Photo The Wharfe at Yockenthwaite

This time of year, botanically speaking, is for going to see the hay meadows. We are well blessed in Upper Wharfedale, as the meadows alongside the Wharfe walking downstream from Yockenthwaite are a delight. Last year one of our July meetings was to these meadows, but of course this year the situation is very different. However, several of our members have undertaken this walk for their own pleasure including myself.

The predominant colour is yellow.


Some plants of the Daisy family, the Dandelion look-a-likes make a big contribution – including Rough Hawkbit, Common Catsear, Autumn Hawkbit, Mouse-ear Hawkweed.

Mouse-ear Hawkweed

Inbetween these is Yellow Rattle or Hay Rattle, the semi-parasitic plant on some grasses, keeping down the coarser grasses. At a lower level will include Daisy, Eyebright, Black Medick, Clover, Salad Burnet, Eyebright and Rockrose and of course the different Grasses including Sweet Vernal Grass, False oat Grass, Quaking Grass, Crested Dogstail, Fescues.

Amongst all of these are the Orchids – Common Spotted,

Fragrant Orchids

from almost white to deep pink, the pale yellow of the Greater Butterfly

Greater Butterfly Orchid


and lovely pink of the Fragrant.

While the Common Spotted

Common Spotted Orchid

is dotted about here and there, the other two tend to be confined mainly to two different patches.

Walking through the old hospital grounds towards Hebden was a different experience. It never ceases to amaze that the Devilsbit Scabious is in flower here much before anywhere else and a good contrast to  the Yellow Rattle. The Great Burnet was looking lovely too,

Great Burnet

and quite a lot of Ox-eye Daisy, and patches of Melancholy Thistle.

Melancholy Thistle

The height of the sward was much less than at Yockenthwaite, but many of the common plants were the same. There is always a lot of Eyebright here which is semi-parasitic on other plants and maybe along with the Yellow Rattle suppressing too much the growth of the grasses.


A meadow of an an entirely different type has been planted by the Grassington in Bloom group with the assistance of the Dales Millenium Trust.The local primary school have also been involved. The area is on the corner of Springfield Road opposite the Royal Mail building.  It is the same plot that a local farmer sowed some years ago. It makes a real splash of colour on the corner. It is interesting in that initially, the flowers that really made the show, with the exception of Ox-eye Daisy are the rare and endangered plants of the cornfields, not plants that we see locally – Corn Chamomile, Cornflower

Cornflower with Corn Chamomile

, Common Poppy, Corncockle,


and Corn Marigold.

Corn Marigold

These are all tall plants and hide the Yellow Rattle that of course is a feature of the Dales hay meadows as above. As the season has progressed, then the commonly seen Knapweed, Field Scabious, Meadow Vetchling and Yarrow have appeared and throughout there has been a number of plants eg Ribwort Plantain, Broadleaved Dock, Red Clover, that are seen in many habitats.

At this time of year, some of the roadside verges take on more colour. In the spring the Cow Parsley, and Sweet Cicely make a green and white edging, but now blue and pink can be dominant, with the blue of Meadow Cranesbill, Giant Bellflower, Field Scabious, Harebell and the pink of Knapweed, Rosebay Willowherb, Great Willowherb, an occasional Sand Leek, often seen. The White of Hogweed provides the contrast as does the delicate Upright Hedge Parsley. After that it is the yellow of the Perrenial Sow-thistle and Ragwort and the grey of the Mugwort.

What has not been possible at all this year is the close discussion and examination of a plant with someone else,- the arrangement of the petals, what sort of hairs on the stem, arrangement of leaves and much more, which will have to wait for another year.

Wild Thyme and Black Medick

Photos Christine Bell

Christine Bell