125 posts in the category

Gone for a walk

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The snow persists (10th January 2010) (Part 2)

Last Sunday when snow blanketed the country I thought it would be awesome if I could get up onto the moors to see Ewden Force, which was sure to be one sweet icicle fest. That turned out to be slightly over-ambitious. Once I got off the beaten path and onto the landrover track that goes up to the Broomhead shooting lodge the going got tough. The snow came to just below my knee and in places was up to the top of my legs! It was a super tough slog up the hill to the lodge but it felt like a real achievement once I made it       one       step       at       a       time. There was only an hour of daylight left after my snow-slowed progression, so I turned my back on the unreachable frozen waterfall wonder and with a slightly heavy heart and a very cold face retraced my lonely footprints. I was within one and a half kilometres of Ewden Force at the shooting lodge, but it might as well have been a thousand miles away. By the time I’d have gotten there it would have been dark and I would have perished in the wilderness or something. It would also have been rather dangerous: I’ve fallen down holes on the moors in broad daylight so who knows what you’re going to be falling down with all that snow concealing the true lay of the land? So no Ewden Force. Disappointing.

Ewden Valley, upper section.

Ditto.

Drifts around the lodge.

Icicle.

Looking across the snowbound valley.

Birch, probably downy (Betula pubescens).

It rained on Friday and Saturday – proper rain for the first time in weeks! – and washed away most of the snow. There are weather rumours that it may snow again mid-week (the BBC is forecasting heavy snow for Thursday)… and for much of February.


* * * * *

Call for Submissions: Festival 44 Returns to the treeblog


Posted in Gone for a walk





The snow persists (10th January 2010) (Part 1)

The eastern Salter Hill.
3rd April 2009

The eastern Salter Hill.
10th January 2010

The western Salter Hill.
29th March 2009

The western Salter Hill.
10th January 2010

Bird tracks under a large yew (Taxus baccata) in the Ewden Valley. As I approached I disturbed several large gamebirds (pheasant or grouse - I am shamefully ignorant of the differences). A large blue barrel stands nearby, some kind of home-made feed dispenser. It must be very important for the birds in a winter like this one.

Looking west towards Pike Lowe. The cluster of trees on the left are alders (Alnus glutinosa) of Owler Carrs.

I took off my rucksack next to one of the alders, and as it lay on the floor snowflakes began to alight upon it. Proper, stereotypical snowflakes, landing and not immediately melting!


* * * * *

Don’t forget that treeblog will be hosting next month’s Festival of the Trees. If you haven’t sent in your submission already, you’ve got until the 30th of January to do so.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Calm down dear, it’s only winter (3rd January 2010) (Part 2)

I love this dead tree. I love the hill on which it used to grow. I love the view from this hill, especially towards the Ewden Valley and Broomhead Moor and Pike Lowe, all of which I also love. You might have seen this tree before.

[Part 1, sir? – more snow & trees, incl. the Lonely Oak.]

The dead tree stands among a cluster of stunted trees at one end of Millstones Wood. The trees in this photo are all Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) except for the one on the left, which is a beech (Fagus sylvatica).

The setting sun dripped molten gold over the glacial Broomhead Moor but did not thaw that frozen wilderness.

More of those stunted trees…

A wee beech cupule, its two little nuts replaced with one giant snow-nut.

A typical snowy scene inside Millstones Wood.

A whole load of what I’m sure are pine seeds scattered across the snow by a grey squirrel in the canopy above. As it jumped from branch to branch, the snow it dislodged fell in little avalanches to the ground.

I think this was the fallen tree that my and some mates climbed up back in high school days to have our dinner, which would make it the Picnic Tree. These days it’s better known for the frightful cage structure constructed around its exposed root system. Constructed by witches! It is witches, I’m telling you.

The Long Lane Ash (Fraxinus excelsior).


* * * * *

February’s edition of the Festival of the Trees will be hosted by treeblog! So: people who read or look at or watch or create content on trees on blogs and/or other forms of internetery… please send in your submissions!

Do it.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Calm down dear, it’s only winter (3rd January 2010) (Part 1)

A snowy scene in Lower Whitwell Wood, looking west across Whitwell Moor to distant Millstones Wood.

