Saturday 23 June 2018

30 Days Wild - Day 17 - Settle Hills Race

17 June: Marshalling for Settle Harriers -

The alpha and omega of it all.. See the runners set off, straight into the first uphill section out of Settle.. and return to the Settle Rugby Club  48 min 10sec later  (-- 2:09:57 later)      Results


See also Day 2 of 30 Days Wild - Pen y Ghent Fell Race.   Both these events are organised by Settle Harriers

Do Something Wild Outdoors each day in June - Index of Judith's Activities 2018

See and buy the beautiful cards I sell in aid of the Rainforest Fund at Wholesome Bee and The Boxer and Hound Cafe, Settle

Friday 22 June 2018

30 Days Wild - Day 16 - St Robert of Knaresborough's Cave and the delights of the Nidd Gorge

Knaresborough lies on the River Nidd.

The Anglican Centre in Rome  has a library, organises courses and hosts meetings when important Anglicans go to Rome for Catholic events. They have support groups in the UK . The Ripon Support Group decided to have a special meeting this year at the Parish Church of St John the Baptist in Knaresborough to celebrate   800 years after his death, the life of Knaresborough's own saint, Saint Robert.

The day event on 16 June comprised:

  •  A talk about the Anglican Centre in Rome
  • A talk by Peter Lacey on the life of St Robert (.. or more precisely the life and conditions of the people living around Knaresborough at that time)
  • A talk by Ruth Beckett on “A Great Cloud of Witnesses: Theologies of Sanctity; Theologies of Healing”
  • A walk to  visit Robert's Cave

Click here for  background material on St Robert and Knaresborough 
and more here

We met at the Parish Centre just beyond St John's Church

Peter Lacey is preparing to give his talk

Peter has written a novel, or rather a set of short stories about people who knew Robert, called "Tales of the Celebrity  Hermit". Robert stayed within the north of England
From the forward of this book:-

Robert Flower (c1160 -1218). or St Robert of Knaresborough as we have come to know him lived 800 years ago. He was brought up in a well to do family in a prosperous and growing region of Europe that was still taking shape after the Norman Conquest of the British Isles. Robert's home town of York and his adopted town of Knaresborough provide the immediate setting for our stories, but the influences and reflections from a larger canvass are never far away... when established in St Robert's Cave, sometime in the 1190s he was becoming something of a celebrity. He was visited and spoken about across Europe...

The river Nidd marked the line between the town of Knaresborough to the north and the Royal Hunting Forest -Knaresborough Forest to the south. This was not necessarily forest - It was land where the King had rights to hunt, and where there were draconian laws against people who broke the rules.

Peter presented a comprehensive picture of the environment and life in those times. Climate graphs to show what the climate was like in those days; He talked about economics - and how the people and economy were suffering as King John had had to borrow money for the wars he had been fighting (and mostly losing) and now had to pay it back (using taxes etc, so that a lot of the silver coins which were being used in the currency were then removed)

He painted a picture of some of the economic and social problems of the time - which have parallels today.

At lunch time I left the lecture room/parish room and went onto the patio outside - and was amazed by the view

The speakers and organisers sit on the patio
The castle beyond
The castle was first built by a Norman baron in c. 1100 on a cliff above the River Nidd. In the 1170s Hugh de Moreville and his followers took refuge there after assassinating Thomas Becket. In 1205 King John took control of the Castle. It was here in 1210 that the Maundy Money was instituted.


Gives her talk

We set off on the 1 1/2 mile walk to the cave. (Most people drive). We descend lots of steps then walk on the road by the river. Looking back, The Parish Centre is under the left arch. 

I have now just set off on the mile and a half walk to Robert's Cave. I had not realised the gorge was so impressive. The original route of the Nidd is through the gravel beds of what is now Staveley Nature reserve two miles to the north (where I am due to give a grasses workshop next month), but during the last Ice Age, the Ice sheet flowing down the Vale of York blocked up the river, it was diverted, and with all the extra melting water formed this gorge through the magnesian limestone.

There are big trees in the gorge - Sycamore, Ash, Oak and others.

Some trunks have been carved


Eventually the land flattens out. Robert was given some of this land to farm with his small community. 

A while after his death a Priory was set up. Trinitarian Priory of the Holy Trinity and St Robert, founded pre-1252. It was destroyd by the Scots in 1318, and suffered at the Black Death. It was dissolved in 1538. It was destryed at the dissolution of the monasteries, but there are bits of masonary used in buildings along the route, and vuildings named after it.

Still walking along the road

Leave the road and descend the river bank to the cave

The cave

Inside the cave

Peter Lacey tells us more history

Outside the cave

View from inside the cave

And just below the cave is a fisherman

 On the way back I look at the chapel carved into the cliff. The tiny medieval Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag lies a stone's throw from the Nidd, in Abbey Road about half a mile from the centre of Knaresborough. It was carved from the cliff face by John the Mason in 1408, permission being granted by King Henry IV.

