Saturday, 12 May 2018

Top ten natural history delights of w/e at Juniper Hall FSC centre – from the invasive Green Cellar Slug – to a dawn chorus walk up Box Hill.

Could you be a naturalist?

Would you like to come on a field course? (FSC)
I have just returned from teaching a group of 9 people – on the course – Grass Identification in Spring (4-7 May 2018)
Box Hill Viewpoint
- i.e. how to identify grasses before they come into flower.

The participants were 
enthusiastic and good fun. – Six do survey work  and related work for a living (e.g. bat surveys, and environmental impact assessments) and three were on holiday – just learning about wildlife for fun.

At the same time Dr June Chatfield was teaching the annual Juniper Hall Snails course to a group of four people.

So, when not teaching my grasses group, I crept into the snails group to see what they were doing (as did many of my students too)

Field Studies Council courses are open to everyone (for adult ones you may have to be above 16yrs, or accompanied by a guardian) ..

This post (still under construction, ) will list 10 highlights. It's to encourage you to come on courses run by the FSC (Field Studies Council). And to remind myself what a good weekend I had.

The Grasses course ran from Friday evening to Monday afternoon on May Bank Holiday.

Juniper Hall is hidden in a hollow in the North Downs. It is just 25 miles by road from Hyde Park and the centre of London (18 miles as the crow flies) but our walks and short 3 mile drive to Headley Heath meant that we never left the beautiful countryside.. with the leaves just coming out, the woodland floor carpeted with bluebells, and special chalk loving plants growing in grassy slopes

Here are my top ten memories:-

1. The Green Cellar Slug.
2. The Roman Snails.
3. Pre-breakfast walk on National Dawn Chorus Day to Box Hill
4. History
5. Totals: Twitching - Molluscs, Grasses, Birds.
6.  Acid and Basic Soils - and the colourful BDH soil indicators

(6-10 still to be written)

1. The Green Cellar Slug.

If you have a damp kitchen or cellar, you may have seen a yellow cellar slug crawl across the floor at night. “A new species has arrived  – this time a green one” says June. “The trouble is it grows faster than the yellow one and it hybridises with it. The yellow one has a yellow line up its back. The green one does not.. but there are now hybrids that have a bit of a yellow line. And there are back-crosses.”Left: Young Green Slug:Rright: Hybrid Green-Yellow Slug

"Why do so many types of invasive slug come from Spain?" I asked.

“Well we import lots of vegetables and salad from Spain” suggested June. 

That evening I went out with my new Petzl torch that I had bought on my lichen trip last month. What did a see on the fig tree outside the lab?

A Green Cellar slug! I was watching history taking place

2. The Roman Snails.

These are a treat to see each time I visit Juniper Hall. June showed us two of these in the sun on grasses just below the haha (wall). I have seen more of these in previous years, June was keen to know what grass the snail was eating – well sitting on. She was concerned that the Smelling garden/ Garden for the blind which had supported so many Roman Snails was going to be replaced by flat lawn, to improve the haha and view. The grass was Poa trivialis - Rough Meadow-grass

3. The pre-breakfast walk on National Dawn Chorus Day  up Box Hill

Two participants and myself set off at 6.15am on the same three mile route that all nine of us would do later in the day. But what a contrast. At 6.30am the Burford Bridge Car Park was empty. We listened to the birds, the dew glistened on the grass. 

At 11am that car park was  packed, motorbikes roared out, their drivers revving, and gleefully driving without silencers..  mobile pneumatic drills in a procession to the roundabout.

In the early morning we followed the river Mole to the stepping stones, searching (without luck) for kingfishers,  then climbed up through the cool of the morning to the view point on Box Hill; In previous years we had heard Bullfinches and Firecrests but not this year. 

We found just two other walkers and asked them to photo us.

Then took the quickest route to get us back in time for late breakfast at 8.25pm

 By 2 pm on this blazing hot bank holiday Sunday we had to share the viewpoint and surrounding grassland with (tens of) thousands of others. But it was  delightful seeing so many families enjoy themselves.

4. History

These really are famous places. So famous that I had had to  learn  about the Mole Gap for “O levels” when I was 15. I have memories of being brought to Box Hill on a Day’s Field Trip from London University. What a privilege to visit such a famous place. And what a miracle it survives so close to London.

5. Totals / Twitching


June’s group would be leaving a day earlier than mine, on Sunday teatime, though June stayed on till Monday. She was busy totting up scores, and comparing her results with previous years.

 "48 total!" she said, very pleased. As there are only about 100 land snails and about 30 slugs (maybe more now with the invasive ones in greenhouses) 48 /150 is a good percentage.. One in three of the British Fauna! 

(The Molluscs of Ireland say: "We have about 150 native or naturalised species with another 25 or so non-native species found in heated greenhouses or aquaria." 

Total of British Grasses = 173 plus 47 casuals= 220
We had found 46 species of grass on the course. 

46/177 or 46/220  averages at 1 in four.

