Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


5 Comments

Digging deep, smelling sweet

Another post about the Burren, from our journey on The Wild Atlantic Way, the Burren a special place, with ancient history.

This is Caherconnell Fort  to do it justice, and not make it look like just a collection of drystone walls, as most of my images did, you probably need a photo from a drone (I don’t like to be around when drones are flying, but they do give a fantastic perspective).

Chaherconnell stone fort 2

One of the reasons it has survived over the centuries, is that is thought to be a place where the fairies hang out, and therefore a place not to messed with.  So as well as happy fairies, there are now happy archeologists and a posse of student each summer, who I guess have just learned to rub along together.

Chaherconnell stone fort 3

sifting away, finding treasures.  Cahconnell fortIt was turning out to be a sunny day, and given how the summer had panned out since then (early June) I guess they are going to have got through a good deal more than two bottles of sun cream!

Tools of the trade

Good to see it part of the risk assessment, though I was more worried about the young chap wielding a strimmer, without eye or ear protection. Nooooo don’t do it.

A few miles up the road, we took a step even further back in time at Poulnabrone Dolmen    which is a megalithic portal tomb.

Poulnabrone dolmen

By then the heat of the day was climbing, and we were very glad to find the soft shade of Burren Perfumery, and even more delighted by a shady spot in the garden of the tea room. Which was, unfortunately marred by a party of visitor smoking, cigarette smoke wasn’t really the scent we expected.

20180607_150201

But the staff helpfully found us another table that wasn’t down wind of the smokers.

The perfumes  they create, are inspired by, the flowers of the Burren, which deserve a post of their own,  given thier special botanical status.  You will be pleased to read, the local flowers are not picked for the perfumes, but sourced elsewhere.

The gardens were pretty,  look at those watering cans,  I have watering can envy. 

 

 

Advertisements


5 Comments

The Burren

(Burren) is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him…… and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing. Edmund Ludlow 1651-52

It wasn’t the kind of landscape I’d ever associated with Ireland, apparently it is a glaciated karst landscape, it’s striking, especially as we’d been fully immersed in headlands, seascapes and lighthouses on our journey along Ireland Wild Atlantic Way. This seemed like a different country altogether.

The Burren_

I do like a a nice bit of limestone, it reminds me of home in many ways

The Burren view

And happy school trips to the likes of Malham Cove, on school geography trips. To look at the limestone pavements, the slabs of limestone, divided by clints and grykes . The Burren pavements.jpg

It looks barren, but there was lots of life. The Burren fren limstone.jpg

And the evidence of life forms past, were clear to see, such as this coral

The Burren coral_

This was back in early June, we thought it was hot that day, I don’t imagine there is much in the way of water left in the rather caustic looking ponds, that were humming with dragonfly, none that would keep still to be photographed though.

The Burren ponds.jpg

This land has been used for animal grazing, since Neolithic times, the walls are later.

The Burren drystonewalls

I have to say that a Derbyshire Gritstone sheep, would laugh at such a filigree wall, and then walk straight through it!

But they must have served a purpose, or they wouldn’t be here now.

The Burren wall 2.jpg

 


3 Comments

Unseasonal Colours

You could have been forgiven for thinking a splash of colour was hard to come by today, heavy rain and weighty clouds have consumed us. But having watched the Met Office rainfall radar for a window of opportunity, Spud the dog and I grabbed it with enthusiasm. 

We made it to the post box today, another milestone for Spuds recovery, and its the first time he’s been a muddy dog for many a month.   The ‘new’ post box is a more useful size than the old one, but its sad to have lost the heritage of the old one.

We did find some colour, in the understory of a wooded area, from where we recovered the yew tree. I’ didn’t know (or hadn’t thought about) that woods have four distinct levels, canopy,understory, field layer and ground layer (todays blog learning objective has been met).

The understory of young beech trees, have kept their Autumn leaves, why do they do that when the mature trees don’t I wonder?  I’m also not sure why suddenly their are so many of them either, maybe the  grazing sheep have been absent long enough for them to become established, or maybe it was  the result of what a farming friend would call a mast year?

little beech-122921

The  sycamore  soaked by the rain, showed off  its  beautifully textured bark to good effect

Sycamore -123143

The lichens, seemed to have drawn up the lovely pink hue of the local grit stone;  dressed, this stone is very a very precious  commodity to us and our neighbours, and any that becomes available for sale, is snapped up and kept on the hill from whence it came for any building projects.

lichen pink -123423


10 Comments

Tomb of the Eagles

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney landscape_

 

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_16

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, and August, I’m so,so tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

Tomb of the Eagles, (or less dramatically, Isbister Chambered Cairn)  was on our ‘must do’ list for our visit to Orkney, having watched a TV documentary about its  archaeological importance.  The visit starts at the visitor centre (not surprisingly) and  what I liked about this, was how you are allowed to handle some of the exhibits, to hold a five thousand year old Stone age axe in your hand and feel its balance, is quite something, something that you can never get a handle on from seeing it exhibited in a glass cabinet. 

After our tour of the centre, the tomb is accessed by a  mile long walk along a track, passing as you go, another significant bit of archaeology  a Bronze age mound of burnt stone, a modest 3,000 years old

Burnt Mound Orkney_

Mr Uphilldowndale was a little puzzled that I seemed more interested in photographing the plants than ancient relics, I pointed out that this plant, and I don’t know what it is, looked as thought it might have been hanging out here since the dinosaurs roamed the earth.

spiky plant Orkney

It was late when we arrived at the tomb, the visitor centre had closed behind us, and we were free to take a look inside the tomb at our leisure, in a kind of ‘let yourself in, the doors on the latch’ way (lovely bit of drystone walling here).

