Moor to Coast

Early morning walkies

20/09/2012 - 14:43

My bleary eyes make it exactly six o' clock. Sherry has informed me we are going for a walk. I am the living embodiment of one of those signs that proclaims, 'Sometimes I wake up Grumpy, sometimes I let him sleep.' I am given a cup of coffee to put me in the right frame of mind. Half an hour later I can just about impersonate a carbon-based lifeform but my wildlife-watching skills are sadly lacking.


Thankfully we are not delving into unchartered territories. We must walk the lanes between Galmpton and Greenway several times every year. If I am unable to prop my eyes open I might be able to get round with them closed. After descending a lane with hedges on both sides, we reach a valley and a steepish climb up a grassy meadow.



Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus)


This is one of the species that we found in plentiful supply during our explorations of Galmpton Common a couple of months ago. But here it looks wildly different. The stems are velvety and purplish but it was the shape and formation of the seeds which sealed the identification. None of the many books I consulted seemed to agree and I had to resort to checking and cross-referencing online.



The obligatory mystery grass


With this specimen the more I looked, the more confused I became. Perhaps this is its state before flowering and maybe the meadow has been grazed and the grass has regrown. I opted for Creeping Soft Grass initially, then for Small Cat's-tail. I have to concede defeat for this one.






Two views of Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata)

The top view shows the grass in flower, when the seeds are prominent. But in the second picture the seeds are absent and the shape is more upright. Before identifying them I definitely thought these were two distinct species. I am also conscious that I making the same mistakes I made with flowers: namely concentrating solely on the face and the flower, when I should be looking at the stem, the roots, the leaves and the shape of the ligule (the name for the joint in a grass stem.)




Broad-leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius)


I don't know why but this flower makes me think of the elaborate, hypnotising arm movements of a snake-charmer or exotic dancer. The wind has frozen the posture, once and for all. Or perhaps my eyes are prone to sleep again and I am dreaming my way around.


At the top of the meadow we looked across to the tranquil waters of the River Dart.






Hybrid Woundwort (Stachys x ambigua)



Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica)


And here are our old friends, the woundworts again. The first specimen has noticeably paler, less upright flowers. Out of shot, the second also had downy, more rounded leaves.







Two views of Traveller's-joy (Clematis vitalba)


These buds and flowers looked really striking. Both shots might appear a bit dark and underexposed for some tastes but it really was that overcast as we walked back along Greenway Road. These specimens were by a bridge overlooking the railway line below. Later they will turn all fluffy and wispy. At the Harvest Festival displays at primary school, Traveller's-joy (or Old-Man's-Beard as it was known then) always figured prominently in the bouquets and baskets.


As I woke up fully and a tide of memories unfolded, our walk came to a close and we returned home.




To follow this short-walk you might need OS MAP OL20 SOUTH DEVON but you should not get lost without it.


Walk through Galmpton Village and up Greenway Road. Before the railway bridge take the green dotted track on your right. Where the road bends, turn off left, following a path between two hedges to the bottom. Then follow the stream and ascend to the top of the meadow. At the top, walk left along Greenway Road and back to Galmpton Village.


During the tourist season, the steam train now stops at Greenway for the National Trust-owned Greenway House, where Agatha Christie once lived. From the top of the meadow, there is a path down to the recently renovated platform, should you wish to arrive (or depart) in style.


Click on the link below for details.






Add a Comment


Email (not displayed):