It’s been snowing a lot lately. In fact, the last couple of weeks have made 2009/2010 the snowiest winter in these parts since 1981/1982. I went for a walk on Saturday afternoon when there was still plenty of snow around up on the tops. It snowed a lot Saturday evening, and I went for another walk Sunday afternoon on which I took these photos. Then yesterday the weather went beserk and it put down, on average, nine inches of snow around the house. And more snow is forecast! It’s brilliant!

A pair of reasonably lonely oaks not far from an even lonelier one.

This bleak and snowy scene may not have much in the way of trees, but I’ve included it here as it’s the view to the south-east from…

…the Lonely Oak. (There are now eleven different photos of the Lonely Oak on treeblog’s Flickr.)

There were a fair few tracks around the Lonely One. The two tracks in the bottom left part of the photo were made by one or more rabbits or hares, (likeliest to be rabbit, I’d say). From the book Animal Tracks and Signs by Bang and Dahlstøm (2001): Each of the regular print groups is made up of four separate footprints, at the back the two short fore prints, one behind the other almost in a line, and at the front the two hind prints, more side by side and usually longer than the fore prints. So the furthest-left track was made by a rabbit/hare heading towards the camera; the track to the right of it was made by a rabbit/hare heading away from the camera. The track with the funny lines coming out of the bottom right corner is probably from a little dog; the lines would have been made by paws skimming the top of the snow.

There were tiny icicles dangling from the Lonely Oak (an English oak, Quercus robur). Is that a gall I spy in the background?

The Trig Point atop the western Salter Hill.

A lovely pair of Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris). They appeared in a couple of posts last March when summer was near and snow wasn’t on my mind.

This would be the view from the top o’ the hill, looking south-west towards the darkly wooded upper Ewden Valley and Pike Lowe (on the horizon, slightly right of centre). Snowtastic.

A snowy cluster of mushrooms. This photo was taken on my Saturday walk, but I’ll sneak it in here. I love those gills.


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Posted in Gone for a walk





A wintry walk through the woods (Part 2)

Wintry Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) needles in Millstones Wood.

This post continues on from Part 2

The green leaves of a semi-evergreen bramble or blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) intermingle with the orange, crispy, marcescent leaves of young beech (Fagus sylvatica) trees.

A sort of cage formed by leaning sticks against the jutting-out roots of a fallen beech. Who would make such a structure? Kids? Witches? Wood spirits? A pretty freaky thing to chance upon alone in an empty wood on a late winter’s eve.

But my mind is strong like lion. Fear gave way to curiosity and I climbed that tree. It just made my fingers cold, but I gained a better perspective of the patterns formed by all the twigs lying on the woodland floor.

A typical resident of Millstones Wood: a gnarly old beech.

One snowy tussock.

A dead, stunted pine or larch tree still standing on an exposed edge of the wood. In the background the forested Ewden Valley runs off into the distance. This dead tree made an appearance on treeblog last December; a photo in that post was one of my favourites to appear on treeblog in 2008.


Like I wrote in the last post, it snowed again on Sunday and put down a decent amount. I’ve not been able to get out into the countryside to fully enjoy this proper snow yet (there hasn’t been enough to stop me from getting to work, see) but the white stuff is still here on the moors, on the fields, on the trees, etc… Although the main roads were mostly clear of snow by this afternoon, this evening it put down another inch or so. Heavy snow is forecast for tonight.

It’s going to be a White Christmas.


Posted in Gone for a walk





A wintry walk through the woods (Part 1)

The Long Lane ash. Have a look at it in early October and late November 2008 and early February and late May of this year. I’ve somehow started keeping a record of this tree.

There was a bit of snow put down before the weekend, so I went for a walk up to Millstones Wood yesterday afternoon to partake of the wintry atmosphere. It was biting cold and as I walked up Long Lane I was stung by flurrying microsnow. Once inside the wood, the snow eased off but the temperature fell even lower. It was proper Baltic. The ground was dusted with frozen snow and the footing was alternately slippery then crunchy. A robin flew across my path without stopping to say hello. I climbed partway up a reclining tree, but away from the warmth of a fleecy sleeve my fingers quickly protested the intense cold.

As I neared the other end of the wood more flakes began to fall.

Millstones Wood. Many of the beeches are rendered a vivid green by coatings of leprose lichen.

Leaning larches.

A wee spring that oozes out of the ground beside a large beech was frozen solid. An icy waterfall in miniature.

Almost every tree in this part of the wood is a European beech (Fagus sylvatica).

The frozen floor: twigs, beech leaves and snow.

An evergreen Scots pine breaks up the monotony of bare branches.

