On what was destined to be one of the hottest days of the year, 12 of us set off for Escrick near York, to visit the Three Hagge Wood Meadow project. We were greeted on arrival by Professor Dave Raffaelli and Rosalind Forbes Adam, whose family own the estate on which the project is sited. Through the introductory talk by Professor Raffaelli we learnt that the site was originally an arable field of 25 acres on which had been planted 10,000 native trees of 28 different species alongside local wild flowers
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 198
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.
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.