Five of us completed a circular walk through Heaton Woods, Cliffe Woods, Stoney Ridge and looping back through Northcliffe to our starting point. We had been labelled the Striders, but it turns out we are too well trained to always walk at an observing pace on a Tuesday, so our five or so miles took the best part of the day.
Our first stop in Heaton Woods was to look at the Butterbur leaves and note how they had been punctured by the hailstorm a couple of weeks ago. We then had a stop to look at some large old logs covered in Armillaria lutea, a type of honey fungus. The yellow stipe was notable and very attractive. On the whole we just enjoyed looking at the fungi, lacking confident id skills, but we were happy to name the Amethyst Deceivers and Dead Moll’s Fingers (checking in the book to learn the difference between these and Dead Man’s Finger; slimmer, with grey tips if I remember rightly!).
Further on, a large beech tree, which had fallen several years ago, was a good place to look at Sulphur Tuft and an array of bracket fungi.
The beck was running high today after the rain the weekend (and the additional rain we had this morning). There we a couple of Grey Wagtails moving up and down the beck. We paused briefly to look at the source of the name – Red Beck, where the iron deposits emerge from the hillside, and then left Heaton Woods to cross Shay Lane and follow the beck into Cliffe Wood. We had to cross some stepping stones, not so easy after the rain, and up the hill to exit the woods onto Bingley Road.
It’s not ideal to walk along a busy road, but we only paused to look at the Sweet Chestnut fruit, and soon turned on to Stoney Ridge Road. In the fields either side of the road there were plenty of Canada Geese, pigeons and corvids, and it was nice to see 20 to 30 Pied Wagtails flitting amongst them. We turned onto a footpath and admired the views across the valley, waved briefly at the ’strollers’ at St Ives, and perched beside the heather for lunch on the hill above Cottingley. There was a waxcap in the grass and Long-tailed Tits in the scrub.
It was definitely an autumn day, but we did see a few plants in flower including Herb Robert, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sticky Groundsel, Bramble and Tormentil.
During the walk the most asked question was ‘where are we?’! After lunch we headed back up towards Nab Wood Lane and then climbed through High Bank Wood (my name for a small patch of wood) and across to Northcliffe. We didn’t see a great deal more fungi as we went through the wood, but as soon as the sun came out the birds we began to sing. We saw a Tree Creeper, Nuthatch and heard Wrens and various tits. (I can’t remember if we heard the Ring-necked Parakeets or whether that was on Friday when we were working with the conservation volunteers to clear mud out of the pond).
We passed the miniature railway and came out of the woods close to our starting point. Thanks to those who came along; this was one of my routes during lockdown in April and May. It was good to share it with others and point out the places for the Bluebells, Wood Anenome and Stitchworts. We could do it again in the Spring.