This afternoon it snowed again, and really went for it. There’s now a proper covering down. If it snows again in the night and recovers the roads, there is a chance that tomorrow won’t find me at work. It’ll find me roaming abroad with a grin on my face.


Posted in Gone for a walk





A late autumn’s afternoon wander (Part 2)

Autumnal larch (Larix decidua) needles.

Photos taken on Sunday the 15th of November.

To Whitwell Moor…

Could this be… a golden chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)? Y-yes?

Mycological bird-bath.

These are immature amethyst deceivers (Laccaria amethystea). I know they are because I overhead some people in the woods say they were .

A Malus fruit – perhaps a small crab apple? Aah, Millstones Wood – you and your mysterious Maluses!

The Lonely Oak, looking all apocalyptic and stuff. Yeah, but not really. It’s a fake. A fraud. A Photoshop phoney. The sky just wasn’t red at all.


Posted in Gone for a walk





A late autumn’s afternoon wander (Part 1)

These rubbery-looking mushrooms were growing out of a dead part of the split oak on Whitwell Moor. The split oak is an English oak (Quercus robur).

Photos taken yesterday.

Lichen growing on a nearby oak that is still managing to hold on to its leaves.

The wee mushroom here was growing from a dead branch overhead. Unusual place for a stalked mushroom, I thought.

A lovely turquoise lichen with bonus pinky-red bits. The dark green crust growing all around the big lichen is lichen too.

These tiny orange brackets were growing out of a dead branch on the ground beneath the oak. Their undersides look sort of bristly.

Tiny mushrooms growing under the big tree that is the mother of the treeblog Set C birches.

These two bigger shrooms were growing close by…


* * * * *

As usual when I put up photos of mushrooms, I’ll tell you I’m pants at identifying mushrooms and then ask for your help.

I’m pants at identifying mushrooms. Help me.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Autumn in Millstones Wood

A beech (Fagus sylvatica) in Millstones Wood. Big in real life, small in this photo.

You hear a lot of people saying how autumn is their favourite season; how nice the leaves look when they’re red and orange and gold. Well, my favourite season is summer. Autumn always feels sort of sad to me. All the good weather, all those hot summer days… those precious few months when all of the countryside is really alive… they’re history once autumn rolls round. Autumn, when all the while winter looms on the horizon. It’s depressing to think how far away spring waits.

I might have just made my outlook sound entirely bleak, but it isn’t really. A heavy snowfall will redeem a whole winter, and autumn does have a certain melancholic charm. And of course I understand the yearly cycle and appreciate its inevitability. But I can’t dream of a better fantasy than one perfect, eternal summer.

Photos taken on Saturday the 31st of October.

A large part of the wood is dominated by beech. Beech leaves decompose a lot more slowly than those of many of the other broadleaved species in Britain. That might be the main reason why the floors of beechwoods have relatively little vegetation compared with other flavours of woodland.

The sky was overcast so the light in the wood wasn’t very good. An old post has some photos that I took on a wander in nicer weather in October 2008 if you’re into that kind of thing.

Is it a beech tree? Is it a space tentacle?

A lovely beech.

A mushroom growing in a patch of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). I reckon it belongs to the same species as the mushrooms in the previous post, but that doesn’t help matters seeing how I dinnae know what bloody species they are.

Eurolarch (Larix decidua): the best non-native, naturalised, deciduous conifer going.

A beech leaf glows orange beneath a wee pool in the crook of a bough-trunk juncture.


* * * * *

The forty-first edition of the Festival of the Trees is over at Blog do Árvores Vivas. Go read!


Posted in Gone for a walk





Mushrooms and beech leaves

Photos taken this afternoon in the Millstones Wood.

Any idea what species these are? I’m useless at identifying fungi. I need to get myself a decent field guide and get self-improving! I think these might all belong to the Russula genus, but I’m not confident. These mushrooms were: seen in South Yorkshire, England; at the end of October; in an area of woodland composed predominantly of European beech (Fagus sylvatica) with a handful of English oak (Quercus robur).


Posted in Gone for a walk





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 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





treeblog Set D: collection and pre-pretreatment of rowan seeds

Looking into the canopy of the Whitwell Moor rowan. [Photo: 12 Sep. ‘09]

On Saturday the 12th of September I went for a late summer’s wander with my father. The weather was beautiful, the scenery was stunning, and our route just happened to pass by a couple of special trees: two rowans from which we collected berries to plant for treeblog’s Set D, one on Whitwell Moor and one overlooking Oaken Clough high up in the Ewden Valley.

