WFS Meeting in Upper Teesdale 2005

Mimulus x gutatus x variegatus(Hybrid Monkeyflower)

Cochleria pyrenaica(Pyrenean Scurveygrass)

Eleocharis quinqueflora (Few-flowered Spikerush)

Carex nigra (Common Sedge)

Euphrasia x arctica (Hybrid Eyebright)

Salix Caprea ssp sphacelata (Goat Willow)

Hieracium iricum(Hawkweed)

Carex flacca (Glaucous Sedge)

Equisetum variegatum(Variegated Horsetail)

Taraxacum lacistophyllum(Dandelion)

June 22nd am: Climbing the fell

On the second day we climbed Cronkly Fell to find the special plants at the summit and to see some interesting plants on the way. The weather forecast was good for the afternoon but not quite so encouraging for the morning. We arrived at the small car park a few miles North of Middleton-in-Teesdale and set out for our day trip with a few grave words of warning about hill walking from our leader Vincent Jones. In fact the 1,700 foot summit wasn't such a bad climb (in theory) as our trusty GPS instruments tell us that the car park is at already at 1,200 feet above sea level.

Very soon we stopped near a farm to look at a Mimulus which looks to the untrained eye very similar to Mimulus x robertsii which we saw the previous day. It was probably a garden escape and has been identified as Mimulus guttatus x luteus x variegatus (Hybrid Monkeyflower) which as well as being a triple hybrid does not get a mention in Stace. A little further on, just by Cronkly Bridge we were told that the obvious Willow was Salix caprea ssp sphacelata (Goat Willow). This subspecies of the very common Salix caprea is characterised by many adpressed silky hairs on the tops of the young leaves as well as underneath. In fact this sliky hairiness fooled a fair number of early botanists into thinking that Salix caprea ssp sphacelata was actually Salix lanata (Woolly Willow). Sphacelata is Latin for gangrene which is supposed to refer to the brownish rotting appearance of the leaf tips. The leaves are actually rather manky green colour too so Gangrene Willow seems a most appropriate name.

Before starting the ascent of the fell we took a trip along the river Tees bank to find Cochlearia pyrenaica (Pyrenean Scurvygrass) at the water's edge. Cochleariae tend to look very similar but the features of this one are the smaller leaves and ovate fruit.

Further along the bank in a wet area we found Eleocharis quinqueflora (Few-flowered Spike-rush) in flower with many flowering spikes(!). Nearby we saw excellent examples of the upright Carex nigra (Common Sedge) which will eventually turn black in fruit and Carex flacca (Glaucous Sedge) which droops and has leaves which are glaucous on one side. A very poor and small example of Equisetum variegatum (Variegated Horsetail) was found lying prostrate in another wet area. Passing a meadow we saw swarms of hybrid Euphrasia plants which have been identified as Euphrasia nemorosa x arctica (Hybrid Eyebright).

We returned to cross Cronkly Bridge and began the slow ascent to the summit. On the way we found some excellent Galium boreale (Northern Bedstraw) in flower and a little further on clumps of Dryopteris affinis ssp affinis (Scaly male fern). This is a badly defined group which probably has quite a few sub species as yet undetermined.

The ascent started and the terrain began to look distinctly different with Heather in abundance, Juncus squarrosus (Heath Rush), Galium saxatile (Heath Bedstraw) then a dandelion on the footpath identified as Taraxacum lacistophyllum all pointing to a neutral or even acidic soil. The ascent can be no more than about 500 or 600 feet which for fell walkers is nothing. We were trying to do this in the face of a 40 mph wind pushing us back down the hill.

Still the journey had to be done for the botanical treasures of Cronkley Fell are at the very summit.