Adding to Steve’s account of this walk, I have gleaned some info from ‘Flora of Todmorden’ published 1911. This flora was compiled decades after the deaths of Stansfield and Nowell, from records gathered by them in the early to mid 19thC.
But before I go on and in case the following article is not of interest, can I arrest your attention by mentioning a reference to a book by Mr. Stackhouse — Map of Rocks published 1831, in which there are large lithographs and descriptions of many of the major named Rocks in the valley. I can find no reference to this book anywhere and I have searched the internet. If anyone has any knowledge of it I would love to hear.
For the aficionados; please read-on
The Flora of Tod states there is a calcareous grit outcrop in Harley Wood Scout (near to our walk) and “This stratum arrested our attention many years ago, in consequence of finding several calcareous plants growing upon it. These were Wall Rue, Maiden Hair Spleenwort, Carline Thistle and Wood Melic and some others” (pity they weren’t listed). (I have never seen Wood Melic in that area).
On our walk it was mentioned that Frank Murgatroyd had a record for a Filmy Fern; but it seems no one had ever found it and doubts was expressed about the suitability of the habitat where Frank said it was.
I wonder if he was bringing to mind this early record from the Flora of Todmorden where there is a record of Tunbridge filmy-fern being common above Springs at Harley Wood (Lydgate). The book goes on to say this filmy fern was destroyed by the getting of stones for building the Burnley Railway (built in 1840’s). Maybe Frank was passing on this record and perpetuating the plants existence? Although the site he mentioned was not near the stone quarry. Perhaps not all plants were destroyed? “The gametophyte is likely to be inconspicuous with a narrow ribbon-like thallus” –Wikipedia.
The walk went past the Orchan rocks. The Flora of Tod gives this info “We come now to the Orken, or Orchan stone: or as spelt in a deed of 1491 Ork-ndstone. The name as pronounced by the inhabitants is none other than the Gaelic word meaning incantation; or in the Irish dialect of the Celtic, ‘Orcain’, a murder or killing. In the ordnance survey the word is spelt Hearkenstone but we apprehend this is wrong. Though the name is applied to the whole group of rocks, the real Orchan Stone is the large, square, isolated block which stands nearly in situ, whilst the others around it have been tumbled down in the utmost confusion. The stratum a few yards to the north of the Orchan Stone, remains in situ and has only been disturbed here and there.”
“Some years ago a number of masons and quarrymen laid siege to this fine mass of rocks, and it was at our earnest request , and from the good sense of the proprietor (the amiable T. Ramsbotham) that this piece of reckless destruction was prevented.”
Mr, Stansfield also refers to ludicrous names given to these stones in the “History of the Parish of Halifax”. Mr. Stansfield has the riposte “His informant must have been some ignoramus of the lowest grade, totally unfamiliar with the district”. (Todmordians have always been expressive in their opinions)!!
The Autumn colour and woodland fungi walk went really well considering the dire warnings from the BBC of cold weather arriving. It should be “The North Wind doth blow and we shall have sun” (NOT snow – or rarely.)
Fifteen people and two dogs turned up; we were pleased to welcome two ladies from Hebden Bridge with their dog Bibo, who were very welcome, and as usual Peachysteve’s Meg accompanied us.
The mood was light-hearted as we set off, despite the early parts being steeply uphill. The views were amazing, and the Autumn colours rich and satisfying.
At Orchan Rocks we had the spectacle of approx 800 Pink-footed Geese going over in several skeins. The sight and sound was impressive, especially for those who had not seen wild geese migrating before.
We found fewer woodland fungi than hoped for, a single Elfin Saddle being a notable exception, but on the sheep pastures higher up there were interesting species of waxcap, and a group of Caterpillar Clubs, each one attached to an underground moth larva, as we proved by digging one up (and replanting.),
Other birds seen were large flocks of Fieldfares “chack-chacking” as they went over.
After the walk, five of us went to Jerusalem Farm in Luddenden Dean, to check for fungi, including the rare Date-coloured Waxcap which I once found on a HSS/ Mid Pennine Fungus Group foray, (I was ignorant of its identity and rarity) but we were unlucky, but did find the fragrant Cedar Waxcap, which smells like pencil sharpenings.
And anyone who knows me will know that this was my highlight of the trip – a Barred Sallow resting by day, appropriated enough on a Beech leaf – it’s foodplant. One of a group of autumn species well marked to blend in with fallen leaves.
Invitation to October 27th Walk – Report on the recce we did today : Autumn colour and woodland fungi in the Harley Wood area of Todmorden
We sat under beech trees to eat our picnic when the drizzle threatened to penetrate. Lovely real outdoor weather! Birds seen included Kestrel, Goldcrest, Fieldfare, Brambling (1).
Meet 10.30 at Lydgate Post Office (beyond Centre Vale Park, just after a car wash.) Park on Church Street, or on Burnley Rd.
If coming by bus I’ll meet you at the fish shop just over the river bridge at Tod Bus Station. Let me know what time your bus gets in. Two spare seats at the moment. 0771 500 5379
I was given a splendid tour of Bradley Wood by Mick Harrop. It is ancient woodland containing bell pits showing a former use by digging for coal.
The woodland is an interesting mix of tree species as a result of planting over recent decades by the Scout Camp and Activity Centre. But when you filter these out an older landscape emerges, which includes large Hazel coppice stools and many fine Oaks.
One of my photos is of a Beech which is large in both height and girth and looking remarkably healthy. It could easily be 200 year old, an age which is rare for this species in our area. Notice the graffiti carved in the bark high up the trunk.
A most intriguing tree is a large multi-stemmed Oak growing from an old coppice stool. Just how old is it? Looking at the width of the base and how it could have spread outwards with each coppice cycle is it fanciful to think in terms of 400 years old?
There are also some American Red Oaks (Quercus rubra), with leaves showing the natural variation in shape which caused me confusion when trying to identify them.
Before we went to Bradley Wood, Mick showed me an Oak in the middle of a field near Warley Town. It is the kind of tree that stands out in the landscape; with its spreading branches being evidence for it always having been an open grown tree.
To keep this Oak from losing its character and help it live longer, it is important not to let it become part of a woodland. If pollards were created from the young Oaks nearby—their present branch structure being ideal for doing this—both young and old would benefit. The many burrs contain dormant buds, which are just waiting for the right conditions to enable new shoots to grow. This is an Ancient Tree of the future.
Ancient Oak of the future
Beech tree at Bradley Wood
Beech tree at Bradley Wood
How old is this Oak coppice?
Wide variations in leaf shape on Red Oak
Very impressive Beech and measured round the girth gives a possible 200 year old tree. The whole group of trees here is very attractive and the sheltered position will have helped them grow. I wonder who planted them.
On the other side of the little footbridge there are a few isolated trees; the illustrated Oak is difficult to age but has character. The bulge at the base is probably decades of adventitious buds trying to grow but constantly eaten by sheep. It produces a complex pattern of cell growth distinct from the normal tissue.
Hmmm; I wouldn’t stand there too long.
That branch is remarkable
Blake Dean pocket of trees
Seen near Gibson mill on discarded remains of a pine footbridge. Peachy Steve has helped by suggesting it could be Antrodia xantha. There is a record of this a couple of years ago in the same area, possibly the same piece of wood!
Very attractive fungi and with imagination has a Mount Rushmore head on the left, possibly Theodore Roosevelt.