Things are warming up around here in more ways than one! The sun has decided to shine and for the last couple of days its been just like Summer. Also, we’re hoping to move to Scotland before the end of October so it’s going to get a little too busy for walking and blogging.
Sadly I have to concede defeat and admit that I’m not going to make it to 1000 miles this year.
Never mind, there’s a whole new world of walking out there just waiting for me and Mr RR! As soon as we’ve got ourselves settled in, I daresay we’ll be off on some lovely new walkabouts.
Meanwhile, it’s going to get a little quiet on the blog…..but here are a few miles to keep you going until I get back to it all again.
See you in Scotland!
The (Notso) Wee Ricketyrambler
The Lost Gardens of Heligan (3 miles) and The Penrose Estate (6 miles)
We took ourselves up to the Lost Gardens last week and had a wander amongst the vegetable gardens and the dahlias:
I love the Italianate Garden:
but my favourite thing is the Potting Shed!
I want one!
Fantastic flower gardens still:
They’ve got a new family of Tamworths who could squeal extremely loudly:
And a pair of Ostrich:
Mr RR did the rope bridge walk……but I’ve don’t it before and once is enough!
Then today we took the top path around Penrose, descending for coffee at the Stables Cafe and then returning alongside the lake and Loe Bar. We saw sparrows – flocks of them – A Quarrel of Sparrows! Five Great Crested Grebe – A Waterdance of Grebe, a Swim of Cormorants and a Posse of Herons! Quite a good morning for birds on the whole:
The views across to Helston were unusually clear:
These are Oak apples – a soft spongy ball found on the end of Oak tree twigs. Inside the apple is divided into cells and in each cell lives a grub, destined to become gall-wasps or flies very soon!
On the way back along the coast path from Loe Bar we noticed hundreds of tiny holes in the bank:
They went on for quite a way and there were wasps hovering all around. Despite many tries I was completely unable to get a picture of a wasp! Except this one:
Can you see it? On the left hand side – just emerging from it’s hole.
I think these must be Bee-killer wasps! These insects are voracious predators of Honey Bees – they capture and paralyse them and then carry them back to their nests before laying eggs on them. The developing larvae then feed on the bee. Twenty years ago this insect was rare but it is now colonising new habitats throughout England.
After saying yesterday that the blackberries were not yet ripe at Mullion, I decided to take myself for a walk around the Penrose Estate and followed the top path which is lined with brambles, to see if things were any further on there. There were a few juicy ones to be had but it’ll be another couple of weeks I think before they’re really ready. I came back with just about enough for a pie though.
Rickety Rambler x
Porthleven circular via Penrose Top Path and Penrose Farm (4 miles)
You remember yesterday I was trying to discover why blackberries go from green to red and then black? Well today, quite by chance I found the answer! Isn’t it funny when things happen like that? I was really just trying to find out which berries these were:
when I found a whole section in my Reader’s Digest Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs about berries. So ……what it says is that the main evolutionary objective of plants (and animals obviously) is to develop efficient means of reproducing themselves. Trees and shrubs do this by producing seed bearing fruit for dissemination by the wind or other means. It’s the ‘other means’ which is important for us. When fruit turns red and then black, it draws the attention of birds and animals, which obviously eat the fruit and then redistribute the seeds! I knew that really!
As well as that, most berries are rich in sugars, starch and other nutrients and are eagerly sought out by wildlife. Those such as rowan and yew are eaten whole, the seeds they contain have hard outer coats and resist digestive juices, therefore passing intact through the animal or bird, usually landing far away from the parent tree so that it has a space of its own to grow in. Others, like cherry are not swallowed whole. Birds eat the fleshy covering and discard the stone containing the seed, again often away from the point of origin. Interestingly, the seeds of mistletoe stick to the birds beak and they wipe them off on branches of trees – on which they then grow! How clever is that!
Anyway, there you have it. Blackberries go red then black to attract the birds and animals that eat them, they swallow the seeds and then poo them out later! I did know that really…..
I walk on along the lane managing to gather a few ripe blackberries, enough for a pie anyway. I stop to look at the field of sweetcorn:
and I spot this little fellow, clinging on to a stalk and swaying in the brisk wind:
and then, as I turn the corner onto the farm lane I see a strange sight. In the field to my left are tractors – nothing strange in that you may say…….but there are loads of them:
At first, I think they’ve all gathered together to take part in the harvesting – but that’s odd because the hays already been cut. I walk on trying to work it out. As my view becomes clearer I can count up to 30, or maybe even more, tractors in this field, some with trailers laden with what looks like sand:
Eventually I guess, when I see all the people watching them, that it’s a competition! It’s very well attended and everyone seems very excited.
