The Order of the Thistle

Thursday 30th July 2015


Ironically, given that the thistle is the heraldic emblem of Scotland, it’s this plant that entertains  us on our first walk back in Cornwall. Thistles are an important food source for a variety of birds and just now, many are coming to the end of their season and producing those lovely cotton wool covered seed heads.

Goldfinch extracting a thistle seed.
Goldfinch extracting a thistle seed.

It is Air Day at RNAS Culdrose in Helston today so, anticipating lots of traffic on the roads, we stay close to home and walk along the coast road and up over the hill to Penrose.  The weather is perfect, the sea calm and deep blue and a local ramble is just what I need.

Enjoy reading

Ricketyrambler xx

Porthleven circular via Penrose (6 miles)

View from Highburrow
View from Highburrow

As we walk through the National Trust gates on, what we have come to call the top path, we see that new signage has been erected.  We are entering Highburrow, an interesting name for such an open and exposed place as ‘burrow’ means a snug tunnel dug by a small animal and used for a dwelling.  I wonder how it came to get this name.  Whatever, high it is and consequently on a clear day, like today, the views are stunning.

Thistles line the path on the seaward side and flocks of goldfinches and willow warblers flap nervously away as we pass.  The collective noun for Goldfinches is ‘a Charm’…..a Charm of Goldfinches feed on the thistle seeds, and a Confusion of Warblers also flutter about nearby.  No photos of the warblers sadly, but the Goldfinches are pretty enough to make up for it.  This one’s a juvenile learning to take the seed with it’s relatively long bill:

Juvenile Goldfinch
Juvenile Goldfinch

Looking back at the view and the blue skies we comment that it’s a perfect day for Air Day – so rare, they often have appalling weather to deal with – and we can already hear the helicopter circling as it will do for most of the day, presumably to ensure the airspace is kept clear.  These cows are unphased, they’re used to air traffic.


Walking on past fields of wheat we can see that it won’t be long before there are blackberries to pick on our rambles:

Blackberries at Highburrow

I may have told you this before, but there are more than 2000 varieties of blackberry and we can see a mix of varieties just in this one area – some have bright pink flowers and some, like this one have white flowers:

Bee enjoying the blackberry flower
Bee enjoying the blackberry flower

Along the path butterflies flutter everywhere, difficult to identify as they don’t stay still for long, and when they do, they often rest with their wings closed – but here are a couple:

This is the Painted Lady – thistles are one of its larval food plants – the other is nettles. Plenty of both around here!
And this is the stunning Peacock with its striking eyespots and gaudy colours.

We walk past a herd of cows, patiently waiting by a gate – presumably the grass is greener on the other side:DSCN1522 DSCN1523

Then we head down over the hill and through the wood, diverting for a cup of tea (and no cake) at the Stables Cafe, where we sit under a tree taking in the view towards the Loe Pool:DSCN1535

Across Penrose to Loe Pool - Mixed Media on Canvas
Across Penrose to Loe Pool – Mixed Media on Canvas

before heading back past the lake and along the coast road into Porthleven.

Total miles walked this year – 506

Across Loe Bar with Cows - Mixed Media on Canvas
Across Loe Bar with Cows – Mixed Media on Canvas

Associated artwork for Ricketyrambler by Mr RR:

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