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney entrance 2

In reality you enter the tomb, on a little bogie cart, 

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney entrance_

My photos in the tomb, don’t do it justice, I’ll admit, being on the slightly claustrophobic spectrum, I happier outside than in, so I didn’t hang around for long.  As last visitors of the day, I didn’t fancy being entombed for the night. The tomb is divided into stalls, by stone orthostats (love that word, hard to drop into conversation though) the remains of the sea eagles and 341 humans have long since been removed to safety.

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney 2

It was cool, dark and had an unusual earthy kind of smell,  but what did I expect of a tomb

Mr Uphilldowndale kindly demonstrated the technique for entry and exit

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney 4

The return walk, takes you along the edge of the  South Ronaldsay cliffs, where there were beautiful flowers

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney Squill 2

as blue as the surrounding sea

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney sea

in places the flowers were named with tags, a lovely touch,  by the Simison family, a family (dad, discovered the tomb, fifty years ago) that values the sharing of information about this special place. The plastic tags did seem a little incongruous to me though, maybe wood or even written on stone would have been more fitting, you know I fret about plastic and the sea.

Tomb of the eagles  Orkney Squill

By the time we returned to the van, it was just us and the rabbits, and maybe, soaring on the wind, the spirits of the eagles, looking for a tasty rabbit,

Rabbit Orkney_


5 Comments

Lichen

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_08

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July!) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

Lichen, a symbiosis between fungi and alga.   The islands of Orkney have the most sumptuous lichen I’ve ever seen 

Lichen Wall Orkney_

I’ll not pretend to try and understand of identify them, the most accessible information I could find is on The Woodland Trust website, which is ironic because if there is one thing Orkney is in short supply of its trees. 

Lichens are often an indicator air quality and pollution. The leafy and beardy species being the most fragile, in their response to the air quality.

lichen wall 3_

I can confirm the air on Orkney is palpable in its freshness, its a  striking feature of the islands; as is the quietness (apart from the  gorgeous, gorgeous,birdsong)

Lichen_

its’ a quietness that presses on the eardrum, as unfamiliar with this void of noise, it seems to scan for familiar sounds amongst the white noise of wind, sea and birdsong

lichen wall 4

Orkney has so much archaeology it makes it your head spin.  It has standing stones a plenty. The perfect host for a colonisation of lichen

lichen standing stones 3

  In close view they look like maps of different worlds, which I suppose they are.

lichen standing stones 2

There was a time when man  deemed a good idea to clean the precious stones of lichen.  The lichen fought back.

lichen standing stones

They  also takes hold of more contemporary standing stones

grave stone lichen_


3 Comments

Tight Fit

A second belated post from our weekend, back in November in the Yorkshire Dales . We went to

Hawes 2

There was still snow about.  Yorkshire drystone walls have different coping stones than Derbyshire walls

Hawes

You don’t often see paved foot paths around here either, we were glad of them though, it was very wet and muddy.

Yorkshire stiles 3

The stile however posed a bit of a problem for Spud, they are obviously built for Yorkshire terriers, or maybe Whippets, but not Springer spaniels

Yorkshire stiles_

Poor Spud, he needed a lift.

Yorkshire stiles 2

the local  working dogs have got it sussed though. Gates open for them.

Hitching a ride


7 Comments

Magpie Mine

Magpie mine, an ancient and historic lead mine, near Sheldon in the Peak District, here having a bit of a winter solstice type moment. 

Magpie Mine sun flare 2

Lead smelting has been going on in Derbyshire for 3500 years  It a fascinating place,  let me give you a tour round, but let’s take care.

 Magpie Mine Notice_

There is something about the place that doesn’t feel quite right, I think it is the lack of accoutrements to the working life that once thrived here. It would have teamed with life,  there would have been noise, smoke, the rattle of harnesses as horses turned the gin wheel. But now It does feel rather eerie.

Magpie Mine buildings  2

You can almost feel the life it once had but not quite. It’s as though there is a life inside and below that we can never know.

Magpie Mine Back lit window_

Something going on behind these locked doors.

Magpie Mine door

As though the shadow of the gallows frame, might start to turn.

Magpie Mine Back Pit Head Shadows_

Mr Uphilldowndale however is less fanciful than me, he wants me to point out to you, how the lower section of  the chimney in this image is out of plumb* and when a later  brick extension to top has been built they’ve built it vertically, he’s forever the engineer.

Magpie Mine Laning Chimney_

We both admired the tunnel flu to this chimney, now partially collapsed

chimney magpie mine_

we admired the view too

Engine shed  magpie mine_

All around the site are the remnants of spoil from the mine, a bing 

 Magpie Mine Gate Spoil Heaps_

Spoil from lead mines, still poses a problem for farmers, and can kill livestock .  You can often see  clusters of trees, usually with walls around them,

spoil trees wall Magpie mine

the trees to cover the spoil with their roots,  and the walls as an added deterrent to livestock

 trees wall Magpie mine

Nature takes its course though and flowers and plants grow here that can tolerate the toxicity of the soil ‘metallophytes’,

plants such as the nationally scarce spring sandwort (known locally as leadwort) and alpine penny cress, and Pyrenean

survy grass and mountain pansy.

sky magpie mine_

 

*Plumb, did you see what I did there? [Middle English, lead, a plumb, from Old French plomb, from Latin plumbum, lead.]

17/2/16 Edit…   Lost and now found, the link that has to go with this post,  Peak District Mines Historical Society