125 posts in the category

Gone for a walk

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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





Deadwood at twilight (6th December 2008)

I took a walk with my father yesterday afternoon. We followed near enough the same route as my walk two Fridays ago. The weather was near enough the same too, the only difference being it wasn’t quite so cold. I took the following photos in the space of fifteen minutes between four and half past, not long after the sun had set.

At the trig point end of Millstones Wood, as it peters out, there is group of stunted larches and pines. There are a couple of skeletons too, ghosts of trees that died auld lang syne, but whether they were larches or pines, or one of each, I do not know. They are the subjects of the first five photos.





Can you make out the face of a devil in the middle of the knotted deadwood silhouetted against the sky? It’s pretty freaky, man.

Away from the stunted trees now, a big pine blocked out what little light was still afforded by the sky.

The distinctive feathery outline of a beech, and in the background the moors of the Peak District.

P.S. This month's edition of the Festival of the Trees is up at A Neotropical Savanna. Go read! I have volunteered to host February's edition here at treeblog!


Posted in Gone for a walk





A wintry walk on Whitwell Moor

Last Friday afternoon I went for a walk around Whitwell Moor. As well as making some bark rubbings, I took some photographs of the winter scenery.

Birch tree on silhouetted against the winter sun.

A common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) sapling on Long Lane seen with leaves on the 5th of October and without on the 28th of November (Friday). Pretty cool, huh?

A small stand of birch silhouetted by the afternoon sun.

More silhouetting! A Scots pine surrounded by other trees: birches, larches, and more pines.

A frosty beech leaf blown out of Millstones Wood.

The Lonely Oak on Whitwell Moor at twilight. This post from January has a contemporary photo of the Lonely Oak with links to three other photos from spring and summer 2007.




Posted in Gone for a walk





A wander in Millstones Wood (24th October 2008)

I went for a wander in the Millstones Wood this afternoon. We’re well and truly into Autumn now. I know, I’ve seen it… and I have evidence:

(The photos in this post can be viewed at a higher resolution – click them to open their Flickr pages, then click the 'All sizes' button.)

The Sun shines through the soon-to-be-bare branches of beeches yet hung with green and gold leaves.

I reckon this burnt-looking thing is some kind of fungus. I’ve seen them in the same woods but in spring-time, so I don’t know if they can appear like this all year round or whether they have some amazing ability to stick around through the winter. I also wonder if they only look like this dead and shrivelled, or if this is how they actually grow. Can you, dear reader, satisfy my queries? Email’s at top o’ page.

A reclining beech.

Another reclining beech. Judging by how its roots haven’t regrown, I’d say it’s either not been down long or it went over quickly.

This beech branch hung so low that its lowest point was covered by earth. It may have then put down roots and become an independent tree – a process known as ‘layering’.

Picturesque larches in front of an outcropping of millstone grit.

Good old semi-natural mixed woodland. I can see pine, oak and beech in this photo and there is larch just out of shot on the right.

This bark around a hollow in the trunk of a massive old fallen rowan is riddled with pellets from an air rifle. Someone’s been doing a lot of shooting.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Collecting rowan berries and downy birch seeds

There’s been a small voice in the back of my head lately and it’s been telling me to go and get the berries and seeds I need for treeblog’s Set C. So today I went on a wander to see what I could do about it. I’m going to be planting three species of tree for Set C: downy birch (Betula pubescens), rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), and sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa).

the rowan

I already have some rowan berries from the fallen rowan that I collected on the 15th of August, six weeks ago to the day. It’s a good job I collected those when I did because the last time I saw the fallen rowan, just over a week ago, there wasn’t a single berry left on it. But there was another rowan I wanted berries from – the one in the photo above - and I’ve paid it a visit today. Its berries were very ripe and quite a lot had been shed. I gathered up a fair few, some from the ground and some still on the tree.

the downy birch

My next port of call was this big old downy birch (probably - it might be a silver birch), only a short walk from the rowan. Whilst not a very tall tree, its short trunk has an impressive girth to about one metre from the floor, where it splits into numerous spreading branches. The approach to this tree is a little bit special. You have to squeeze down a narrow cow-made path through a cluster of young birches and pines, which happen to frame this picturesque tree as it squats in its own little clearing on the edge of open moorland. When I arrived, seeds were collected. Hundreds of them.

a pearl-studded puffball

There were a lot of these pearl-studded puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum) under the big birch. I saw plenty of these looking well past their best at the end of February down in Thetford Forest when I was collecting data from a silver birch provenance trial. My guess is that this species of puffball is associated with birch, perhaps in a mycorrhizal role.

In other treeblog news... (1) I still need to collect sweet chestnuts, but I might not be able to get my hands on them for a while yet; and (2) this blog is well overdue a Set A update.


