I had a walk around Hatfield Moor today, looking for adders. They are our commonest snake and our only venomous one but they are very shy, well camouflaged and consequently hard to see. Hatfield Moor is one of the few places I know where you stand a good chance of finding one provided you walk around slowly and quietly with soft footsteps to avoid alerting them to your presence through ground vibrations.
Now in case anyone is thinking it seems a bit foolhardy actually searching out venomous reptiles, remember that this is an animal that will retreat and hide at the slightest disturbance so the chances of getting bitten are remote in the extreme (barring accidentally stepping on one). Even if an accident did happen they are not highly venomous and although very painful, a bite rarely results in death except for unfortunate individuals who suffer a severe allergic reaction. I read once that more people have died from bee stings in the UK than from adder bites.
Not that any of that mattered today because despite walking very slowly and looking hard (three hours to cover little more than a mile) I saw not a single one. So I’ve stolen a picture from Wikipedia to illustrate just what they look like.
For the puzzled: cast means to take off, a clout is any item of clothing and May refers to blossom and not the month. So the saying translates to something like “don’t go dressed lightly until you’ve seen may blossom”; wise advice in England’s notoriously fickle weather. May blossom (on hawthorn trees) normally starts to show early May but spring has been a little late this year and I’m seeing it regularly now for the first time. I saw this example on a walk in Treswell Wood where we went to look at the woodland spring flowers in this “ancient woodland” (that is continuously wooded since at least 1600).
Treswell Wood is an important nature reserve managed by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and to maintain the biodiversity, it is managed as coppice. While on our walk we bumped into the woodsman who was busy cutting up waste large timber to make logs for wood-burning stoves. Winter is normally the time when most wood management takes place and there was plenty of evidence of this season’s activity in the piles of cut large timber waiting for collection and masses of hazel wands stacked at the side of the rides.
One little treat just before we left was the discovery of a small patch of early purple orchids. Delightful.
You may remember a series of posts recently about my trip to Scotland to meet up with Carol and Les who were planning to complete their last Munro. [The Munros are all the mountains in Scotland above 3000 feet high.] Well I thought a follow up post was in order to say that they completed the climb and show you a few of their photos from the day and other recent mountains.
So here we have their climbing party that I was unfortunately not able to be part of. The left photo is setting off from Glen Etive and the right one is on the summit.
And just to show that although 3000 feet does not sound high, climbing these mountains can still be a serious challenge, these are some photos from the climbs a few days before.
I’m sure that like me you are impressed. It’s a great achievement, well done Carol & Les.
Just up river from Doncaster, the River Don passes through a limestone ridge in a wooded gorge. It’s a place I know really well as I used to live in the village of Sprotbrough nestled at the side of the river against what was the only crossing point between Doncaster and Conisbrough (there’s a motorway as well now). It’s been a while since I last visited and today’s fine weather with blue skies and fluffy white clouds tempted me into a walk along the river. I parked up near The Boat (a fine pub by the way) and first walked downstream before returning to explore the nature reserve at Sprotbrough Flash just upstream.
A real chocolate box view like that above called for my polarising filter but unfortunately it then stuck on my lens so every shot I took afterwards has colours that look a bit too saturated for my liking. (It’s still stuck on my lens now and I’m not sure yet just how I’m going to get it off.) I know, I know, a bad workman blames his tools but I like to get my excuses in good and early!
The river is navigable to quite large craft all the way up to Sheffield and a very large lock allows access by the weir at Sprotbrough. The drop in the river was used in previous times to power a mill and the remains of the building can still be seen next to the old mill race, now silted up and overgrown but still obvious.
I grew up close to the Roman road Ermine Street that linked the two principal cities in the province of Britannia, Londinium and Eboracum (London and York). Well actually it was the western alternative road that looped around through Doncaster to avoid the Humber estuary which was impassable in bad weather. Locally it was known as the Roman Rig although was marked as the Roman Ridge on OS maps. A feature near where I live now is called the Roman Bank and at first glance it would be tempting to think it was a Roman road too; it is straight after all. But the bit of information I have found out about the earthworks suggests it is not Roman at all but probably dates from the Danish occupation of northern England a few centuries after the Romans had left. Its purpose: who knows! It does make for a nice walk though and after a heavy day sat in front of the computer, I treated myself to a visit.
The lane is flanked by mature trees and bands of woodland with open views over farmland on one side for part of its length. Today, with the wind howling and the glowering clouds occasionally spitting rain down on me, I was glad of the shelter. There were a few short breaks in the clouds and once or twice it got quite warm as I was bathed in sunshine but overcast, cool and windy pretty much sums it up. [UPDATE: Better weather than some places in England as apparently there has been snow in Devon and Shropshire! Now that’s not typical weather for mid-May]
On Monday I went out for another attempt at shooting a nice sunset. First point of call was just down the road where this field of rape was just starting to show its yellow flowers. It always amazes me how fast this plant grows. Over-wintering as ground hugging seedlings, this year it was even later than normal in starting its spring growth spurt because of the cold weather. Then maybe four weeks later it’s a metre tall and in flower.
And the sunset? Once again nothing spectacular but still nice and definitely worth the trip.