Our bathroom is still being upgraded, so this morning I decided to make myself scarce by visiting Hardcastle Crags and taking a walk along Hebden Water.
Half-way to Gibson Mill, I was delighted to spot a northern hairy wood ants' nest at the side of the path. Believe it or not, this one was very small. I saw one once that so big, from a distance, with all the ants moving across its surface, I mistook it for a woodland pond. Trust me. You had to be there. Continue reading A walk in Hardcastle Crags→
I haven't been on the Moor for a few weeks, so I asked Jen to drop me off at the golf course car park on her way into work. I was on the Moor by 7am!
After a quick visit to the urnfield (which I've blogged about separately here), I made my way up to the trig point and had a brew. Yorkshire Tea, obviously. Then it was along Sheep Stones Edge, down the hill, and back home via Keelam Edge.
I was pleased to see the cotton grass out in abundance:
I promised myself a late-afternoon walk yesterday, if I could get through the work I'd set myself. Once again, I headed off down Burlees Lane and and up through the wood.
There were a lot of young birds around, being attended to by their parents. I saw robins, great tits, blue tits and swallows. It's a great time of year for a walk in the countryside. Mind you, when isn't?
I took a walk down the new cyclepath at Burton Marshes to Burton Point yesterday afternoon.
To be honest, I'm in two minds about the cyclepath. I can see the appeal of a bike ride along the edge of the marshes, away from traffic. But it's turned a place of solitude and quiet reflection into something of a thoroughfare. One local dog-walker I met yesterday was extremely vocal about “all these damn bikes!”. (Actually, I paraphrase, he used a different adjective.) Still, at least it's a clearly defined and well-maintained path, which any would-be off-road cyclists will stray off at their peril, thanks to the nearby military firing-range. And I suppose it keeps the cyclists off the hills.
I was pleased to see the yellow flag irises and southern marsh orchids out in abundance. As were the swifts, skimming low overhead.
The Burton Point sandstone outcrop is the location of a disgracefully out-of-bounds Iron Age fort. At the time that the fort was built, it would have been on the banks of the River Dee. But, in the eighteenth century, the river was canalised upstream and its route diverted to allow the navigation of larger vessels to Chester—which is when the marshes began to spread. Had this not happened, I suppose the heavy industrialisation on the Welsh side of the Dee Estuary, where the river now flows, would have taken place on the Wirral side. In which case, Burton would not be such a Mecca for birds. Or cyclists. Or me. So hats-off to those eighteenth-century Dutch engineers who inadvertently enmarshed the English side of the Dee Estuary!
In the lane just past Mount Skip, I spotted something I have wanted to see for years. It was unmistakeable: a humming-bird hawk-moth flitting back and forth next to the drystone wall. It really did look for all the world like a humming-bird. I fired off a few photos, but the thing was so fast, I just couldn't focus on it. Eventually, it landed on the wall (a typical behaviour, I learnt later), and I managed to get a close-up:
It turned out to be a very good day for lepidoptera. There were butterflies all over the place, making the most of the blossoming heather and the bright sunshine:
White thistle and rosebay willow-herb seeds filled the air. A summer snowstorm. Strange, it had never occurred to me before that the thistles and willowherb that grow in unchecked abundance around here don't seem to grow at all on the moor. I find it hard to believe that the acid soil is to blame—the soil in my garden is very acidic, and they certainly have no difficulty growing there—so perhaps the heather and moorland grasses simply don't allow them living space.