If ever I needed a reminder of why I’m not a hill walker…
I went off to explore Glen Clova, parked at Glen Doll, and ended up following the path to Ballater by Capel Mounth. I didn’t realise it went to the top of the hill until I was halfway up (or what felt like halfway up). Decided to carry on, but it was hard going…however, there were ever-changing light effects on the hills to distract me, and some good plants on the path.
Still in bloom, Yellow Saxifrage, Saxifraga aizoides – attracting several ants.
Bog Asphodel, Narthecium ossifragum (one of my plants of the year).
Just as lovely once it’s gone over – great colour.
I didn’t see anyone, but at one point, I thought I heard distant bagpipes…
Top of the hill, top of the world.
I didn’t go further as the rain started. It stopped as soon as I was togged up in waterproofs, but I felt I’d achieved enough and carried on down the hill.
Red sphagnum – might be Sphagnum capillifolium subsp. capillifolium, because there were lots of capsules.
Lovely Hylocomium splendens, Glittering wood moss welcomed me back into the wood, where I managed not to fall off the stepping stones across the burn.
It felt like a different world, only an hour and a half in the car – can’t believe I’ve never been here before.
There was a beautiful ball of furry moss – I’m thinking Rhytidiadelphus but have yet to sit down and see if I can get closer.
My favourite new plant was the Heath Cudweed, Gnaphalium sylvaticum. The tall spikes weren’t particularly visible among the heather, but what an amazing plant.
And a chance to sort out two types of gentian. First, Field Gentian, Gentianella campestris, with darker flowers and two large outer calyx lobes overlapping two inner lobes. (I think)
Then Autumn Gentian, Gentianella amarella, with equal calyx teeth. (Do hope I was looking at the right thing!)
Coming down the path, we found a solitary, very tall Grass of Parnassus. Perfect. All in all, a great day out.
Up early, and I went along to Cults, meaning to explore the old railway track. But a road closure meant I ended up going along toward Burnturk, then decided to follow a path downhill.
Wonderful scabious flowers.
The path went through some trees (looks as if it will be good for spring flowers) and came out at
Bunzion. The barley fields stretched out for miles. No wind today to ruffle them.
The swallows were swooping about over the fields, with one sitting alone on the telegraph wires.
I walked along the main road to Pitlessie, then up Priestfield and back along to the car. Most of the flowers I saw there just a month ago have gone now – the mallow bush still had a few blooms, and there was one last strawberry to enjoy. But going up Priestfield, I was sorry to see the old Himalayan Balsam in full bloom, really taking hold. There was one white plant among them.
After a quick decision to take a sunny day off work I was heading for the Lomonds, but I got waylaid by the old quarry field and the peace and heat up in the hills above Cults.
I must remember not to try to get through the fence again – not fun, with nettles at face height…especially when you get stuck in the fence. Once I was in, I was a bit disappointed that the cows have grazed heavily this year. But there was still a whole host of flowers to find, including eyebright, ox-eye daisy, self-heal, fairy flax. And scabious.
Timothy and Cocks-foot in full flower.
I went down through the woodland, past the scary hole, to see if the Twayblade was still flourishing, and it is.
Along at the lime kiln, there was a bush of what looks like Musk Mallow.
I wasn’t sure if this was a garden escape. The book was no help, just saying that the epicalyx was narrower in Musk Mallow – but how are you supposed to work that one out?
There was marjoram and the world’s biggest hebe.
There were endless strawberries and raspberries – I ate some and filled a little bag to take home, had them with some Luvians ice-cream. I also spent some time comparing two willowherbs. Think this one is American Willowherb, with its club-shaped stigma.
Then there was an unexpected Bladder Campion, like a little bunch of green grapes.
On the other side of the road, there was Lysimachia and Fox-and-cubs, and also this silvery Alchemilla:
I’ve never been along the cliffs at this time of year – it was just as good as I expected. Nice outing with the wild flower group on a beautiful sunny day, which came as a lovely surprise after a series of grey ones.
We saw Wood vetch, purple stripy, with tendrils, on the steps down to the beach (sadly, no picture).
I did take a few pictures of some of the other highlights.
A long-distance shot of Carline thistle growing on the opposite cliff – my first time seeing this plant.
There was a whole spread of Clustered Bellflower, with its deep purple blue flowers.
Wild carrot is one of my favourites, even without the raspberry jam blob in the middle.
And I’ve never seen Hedge Bedstraw, Galium mollugo, as tall and abundant as this.
Add to this the strange harebells, Musk Mallow, Pellitory on the wall, Kidney Vetch – wonderful.
On the one sunny day of the week, we had an outing to the Birks of Aberfeldy to see what could be seen.
The complete list ran on to the third page of my notebook, but the highlight was definitely the Herb Paris which I’d never seen before. Extinct in Fife.
It’s supposed to aid contemplation and equanimity, because of the harmony created by its four leaves, four sepals, four petals and eight stamens.
There was also some lovely fluffy Wood Horsetail, some with umbrella tops. I think these are the fertile stems, before the tip appears.
There was oak fern.
And beech fern.
I wish I’d taken a picture of the grass Melica uniflora, so delicate. But we only got halfway up, so maybe I’ll be back…
After our epic fail in which we surveyed the wrong burn, Margaret and I went back to have a look at the real Lethan’s Den on a beautiful sunny morning.
We logged about 80 species along the burnside and around a nearby quarry, taking time to look in detail at a couple of forget-me-nots (arvensis and discolor) and little yellow thing with trefoil leaves (Lesser Trefoil, Trifolium dubium).
I had my hands full with book and/or list, handlens, stick, rucksack – so didn’t take too many photographs. But we found Beech fern, Phegopteris connectilis, with its little rabbit’s ears. One from Sandy’s list of rarities. There was also Oak fern and Lemon-scented fern.
We didn’t find the Melancholy thistle or Alpine bistort, or even any orchids. But it was good to explore a new area. Margaret was very happy to find onion skin weathering on the stone face of the quarry – I’d never heard of it, but the patterns on the stone were amazing.
Margaret and I set off to west Fife to see what we could find in Lethans Den. We ended up with quite a list, including:
Bog stitchwort, Stellaria alsine. This one had me confused for quite a while. Margaret showed me the elastic stele in the stem, very stretchy.
Sweet vernal grass in flower.
Think this is Carex nigra, Common sedge.
Then there was a mystery:
It looks as if it’s been nibbled (there was a black slug lurking underneath) but was once a yellow crucifer. The leaves are odd. At home, going through the books, the nearest I could come is Sisymbrium altissimum, but the seed pods don’t look right.
And there were sand martins to entertain us at lunch, and a beautifully camouflaged (but just not quite enough) moth to admire on the way back.
But later, it turned out we hadn’t been in Lethans Den after all…more of that to come.
I went out with Margaret and Dorothy to see Dorothy’s “square” – an excellent chance to shake off the winter rustiness and start remembering all the things I’d forgotten about plants.
The morning was pretty cold for botanising, but we ignored that and worked our way though identifications for a speedwell, a red nettle and a little white crucifer. Some mystery leaves defeated us. Margaret reckons Fumaria?
In the woods, the bluebell carpet was just beginning to colour up. There were anemones, wood sorrel, primroses, and lots of exciting leaves, including adoxa moschatelina. And in the next plot, we found it in flower. (Wish I’d had my camera, not just my phone.)
Lucky Dorothy has the river Ore going through her square. Down by its banks, there was crosswort, with its lovely furry leaves so neatly arranged.