Cotton Grass is looking beautiful on the Peak District moolands at present! There are actually two types of Cotton Grass. Common Cotton Grass which often has two flower spikes on each stem, and Hare’s Tail Cotton Grass which grows in … Continue reading Hare’s Tail Cotton Grass
Over the last week I have seen several patches of Butterbur in flower, usually along river banks in the Peak District. I took these photos yesterday from the Derwent Valley Heritage Way footpath between Calver and Baslow. As with all … Continue reading Butterbur in flower on the river bank
After all that cold weather and snow it is lovely to see some spring flowers starting to appear in the Peak District countryside. Yesterday we saw some lovely Celandine on a grassy bank near to Hope. This afternoon we passed this patch of Colt’s Foot on the side of Ladybower Reservoir. The plant gets its name because the leaves, which appear after the flowers resemble a colt’s foot in cross section. In years gone by, the plant was used in herbal medicine, but it has now been discovered that it can cause liver problems so is no longer used. Continue reading Colt’s Foot
Quite a common site on the high moorlands of the Dark Peak, but maybe not everyone knows what they are? These are commonly known Devil’s Matchsticks. Like all lichens, the Devil’s matchstick is actually two organisms working together: a fungus and an algae in a symbiotic relationship. The red tips are the fruiting bodies of the fungal component of the lichen. Have a look for them next time you are walking across the Peak District’s peat covered moorlands. Continue reading Devil’s Matchsticks
I have recently got back from the Mountain Training Association national conference which this year was in the Peak District. During the weekend there were a range of workshops to choose from and I was drawn towards the ‘Environmental Learning Made Easy’ session which was delivered by Jim Langley of Nature’s Work. This proved to be an excellent choice – which is why I want to share my experiences with you in my Countryside Blog. The workshop was aimed at introducing Learning Cards to help children to learn through outdoor activities. The fact that all of us who completed the … Continue reading Fun with environmental learning in the Peak District
There aren’t many wild flowers out in mid-November, but on our walk yesterday along ‘The Great Ridge’ from the village of Hope the views over the hills and valley were brightened up with a profusion of flowers on the gorse bushes that grow on the southern side of the ridge. There is an old country saying that when gorse is in flower, then kissing is in fashion. Gorse of course is one of those bushes that flowers almost continuously all year round! If we believe another country saying, then we would do well to tie a sprig or gorse to … Continue reading Kissing must still be in fashion!
A common sight in damp shady places, Star Moss is my favorite moss! It is so soft to the touch that when I am out walking and see it, I am always compelled to bend down and stroke it. (Yes, maybe I am a bit strange!). Its Latin name is Polytrichum commune, and people have used it as a decorative material all over the world. In the past, it has also been used to make a type of tea from which people used to believe would dissolve kidney and gall stones. Continue reading Star Moss
Last weekend for a change from our beloved Peak District, we provided a few guided walks in Snowdonia. In a marshy area on the hills to the north of Capel Curig we spotted these lovely little Sundew plants amongst some Sphagnum Moss. Their rounded leaves are tipped with pink, sticky globules which they use to attract and catch insects. They then digest the insects to supplement their diet in the nitrogen poor soils. In years gone-by the juice from this plant’s leaves has been put on warts, bunions and corns in the belief that it would cure them. I believe that there are a few Sundews in … Continue reading Insect eating plants!
Now is a great time to see the ling heather on the moors in all its glory. Whole moorlands in the Peak District appear to be carpeted in purple! The heather has been late flowering this year, probably due to the cooler than usual and wet weather that we have experienced over the summer. The displays of flowering heather that we have seen over the weekend on our half day guided walks and Derwent Edge Walk, have however been well worth waiting for. Continue reading Ling Heather on the Moors
Late summer and early autumn is the time for berries. On the hills and moorlands of the Dark Peak, billberries are very common and occasionally you can also see cowberries. We found these cowberries in the Upper Derwent Valley. Cowberries are edible and some people prefer them to cranberries. They are however rather acidic Continue reading Cowberries