Thursday, 3 April 2014

Wenlock Edge

The series of long ridges that one encounters travelling across South Shropshire from the Welsh border are fascinating to me - the Long Mountain, the Stiperstones, the Long Mynd and then Wenlock Edge. Each has its own special character, but for me the fossiliferous limestone of Wenlock Edge has the trump card. I remember coming out here from school long ago, searching for trilobites and lamp shells. I'm not sure what I actually found, apart from a big chunk of coral that I still have somewhere.

I'm not a great fossil hunter, but I also love Wenlock Edge for its flowers, which include orchids, pinks and the yellow-wort, a relative of the pinks which has always been a favourite of mine. Today I was close to the Edge (!), walking with a friend and his lovely dog along muddy field headlands and close to a delightful stream. It's still much too early for most of the flowers, but celandines, violets, wood anemones, ground ivy and dog's mercury were all there in abundance. A buzzard mewed constantly; we found the remains of a probable sparrow hawk kill; and a heron lurched away as we approached the wooded edge of the stream. I love the way they creak into the air like some elderly and not very airworthy plane, an old Dakota perhaps.

Today has been a soft day, to use an expression I've heard - up until the heavy rain that showed up at about tea time, anyway. It has been still and grey, and the great bulk of Wenlock Edge ahead of us as we walked was shrouded in mist. It wasn't cold, but it was pretty clammy. That didn't silence the birds, and we were serenaded by chiffchaffs and great tits as we walked. We weren't out long, but it was a pleasant interlude in a busy and jumbled day.

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