Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Teesdalian Botanophilia: Part Four

Phew. This is the follow-on from Part Three of my Teesdale trip in June and will be the last of my excursion reports from Teesdale.

Having been up on the high fells for 2 days, we decided to spend a day in the dale exploring the River Tees. The walk from Bowlees carpark (Grid Ref. NY907282, off the B7277 just 3 miles or so north of Middleton) along the Tees from Low Force to High Force is spectacular: foaming torrents and tiered cataracts. This is a fine stretch of river.
We started from Bowlees carpark, where both the Durham Wildlife Trust visitor centre (sadly) and the council-run toilets (annoyingly) were closed. Hmmm. Not a good start.

But even before we reached the river, the flowers in the hay meadows on either side of the path, had cheered me up considerably.
Clover, buttercup, plantain, stitchwort, self-heal, hay rattle (Rhinanthus minor)....
......and eye bright (Euphrasia agg.) brightened up a cloudy day.
The path took us straight to the river and Low Force waterfall. A good spot for kayaking I should think (just checked You Tube and yes it is pretty good). 
At Low Force waterfall I found the old wound healing herb, goldenrod (Solidaga virgaurea) nestling on rocky ledges. (Not to be confused with the invasive alien Canadian goldenrod (Solidaga canadensis)).
Solidago is from the Latin soldare 'to make whole'. 
Also on the rock ledges by the falls was mountain everlasting (Antennaria dioica).(Excuse the photos.)
The specific name dioica indicates that the species is dioecious; namely it has male and female flowers on separate plants. Dioecious is derived from the Greek for 'separate houses'. The flowers above are male and those below are female (and quite past their best). 
The Wynch Bridge, a suspension bridge over the Tees, was built in 1830 to replace an older bridge which collapsed killing a haymaker who was drowned.
Rather than head straight up river to High Force, we decided to walk a circular route which took us past more of those delightful Teesdale hay meadows. 
If you don't like pansies look away now. I admit a slight penchant, a partiality for mountain pansies. We came across a pansy-meadow just before we reached to High Force. The pansies were growing in colour-coordinated-clones. 
It's so hard to choose a favourite colour.....but I think I like the one in the middle of the top row best.
You only find them up north. Simply stunning.

High Force is way bigger than Low Force (this one's not for kayaking!). Here the Tees plunges 70 feet over the resistant rocks of the Whinsill on its journey to the sea.
You can stand right above the falls and look down them. Quite a vertiginous experience.

On the valley sides are ancient native juniper woodlands. Under the old trees by the path I found wood sorrel and three-nerved sandwort.
We turned at High Force and headed back to the car down the riverbank.

It may be common in gardens but shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) is actually a native species and only grows truly wild in a few places in England; the banks of the Tees between High Force and Low Force, is one such place.
We found shrubby cinquefoil growing on some of the rocky islands along this stretch of the river. 
The banks of the Tees were teeming with wildflowers including this common bistort (Persicaria bistorta).... 
...and alpine bistort (Polygonum viviparum).
Altogether a thoroughly enjoyable week was had in Upper Teesdale. It definitely gets a 
It was beautiful, quiet, there were few tourists and we were generally lucky with the weather, especially considering the dreary weather we've had since we've been back home. It actually started raining the day we left. I am already planning a revisit, perhaps at a different time of year.

BTW I have 3 more shorter posts to write about some things I found whilst exploring this area. So watch this space.

John Gerard (1597) Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes. Online here.


  1. Hi , Just happened upon your blog when I was trying to identify a fly ( no luck) and kept reading! Super informative and a good read, keep it up!

  2. Hi Carol.
    Sorry about the fly. It's sheer chance when I get a fly id correct :-)
    Thanks for feedback on blog. I've not been blogging lately but definitely will get back to it.
    Mel (now in Walmer, Kent)