The weather forecast was not very encouraging on the 7th, but not really bad enough to cancel the meeting, so 10 of us met at the YDNP car park, put on all our winter walking gear and set off to cross the road and enter the wood. It was still raining but the trees gave us some cover. In the past the  Hazel Corylus avellana has been coppiced  and an area has been set aside to do this again, but mainly the trees have been left to continue growing. The usual ground cover of Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa had now ‘gone over’ and Dog’s Mercury Mercurialis perennis had taken over. As we went through the wood we realised the rain had stopped and there was some weak sunlight. Bird Cherry Prunus padus was in flower and a boggy patch provided  the strong yellow of the Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris.

Continuing on the path above the river, and leaving the woodland, the terrain became open grassland the main feature of which were many hummocks which had been plant colonised, mainly by Rockrose Helianthemum nummularium, but also by Wild Thyme Thymus polytrichus and more Parsley Piert Aphanes arvensis than anyone previously had seen.A tiny plant a bit like a miniature Alchemilla. The hummocks were thought to be ant hills. There were many different plants here in leaf only, but giving a good show in flower were Bugle Ajuga reptans and Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca. In the the wood the occasional Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula had been found and they showed up again with a good number of Primroses Primula vulgaris and Cowslips P. veris.

Walking back to the visitor centre, we noticed quite a lot of the Wood Melick Melica uniflora. As a much appreciated end to the meeting – not so very wet after all – we were all treated to tea and cake by one of our members in anticipation of a future birthday. This was very much enjoyed as were the accompanying conversations.

The photographs were not taken on site – Cowslips, Bird Cherry, Early Purple Orchid

Christine Bell