A two hour drive North yesterday to the lower end of the Peak District was full of Adventure and discovery.
Nature Table Explorer Tim in a classic position on Stanton Moor near Birchover .
We started our walk above Birchover on the edge of this moor. Interestingly the area is made of Ashgrove Grit which is a geological Outlier in a large area of Limestone. An Outlier is an area of younger rocks surrounded by older ones. This stone was used to build Chatsworth House.
The moor was covered in typical acid loving plants , heathers and lots of bilberry.The only photo I have of the bilberry is out of focus but I’m adding it so you can see the plant.
The hard narrow paths through the heather sparkle as you walk and are sites of mining bee excavations . They were dotted with volcano like mounds and perfect entry holes for the bees.
I did spot a bee , they are quite small and long in the body , very unlike the chubby fluffy bumble bee.
There are 60 species of miner bees in the UK. The tawny miner bee is a common species and makes the volcano shaped mounds that we saw. There were lots of these along the sandy paths. The nests have a 20-30 cm shaft going down into brood cells with larvae in them. In March the adults emerge , they are important pollinators.
After walking to the Nine Ladies Stone circle we headed into birch woodland. The bracket fungus was particularly noticeable.
These are birch polyphore (Fomitopsis betulina) they grow almost always on birch. These fruiting bodies can last a year.It is also known as the Razor strop fungus , this is because barbers used to use dried strips of it to sharpen their razors. Interesting the fungus was also used by early man as a dust to ignite when making fire. This area is littered with ancient monuments so maybe their fires were started with this method .
The find of this walk for me was this lichen with the bright red fruiting bodies, carpeting a trunk.
This lichen is known as British soldiers (Cladonia cristatella).
The fruiting bodies on this lichen are very striking and attractive.
Further through the woods on the woodland floor was a favourite flower of mine, wood sorrel ( Oxalis acetosella)
This little flower folds its leaves up before and during rain. It also folds them up in the dark. Looking at the leaves in the photo below they were closing ready for rain.
Because it flowers around the time of Easter in Europe it is sometimes known as Alleluia.
Wood Sorrel is one of the plants that is an ancient woodland indicator.
As we continued, the woodland changed to pines and then back to Birch and Beech. The topography was unusual with tall steep banks with loose rocks from earlier quarrying. The effect was to create a fairy tale , brothers Grimm scene.
The steep sided tumbles of rocks have over time become transformed by moss into a textured cushion looking hill.
From here we continued on down into the village of Birchover and explored Rowtor Rocks.
These rocks made from gritstone have been carved into rooms, alcoves ,tunnels, stairs and seats. This was all done by a local person Thomas Eyre 300 years ago. These rocks were popular with Victorian sightseers, I can see why they are brilliant.
Here is Nature Table Explorer John testing out a stone armchair , I sat up there and it was surprisingly comfortable.
The rock below shows some erosion, the whole area was full of interest.
On the way back up to the car through the woods,bluebells are starting. There were also large blocks of yellow Archangel another wild flower I really like.
Just back from buying a new book to go back and explore more of the Peak District.