Berries on the Whitwell Moor rowan. [Photo: 12 Sep. ‘09]

I previously collected berries from the Whitwell Moor rowan in autumn 2008 which I planted as part of treeblog Set C this spring (along with berries from another rowan, downy birch seeds, and sweet chestnuts), then replanted as Set C-r on the 12th of May. None of those seeds have germinated to date, presumably because I never pretreated them before planting them - something I didn’t realise was necessary. Without the pretreatment they still ought to germinate, but a whole year later rather than in the same year like I expected. So treeblog is expecting rowans from both Set C and Set D to germinate in spring 2010!

The Whitwell Moor rowan on the day of my Set D berry collection: the 12th of September 2009.

I discovered the Oaken Clough rowan this summer on the 18th of July. When I first lay peepers on it I knew that it had the biggest girth of any rowan I’d ever seen. I measured it on the berry run: 3.4 m (11 ft 2 in.) in circumference at about shin height. That gives a diameter of 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in.). These figures might not sound very impressive, but for a rowan they are well impressive. Unfortunately, this monster of a rowan has suffered a catastrophic collapse. Most of the collapsed boughs nevertheless remain alive, and since this incident the tree has put out a lot of new growth. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t keep on going for many years to come.

The Oaken Clough rowan. Massive yet collapsed. [Photo: 18 Jul. ‘09]

After I’d picked my berries, I sort of forgot about them for a couple of weeks. I just couldn’t stomach the upcoming task…

The Oaken Clough rowan berries. The black ones have gone bad. [Photo: 20 Sep. ‘09].

Then last week I got around to removing the seeds from the berries. This was a long, time-consuming process. I estimate it took me four or five hours, and that was only working with about half of the berries! The other half had gone rotten because I’d waited so long to act. I should have removed all of the seeds when the berries were fresh, but then ten hours of seed extraction would have sent me pathologically insane. Whatever, the outcome is I have plenty of seeds.

The Whitwell Moor rowan berries. [Photo: 20 Sep. ‘09].

This afternoon I removed any bits of husk still attached to the seeds. How nice and clean they look!

The clean extracted rowan seeds earlier today. The Oaken Clough rowan’s seeds appear to be slightly larger than those of the Whitwell Moor rowan.

Right. Now the seeds are all ready for pretreatment. To improve my chances of Set D success, I’ll be trying out not one, not two, but three methods of pretreatment. My two piles of seeds will be split into thirds, and each pair of thirds will undergo a different method of pretreatment. These methods are laid out in a Forestry Commission practice guide, and an upcoming post will detail what they are. The pretreatment has actually already begun for one pair of thirds: they are currently being soaked for 48 hours to rinse off any germination-inhibiting chemicals!

N.B. As each of the three Set D species are being planted on different days, I’m going to describe the rowans as belonging to Set D-r, the beeches – which were planted on Wednesday - as belonging to Set D-b, and the sweet chestnuts – which I have yet to collect – as belonging to Set D-c. That’s just to make things easier when I say blah blah blah Set D-r, Day XX.


* * * * *

The fortieth edition of the Festival of the Trees is over at local ecologist. Go read!


Posted in Gone for a walk + The treeblog trees





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





London planes by the riverside, York


Late summer; a summery resurgence. A hot day, a beautiful clear blue sky. A river: the Ouse in York. A riverside, an avenue of London planes. An icecream, a flake. The sun through the leaves, the sunlight plays on the water. Late summer perfection.

London plane (Platanus x acerifolia) leaves. No pom-poms.

London planes are a common sight in cities, being planted for their high tolerance of air pollution and soil compaction.

A goose on the Ouse. Photos taken yesterday.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Aira Force: the money tree, the waterfall, & the GIANT spruce

Three weeks ago yesterday I was travelling back from a week’s stay in the Highlands. Seeing as the road passed so close to Aira Force near Penrith, a detour was made. I discovered Aira Force completely by chance with a load of my eco-mates in May 2008 when we day-tripped out of Center Parcs. It was an awesome little trip that made a lasting impression on me, and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. There are a number of highlights to a visit to Aira Falls: there’s the money tree, there’s the actual waterfall, there’s the beautiful bit of river above the fall, there’s the whopping huge Sitka spruce, and there’s the general ambiance of the place… All this can be taken in and enjoyed in a couple of hours, but if the weather is tozzing I’d be more than happy to spend a whole day there.

And there it is! The famous Aira Force Money Tree! It is a tree wrapped in coins inside an enigma. How did it begin? Who hammered in the first coins? Who remembers to bring a hammer and coins along? How long did it take to completely cover the tree in coins, and how long since it was covered?

Coins galore, all bent by hammering. 1ps, 2ps, and a few 5ps.

A-ha! A bracket fungus growing (on alder? on hazel?) down by the beck. Q: What flavour are you? A: I think I’m a Laetiporus sulphurous - chicken of the woods, sulphur polypore. But I’m not sure. Can you help us, dear reader?

A quadruple hazelnut cluster (Corylus avellana).

A-ha! Another bracket fungus, definitely growing on an alder this time (Alnus glutinosa)! Q: What flavour are you? A: I think I’m a Ganoderma, perhaps G. applanatum - artist’s conk - but I’m not sure. These days I am old and blackened, but have a look at me as I was last year:

The same bracket on the 14th of May 2008. Again, dear reader – can you help ID?

Aira Force itself: an impressive 20 m / 65 ft drop (force, from the old Norse fors or foss, meaning waterfall.)

Downstream of the fall, Aira Beck flows through a gorge. Some of the oaks growing on the steep slope above the water were festooned with epiphytes. This photo shows a section of trunk about thirty feet up covered with mosses and ferns. I’ve seen trees dripping with lichens, but I can’t remember seeing British trees covered in ferns to this height. Remarkable.

This gargantuan Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) grows with one tree-sized limb hanging right out into space over the gorge. I have yet to see the ridonculous dimensions of this tree done justice to by a camera. Even with a bloke stood at the base, you cannot appreciate the scale of this thing the way you can when you’re actually stood gawping at it. The spruce is apparently part of an arboretum planted by the Howard family of Greystoke Castle in 1846. Well big.


* * * * *

And if you’re in the mood, how about a bonus poem by William Wordsworth?

The Somnambulist
Composed or suggested during a tour in the summer of 1833.

This poem might be dedicated to my friends, Sir G. Beaumont and Mr. Rogers, jointly. While we were making an excursion together in this part of the Lake District we heard that Mr. Glover, the artist, while lodging at Lyulph's Tower, had been disturbed by a loud shriek, and upon rising he had learnt that it had come from a young woman in the house who was in the habit of walking in her sleep. In that state she had gone downstairs, and, while attempting to open the outer door, either from some difficulty or the effect of the cold stone upon her feet, had uttered the cry which alarmed him. It seemed to us all that this might serve as a hint for a poem, and the story here told was constructed and soon after put into verse by me as it now stands.

LIST, ye who pass by Lyulph's Tower
At eve; how softly then
Doth Aira-force, that torrent hoarse,
Speak from the woody glen!
Fit music for a solemn vale!
And holier seems the ground
To him who catches on the gale
The spirit of a mournful tale,
Embodied in the sound.

Not far from that fair site whereon
The Pleasure-house is reared,
As story says, in antique days
A stern-browed house appeared;
Foil to a Jewel rich in light
There set, and guarded well;
Cage for a Bird of plumage bright,
Sweet-voiced, nor wishing for a flight
Beyond her native dell.

To win this bright Bird from her cage,
To make this Gem their own,
Came Barons bold, with store of gold,
And Knights of high renown;
But one She prized, and only one;
Sir Eglamore was he;
Full happy season, when was known,
Ye Dales and Hills! to yon alone
Their mutual loyalty--

Known chiefly, Aira! to thy glen,
Thy brook, and bowers of holly;
Where Passion caught what Nature taught,
That all but love is folly;
Where Fact with Fancy stooped to play;
Doubt came not, nor regret--
To trouble hours that winged their way,
As if through an immortal day
Whose sun could never set.

But in old times Love dwelt not long
Sequestered with repose;
Best throve the fire of chaste desire,
Fanned by the breath of foes.
"A conquering lance is beauty's test,
"And proves the Lover true;"
So spake Sir Eglamore, and pressed
The drooping Emma to his breast,
And looked a blind adieu.

They parted.--Well with him it fared
Through wide-spread regions errant;
A knight of proof in love's behoof,
The thirst of fame his warrant:
And She her happiness can build
On woman's quiet hours;
Though faint, compared with spear and shield,
The solace beads and masses yield,
And needlework and flowers.

