THIS PLANT looked both striking and unfamiliar when we saw it by the ponds at Alverthorpe Meadows and my friend Roger suggested that it might be Astragalus, Wild Liquorice. In fact, it’s a close relative of Liquorice, Goat’s-rueGalega officinalis, a plant introduced to Britain in the 16th century and now naturalised on waste ground, such as roadsides and railway banks. The trees in the background mark the line of the old Wakefield to Ossett railway and this particular bit of ground was disturbed during recent work on the ponds.

Iron Springs

As we walked up through a small wood towards Silcoates School we passed this conspicuously rust-red spring. Roger and Sue said that there used to be a spring on the far edge of this wood, at the edge of the meadow and they wondered if it had ‘migrated’, as springs occasionally do, to emerge in the wood.

As I understand it, it’s the action of bacteria which precipitates the red ochre deposit from iron-rich water. Groundwater percolating through the bedrock leaches iron salts, changing the composition of the rock. Spring lines normally occur where permeable rock, such as sandstone, sits upon an impermeable layer, such as shale.

The geological map shows that the hill on which Alverthorpe Church and Silcoates School stand is capped with sandstone. A fault, branching out like a letter Y towards the south-east is marked in the area where we photographed this spring.

Rhubarb Walkers

I can’t remember ever having met someone following one of my walks but as we made our way back to Roger and Sue’s we met a couple from north Leeds who were half way around the Melbourne House walk in my Walks in the Rhubarb Triangle. Not only that, but they were going to try Barbara’s recipe for rhubarb bread and butter pudding when they got home. By coincidence Barbara had made her rhubarb cheesecake from the book yesterday when we had friends for dinner.

It’s great to see my booklets being used. This couple were going to try all the walks (as well as all the recipes, apparently).

They said they liked the book not only because it got them out to a place that they might not otherwise have visited but it also tells them something about it’s history – in this case the story of Prophet Wroe who built Melbourne House as a kind of latter day Temple of Jerusalem and fully expected the Tribes of Israel to gather there on Judgement Day.

The man said what had persuaded him to buy the book when he saw it on the internet was the cover design. I like that rhubarb and custard coloured image and wish that I could always come up with something like that which is striking but also neatly sums up the contents.

If only one of us had had a pen, I could have signed their copy for them!

Wainwright would probably have hidden behind a rock if he’d seen a hiker approaching, following one of his routes over the fells but for me it’s a novelty. It’s encouraging to have some positive feedback.

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