Sunday, 24 May 2015

Another May walk in the Ribble Valley

Today, I am on my usual daily walk. Although some of you came with me on this walk in April things can change noticeably from month to month. The most obvious change is that the blackthorn has now gone over and Hawthorn dominates the hedgerows. Hawthorn blossom is traditionally known as May blossom, and there is a saying, "Ne'er cast a clout till May is out." For the uninitiated this means don't put away your winter clothes until the Hawthorn blossom appears. While Hawthorn blossom is attractive, I wouldn't put it in a vase in my living room, as it smells like a rotting corpse. This is because the flowers are pollinated by flies.

I noticed this horse through a gap in the hedge. I thought that it made a good focal point for a photograph, especially with a pond in the foreground. My daughter once asked me to walk her Labrador dog while out at work. He didn't walk well on the lead but was perfectly well behaved off it. On this particular occasion he smelled the water long before it came into view and he was gone. By the time I reached this pond he was swimming and the young woman who owns the horse gave me a dressing down for not keeping my dog under control. I never took him with me again.

I often meet her while she's out riding. Someone told me that she's a mounted police officer. I have no way of  knowing  if that's the case, but she certainly appeared  comfortable while tearing me off a strip for my neglect. The young woman  also owns a white pony, which she may have ridden as a girl, but its current function is as company for the horse. In addition to meeting her while riding I sometimes meet her while walking the pony, as others might walk a dog. Perhaps it doesn't get enough exercise in the field and needs to be encouraged to walk? While taking the photograph of the horse I suddenly had the feeling that I was  being watched.

By the side of the road I noticed this tree in flower. It looks like an apple tree to me and it must be at least a couple of hundred years old. That got me thinking, how did it come to be growing in a hedge. Was an apple core, a remnant of a plowman's lunch, carelessly thrown into the hedge by a farm worker, or was it a snack discarded by a traveller on the road from Ribchester to Whalley. Or did a blackbird simply eat a rotting windfall in the autumn and spread the seed in its droppings? Whatever happened to plant this tree it took place a hundred or more years before any of us were born.

This plant is not a plant that you see every day, but growing close to the old apple tree there were hundreds of them growing in a rainwater  ditch. It appears to me to be a fritillary, so I looked it up in my idiots guide. Apparently Britain boasts just one native fritillary, (The Snakes Head Fritillary), but to be honest the picture in the book didn't appear to be an exact match. I've discovered that The Snakes Head Fritillary grows in just a few meadows in Southern England and the Midlands, so if I have identified it correctly what is it doing so far north? Perhaps someone can tell me what this plant is? 

This picture shows Pendle Hill in the far distance. Its summit is 557 metres (1,827 ft) above sea level. There is a saying locally that if you can see Pendle it's going to rain, and if you can't it's already raining. In 1652, during the early years of the Quakers, George Fox, a founding father, claimed to have had a vision while on the top of Pendle Hill.
As we travelled, we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered.
George Fox: 

I wonder if George's vision  included a Mexican themed restaurant sitting on the top of the hill, or a dry ski slope and a ski lift, or perhaps he envisioned young men jumping from the top and paragliding in the thermals? If so he truly had a vision of the future.

Here are a few of the wild plants that I photographed during the month of May. 

Herb Robert
Red campion
Ladies smock
Greater stichwort
Ivy leaved toad flax

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