Well, what a treat. And what a perfect weather day, especially with the memory of having had to cancel last year due to wind and rain.
Scar Close is an enclosed area of limestone pavement on the lower slopes of Ingleborough, and we are grateful to Natural England for giving us a permit to visit. Keeping the sheep out enables a wealth of flowers, sedges, rushes, ferns and trees to grow in the grikes. These are the deep fissures between the clints, the pavement blocks. Some of the grikes were very deep, but we all trod carefully, and safely, on this challenging terrain.
We had lunch a few metres from the entrance, though these few metres were full of interest and took a while to traverse. Butterwort, Bird’s-eye Primrose, the leaves of Bog Asphodel, rushes and sedges. After food, we slowly explored the grikes around the area, we didn’t have to walk far to see a whole range of plant species. Bloody Cranesbill, Lily of the Valley, Baneberry, Common Rockrose, Green Spleenwort, Limestone Fern, Carnation Sedge…the list goes on. There were several species about to come into flower including lesser meadow rue and saw-wort.
As well of a number of Small Heath butterflies, we were excited to see quite a few Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries. They really are quite small - if you look at the pictures in the gallery you can judge their size against the wild thyme they are sitting on.
I led a few people on a fruitless search for some Moonwort (yes, did I really think I could re-find this tiny fern just because I had seen it a year ago!), but it gave us the chance to have a wander and see that the whole site is covered by a great diversity of plants. It feels like a very special place.
This was undoubtedly a day for the flowers, but there were birds about; willow warblers, maybe a sedge warbler, kestrels, meadow pipits and a cuckoo was heard.
We descended the hill back to the minibus and made the short transfer to Ashes Pasture near Ribblehead. Lack of time and energy meant we could really only have a glance at this site, but we now know what it is like and can plan a return visit to pay it the attention it deserves. There were hundreds of Heath Spotted Orchids including the pure white variation 'leucantha', Northern Marsh and Common Spotted Orchid. There were swathes of Bugle amongst the rushes as well as Marsh Ragwort and Ragged Robin. I think it would be good to go back next year so we can explore the original reserve and the adjacent land which Yorkshire Wildlife Trust managed to buy after a big appeal last year.
Thanks to Stuart for driving.