Yet blest was Emma when she heard
Her Champion's praise recounted;
Though brain would swim, and eyes grow dim,
And high her blushes mounted;
Or when a bold heroic lay
She warbled from full heart;
Delightful blossoms for the 'May'
Of absence! but they will not stay,
Born only to depart.

Hope wanes with her, while lustre fills
Whatever path he chooses;
As if his orb, that owns no curb,
Received the light hers loses.
He comes not back; an ampler space
Requires for nobler deeds;
He ranges on from place to place,
Till of his doings is no trace,
But what her fancy breeds.

His fame may spread, but in the past
Her spirit finds its centre;
Clear sight She has of what he was,
And that would now content her.
"Still is he my devoted Knight?"
The tear in answer flows;
Month falls on month with heavier weight;
Day sickens round her, and the night
Is empty of repose.

In sleep She sometimes walked abroad,
Deep sighs with quick words blending,
Like that pale Queen whose hands are seen
With fancied spots contending;
But 'she' is innocent of blood,--
The moon is not more pure
That shines aloft, while through the wood
She thrids her way, the sounding Flood
Her melancholy lure!

While 'mid the fern-brake sleeps the doe,
And owls alone are waking,
In white arrayed, glides on the Maid
The downward pathway taking,
That leads her to the torrent's side
And to a holly bower;
By whom on this still night descried?
By whom in that lone place espied?
By thee, Sir Eglamore!

A wandering Ghost, so thinks the Knight, 0
His coming step has thwarted,
Beneath the boughs that heard their vows,
Within whose shade they parted.
Hush, hush, the busy Sleeper see!
Perplexed her fingers seem,
As if they from the holly tree
Green twigs would pluck, as rapidly
Flung from her to the stream.

What means the Spectre? Why intent
To violate the Tree,
Thought Eglamore, by which I swore,
Unfading constancy?
Here am I, and to-morrow's sun,
To her I left, shall prove
That bliss is ne'er so surely won
As when a circuit has been run
Of valour, truth, and love.

So from the spot whereon he stood,
He moved with stealthy pace;
And, drawing nigh, with his living eye,
He recognised the face;
And whispers caught, and speeches small,
Some to the green-leaved tree,
Some muttered to the torrent-fall;--
"Roar on, and bring him with thy call;
"I heard, and so may He!"

Soul-shattered was the Knight, nor knew
If Emma's Ghost it were,
Or boding Shade, or if the Maid
Her very self stood there.
He touched; what followed who shall tell?
The soft touch snapped the thread
Of slumber--shrieking back she fell,
And the Stream whirled her down the dell
Along its foaming bed.

In plunged the Knight!--when on firm ground
The rescued Maiden lay,
Her eyes grew bright with blissful light,
Confusion passed away;
She heard, ere to the throne of grace
Her faithful Spirit flew,
His voice--beheld his speaking face;
And, dying, from his own embrace,
She felt that he was true.

So was he reconciled to life:
Brief words may speak the rest;
Within the dell he built a cell,
And there was Sorrow's guest;
In hermits' weeds repose he found,
From vain temptations free;
Beside the torrent dwelling--bound
By one deep heart-controlling sound,
And awed to piety.

Wild stream of Aira, hold thy course,
Nor fear memorial lays,
Where clouds that spread in solemn shade,
Are edged with golden rays!
Dear art thou to the light of heaven,
Though minister of sorrow;
Sweet is thy voice at pensive even;
And thou, in lovers' hearts forgiven,
Shalt take thy place with Yarrow!


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





A huge ash in Glen Lyon. The Falls of Acharn.

One really, really big ash.

Somewhere in Glen Lyon grows a bloody huge veteran ash (Fraxinus excelsior). Though it has a girth of truly enormous proportions, it is sadly lacking in the height department after a recent pollarding. I reckon this major piece of tree surgery was carried out about ten years ago in order to make the tree safe – it stands at the side of a road – by removing a diseased / rotten / dying crown. Happily, the tree is looking super healthy and vigorous today and has put on plenty of new growth since it was pollarded, forming a nice ball-shaped crown.

All photos taken on Tuesday the 4th of August.

Two ashes.

A look round the other side.

The longest drop at the Falls of Acharn.

