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 1984 and decl
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.
We sped through the Dales of Wharfedale and Bishopdale in the minibus before arriving at our destination Wensleydale with its limestone scars, green fields, sheep with lambs and of course waterfalls. The party of 13 arrived at the Yorkshire Dales National Parks information centre at Aysgarth Falls in mid morning. The staff had kindly assembled information about the dormouse introduction project started in 2008 for ourselves. The dormouse population is doing well in this special coppice hazel woodland habitat.
A really local walk today, at least for me. Lister Park is only 10 minutes’ walk from my house, but I haven’t spent much time studying the trees in the botanical gardens. Today’s itinerary was designed to give us time to look at most of the trees here, before moving on to Heaton Woods for a stroll through a more natural woodland.
We set off from Bradford on a cold April morning. Sunshine, showers and low temperatures were forecast. Our journey via the A1(M) took us first of all to Nosterfield Quarry, the sand and gravel extraction site operated by Tarmac. As extraction has ceased the quarried areas have naturally filled with water in the form of lakes which have attracted a variety of birds and other ecological interest. The surrounding grassland is based on magnesian limestone which supports a unique collection of plants.
Owing to flooding at Wheldrake Ings we had opted for Fairburn today.
A second less expected change soon followed. As the minibus nosed out of the car park we were halted by Julia who had noticed a tyre was visibly deflating. Stuart and Sue quickly offered their own vehicles and drove the eight members to our destination.
As we left Bradford the bulk of the chatter was that we hadn’t expected rain. Thankfully by the time we reached Old Moor, near Barnsley, the skies had cleared and we had what could be considered good weather for the beginning of March (whatever that might mean these days).