Walking on past Penrose Farm I spot a marquee and a sign saying YFC Ploughing Competition and I realise that it’s the Young Farmer’s Club having a bit of a fun day. Although they probably wouldn’t thank me for calling it that – I think it’s serious stuff this tractor driving/ploughing competition thing.
The Helston and St Keverne Young Farmer’s Club (www.cornwallyfc.co.uk) is part of the Cornwall Federation of Young Farmers which was formed 77 years ago and has over 750 members – quite a lot of them being here today I think!
As I move on past the farm I see that the cotton thistles are just going over:
and the Hedge Bindweed is in flower:
Although it’s a very common plant, it is quite interesting. The flowers stay open all night apparently – but only if there’s a moon (and no, I am not staying up all night to check!) They don’t have any scent, but they manage to attract the hawk moth which uses its long tongue to extract nectar from the base of the flower and pollinates the plant.
Bindweeds once shared the generic name of Convolvulus – a reference to their ability to wrap themselves around stems and branches. In the 19th century a Scottish botanist, Robert Brown thought its distinctive structure justified gin gin it a new name and called it Calystegia derived from two Greek words, Kalyx – meaning cup, and stage – meaning covering.
In The Medieval Flower Book, Celia Fisher mentions that it was once used as a purge – but a dangerous one unless used in small quantities mixed carefully with sweeteners and spices. she goes on to say that, the artist of the Carrara Herbal described the plants ‘undeniable beauty’ and indeed it was encouraged to grow over arbours both in the Islamic gardens of Spain and here in 15th century England. Now of course, we spend a lot of time trying to get rid of its nightmare mass of underground roots!
I hurry on as, despite the promising start to the afternoon, it’s starting to rain and not only am I coatless, but I’m wearing just a sleeveless vest (and some shorts of course!).
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.
Mr RR and I are back in Cornwall. I have to say that, despite the excellent company and the charming streets of the city of Oxford, it is a joy to be walking in the countryside again!
We’ve had a night of rain so we stepped out all geared up for storms today, but we were lucky and returned home dry if just a little muddy!
Thanks for reading
Target – 1000 miles in one year. Weekly goal – 20 miles
Total achieved so far – 162.4 miles (target 160)
Achieved this week – 12.1 miles
Porthleven Circular via Penrose Estate and Loe Bar
Well, here we are, back in Porthleven and keen to get out for a walk despite the overnight rain. So with boots and gaiters on and waterproof trousers packed, we headed down through the village and alongside the inner harbour towards the coast path. The swans were safely dabbling among the moored boats and the outer harbour boards were in place for protection as the tides are high and the sea already rough. It’s not as cold as it has been over the last few days but its very cloudy and threatening rain with a blustery wind churning up the waves.
We walk along the coast towards Loe Bar, then turn left up the steep hill to the new Penrose Path. Out to sea a huge container ship is at anchor but otherwise there’s nothing to see except a guillemot swimming like a duck in the water and diving every now and then for food. This bird lives most of the year on the open sea, coming to land only to breed on the cliffs. It feeds on fish – cod or whiting, sand eels or sprats – and this one is dipping and diving frequently, so either he’s hungry or he’s found a good feeding site and is having a feast!
We plod on through the mud which is exceedingly slippy on this path, noting a buzzard sitting calmly in the middle of a field, perhaps waiting for a rabbit to put in an appearance. Past the fields, some newly planted and some with last year’s crop still evident, and along the top ridge from where we can look down on to the lake.
Once we round the corner past the farm, we’re headed through the woods. The fir trees are black in the dim light, their trunks saturated and eerie looking. The dog in the photo below is not mine by the way – he just, very cleverly, inserted himself into my picture, but he was a nice dog so I let him stay! (No RR jr. – it’s not Alfie!!)
Further down the hill, the ground is covered by rust coloured bracken, quite beautiful against the dark trunks and just peeping through, the new shoots of bluebells, reminding me that in just a few weeks these woods will be carpeted in blue. A sight worth seeing if you get the chance.
Now we’re out of the woods and on the tarmacced path alongside the lake. The walls are lined with pennywort with their shiny green leaves – also known as navelwort, nothing to do with ships as I thought (!!), but because the leaves look like your navel apparently!!
I’m pleased to note that the herons are back right on cue – you will remember that the females arrive in February to start nagging the males to get on with the nest building. We see three of them, across the lake in the usual spot. Also a family of great crested grebe – two adults and a juvenile. On checking the book about collective nouns for birds I see that I should have said ‘a posse of herons’ – not sure I like that, sounds a bit wild west to me, but a ‘waterdance of grebes’ is just lovely isn’t it?
As we round the corner back onto the coast path the wind whips up and we hurry along towards Porthleven, eager to avoid the rainstorms. However, we get back to the village without any sign of them and indeed the sun is trying to shine, breaking up the clouds to reveal a watery blue sky. A quick stop in passing to collect pasties for lunch and we’re home!
Associated artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major: