Sunday, 26 July 2015

Sunday walk

We had expected endless rain today.  The weather forecaster's charts showed a pretty grim Sunday, so to wake this morning to glorious sunshine was a real bonus!  Time for a walk.  

Mr Gaucho dropped Tilly and me on the other side of the village, to the south-east and the first third of our walk was in new territory.  First we came to a ford, where the lane collided with the River Tyne.  We crossed over by footbridge and then along a path which followed the river, back towards the village.  It was a lovely walk, quiet and peaceful.  
There was quite a lot of the invasive Himalayan Balsam, Impatiens glandulifera, growing along the river bank.  It is a handsome plant, a relation of the Bizzy Lizzy (which I have never liked), and I would rather it had confined itself the Himalayans, as it is a troublesome thing. It spreads quickly and effectively, and studies have shown that it can dramatically reduce the diversity of our native species, competing successfully for the attention of the pollinating bumblebees.
There was lots of the gentle meadow crane's-bill too.  I think its a fabulous plant.  I love its colour and the fragility of the petals.
We passed a single giant hogweed, Heracleum mantegazzianum, which truly is a giant.  It towered over my head.  It is another invasive species, particularly undesirable because of the chemicals contained in its sap which can burn the skin, causing on-going sensitivity to sunlight.  I would think that this plant has been sprayed with Roundup, in an attempt to kill it off.  I haven't had the opportunity to look at one at close quarters before, so I found it rather fascinating.
We crossed the River Tyne again, and a kingfisher darted up river, in a dazzling flash of iridescent turquoise.  I waited around for a while, hoping it would make a return journey, but no luck!  

It was lovely to walk along by the river, its waters deep and dark, almost black in some places.  I was reminded of a poem my cousin, Mark, used to recite when we were at school. 'A Boy's Song' by James Hogg (1770–1835).  I can still remember the first verse!

Where the pools are bright and deep,
Where the grey trout lies asleep,
Up the river and over the lea,
That 's the way for Billy and me.

These pale purple flowerheads belong to the creeping thistle.  It's a plant we see everywhere. Non-spectacular, almost boring because is so common.  However, look more closely, and marvel at its design and beauty.
As the river footpath reaches the village, it passes Preston Mill.  This was East Lothian's last working water mill, quaint with its Dutch style conical roof.  There has been a water mill here since the 16th century, although this building dates from about two hundred years later.
Despite the gathering clouds, the rain has not come.  We walk on, up and over the hill, and home.

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