Later in the day after a drive around the eastern end of Loch Tay we parked the car in Acharn and went for a walk up by the burn to see the Falls of Acharn. July was very wet and the few days prior to our visit had been quite rainy, so the Falls were an impressive sight with Acharn Burn in good spate. There isn’t just a single fall, but rather a series of spectacular falls; the photo above shows the biggest drop, which can be admired from a wee viewing platform accessed through a “hermit’s cave” (read small T-shaped tunnel apparently built in the 1760s). Further upstream are a series of smaller yet equally (if not more so) impressive waterfalls in a rapids-stylee. If you’re up in the Loch Tay area they are definitely worth a visit.

This page on the Walking Highlands site and this Wikipedia page have a few of photos that show the same views as a couple of mine, but with the burn in a much reduced flow.

Part of the series of smaller falls further upstream of the big drop. Note the daredevil tree (centre top of the photo) growing right out of the rock and leaning over the churning pool.

Even further upstream. If you like waterfalls, treeblog will soon be treating you to more watery goodness in the form of Killin’s Falls of Dochart and the Lake District’s Aira Force.

Rogues and beeches.

And still in the vicinity of the Falls, a luscious young hazelnut (Corylus avellana) is coming along nicely.


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





Habitat restoration in Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve

Flowers of the harebell (Campanula rotundifolia).

I recently returned from a week in the Highlands where I stayed in a cottage in Glen Lyon, just over an hour’s drive from Killin and Loch Tay. On Sunday the 2nd I walked up Beinn Ghlas (1103 m / 3620 ft) and Ben Lawers (1214 m / 3984 ft), two of the local Munros (mountains over 3000 feet). Most of the main path is within the Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve, a 4,722 ha area of land encompassing the southern slopes of the Lawers and Tarmachan ranges owned and cared for by the National Trust for Scotland.

Adapted from the National Trust for Scotland’s Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve page:

… [The] Reserve [is] especially important for the arctic-alpine flora, and is also of international importance. We manage it in collaboration with Scottish Natural Heritage, to achieve a wide range of conservation objectives [including] the long-term survival of the native species of plant and animal and their habitats… some of the habitats are now so rare and vulnerable that extinction is either imminent of inevitable if we do not act to prevent it. Much of our work is designed to reverse such a process, with ‘species recovery’ and ‘habitat restoration’. For example, you can se the first British attempt to restore montane willow scrub, a rare and declining habitat in Scotland, as part of a continuum also including herb-rich birchwood. [A] Nature Trail is mostly within an ‘enclosure’ fence, within which the vegetation is recovering from the heavily grazed condition still seen outside the fence. Many of the trees and shrubs have been planted during the 1990s, but some of them, and the herbaceous plants, have regenerated without such intervention.


This photo shows the enclosed area mentioned in the above passage – it’s the reddish-brown patch in the centre of all that green. The green is mainly grass and low-growing herbs that are tolerant of being grazed by sheep and deer. The enclosed area is a different colour because a more natural flora has been allowed to regenerate thanks to the deer fencing – it appears reddish-brown from a distance because a lot of the ground cover is currently made up of heathers and flowering grasses. The mountain in the background is Beinn Ghlas; it obscures Ben Lawers.

The concentrated sheep grazing since the 18th century, and increasingly large deer populations now [deer have no natural predators since the wolf was hunted to extinction in the 17th or 18th century], have had a profound effect on the vegetation. Trees, shrubs and tall herbaceous plants cannot survive and regenerate and are now confined to cliff ledges. Farmers have rights to graze their sheep on Trust land on the Ben Lawers range, but the red deer is a native of the hills and its presence is important to the land. However, numbers are such that seedling trees cannot escape the many hungry mouths, so culling of deer is carried out on the reserve.

[Taken from a leaflet available to download from the National Trust for Scotland’s Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve page.]


Several birch (Betula) saplings and a rowan sapling (Sorbus aucuparia) – far right – growing amongst heather, ferns and lichen (the creamy-white patches) inside the enclosure. Much nicer than a vast, monotonous expanse of overgrazed grassland, innit. As well as birch and rowan, I saw plenty of willow growing; the Burn of Edramucky flows through the enclosure and you know how willow loves its water.

A wee rowan rising above tall, flowering grass; something you just don’t see outside of the enclosure.

The view south over the beautiful Loch Tay from the enclosure. I ♥ the Highlands.

This horsetail (Equisetum sp.) – a “living fossil” - is also benefiting from the habitat restoration scheme. I found this one growing with its friends by a waterfall.

