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Fruitless freezing flower-finding fourteen-fourer

Fruitless freezing flower-finding fourteen-fourer

Postby Dave » 06 Apr 2021 14:51

This morning, as you can tell from the topic title, I did a 14.4 mile walk in search for a certain wildflower, but I didn't find any and it was bloomin' freezing!

I like to have something to aim for when I head out for a walk and today I decided to go to the only place I know within miles where I might find Coltsfoot, so that was my quest. This promising spot is called Beltinge Cliff, which is an area of scrubby slopes between Herne Bay and Reculver on the North Kent coast. I took the inland route there, searched the entire area, and returned home along the coast.

Two years ago, I found Coltsfoot growing in abundance in March. Last year, I left it too late and found none. This year, I thought my timing would be spot on, but I didn't find any sign of Coltsfoot at all. :(

The weather on my eastward walk to Beltinge Cliff was quite pleasant. The sun was shining and there was a brisk breeze from behind. But on the coast it was bitterly cold, with a strong wind blowing in from the sea - it was two-hat weather for the first time in ages! (As in, I wore my Rab Polartec hat on top of my Buff hat.)

On the way to find Coltsfoot, I checked the only local spot I know where Ramsons (wild garlic) grow, but they're not in flower yet - I was being a bit too optimistic.

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Arriving at Beltinge Cliff, I was surprised to find hardly any wildflowers at all and despite walking from one end to the other and back again further down the slope, there wasn't a sign of my quarry. Incidentally, a Coltsfoot flower looks very like a dandelion from a distance, which makes them tricky to find at the best of times.

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The view from the top of the slopes as I headed home again...

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Coming into Herne Bay, I passed Sir Barnes Wallis gazing out to sea. His bouncing bombs were tested here:

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Looking back towards Herne Bay. Bright and sunny, but extremely cold!

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And finally, for anyone who doesn't know Coltsfoot... here's a photo of some I took two years ago at Beltinge Cliff! :)

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Dave

Booked cruise 2019: December - Caribbean on Marella Explorer 2
Remaining land-based holidays 2019: July - Peak District, August - Harris and Highlands, October - Brecon Beacons
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Re: Fruitless freezing flower-finding fourteen-fourer

Postby rdw123 » 07 Apr 2021 09:59

Shame you didn’t find any coltsfoot out Dave. I did see one or two during my travels about 3 weeks ago. They were on a bank though under a hedgerow so were sheltered. Keep looking as I’m sure you will see one eventually, they seem to be coming a bit scarce now. When I was little, in Shropshire, they were everywhere. A sign of the times perhaps. Yesterday was bitter up here as well but the cowslips along where I walk are out in flower. A delight to see. Happy coltsfoot hunting.
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Fruitless freezing flower-finding fourteen-fourer

Postby Gillzajoker » 07 Apr 2021 10:51

Wonderful photos to enhance a nice bit of alliteration, Dave! And I don't mind the Coltsfoot
being two years old! Please keep posting the personal portrayals of photogenic peregrinations! :D
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Fruitless freezing flower-finding fourteen-fourer

Postby Dave » 07 Apr 2021 22:39

Thanks - I'll keep searching!

Wow, 'peregrinations', what a wonderful word! (I had to look it up. :oops: )
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Fruitless freezing flower-finding fourteen-fourer

Postby Gillzajoker » 08 Apr 2021 10:35

Dave wrote:Thanks - I'll keep searching!

Wow, 'peregrinations', what a wonderful word! (I had to look it up. :oops: )


I have my moments! :lol: Every year on the evening and early morning of 8th Sept., there is
a walk from our town of Albox to a working Monastery up in the mountains, called La Virgen
de Saliente. It is a religious pilgrimage, known as La Peregrinacion and a statue of the Virgin
Mary (called La Pequenica - "the Little One" - is carried from a church in town to the chapel
up there. The distance is 18km and it's uphill all the way - the views are amazing, and some
people come from all over Spain to take part. In the olden days, as penance for perceived sins,
some people did the whole distance on their knees. :D
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Fruitless freezing flower-finding fourteen-fourer

Postby Dave » 08 Apr 2021 14:18

Reflecting on my failure to find any Coltsfoot, it occurred to me that although I'd previously found some where I looked the other day, I'd actually seen more further along the coast. And once that thought had taken root, I had no choice but to try again!

So this time, I needed to go past Beltinge Cliff and on to Bishopstone Cliffs...

This is the far (eastern) end of Beltinge Cliff, where the yellow flowers are all daffodils and gorse. I needed to continue along the path a bit further:

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Bishopstone Cliffs is an area where the land is being eroded quickly, because the cliffs are made from sand and clay. There are many warning signs about the dangers of getting too close to the edge and landslips are common here. From the top, I thought the area down below looked promising - I just needed to find my way down:

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Bishopstone Glen is a miniature canyon where a small stream has cut a deep gorge into the sandy soil. There's a bridge at the mouth despite there rarely being more than a trickle of water:

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No Coltsfoot yet as I headed along the coast to where the cliffs are high and crumbly...

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And suddenly... I saw Coltsfoot!! Woo hoo! It was a straggly specimen, but that didn't matter. I'd found some! :)

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Continuing further, I discovered a great deal of the elusive wildflower all over the soft slopes of Bishopstone Cliffs:

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It seems that the plant prefers very loose soil, since it was most abundant on the crumbly clay...

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...and very soft sand...

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It was a little disappointing that none of the Coltsfoot I found looked as if it were doing particularly well, but perhaps that's because of the extreme variations in temperature recently - going from a mini-heatwave a week ago to snow a few days ago. But never mind, I'd found some and I'll know where to look next year!

The tide was coming in, so I took a quick photo of Reculver Towers peeping out along the coast before I headed home.

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A successful quest! :)
Dave

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Fruitless freezing flower-finding fourteen-fourer

Postby Gillzajoker » 09 Apr 2021 11:53

Well done!. Very rugged scenery there. :D
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Re: Fruitless freezing flower-finding fourteen-fourer

Postby rdw123 » 09 Apr 2021 12:33

Success at last. Seek and ye shall find. Well done.
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Re: Fruitless freezing flower-finding fourteen-fourer

Postby Camela » 09 Apr 2021 18:32

Coltsfoot was one of the Brooke Bond tea cards in the Wildflower series. I remember it well, back in the days when it was possible to find many of the flowers in the book.
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Re: Fruitless freezing flower-finding fourteen-fourer

Postby Dave » 09 Apr 2021 18:53

Camela wrote:Coltsfoot was one of the Brooke Bond tea cards in the Wildflower series. I remember it well, back in the days when it was possible to find many of the flowers in the book.

Like many, I learned a lot from those cards - tea, cigarettes, petrol, etc. (I've got a fair collection that were either mine or handed down to me.) How else would I have heard of the natterjack toad or the magnificent rifle bird? :D
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