Posted in Gone for a walk + The treeblog trees





Hope to Upper Midhope (18th September 2008) Part 2

An area of clearcut coniferous woodland in Alport dale. There were a few signs around explaining that over the next 40 years, most of the existing timber-producing conifers will be cut down and replaced with native woodland. So alders and rowans and birch and oak and hazel and the like. Sounds good!

Looking over the edge at Alport Castles. The famous Tower is just off-picture to the left. There’s quite a lot of coniferous forest in the background to replace!

Just off the moors the footpath heads through a nice bit of birch-rowan woodland.

Updated December 2008. Silk button spangle galls produced by the silk button spangle gall wasp (Neuroterus numismalis) on the underside of a fallen English oak (Quercus robur) leaf.

Looking downriver from the old packhorse bridge at Slippery Stones. The 17th century bridge was originally further downstream but while Ladybower Reservoir was being built in the first half of the 20th century, the bridge was taken down and the stones numbered, then reconstructed at its present location.

Around the corner from Slippery Stones, at the bottom of Cranberry Clough – this lonely downy birch (Betula pubescens).

Just below Upper Midhope now, and it’s almost sunset.

Just along the road from the preceding photo – and but a stone’s throw from the fallen rowan – I took a rest on this old gate.

P.S. It might be little late in the day, but if you haven’t already, go check out this month's Festival of the Trees (No. 27) over at Exploring the World of Trees.


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





Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (27th July 2008) Part 2: Assorted photographs

common lime inflorescence

Inflorescence on a common lime a.k.a. European linden (Tilia x europaea). The common lime is a hybrid of the small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata) and the large-leaved lime (Tilia platyphyllos).

cider gum

A cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii) tree!

ribbon gum and cider gum

Two eucalypts in front of one of the glasshouses: another cider gum on the right, and in the background a ribbon gum a.k.a. manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis).

cider gum foliage and seed pods

Cider gum foliage and seed pods. These are the ‘mature form’ leaves, as opposed to the ‘juvenile form’ leaves currently seen on treeblog’s own cider gums.

a grove of six giant sequoias

A grove of six giant sequoias a.k.a. Sierra redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum). The largest tree in the world, General Sherman, is a giant sequoia.

large sweet chestnut tree

This sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) tree has a massive trunk, which splits into three huge boughs.

looking up a large sweet chestnut bough

Looking up one of the huge boughs. I saw three different sweet chestnuts in the Garden and all were of massive girth. I bet they are easily some of the biggest trees in the collection.

sweet chestnut male flowers and developing cupules

Male sweet chestnut catkins in full bloom. The bright green spiny female parts will develop into the distinctive spiky cupules which each usually contain three chestnuts.


Posted in Gone for a walk





A walk in Millstones Wood (4th June 2008)

big blue sky and a wood in the distance

Walking up Long Lane to Millstones Wood you pass by two small woods on Whitwell Moor. This is the second.

leaves and the remains of flowers

These are parts of a tree I've seldom seen in Millstones Wood. I think it's a crab apple (Malus sylvestris), but I'm not certain. Can anybody ID this for me?

beech leaves overhead

Little sunlight penetrates the beech canopy. A typical characteristic of the average beechwood is a shady floor.

beech trees

Beeches. The many-branched beech to the left was probably grazed as a sapling which prevented it from growing with a single main stem.

strange carving in bark

Not sure what this is supposed to symbolise, or if it's just pure art, but I found it carved into one of the trees.

male pine inflorescence with whorl of needles

A male inflorescence and accompanying whorl of needles on a Scots pine.

close-up of female pine flower

The female flower of a Scots pine, only a few millimetres in height. In a couple of years this small red blob will have matured into a hard, woody pine cone. treeblog has already done a post on Scots pine reproductive organs (about this time last year).

stunted pines

Stunted pines on the top of the hill, just outside of the wood. Although I think only pines can be seen in this photo, there is at least one larch in the group.

Peak District landscape

From the vantage point beneath this pine, enjoy the view in the general direction of Sheffield and take in some of the Peak District landscape typical to my local area. In the foreground is a field of strangely neat gorse.


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





Marcescent oak leaves in Holyrood Park revisited

Back on the 14th of December I had a wee wander in Holyrood Park and bumped into a couple of young oaks. One was standing naked, but the other was covered in marcescent leaves. I wrote in this post "These dead leaves will probably spend the whole winter attached to the tree. I'll see if I can remember to go back and check in a month or two." Well, I did remember. And the leaves are still there.

marcescent oak on 14th December 2007

The marcescent oak as it stood on the 14th of December 2007.

the same oak on the 18th of February 2008

The same oak today, the 18th of February 2008. Most of its leaves still remain.

oak with no leaves

Its buddy is still starkers, obviously. The orangey blur in the centre of the photo is the marcescent oak in the background.

close-up of a marcescent oak leaf

Detail of one of the marcescent leaves.

gorse flowers

A bit of gorse. Gorse can flower at any time of the year!

