The day was forecast dry and mild and the morning started out sunny. Cressbrook Dale is a nature reserve with good biodiversity and was my choice for todays walk. I parked on a layby on the road to Litton near one of the signed entrances for the reserve. Parking is not easy at either end of the dale without a long walk to get to it and this was no exception being at the top of a hill where you have to walk down and then somehow cross the flooded stream below.
Not far from the car I noticed growing in the grassland two types of tiny white cress-like flowers probably related to the weeds that persist through your garden in the winter.
Right: The little cresslike flower growing in the grass had typical cresslike pinnate leaves and white 4 petalled flowers...
Left: ...the flowers had four stamens and a cylindrical rod-like stigma again typical of cresses.
Both of the above were growing abundantly on the grassy hillside. Lesser Celandine was in flower too but more occassional here.
When I was further down the hill the stream looked to be too much for my walking boots so I made my way North towards the road where finally there was a little bridge and I was able to turn south to proceed down the dale. I decided to take a high path to avoid flooding and climbed to the top of the valley on the East side. I may have avoided the flooding but up here there was a fierce wind with quite a chill factor!
Above: Looking down from here the flooded lower path I had climbed to avoid. Below looking south down the valley with Peter's Stone at the centre of the horizon. The day was so overcast these pictures would have looked like they had been taken in greyscale I had to increase the saturation to see the green.
As I approach the wooded part of the dale on the bottom path I spot the leaves of cowslip, rockrose and salad burnet growing near rock outcrops.
In the wood there are isolated large patches of bluebells (not yet in flower or bud), the leaves being more like the native variety than the invader, I hope this is so. However this wood is massively dominated by ramsons (Allium ursinum). They cascade down the wooded valley sides like (later when the flowers appear) an avalanche. Whilst they are a splendid site in bloom its a shame they blanket such a large area and restrict other wild flowers from having room to grow.
I heard ducks in the water and was delighted to see a family of Mandarin Duck. The shots are handheld at 50x zoom in a dark area so are a bit grainy!
Left: This was the sole specimen of Wood Anemone that I found here in flower. The solid masses of ramsons will I suspect prevent it from getting much of a hold in this dale.
On reaching the Ravensdale cottages at the end of the dale I turned around for the return walk. If possible I was going to keep to the lower paths this time.
Below: in the wood near where I saw the Mandarin Ducks and the masses of ramsons can be seen in the foreground middle ground and going up the hillside on the opposite bank as far as the eye can see!
Below 3photos leaf buds and male catkins of an Aspen (??) in the wood
Right: One of several Early Purple Orchids growing on or very near the path in the open area. Could the proximity to the path be a result of seeds carried on soles of walking boots?
I managed to get back on the lower path which was clear of the flood water and even cross to the other side at a point even though this meant precariously clinging to a wall rock climber fashion to cross it!