation....a double headed Heath Spotted Orchid

                               Blackwaterfoot Harbour

The promise of a another fine day ....tomorrow we sail to the Outer Hebrides

Monday, 26 July 2010

The Orchid still eludes us

Monday 26th July 2010.
                        Last Frid. 23rd July we sent another day in amongst the splendid scenery around Malham Tarn searching out the Clints and Grikes in the Limestone Pavements for the rare Dark Red Helleborine but the search was in vain..After the long search we returned to the Malham Tarn Estate and after a few enquires  we managed to speak to Martin the Manager of the estate who had a vast knowledge of the flora of the area and was very helpful. We were told that the Dark Red Helleborine hadn't been seen for several years after they removed some old Larch trees from he area, this allowed stronger foliage to grow up and  smothered them but steps are now being taken to reverse the problem.

         Malham Tarn has an extensive area of wetland on its western shores called The Moss this is also worth exploring because of its rare plants ,we found two new plants that we had never seen in the area before.

                                        Malham Tarn

                   The Clints and Grikes above Malham Tarn

         Monk's- Hood growing in the woods surrounding Malham Tarn

The following flowers were found in the wetland  
surrounding Malham Tarn

                                            Marsh Cinquefoil (new)

Common Wintergreen ( becoming rare because of its specialised habitat) (new)

                                           Bog Asphodel

                                  Sundew (carnivorous plant)

                                    Northern Marsh Orchid   ?

                                  Common Valerian

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Dramatic Lighting

Thursday 22nd July 2010
             Two days ago in the late evening the lighting outside our house looked very dramatic and I though we were in for a real bad storm because a few hours earlier in Liverpool, Preston and Keswick in the Lake District had some torrential rain and fairly widespread flooding .The clouds built up and the sky darkened dramatically but them the sun broke through in the northwestern sky and produced a golden contrasty light  casting strong shadows under the dense cloud in the late evening sunshine. The only rain was a light shower and the odd flash of lightning.

                                  The making of a big storm

                       The sun breaking through over Pendle Hill

                                       Down our avenue

                 Looking across to Blackburn and beyond to Preston

                                 The dark cloud passes

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Another orchid search

Saturday 17thJuly 2010
                                 It's been very unsettled and cool the last few days and having spent the week  straightening up the garden and painting at our son and daughter-in- law's house before the arrival of their 3rd son we had another orchid search in the high Pennines for the later seasons orchids that would still be in flower.We had searched the area previously  in Upper Ribblesdale around Ribblehead in June this year before our 5 weeks holiday. There were a few surprises but nothing that we would consider rare and our hope of finding the Dark- Red  Helleborine on the limestone pavements came to nothing but it is a rare orchid. I'll show just a few photos of the walk which we did enjoy even though we were almost blown off our feet on some of the more exposed hillsides.

                           Two late flowering Frog Orchids

    This is Ribblehead Station on the famous Settle to Carlisle Railway, here in the old sidings we found that the Wild Strawberries were at their best, just perfect for a healthy snack.

 In the old quarry next to Ribblehead Station we found a few more species of orchids the best find of the day was the Marsh Helleborine.


                                     Marsh Helleborine
  In amongst the Ladies Bedstraw the Common Spotted and the odd Fragrant Orchid all passed their best.
            The Carline Thistle  not very common up here in the north.
From the Limestone Pavement the Carlisle train can be seen crossing Ribblehead Viaduct.

Below Inglebrough on the Limestone Pavements Amongst the clints and grikes this is where we hoped to find the Dark- Red Helleborine with no success so we'll try another area of Pavement next week.
                  The Hart's Tongue Fern growing in the grikes
    The Limestone Pavement with the Ribblehead Viaduct in the distance

Monday, 12 July 2010

Back from the Scottish Islands to our local wild orchids

Monday 12 th July 2010
                                   It's 5 weeks since I last uploaded a post, the reason being we've been on the Isle of Arran, the Outer Hebrides and the Isle of Skye orchid searching, cycling and walking. I'll give a very short taste of the wild beautiful islands and their breathtaking beauty  before I come up to date with my local  patch.
I'll give a little more detail of the Scottish Islands in later posts.

                                The Mountains of Arran

                                   The Isle of Benbecula

                                              North Uist

                                            South Harris

                                            North Harris

                       Audrey on the beach in North Harris

                                               Isle of Skye

                                             Isle of Skye

          Back home in my back garden there are 146 orchid spikes mainly common spotted orchids but up in the field at the back of our house we counted around 400 orchid spikes a mixture of Common Spotted Orchids and Southern Marsh Orchids.
                          Common Spotted Orchids in my garden

                         Orchids have colonized my alpine trough

                                      Around the pond

                 Southern Marsh Orchids in the field near our house