pine needles and cones

There is a little bit of a pine wood growing right in the middle of Holyrood Park. I'm guessing it's all Scots pine.

alder silhouetted above Arthur's Seat

There were a few juvenile alder trees knocking about near the pines. At least one was old enough to reproduce - notice the seed cones and pollen catkins dangling from this branch silhouetted above Arthur's Seat.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Snow: Whitwell Moor & Millstones Wood (3rd January 2008)

snow on Scots pine

Snow on Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).

snowy boggy patch with birch and Scots pine in the background

A snowy boggy patch in a small wood. Birch and Scots pine in the background.

lonely oak

The lonely oak on Whitwell Moor (last seen in these treeblog posts from the 14th of August, 8th of May, and 29th of March - all 2007).

snowy woodland scene

A snowy woodland scene in Millstones Wood. Snow and stone and tree.

broken larch branch

This broken larch (Larix) branch looks like old news nowadays. There's even a patch of fungus visible at the back. But back on the 4th of April 2007 it was all fresh and glorious!

snowy larch twigs

A generous portion of larch twigs, delicately powdered with snow.

snow-covered beech

A picturesque snow-covered European beech (Fagus sylvatica) in Millstones Wood.

snow in the woods

A serene scene. Wintry beauty in the woods.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Autumn photos from the Innocent Railway

I went for a little stroll down by the Innocent Railway in Edinburgh this afternoon. Next to Holyrood Park, nowadays the railway is just a footpath / cycle path. But it’s still a nice wee place for a wander.

Yellow beech (Fagus sylvatica) leaves. Most of the rest of the leaves on this tree were still green.

A yellowing wych elm (Ulmus glabra) leaf.

A silver birch (Betula pendula). This one had lost about half of its leaves, with the remainder mostly yellow. Other silver birches in the area were almost completely bare.

Flowering ivy (Hedera helix) with part of Arthur's Seat in the background.

The ivy was abuzz with honey bees, flies and wasps. They must have been loving all the flowers.

Crack willow (Salix fragilis) leaves.

I don’t know what kind of tree these red leaves belong to, but they were very nice from a distance.

Fraxinus excelsior) is staying nice and green. Perhaps this is a consequence of the weird weather we had this year: a red hot spring and a soaking wet summer.

This alder also seems determined to remain green a while longer!


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





Blackford Hill gallivanting (3rd May 2007)

young sycamore leaves

Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) - flower and new leaves.

young sycamore leaves - backlit

Young sycamore leaves backlit by the Sun.

early elder inflorescence

Early elder (a.k.a. elderberry) (Sambucus nigra) inflorescence.

young sycamore leaves

The young leaves of a small sycamore which was decapitated when a patch of gorse was cleared. The sycamore is a lot quicker off the mark in terms of recovery, by the look of things.

gorse shieldbug

The gorse shieldbug (Piezodorus lituratus). Tenuous tree link: feeds on gorse, which is almost a tree. A wannabe tree.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Wild cherry and gorse (30th April 2007)

wild cherry flowers

Wild cherry (a.k.a. gean) (Prunus avium) flowers in the garden.

wild cherry in blossom

Wild cherry blossom.

gorse with Arthur's Seat in background

Gorse in flower, with Arthur's Seat in the background.


Posted in Gone for a walk





A walk on Blackford Hill (27th April 2007)

horse chestnut inflorescence

Close-up of a horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) inflorescence.

gorse flowers

Vivid gorse (Ulex europaeus) flowers. I know gorse isn't technically a tree, but it can grow fairly big, woody trunks!

elm leaves

Some species of elm of which I am not quite sure - probably wych elm (Ulmus glabra.

elm bark

The bark of a close-by elm of the same species growing on a rocky substrate. Quite a big one; must have avoided Dutch elm disease.


Posted in Gone for a walk





In Millstones Wood

twisty beeches

The spiralling branches of the European beech (Fagus sylvatica).

Photos taken on the 4th of April 2007.

beech seedling amongst beech nuts and twigs

A beech seedling grows amongst beech nut husks and twigs.

broken larch branch

The splintered wound of a broken larch (Larix) branch.

shadows on stone

Shadows on stones.


* * * * *

treeblog news: Set A (Day 24) - Still no signs of germination.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Photos from a walk

last year's leaves (oak)

These oak leaves have doggedly remained on the tree all winter, but for how much longer can they hang on? It seems that oak and beech are always the last to lose their leaves.

lonesome hilltop tree

This tree is alone amongst the heather and bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) on the hilltop, and thus is especially exposed to the elements. Hence its diminutive stature. Species? Probably a silver or downy birch. [Update (August 2007): This is actually an oak.]

semi-fallen beech in wood

This poor beech tree was saved from a certain flooring by its unfortunate neighbour. It looks like the ground become too waterlogged and unstable to support the weight of a full tree (happens a lot in this wood). However, I bet that the tree is still alive and well.


Posted in Gone for a walk





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