Looking back through the enclosure towards Beinn Ghlas. The day started off overcast and drizzly, but by late afternoon the weather turned lovely for the ascent.


* * * * *

Featuring in the next few posts: photos of the Set A and Set C trees; a huge spruce and a money tree; a huge ash and a hoary rowan; & some big mushrooms and a big bracket fungus!


Posted in Gone for a walk + Holidays and field trips





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

I was out walking on the moors last Saturday, and in Part One of this two-part post I’d just walked across Whitwell Moor, through Millstones Wood, and over Broomhead Moor to Pike Lowe...

After a bit of a dinner stop at that ancient cairn, I headed south to intercept the upper course of the Ewden Beck, I almost perfectly landed upon what I’d come looking for. Right next to the confluence of the beck with an unnamed (on the map) tributary from Stainery Clough, there is an impressive waterfall. (A second, smaller waterfall is to the left of the main fall, where the Stainery Clough stream drops into the beck, but it’s hidden by bracken in my photo.) Two things about this fine waterfall: 1. It is orange! - a consequence of the very peaty water. 2. It is bigger than it looks in this photo, which was taken zoomed in from the top of a steep bank overlooking the river. I reckon the face of the fall to be about three metres tall. There is an excellent photograph on Flickr by Peter Bell, taken on May 30th this year, that gives a much better idea of the true height of the waterfall. It also shows a much denuded flow; my photo was taken after a prolonged rainy spell, so the Ewden Beck was in full flow, and judging by the flattened vegetation along the river edge the water had been a foot higher in places after a big storm during the night. The waterfall isn’t named on the map – it isn’t even on the map (1:25,000 OS) – so I’m calling it Ewden Force. I’m sure some locals have a name for it already. I wonder what?

So after finding a good place to confidently cross the swollen Ewden Beck upstream of the waterfall, and then crossing the Stainery Clough stream, I walked east over the moor (south of and parallel with Ewden Beck) towards the shooting lodge I visited on the 21st of March. Between Stainery Clough and the lodge, I had to cross another two significant cloughs and their swollen streams. One was Oaken Clough, which looks quite meaty on the map, contours-wise; the other, of similar size to Oaken Clough in real life, is unnamed on the map where the contours barely bend for it! Anyway, there are a number of small unnamed streams either side of Oaken Clough, so I couldn’t tell which of the two big cloughs was Oaken Clough because of the dodgy cartography. Either way, all the cloughs were devoid of oaks; a much better name for Oaken Clough would be Rowan Clough.

A wee birch seedling (pendula or pubescens).

Heading down into one of the cloughs. Rowans (Sorbus aucuparia) ahead, stream to the left, grassy ancient path to the right. Bear in mind that this is in the middle of nowhere, with no footpaths anywhere near it. There can’t be many people ever walk here, but sometime in the past, probably hundreds of years ago, there was a way down here that was important enough for someone to go to the trouble of creating a stone-edged path down to the stream, probably to ford it. Perhaps you can make out some of the mossy edging stones on the left side of the path; to the right, off the photograph, is a steep bank that is supported with a sort of stone wall. Very old, very gone-back-to-nature. I almost walked along it without even realising what it was. I really need a GPS device to record the location of these things so that I’ll never forget where they are.

Developing rowan berries. Not ripe just yet, but in another few weeks all of the local rowans will be covered in clusters of bright red berries.

Speaking of rowans, here’s one leaning over the stream.

More rowans! It’s rowan heaven up here in these wee cloughs all surrounded by moorland. Many of the trees were practically dripping with lichens; it was like being up in the Highlands.

Heading down into the other decent-sized clough, this: the biggest-girthed rowan I have ever seen. I knew it was a special one as I eyed it from a distance. A sheep track led straight to it, so our ovine friends use it as a landmark. Well over a metre in diameter (I’ll need to come back for some DBH action), the tree had split in half with its still-healthy branches spanning quite an area. There was also a lot of dead wood scattered around its vicinity; it must have been quite an explosive collapse!

It wasn’t just the tree that was huge. Some of the lichens were beasts, like this monster growing on one of the branches.

In the bottom of a clough, this unusual sight. A rowan and a birch growing hip to hip on the stream bank.

And on the way home from this magical journey of cairn, clough and waterfall, a familiar feature: the eastern Salter Hill. (See it here on the 3rd of April and here on the 1st of June.)


Posted in Gone for a walk + Notable trees





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





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