A group of 32 joined Keith Wilson on Saturday 15th May 2010 to look at the spring wildflowers  in the partially wooded Dales church yard of St Mary’s Church in Long Preston; these included Primroses, Celandine, Lady’s Smock and of course Bluebells.

 A Flowers of the Dales Festival Walk

was held on Saturday 15th May 2010

The tour of the churchyard was followed by a walk along the beck side paths and up the walled lanes to the moorland edge to see the contrast between limestone and grit stone habitats.

Bluebells in amongst the nettles in the wilder areas.

Keith explained how the churchyard was managed to maintain a balance between the well mown areas and wilder parts which provide shelter for insects and birds, especially the ivy along the ancient dry stone boundary walls.

Even the church porch provides shelter for a Swallows’ nest and  less obviously, a recent survey by bat experts at Leeds University have shown the roof of the porch to be home to about 70 pregnant female Natterer’s bats.

Lady’s Smock

Keith also pointed out the signs of other wildlife in the churchyard and discussed the ancient trees which are a major feature, some of which are estimated, by measuring their girth, to be over 250 years old.

A newly emerged Orange Tip butterfly was spotted drying its wings

The walk ended with a final return down the hill to the Village Hall for tea provided by the WI.

Bilberries mark the transition to the higher moorland acid soil.

In the intensively grazed landscape the wild flowers are concentrated in the areas where the sheep can not reach.