Thursday, June 2, 2016

Spring on Widdybank Fell

Today's Guardian Country Diary is about the botanical jewels that grow in one of the last places that spring reaches in the North Pennines. This part of Upper Teesdale is an almost treeless landscape and even in mid-May the grass has only just begun to grow, but tucked down amongst the heather there are tough little flowers that survive in one of the harshest landscapes in England.

This is the view from Widdybank fell, one of the 'hot-spots' for these rare wild flowers. In the distance, across Cow Green reservoir, you can see (l-r) Great Dun fell, Little Dun fell and Cross fell. The vegetation across much of the landscape that you can see here is less that knee-high, frozen in winter, windswept and subject to high rainfall.

Nestling on the ground around me, when I took this photograph, there were .....

.... hundreds of bird's-eye primroses Primula farinosa .....

.... along with the intensely blue blooms of spring gentian Gentiana verna

You really need to get down on your hands and knees to appreciate these tiny but tough little plants. They draw visitors back to this bleak spot in May every year, to appreciate their extraordinary beauty.


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