Last week I managed a day out walking along the disused railway track which has become an excellent trail, running along the south side of the Mawddach estuary. I blogged about the walk itself over on Woolwinding – there are woolly connections, honest – but I was entranced by the plants and flowers too. And here’s the place to go on and on and on about them…
Most of the trail is bordered by woods, which finally seem to be catching up; even the ashes are coming properly into leaf. It’s been a peculiar spring all round, and the early parts of the trail in particular were full of hawthorn blossom,
which will now be falling on the path like snow as we have, thankfully, finally had some rain. (I never thought I’d type a phrase like that – oh, please don’t let me have jinxed the whole summer!)
As you’d expect from a walk by the sea, there was plenty of thrift, Armeria maritima:
which was particularly impressive all along the seaward end of the walk – as you move further inland there are more reed beds and mud flats, but the first half certainly belongs to the thrift. A couple of years ago I was in Shetland at this time of year, and the thrift was noticeably good there too: this must be its prime period, weird spring or no weird spring.
And the first half also belongs to the rocks,
and the lichen, some of which made the most extraordinary patterns. Can anyone explain these?
Oh, I guess it’s just symmetrical growth etc, etc, but the patterns are rather lovely!
Unsurprisingly, there were clumps of sea campion, Silene maritima:
I’m a sucker for all the campions, really. It’s always a sign of the start of summer when our hedgerows start turning crimson with red campion; maybe that’s why I love it so much. Hang on, not all campions. My affection for the campions and their relatives doesn’t extend to soapwort (or that feckin’ soapwort, which is how I generally refer to it), which I spend a lot of time trying to eliminate from one corner of the garden. Agh.
Sigh. Back to the Trail, and the ferns which were just unrolling their fronds.
I love ferns, and it’s just as well, living where I do. Ferns, I can reconcile myself to, like, love and even introduce. Soapwort? Nah… even though the crafty, woolly, side of me says I ought to give it a go for its cleansing properties. No. NO. Sorry. Guess what I’ve been spending the last few days pulling up?
We had plenty of time and so took a detour, following one of the small rivers that join the estuary. Again the path was easy, even though we had left the railway behind us, because the whole estuary had once been devoted to boat building; there were even traces of an old jetty. And more than trace of ramsons, Allium ursinum:
which I call wild garlic, though I have been corrected by someone who gave that name to what I call field garlic, aka Allium oleraceum. Which is it? Are either of them really wild garlic? Ramsons certainly smell like it, especially in these woods. Just as well I like garlic!
There were many more ferns here,
and I became particularly entranced with the contrasting colour of new growth on the trees:
I’m sure I can use this colour combination in knitting!
We returned to the walk, made it to the George III pub where we had tea – no, really; you don’t want beer when you’ve still got a couple of miles to do, well I don’t, anyway; I’d never get going again – and had enough of a break to make continuing a little difficult, beer or no beer. It was towards the end of this last stretch that the foot issue began to rear its ugly head (I do love a mixed metaphor), and we found ourselves beside the river Wnion,
bordered by umbellifers and on the far side – must be a garden escape – huge gunneras.
We had actually gone down to the river trying to identify another, more mysterious plant. There were great drifts of it, pink drifts, but a pale pink, not an in-your-face ‘I’m a campion and just deal with it’ pink. Unfortunately most of the drifts were inaccessible and it’s quite hard to identify a plant when you have to look at it through binoculars (at least they stay still, unlike the little bobbing birds – not dippers, something else). But down by the river we could get close:
Pink purslane, Montia sibirica.
To the best of my recollection, I’ve not seen this before; certainly not in such quantity. According to my battered Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe, it’s ‘scattered’. Maybe it is, in one sense, but not here. Here – admittedly a fairly contained area and in the damp woods it likes – it’s amazingly prolific. And gorgeous!
What a treat: a lovely walk enlivened by beautiful flowers, and one I’ve not spotted before. Is there a botanical equivalent to twitching? If so, I’ve just scored another tick…