The Quarry is part of the Ingleborough National Nature Reserve and managed by Natural England. Limestone was first quarried for the Settle Carlisle Railway, more recently for industrial works in the north east until the 1960s. A pond, a few stone piles, a boulder field were created, and one or two trees planted then everything left to natural regeneration. Soon after entering we encounter the limestone seat, its outline that of the Ingleborough skyline, the rocks representing the geology with pipes and drainage to represent the water draining through the limestone.
However this was a Botany trip but all gave a clue as to the habitat and the plants likely to be found. The first most obvious plant was a large robust spike of Northern Dock Rumex longifolius,
the seeds or tepals have no warts unlike the dock we use for nettle stings. On a slight rise was an amazing array of Twayblade Neottia ovata,
not often seen in such large numbers especially with the backdrop of Whernside, the Ribblehead Viaduct and, if one had been lucky, a steam train.
On the quarry floor the recent lack of rain and excellent drainage had left everything in a smaller form. We found Knotted Pearlwort Sagina nodosa,
identified by the feel of its leaves as the name implies up the stem, the length of its sepals and the colour of its anthers. However there was evidence of normally slightly damper conditions, here were rosettes of Bird’s-eye Primrose Primula farinosa, Lesser Spearwort Ranunculus flammula,
a Buttercup of damp places as was Common Spike-rush Eleocharis palustris ( but we failed to identify the less common Northern Spike-rush). Water Horsetail Equisetum fluviatile with a colourful Dragonfly possibly the female Common Hawker
and Broad-leaved Pondweed Potamogeton natans were found in the one or two areas of standing water.
The Orchid of the day was the Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsia
though we thought it was the Heath variant. Just in bud Marsh Helleborine Epipactis helleborine
was also seen.
A fascinating day on an old industrial site long taken over by nature, well over 100 species identified even though we sadly lacked our leader Christine.
Photos Ian Hughes