The Beacon Country-the Final Furlong.
Towards the trees
Notes from a Lancashire Country Man.
We commence this hub where the hub THE BEACON COUNTRY PARK -PART 5, concluded. We have reached the top of the small steps which have lifted us up from the trees surrounding the pond and on to the meadowland. We are now to turn left and walk towards a row of trees to our left while the main meadow land is to our right. Within a few strides we pass to our immediate left a path that leads back on to the meadow we have just explored. It is not long past this juncture that we come across a ditch which divides our present meadow from the former. Along this ditch side we soon encounter the evergreen shrub called broom. This shrub produces beautiful pea-like flowers of a bright yellow colour during late April and May. As the common name suggests the twigs of this species were once tied together and used as a broom to sweep the floors of cottages etc. Whether the shrub gave rise to the name of the broom or visa versa is not clear, the evidence being lost in the mist of time.
Along the ditch---
Along this ditch grows the invasive bracken which can be an invasive species in many areas. However, on the park it is only allowed to grow in controlled brakes. The plant has a vigorous creeping rhizome that send up single stems that can attain the height of five feet or more. Bracken or brake fern as it is also known will grow out in the open countryside and light woods . Ferns on the other hand are found thriving in woodland and have many stems often in the form of a shuttlecock. This ditch in summer conveys an entirely different appearance in this assemblage of habitats. The purple pink spires of the rosebay willowherb stand in mass ranks giving a fiery glow above the grasses.
There is nothing so pleasant as walking through a meadow redolent with summer flowers, when we are blessed by an explosion of colour. Many is the times I have sat in this meadow listening to the skylark. This little feathered jewel suspended in mid heaven, his notes cascading down like silver rain. I have also observed the swallow , twittering happily has he trawls for insects just above the summer grasses, ridding the air of its insect inhabitants. I have often thought that were it not for these birds and their close relatives there would remain an untold number of insects able to wreak havoc, and would England be as pleasant a place to live?
Swallow in flight
As we progress---
As we progress along the path beside the ditch towards the end of the meadow we will encounter, during the summer, the helmeted flowers of the common hemp nettle. The small flowers are white but may often be tinged with red. The nettle like leaves are borne on long stalks. The stems have swollen egg-shaped nodes along their length giving the observer a good identification feature.
Our pathway now meets with the oak trees . Even in winter the tree epitomises endurance solid with an air of permanence. These trees are utilised by countless creatures during the winter and summer. jays for instance have acquired a surprising amount of enterprise. They are often found about the oaks when the acorns have formed during autumn. These birds have a special pouch inside the throat which allows as many as 10 acorns at a time to be carried. Some will be consumed in the safety of the woodland, while others will be buried for harder times to come. In this way oak trees are dispersed across the land. Young oaks cling doggedly to their bronzed foliage even in the depths of winter, reluctant to leave their arboreal mothers.
Past the oaks
As we stroll
As we stroll through the gap onto the next meadow we will note that the land to our right rises up to the summit of a hill. To the left of the summit a tangle of gorse nestles on the hill. These gorse play host to small birds that delight in their thorny shelter such as the linnet and yellowhammer.You can not stroll far in open country with out coming upon a rabbit who quickly bolt for the safety of their burrows concealed by the thorny branches..
We are to continue along our present path until we meet with a dividing ditch with trees growing along its length on both sides of our path. Our attention at this point is drawn to the row of trees to our right which include ash, privet, rowan and the guelder rose. At the foot of these trees during the month of May the white flowers of the greater stitchwort beautify the ditch sides. The flowers are similar to the commonly used garden plant the white rock. the linear grass-like foliage of the stitchwort blend in well with the grasses of the ditch. The procumbent stems rest on the surrounding vegetation. This species flowers much earlier than the lesser stitchwort we came across in part five of the series.
The evergreen privet, when growing wild makes quite a large open shrub unlike the privet hedge of gardens that have had the character trimmed out of them. The large green caterpillar of the privet hawk moth feed on the foliage. We continue along our original path down the meadow with the woodland to our right. Pine trees are prominent in this wood.
Our pathway veers to the right at the bottom of the meadow to meet with the conclusion of the woodland. At this point the path leads us between the high netting of the golf driving range on the left and the trees of the woodland to our right. On the woodland side of the path there is another ditch that divides our path from the trees. Many species of plant tenant the ditch sides during the seasons. These include the red campion, colt'sfoot, hogweed, nettle, creeping buttercup and hedge woundwort, while climbing up the netting on the driving range fence vetches such as the bush and tufted species are commonly encountered. All these subjects have been met with during this series of hubs.
As we reach the end of the path way we meet again with a choice of direction we are able to take. Should we choose to turn right we would cross a wooden bridge over the ditch which leads onto another meadow or into the trees of the wood. We could carry onwards up the incline to the summit of the ridge. However, we are to turn left down a hardcore footpath that leads us through an avenue of young trees. We will now encounter grassland to our left that has tall trees on its border which help to conceal the driving range. The grassland to our right spreads out to the foot of the ridge. This area of grassland is well utilised by sun worshippers and for family recreation activities. The blue flowers of the germander speedwell are dotted among the short grass that is kept trimmed throughout the growing season.
As we walk down the pathway we will see that on the right there is a recently constructed play area which is well used during the summer months. At the end of our path we come upon the Car park from which we started our exploration in Part one of the series. During these hubs we have explored but a fraction of the parks' assemblage of habitat, to give the reader a taste of the wildlife that may be encountered here. No doubt that during the course of the coming summer I shall visit many of these locations not yet encountered in my writings to encounter the wildlife that may be discovered there.