For my regular Tuesday outing I visited Spofforth's medieval castle and explored two sections of a disused railway line ( one section of the line is now a Sustrans cycling route between Spofforth and Wetherby). Some Bees people may recall completing a 5 mile walk in the area led by Marilyn in May 2007.
My intention was to look for any plants that could be growing in the crevasses and cracks of the castle walls.(both Fountains Abbey and Jervaux Abbey are noted for their wall loving plants). The castle or manor house is built of millstone grit which is the bed rock of the area. From the historical perpective Spofforth castle was the main seat of the Percy family, one of the most important and influential families in northern england until the 14th centuary. William de Percy a favourite of William the Conquerer built a manor house in the 11th century and it was reputedly here that the rebel barons drew up the Magna Carta in 1215.
The castle ruins are managed by English Heritage and are quite impressive. My hunch proved correct. Several plants have found a good home on the walls and terraces of the castle.The first plants I saw lined the banks of the stairway leading to the undercroft. Here were strawberry, mousear hawkweed, hawkweed, and narrow buckler fern. Growing on the tops of the walls was stone crop (not yet in flower) also pellitory of the wall was clinging onto the castle walls. Ferns - harts tongue and polypody were found in the crevases. In the surrounding grassland I found oxeye daisy and ribwort plaintain. Bird life was limited to a gathering of crows who were using spaces in the walls for their nests .
My walk down the nearby railway track was less productive than I had anticipated. It is a wooded area with an adjacent golf course. There was plenty of bird song but no sightings. I concluded my day by walking through the village to join the Sustrans Trail a linear track that leads to Wetherby Again it was very pleasant but somewhat disappointing in wildlife interest.
see photos here