Thursday, August 6, 2009

An Industrial Legacy




Just south of Seaham on the Durham coast (see http://cabinetofcuriosities-greenfingers.blogspot.com/search/label/Durham%20Coastal%20Path) there’s a little bay called Hawthorn Hive, reached by a steep cliff path. The Magnesian limestone is constantly eroding here, creating small landslides that bring down the flora and fauna from the cliff tops to beach level. There it’s completely sheltered from the south-westerly winds that blow across the cliffs for most of the time, so the display of wild flowers and butterflies at the back of the beach is simply wonderful. Pictured here, from top to bottom, are carline thistle, yellow-wort and rest harrow. This is one of a number of delightful bays along this coast that were once used for dumping colliery waste, that are well on the way to being fully restored to their former glory, but ironically the narrow zone of biodiversity at the base of Hawthorn Hive’s cliff depends on past industrial pollution. Here coal dumping created a raised beach that stops the waves from reaching the base of the cliffs (bottom two photographs). With rising sea levels, once the sea finally sweeps away the last of the colliery waste (and it’s eroding quite rapidly now), the days of the present cliff base flora and fauna will be numbered. There’s a little more about this at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/aug/06/seaham-coast-colliery-waste

6 comments:

  1. Nature making beauty from our rubbish.
    That bay looks beautiful Phil, especially that last shot.

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  2. Another great post, Phil.
    Carline Thistles always look has they`re dead/dying. Wouldn`t mind seeing one, though.

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  3. Lovely flowers there, Phil, and the place looks quite beautiful now.

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  4. Hi Keith,it's an interesting spot all year round - when I was there in the spring the base of the cliffs was covered in blackthorn blossom

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  5. You're dead right Dean, carline thistles look much the same all-year-round. When they're in flower you can just about make out the tiny purple petals in the individual florets. Mighty prickly plants too - I sat on one once!

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  6. Hi Emma, being so sheltered, it's a particularly good spot for butterflies - speckled woods colonised last year, for the first time.

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