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.
The woodland was full of Black Bryony, several clumps of Hemp Agrimony (just about in flower where it was in full sun), Enchanter’s Nightshade, Wood Sedge and Wood Melick. We saw a solitary Greater Butterfly Orchid and a small amount of Hairy St John’s-wort. The patches of bramble were attracting the butterflies; Ringlet and Meadow Brown being the most numerous.
Once through the wood we crossed the road to a sunny farm track with flowery verges. Betony, Agrimony, Slender St John’s-wort and Fairy Flax grabbed our attention. The farmer was driving home; she stopped to ask what we were looking for – she had been to Kendal and back in the time it took us to get up the track! She mentioned a rock full of fossils by the farm gate, which we had a look at before heading up hill.
The climb is steep and Alice had just about reached her limit, but found the energy to jump up and down in delight at her first sighting of Squinancywort (a tiny plant in the bedstraw family). Although we all studied the first tiny patch we found, we later saw that it was widespread across the limestone plateau.
After a well-earned stop after the climb, we split in to two groups. A few of us headed further along the scar to the viewpoint, whilst Alice and Donald headed in the direction of the minibus. The whole area was covered with flowers. Here’s a selection; Small Scabious, Wild thyme, Common and Hoary Rockrose, Dark Red Helleborine, Pyramidal and Lesser Butterfly Orchids, Limestone Bedstraw, Lesser Meadow Rue, Kidney and Horseshoe Vetch, Pignut and Burnet Saxifrage. And, of course, lots of yellow things; Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Cat’s-ear and others! We saw a patch of Limestone Fern amongst some bare rock. This was one of 7 ferns we saw including Brittle Bladder, Common Polypody and Hard Shield Fern. We saw in excess of 130 species in flower or fruit.
The most numerous butterfly on the top of the hill was the Painted Lady, but we also saw Dark Green Fritillary, Grayling, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admirals.
Our focus was mostly on the ground, but the calls of Buzzard and Peregrines attracted our attention. Chiff Chaffs were present in the woodland and scrub.
This was my first visit to Scout Scar. Now I know what I’ve been missing all this time I will definitely be returning. Thanks to Donald for introducing me to such a wonderful place.
See the photos here.