Wharram Quarry is a species rich chalk grassland, home to the many characteristic plants that thrive on the thin soil levels found there. Quarried for chalk from 1919 it fell into disuse in the 1940’s and was offered to the YWT in the 1960’s when the owner found Bee Orchids growing on the quarry floor. Nine of us set off in very unpromising drizzly rain, to discover this promising flower and butterfly rich site in the Yorkshire Wolds.
You may have believed that the source of the Wharfe was at the northern extreme of Upper Wharfedale, but you would be wrong. It does in fact rise in the above named minor dale.
A full mini-bus driven by Stuart made its way via Bingley, Keighley, Cracoe, & Kettlewell towards our toilet stop in Buckden and then onto our destination New Bridge. The weather began cooler than expected but later warmed considerably, with plenty of sunshine, but always with a keen westerly breeze.
With the distance putting some people off, and a few last-minute cancellations, it was a small group which made the journey to Cumbria.
I’d been on a course at Blencathra FSC, so it was ideal for me to meet the minibus at the church near Brigsteer, so thanks to Kevin for being sole driver. After lunch on arrival, we set off downhill over the field to a stretch of woodland.
The woodland was full of Black Bryony, several clumps of Hemp Agrimony (just about in flower where it was in full sun), Enchanter’s Nightshade, Wood Sedge and Wood Melick. We saw a solitary Greater Butterfly Orchid and a small amount of Hairy St John’s-wort. The patches of bramble were attracting the butterflies; Ringlet and Meadow Brown being the most numerous.
Nine hardy souls braved the dire weather forecast and journeyed via the M62-A64 to Strensall Common, a site several miles to the north of York. We sort of got away with it as during our 4 hour stay we experienced no periods of the heavy stuff, just light rain for the most part and even some dry spells; alas that yellow orb in the sky was totally absent.
Our lunch was taken underneath pine trees at a crossroad of paths with plenty of evidence of the numerous sheep on the common all around! We were pleased to hear at least 2 cuckoos and we also had good views of a singing Tree Pipit and later a Stonechat.
WFV ASHES PASTURE ,near RIBBLEHEAD, YORKSHIRE DALES. 18th June 2019
A better Tuesday than the last two. The rain kept away, there were fleeting glimpses of the sun and the minibus, driven by Julia, headed out on the much loved and familiar route to the Dales. Our destination was the recently extended YWT Ashes Pasture Reserve near Ribblehead. This is a diverse grassland area with acid pasture, fen meadows and calcareous flushes which hosts a wealth of species. In view of safety consideration we were dropped at the site and the minibus then parked some distance away.
There were 14 participants on this week's trip. With the weather forecast predicting a 70% chance of precipitation, we were expecting a wet day.
Our first port of call was a toilet stop in Tadcaster. With only one toilet, a 20p fee and an automatic door with a self-cleaning cycle between each visit, it became a drawn out process. Several 20 pences were lost ( according to a local this is not uncommon), some gave up and others snuck into the toilet at a nearby surgery.
Anyway, we pressed on to Bolton Percy Station Nature Reserve where parking was very limited ( well done Stuart). Bolton Percy ceased functioning as a station in the year I was born. ( That will send you all to google.....). The small reserve spans the old platform and bridge embankments. You cannot forget the railway history with numerous trains racing past on the Leeds to York rail line.
A lovely sunny day greeted us as we met at Undercliffe Cemetery Lodge. The site has a fascinating history having originally opened in 1854, not only for burials, but also with landscaping to provide formal parkland where people could spend recreational time. By the early 1970s burials were becoming less common and the Bradford Cemetery Company went out of business in 1975. The site suffered neglect reverting to a more natural state until Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council purchased it in 1984 and declared it a conservation area. The Undercliffe Cemetery Charity now manage the site through a board of trustees.
We had been informed by the Registrar of the best areas to explore and so 11 of us headed for a wooded section near the Otley Road entrance. Whilst the main section of the site is looked after by volunteers, the periphery is left in a more natural state and thus provided opportunity for exploration.
Today's walk in the Lower Wharfe Valley was completed in continuous sunshine in sharp contrast to our walk in the area completed on 5 May 2015 when it had rained. Consequently the spring countryside was at its best with trees in leaf and flower, the birds were singing, butterflies were on the wing and many flowers were in bloom.
Our walk started from the car park at Weeton church(architect Sir Gilbert Scott) and we followed a country lane, crossed fields into a bluebell wood, then took a riverside path along the River Wharfe. The walk could be described as "In the steps of the Bradford Botany Group" as several members had copies of the botanical list and accounts prepared by BBG members following their walk on the 27 April, all most useful for identification purposes.
WFV Nidd Valley , near Knaresborough 7th May 2019
There were highs and lows in today's visit. With Stuart driving we left Bradford in cool drizzly weather heading for the Nidd valley near Knaresborough in order to see the Spring flora. On arrival at the car park the newly erected height barrier prevented the minibus from entering. The delay while an alternative parking place was agreed upon provided the opportunity to investigate the variety of plants on the roadside mound of soil. This we assumed had been brought from elsewhere and dumped during the recent improvements.
We sped through the Dales of Wharfedale and Bishopdale in the minibus before arriving at our destination Wensleydale with its limestone scars, green fields, sheep with lambs and of course waterfalls. The party of 13 arrived at the Yorkshire Dales National Parks information centre at Aysgarth Falls in mid morning. The staff had kindly assembled information about the dormouse introduction project started in 2008 for ourselves. The dormouse population is doing well in this special coppice hazel woodland habitat. As well as monitoring the dormouse population, work has been undertaken to extend their range by planting hedgerows, a corridor between the two Wensleydale sites. Dormice are in a state of torpor between October and April. They are also nocturnal. Signs of their presence that we could look out for are the nest boxes (at shoulder height with a hole in the rear) and the broken,hazel nut shells.