Monday, 25 January 2016

Wednesday 20 January - Studley Roger

The weather forecast was for a decent day, so I decided to go over to Ripon and walk near Fountains Abbey, one of my favourite winter walks. I struggle at the start of the year to decide which are new flowers and which are scruffy leftovers waiting for the frost and winter weather to finish them off. Ivy is a winter flowering plant starting long before Christmas but this plant had some fresh looking flowers as well as some which had already set  and were beginning to form the berries.

Next a clump of Snowdrops on the far side of the river. There were no nearby gardens, houses or rubbish tips so I thought the original bulbs must have been washed down the river by a flood. Then to form the several large clumps they must have been seeding for some years. So these I am claiming as wild although I believe all Snowdrops are garden escapes.
There was a lot of shooting going on throughout the day, but I found this Pheasant trapped against a fence but unworried by my presence.
Because I was walking through the farmland to the south of the Abbey the view suddenly opened up with the Abbey sitting in the valley below. This can only be seen in winter because in summer the leaves on the trees block this view.
Soon afterwards, from the Markington Road there is a clear view across to Fountains Hall showing the smart layout of the building. From the Abbey grounds you get rather caught up below the Yew hedges and struggle to get a clear view.

I then walked back to the Studley Royal Car Park through the Studley Royal Water Gardens

As the sun got low in the sky it began to light up the trees and buildings and more patches of blue sky showed through the clouds.

As I drove away from the car park down the long drive the light was hitting Ripon Minster in the distance. It seems as though the setting sun is directly aligned with the drive, but why did I not see that electricity cable until I got home?

Looking backwards the drive and the sun are aligned with St Mary's Church at the top of the hill. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

Wedneday 13 January - North Newbald

I had found an old magazine clipping of a walk at North Newbald from Country Walking Magazine (January 2007), so hoping that the Wolds would be relatively dry I set off on a sunny morning to try the walk. The first section was along a tarmaced lane, but then the route turned northwards into Houghton Moor Woods. Although still following a track the various vehicles had churned the damp ground.

Still it was possible to get through and avoid the worst of the mud. At the north end of the wood I emerged into farmland with Beware of the Bull signs.
No, as usual, they were all cows. But then
there were three magnificent bulls in the field next to the path. After that I took a bit more care to check the fields before I crossed the stile, but thankfully I was never sharing a field with a bull or a cow. I then emerged on to a minor road near Houghton Hall which has some large lakes and a flock of Greylag Geese took to the air.
Coming round towards Sancton village I passed the first Hazel Catkins I had seen this year.
Having looked more carefully when I got home I can also see the red filaments of the female flower on the twig about halfway along the catkin (sorry originally this was wrong).
Sancton Church has lovely octagonal tower and sits very well just above the main road through the village.
Just after passing through the village I found a seat where I was able to eat my sandwiches in a small area owned and looked after by Sancton Parish Council.

So thanks to Titch & Neil, I had my lunch and flask of coffee in comfort.
This was the start of a dry valley rising up to Arras Wold and there were loads of birds feeding in the stubble fields on one side of the valley including a green Woodpecker.
Eventually at the top of the valley I joined the Wolds Way briefly before returning to North Newbald.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Friday 8 January Coneysthorpe

Not a promising morning but the weather forecast was threatening a few sunny hours in the afternoon so I took the opportunity to drive out to Castle Howard and walk over towards Hovingham through farmland and woods.

I noticed and old log being used as a seat that was being attacked by fungus, I was surprised that they had not been finished off by the frosts.

 Next I was amazed by what I took to be a green lichen encrusting the branches and the twigs making up the hedge. Why I have I not noticed this before? It's a path I walk regularly in winter.

The hedge was affected for several hundred yards. I think it's down to the position near the ridge of a hill and damp air must hit this hedge because usually on this side of the country it would be too dry in the hedge for this amount of lichen.
But then another fungus on a tree trunk still looking fresh, but surrounded again by the green lichen.
So a lot more green in the countryside in early January than I expected even if I did need to look carefully to find it.
I then walked through a farm that keeps several different breeds of sheep, but these were the ones nearest to the path.


From the sign at the farm I see these are the Flitwick Flock. Having looked them up on the internet I am fairly confident that these are Castlemilk Moorit Sheep.
"During the early years of the twentieth century the late Sir Jock Buchanan-Jardine began a breeding programme on his Castlemilk Estate in Dumfriesshire. Using Manx Loghtan, moorit Shetland and wild Mouflon, he developed a breed to beautify his parkland and provide fine, kemp free moorit coloured wool.
On the death of Sir John Buchanan-Jardine in 1970 the majority of the flock was culled and a few dispersed, including six ewes and a ram which were bought by Joe Henson at the Cotswold Farm Park. All today’s Castlemilk Moorits are descended from these few dispersed sheep." - Castlemilk Moorit Sheep Society Website

Certainly they are attractive and quite small sheep. They have a bad habit of scratching their noses on dead stems which you can see I have failed to avoid in two of these photos.

But the land round here is so wet, it feels as though it will never dry

In the woods this is having its own effects, after some clear felling at Hovingham the forester has chosen to leave an edge of mature trees next to the tracks. Unfortunatley the combination of wind and wet ground has resulted in a large number of these trees being flattened.

Now on my way back to the car the sun was beginning to set and the colours were being reddened by the changing quality of the light.

Definitely worth getting out there when its both dry and the light is improved by some sun!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Scavenger Hunt December 2015

It's been so long since I completed a Scavenger Hunt that I had forgotten how to use Blogger to post the results. I'm late as usual but that's because I have just got back from spending Christmas and New Year in Spain. It certainly helps having some sunny dry weather to get out and take some photographs.

1. Joy

A shop that sells Joy? I guess that's the promise of most Jeweller's shops

2. Together

On the beach

3. Tree

There were quite a few of these trees planted in a little scrubby park area by the river. I think they are probably one of the Paper Birch varieties.

4. Ornament

There ia a lot of ornament on the early 1900 houses in Valencia, I particularly liked these Rose decorations.

5. Light

A sort of Christmas Tree and light all in one.

6. Christmas

Either Father Christmas paying a visit or a camouflaged burglar. A very popular decoration on balconies in Spain.

7. Sparkle

All the Sparklies in one window.

8. Giving

The Three Kings in procession passing Abu Simbel Temples in Egypt. Part of the large Bethlehem in Valencia's main Market Hall. All leading up to the Spanish Festival of The Three Kings on the evening of 5 January when Gifts are exchanged in Spain.

9. Food

My lunch time "sandwich" and very tasty it was too.

10. Red

I didn't get it either, but definitely Red, decoration in a bar.

11. Kitchen

Having been away for Christmas and New Year I didn't see the inside of a kitchen for two weeks, and you certainly wouldn't want to see my kitchen! So, what you need is a new Paella Pan, we can do you any size from 4 foot diameter downwards.

12. Whatever you Want

Two ladies debating the quality of the produce at Valencia Market. Whatever they are I don't think they were impressed. This was at closing time and there look to be a lot left.