Robert's car broke down on the way to the Unitarian church, leaving 13 participants on this week's trip and we were definitely unlucky with the weather. In complete contrast to last week, the hottest day of the year, this surely felt like it was one of the wettest. Shortly after getting out of the minibus, the heavens opened and we sought shelter like sheep by huddling close to the wall of the Old Hall Inn. We spotted a tray of freshly baked flapjack cooling by the open kitchen window but we remained strong in the face of temptation.
Ingleborough was shrouded in cloud as we ventured uphill to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve, Southerscales; an area of limestone pavement, limestone grassland and blanket bog. We didn't have constant rain, but when it fell it was heavy and prolonged and in exposed areas it was also very windy. The long grass also caused us to get very wet from the feet up. I must replace my hole-ridden walking boots!
The only bird of note today was a Wheatear.
The botanists were delighted to find Frog Orchids that probably exceeded triple figures and many of them were in pristine condition. The wet limestone pavement was treacherous and only the intrepid ventured onto it and Julia was rewarded with a Spleenwort. Other botanical highlights at Southerscales included Small Scabious, Fragrant Orchid, Common Spotted Orchid and Twayblade. We skirted the edge of the limestone pavement and followed the path back down to the Old Hall Inn where we took shelter and enjoyed some refreshment. I'm surprised the staff didn't put newspaper down for some of us especially one individual who was not only wet and muddy but had also suffered a beetroot juice leakage from their rucksack!
Having warmed up and filled up we then headed to Ribblehead Quarry. There we found a Marsh Orchid (unspecified), Marsh Helleborine and Twayblade. Melancholy Thistle was sighted with the assistance of binoculars. Across the two sites, 118 plants were seen including 11 ferns. A few butterflies were seen including Common Blue and Meadow Brown.
Thanks to Julia for driving and to Joan for leading.
See the photos here.