According to “Grasses of the British Isles by Tom Cope and Alan Gray there are 113 native species, 10 archaeophytes, 50 neophytes, 47 casuals – total = 220, ( archaeophytes in Britain are considered to be those species first introduced prior to 1492, when Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World and the Columbian Exchange began. In Britain, neophytes are defined as plant species that were introduced after 1492, )

(The day after I found Molinia caerulea and Deschampsia cespitosa and I know where Hordelymus europaeus and Catabrosa aquatica grow, bringing my score to 50)

On the Monday morning we searched under the glorious sun for grasses in Juniper Hall lawn and found 24 species. 24! That's an amazing lawn. (Most lawns would just have half a dozen) 1/8th of the total grass flora.

6. Acid and Basic Soils at Headley Heath

"Ten out of ten" to Juniper Hall in still providing the colourful BDH soil test kit - which enabled us to compare the acidity of soils on different parts of Headley Heath.
(N.B. it is important to start off with clean tubes.. and to give the indicator and soil mix time to work. Add 1/2 cm soil, (or less), about 1ml of indicator and a tiny bit of barium sulphate and some distilled water, shake well and wait.

Left two pots: Wavy Hair-grass /Heathland area; Right tube: Chalk grassland soil
The two heathland samples gave acid results.
The chalk grassland gave a result of pH8.

N.B Most garden plants grow best at about pH 6.5;
Although pH 7 is chemically neutral, and pure water has a pH of 7, 
clean unpolluted rainwater naturally has a pH of 5.6 due to the carbon dioxide dissolved in it. 

Hard at work  keying out a grass on heathland
Now looking at chalk grassland

For the other four points I shall ask the participants what they remember!! -
Click for a poem about this grass

Schedonorus  (Festuca) arundinacea: (Tall Fescue)
Note the very string ribs on the blade and the hairs on the auricles. It is the only gras with hairs on the auricles. This often grows on shingle/cobbles and in damp depressions just back from rivers, roads or sea.    It is a surprising plant to find in a lawn .. but Juniper Hall lawn is full of surprises.

Scheconorus (Festuca) arundinacea
The edge of one side of the the sheath at the
base of the shoot appears to be hairy

Elymus caninus
Bearded Couch is a tufted woodland plant.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

40 Teashops & Eating places within 2.6 miles of Settle

Fancy a cup of coffee? You're in luck at Settle. 

42 Places within 3 miles of Settle!!   .. (yes, the total has grown since I started this post two years ago.)

I list all 42 lower down this post.  - I keep adding or highlighting a place every few weeks.

This Tuesday 6 Nov 2018: (Day of Rainforest Fund Coffee Morning at St John's)
Place number 1: St John's Tuesday coffee mornings 10-12
[Return to index]

Place number 1: Settle Methodist Church BD24 9JH
: 10am-12midday - There is coffee every Tuesday - but the first Tuesday of the month it is always for charity

May 2018: Newly opened:
Place number 10: The Boxer and Hound  - [Return to index]
on facebook 
6 High Street, BD24 9EX Settle

Light snacks. Open till 6pm which is useful. Plans to be open 10am-8pm Specialises in Yorkshire ground coffee and speciality beers.

How do you tell it is dog friendly  apart from the name?

Ans: There is a dog's water bowl at the entrance. 

I see it is toddler friendly too.

Index of 42 places

Tuesday Mornings only:-

  1. Settle Methodist Ch. Tuesday Coffee Morning 10-12
  2. Settle Angl Ch. Tuesday Coffee & Lunches 10-13.30
  3. Traidcraft Tuesday  Friends Meeting House 10-12
  4. Victoria Hall  Tuesday Coffee and Bacon Butties 10.00-15.00 

Sunday Afternoons only:-

  1. Langcliffe Teas in Summer - Langcliffe Inst  2-4.30pm. *****

All Week Days, and sometimes Sundays:

  1. Lay of the Land Garden Centre 
  2. Poppies Tea Rooms   10.00-15.00  (Wed Closed)
  3. Singing Kettle
  4. Naked Man Cafe             Longridge ice-cream
  5. Boxer and Hound       Open till 6pm
  6. 3 Peaks Cycle Shop Cafe
  7. Limestone View Cafe
  8. The Fisherman - Fish and Chips 11.30-20.30
  9. Fish and Chip Shop Cafe at the Shambles 11.30-19.30 (Cafe) 11.30-20.30 (shop). Yorks Tea
  10. Watershed Mill (really in Langcliffe Parish), 4 minutes walk from the north river bridge
  11. Car and Kitchen
  12. Bar 13  3pm-11pm Internet Cafe
  13. The Folly Coffee-House Mon- Sat9.30am - 4.30pm; Sun: 10.30am - 4.30 

Hostelries in Settle:-

  1. Talbot Arms -     open all day and evening
  2. The Royal Oak   Lunch    12-2.30pm and evenings
  3. The Lion  -  open all day and evening
  4. The Falcon Hotel

Take Away (Drinks only)