A lot of work is being carried out on the steep garden below - a section on medicinal plants, a section on plants with a story or religious title, a a section to remember people.

I wonder how many plants will continue to grow with the dense shade of the trees above... But do go and see them now whilst they are fresh and flowering

Another splendid view as I return

30 Days Wild - Day 15 - Part-1 What do Nidderdale AONB Botany Volunteers discover today?

On 15th June we set off for Bank Cabin Wood, via the road to Harewell Hall.
Passing a wall with Klebsormidium crenulatum on the way 
 Bank Cabin Wood is a "SINC" site (Site of Imporance for Nature Conservation). We had lunch on the path through the bracken  (that had recently had some saplings planted in it), identifying grasses that grow on acid soil (and attempting to identify a willow-herb). there  were a few plants of Climbing Corydalis in the bracken.

Then we progressed down through the bracken to the stream. Here was woodland on wet acid soil - Alder and possibly Grey Willow.

Then we found a BIG sedge.
This is one of the participants scratching her head. I two was scratching mine.

It was big. Not big enough for  Carex pendula.
Not red enough at the leaf tips and based for Carex binervis, but awfully like it. Anyway Carex binervis grows on Heather moorland, and this place was rather too shady and damp for heather
Not shining yellow green enough for Carex vesicaria
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It is a tall tuft, growing amongst the Luzula sylvatica. The male and female heads show up against the black trousers. 

It turned out to be Carex laevigata - growing in exactly the habitat it should - damp woodland.

Carex laevigata

The sheaths and stems are much more sharply triangular than Carex binervis. Carex binervis does have a flat /tongue shaped tip of the inner-face of the sheath so is a bit similar this way.

Carex laevigata has a long acute ligule, whereas C binervis has a short one.

The dead leaves and scales at the base of the shoots are brown, not reddish orange as in C binervis
Here is a view I took the following day. We were in the valley below the mast
We also found some Carex pallescens - Pale sedge

Mentha verticillata - Whorled Mint (A cross between Mentha aquatica and Mentha arvensis)

Scutellaria galericulata -
Common skullcap - this has blue flowers


Finally an invertebrate -

Eriophyes laevis a gall on alder leaves caused by a mite

We had only tackled a tiny part of the site but had had a good day.

--I may write about the invasive plant Cotula alpina that I checked up on, "on the way home" later that day

The next day I would be going to Knaresborough to see the cave of St Robert....

Thursday 21 June 2018

30 Days Wild - Day 14 - Waves - and Mr Fox

. Strong winds this morning
Waves travel down the cross section of grass revealed by the grass cutter
By evening the weather settles down and I walk by the Ribble. 
There is a light breeze.
Why are there ripples on this side of the river but not the other?
Is it to do with depth of water?

I must read more of the excellent book "How to read water" by Tristan Gooley

I watch the family of ducks.. Mrs Duck is quacking, and her "teenage" children stay with her. Are they are they staying in the deeper water?  I realise I am not the only one watching them. On the far side, Mr Fox comes down to the waters edge.. 
Sadly my Olympus Tough camera that does such brilliant close-ups for some reason won't focus when the camera is set to telephoto so my video comes out blurred.. this is the best shot I can manage

The arrow marks the fox

 If the river gets much shallower, Mrs Duck won't be able to avoid Mr Fox..  but then maybe in a few more weeks her ducklings will be able to fly.
These are not waves, rather potholes worn in the limestone bed of the river
 - they are normally covered by water.

Coming shortly:- Tales of the Nidd ..
finding Carex laevigata  with AONB Volunteers botanising near Galsshouses 
to discovering St Robert's Cave at Knaresborough in the beautiful Nidd Gorge

30 Days Wild - Day 13 - Gravestones at Settle

Gravestone at Settle churchyard with Klebsormidium crenulatum
Wednesday 13th included a short walk in Settle churchyard with a friend who was part of a history group that intended to look at the graves stones, and try an make the writing on them more clear. 
Although we had some concerns about loss of lichen they decided that the first job was to remove the grass clippings and some of the moss that was growing  well where the grass clippings had fallen.

It reminded me of the video I had made of the lichens on one big tombstone .. 

It reminded me of a moss Cinclidotus fontinaloides that I had been surprised to found in some of the "walled" graves in the churchyard since this normally grows in river beds.. and then I remembered th day that a stream had flowed through the churchyard

30 Days Wild - Day 12 - Highland Cattle beside Hellifield Churchyard

 12th June: Arriving early for an evening "Churches Together in Settle and District" Planning meeting at Hellifield,  I leaned over the churchyard wall to see the Highland Cattle quietly grazing, with the noisy road to Skipton beyond.


To the north of the church lies the hill  called Hellifeld Haw (see range of my camera) .. down which our former  local postman used to roll Easter eggs as a child.


Looking under my feet on the cobbles of the footpath I saw 
Procumbent Pearlwort, a tiny plant

Metzgeria fruticulosa (violacia) Bluish Veilwort - a thallose liverwort on tree. this grows where there are lots of nitrogen compounds in the air.