We had a little walk up on Blacka last week and found the bilberries in flower. Here's a reminder to check out Neil, the Blacka Blogger's site where he talks about these. He also posts wonderful pictures of the deer up there - natural grazers, not like the heavy footed Highland Cattle that have been introduced, he says. It is quite magical the way the deer have made Blacka their home. I've not been early enough, quiet enough (with a partner and dog) or sharp eyed enough to spot them yet. But almost every day Neil finds them and is learning more about them.
Spring flowers and plants appear daily. I can't keep track. Here are some sticky green cleavers or goosegrass near the farm at the footpath down from Mickley to Totley. We used to stick them on each other's backs as kids.
Violets in banks - at the top of White Lane and along Fanshawegate Lane. Hedge garlic, young nettles are everywhere and bright wood sorrell - along Brindwoodgate near Great Brind Wood beyond Cartledge - make some "food for free". The bluebells are out - but not quite at their best yet. Bugle near the Scout Hut. Lots of Dog Mercury for weeks and weeks now. The cow parsley (we used to call it kek in rural Oxfordshire) will soon be frothing up along the lanes. Stitchwort (or Poor Man's Buttons) in Ladies Spring Wood above Dore and Totley Station and the railway line.
Near Rowan Tree Dell - note old fallen post in water
I have mentioned the old holloway (ancient trade route) before - the one that ran from Dore down through Totley and the Cordwell Valley to the Roman Road of Rumbling Street (so called because carts rumbled along it).
Christine and I recently took a pair of secateurs and explored the part no longer used between White Lane and Rowan Tree Dell and across to where it joins Totley Hall Lane (see photo above). Most of it still exists though sometimes still as roads, sometimes as paths. Old Hay Lane in Dore was part of it as was Totley Hall Lane. Many people will remember the deep sides of Totley Hall Lane towards the fields before the new estate of houses was built near the Hall. By a detective process and close observation over the months, I worked out that it then went along the bottom end of the recreation ground next to these houses and through the gardens of Rowan Tree Dell, then down to ford the Totley Brook and across a field to join up with the part that is still a footpath veering off White Lane up to Woodthorpe Hall. It then went along Fanshawegate Lane, up the deep magical east side of Holmesfield Park Wood (known as Hob Lane - perhaps due to a few hobgoblins"), then either along Grimsell Lane to Millthorpe (just off Horsleygate Lane)and down another section - I think called Pingle Lane - to Rumbling Street. And perhaps even beyond to Oxton Rakes - although I haven't explored that part yet. Here are some photos following it on my flickr site.
Hob Lane in the snow
David Hey gave a marvellous old fashioned talk on packhorse routes to Totley History Group last week. His book about these is a must if you want to find out about them.
These pink wood anemones delighted me this week. Here is John Clare, the peasant poet (1793 - 1864):
Sonnet: Wood Anemone
The wood anemone through dead oak leaves And in the thickest woods now blooms anew, And where the green briar and the bramble weaves Thick clumps o'green, anemones thicker grew, And weeping flowers in thousands pearled in dew People the woods and brakes, hid hollows there, White,yellow and purple-hued the wide wood through. What pretty drooping weeping flowers they are: The clipt-frilled leaves, the slender stalk they bear On which the drooping flower hangs weeping dew, How beautiful through April time and May The woods look, filled with wild anemone; And every little spinney now looks gay With flowers mid brushwood and the huge oak tree.
An overdue update of Spring arrivals but as Maisie the dog has been away for a week, I haven't been out and about much .....
Another photograph of the wood anenomes (anenome nemorosa) which drift over Gillfield Woods - blooming for a few weeks now. They only fully open in the sun and take advantage time-wise of the light before the leaves are on the trees.
Out of the woods and across the fields to Totley Hall Lane, I spotted some blue wood anenomes - possibly a garden escape now naturalised? Anyone know?
In the fields of Totley hall farm I also heard the kew-wick of a kestrel and spotted it in a tree...
Chris the expert bird spotter say there are little owls. Both he and another neighbour have also seen a buzzard. Need to get out and check for warblers. Even swallows....
Down near the Shepley Spitfire on White Lane I looked for signs of the Lords and Ladies (many ruder names but we always knew it as Cuckoo Pint - to rhyme with mint - possibly being a word like pistle - you can guess what that is). Here they are - more photos to come, hopefully, of its ruder manifestations as the seasons progress.
And a lovely and very friendly young beastie has joined the sheep below St George's Farm.