  1. Forage and Feast      9-3.30pm M,T Th,F  9-1pm W, Sa
  2. Settle Railway Station - Take away coffee
  3. Settle (Coop) Petrol Garage     7am-11pm 
  4. Booths - Coffee    8am-9pm Suns: 9.30am-4pm
  5. Lambert's newsagents - Market Place- Earliest for coffee: 5.30am-5pm
  6. Premier-Settle Covenience Store - Coffee, 1 Duke St 8am-10pm (-11pm Fri Satt),

Take Away Food / Evening restaurants:

  1. Dales Pizza 824411 Take Away and Delivery
  2. Ruchees
  3. R. Spice - Indian on the Market Place    5-10pm F, Sa 5-11pm
  4. China Choice - Take away (no tea/coffee)  825825  5pm-11pm (Fri,Sa -middnight)
  5. Italian - Basement of the Shambles    824929 (5-9pm). Summer June-Aug also 12-3pm)
  6. Griddle and Sizzle     5-9pm T,Th,Fr,Sa,Su  M,T closed. 822277
  7. Little House              W,Th, F, Sa, Su from 6pm Closed Mo Tu 823963


  1. The Craven Arms  near Gig Rly Station   (weekends and evenings) 
  2. The Black Horse 
  3. The Hart's Head        12pm-9pm

Within three miles of Settle and Giggleswick  

  1. The Courtyard Beyond south end of Settle Bypass
  2. Knights Table - Little Stainforth    BD24 0DP 822200 9.00-21.00
  3. The Craven Heifer, Stainforth
  4.  The Courtyard Dairy, Beyond north end of Settle Bypass  LA2 8AS - View: Google Maps.

Population (2011 Census) Settle:2560 Giggleswick 1270, Langcliffe: 231 (total S,G,L: 4061) 
Stainforth: 231. We also have two large caravan sites (not included)

Place 24: in summer: Settle Railway Station [Return to index]
Shop at Settle Railway Station -
serve Drinks of Tea 

Dec 2017: Place Number 24: Settle Railway Station. On Sat 9th Dec 2017 there were mince pies and sherry  at 10am onwards -and the chance to hear Settle Voices singing folk carols at 10am  before they set off  on the train for Ribblehead 


Right: Enjoying the Christmas Food at Settle Station Open Day 2016

Above: 10 December 2016 - Jumpy filming - but meaningful words

Below: 13 Dec 2014 - this makes a good story.
 (The video is so long so you may wish to skip the middle two thirds.)

Then in the afternoon Settle Voices are joined by Lakeland Voices -- singing in...


Place number 21: the Lion - [Return to index]


Nov 2017: (Day of Rainforest Fund Coffee Morning at St John's)
Place number 1: St John's Tuesday coffee mornings 10-12
[Return to index]

Place number 1: Settle Methodist Church BD24 9JH
: 10am-12midday - There is coffee every Tuesday - but the first Tuesday of the month it is always for charity


August 2017: During Settle Flowerpot Festival:
Place number 27: Coffee available from 5.30am!! - Lamberts: Newsagents on the Marketplace:  [Return to index]

 Lamberts has an outside  Notice board with small adds.

It's Settle FlowerPot Festival time of year - and Lamberts has a Liquorice Allsort Man!.

Place number 42: Opened on 27 June 2017: The Courtyard Dairy [Return to index]

The shop

 This is 3.4 miles from the centre of Settle - so maybe not within the 2.6 mile definition.. But it's such a fine place I must include it:
Upstairs is the cafe
See my blogpost 


Place number 18:-. Brand new Opened on 21 June 2017: The Coffee- House at The Folly [Return to index]

This picture was taken on 19 June -
as the electricians make final touches
to the new Coffee-house

Inside a Sneak preview
picture taken two days before opening:-
There are two coffee rooms.. 

Ivy-leaved Toadflax growing near the door.

Place number 20: 3 Peaks (Cycle Shop) Cafe [Return to index]

Three Peaks Cycle shop -New  Cafe -
Opening times || Picture of inside of cafe  

Place number 8: The Singing Kettle, Settle [Return to index]

The Singing Kettle, Settle

5.  Poppies Tea Room [Return to index]

Poppies Tea Room


The Talbot Arms
 [Return to index]
The Talbot Arms has just had its doorposts painted for you.

Enjoy the beer garden at the back of the Talbot

We may be losing our local schools and petrol stations (and even pubs) .. but ..
Settle residents and visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to partaking of tea or coffee.

Early-late evening meals: 16 places within 3 miles of Settle 
Cup of tea/coffee/cakes on a Tuesday morning within Settle itself (excluding even Giggleswick): 17 places (or 20 including take-aways).  Not bad for a resident population of c.4500 (including Settle, Giggleswick, Langcliffe and Stainforth)

Places nearby but outside Settle include (distances from Settle Market Place) : The Courtyard - 1.7 miles, Craven Arms (1.3 miles) The Knights Table. Little Stainforth (2.6 miles), The Craven Heifer, Stainforth (2.4 miles) The Courtyard Dairy 3.4 miles.

A big thank you to all the visitors who support our shops!!!.

Post first started 24 May 2017 but is frequently updated - latest update: 5 Nov 2018