Last weekend we took a quite sedated walk along the North Devon coast, I think the idea was to blow away some of the cobwebs and clear our heads from the night before. I’m reaching an age when more and more half centuries are being celebrated, unfortunately we’ve not learned from the years of insobriety and so we still need help to deal with hangovers. This was the perfect antidote.
The walk was around woody bay near Martinhoe and was in the perfect weather for seeing the coastline in the Winter months. As you can see from the pictures it was superbly clear and bright. With this of course comes the biting wind something that the Bristol Channel is rarely without.
There are signs everywhere that spring is just around the corner in North Devon, it makes a walk at this time all the more exciting as there is nothing that I find more enjoyable than the emergence of fresh growth from the winter torpor. Here the Gorse (Ulex Europaeus) was in flower everywhere, great swathes of it brightening up the hills around, this must have looked great from the sea looking inland. I wasn’t prepared to venture out just for the experience though.
It’s all so barren at the moment with very little actually growing, all of the deciduous trees are just starting to create buds that are going to burst into leaf. As with most things botanical there is a huge amount of information and variation in the buds in plants, there are the most common ones that we see on a lot of out deciduous trees with protective scales and a gummy substance to naked buds in some shrubs. This is another fascinating topic but one that is too complex to go into any detail here, the only decent explanation I could find was this one from Wikipedia.
Where there is life it’s with some of the many ferns that are abundant in the English woodlands, even when the days are short and the temperatures below freezing. As I write this I’m sheltering from a -5 cold snap that has hit us here in the UK. These Polypodium vulgare I photographed simply because I liked the way that they’d decided to grow high up on and old dying tree, nothing spectacular but it shows how effective the wind borne distribution of the spores is.
There is still a lot of wildlife out and about too, although a lot will still be hibernating and staying out of the cold. This little fella being so territorial came to take a look at what we were up to when we stopped for a bite to eat. Either that or he thought there might be a bit of sandwich left over for him, I suspect the latter.
With over 7700 miles of coast line and having only walked a few hundred in my years I think that I’m going to have to step it up a bit and make this a much more regular event.