We live in a lovely valley in the North of England called the Eden Valley. It is perhaps less well known than it’s near neighbour the Lake District National Park. The valley’s rolling drumlins, rich agricultural grasslands, hedgerows and stonewalls present a less rugged landscape than the high fells and deep lakes of the Lake District itself but, in my view anyway, it’s equally beautiful – but then I was born and bred here – so I’m biased.
One of the valley’s great joys is the abundant wild flowers on the road side verges. The road verges of Cumbria contain over 600 different species of grasses and wildflowers – some are common, some rare – but together they are an important habitat for wildlife in the county.
Our daily dog walking circuit takes us along a small ‘C’ road with wide verges. Most of the wildflowers we see there are not that rare but it’s enjoyable to walk the route everyday and watch the season progress as the early blooming flowers give way to the later ones.
Latterly, I have been trying my hand at photographing some of them. I won’t pretend they are the greatest wildflower shots in the world (it’s harder than you think especially if there is a breeze blowing and the damn things will blow around and blur the shots!). There are many fantastic nature reserves in Cumbria with many more rarer species – but these shots are either from our wildflower patch in our garden or from the roadside verges on our dog walking circuit – the exception is the wild strawberry shot which was taken last year at the Smardale National Nature Reserve near Kirkby Stephen.
Whilst not as famous of the wildflower blooms of South Africa or the Himalayas the UK does have a good variety of wildflowers and the Eden Valley is a great place to see them.
[PS If any professional botanists out there spot I’ve got any of the species incorrect please just let me know. I’m pretty sure the orchids are Common Spotted but they might be a hybrid?]