I set out along this path just shortly after I had eaten my lunch. It's not far at all from the house. At the end of the street to be exact. The sun was shining and it had already chased away an earlier chill. I had absolutely no idea just which tree or group of trees I was going to choose. However, I have to be mindful of the fact that as of next week I will more than likely have to bring baby Olli along on this walk with me. His mum is returning to work after her maternity leave and Gramma (as I have affectionately become known) will have him most afternoons. Further along this route the terrain is pretty hilly and I would have problems manoeuvring his buggy up and down the hills.
For the first half a mile the ground is relatively flat and I should imagine manoeuvring the buggy relatively easy. Further along the path the tree planting is dense and the ground doesn't dry out much. Another reason not to go traipsing the buggy along there.
|River walkway with Broxburn shale bings in the distance|
As I stroll along the river it very quickly becomes apparent to me that without leaves I have absolutely no idea just what most of the trees are. The two above I know are rowans. They are covered in red berries in autumn, they don't last though.
This tree, on the other side of the river, is gnarled, covered in lichen and in my opinion an interesting shape. Because of where it is it would be impractical for me to follow. There would be no opportunty for close ups - I doubt the farmer would take kindly to me wandering through his field. A lone Jackdaw sits a top. I have seen the water come up the bank and out over the field when the river is high at this spot.
I pass Sycamore, many more Rowans and others I do not recognise. Willows generally line the bank along this first section. The water is low and quite clear today.
Oops! This next tree is obviously dead. To the touch the entire trunk is squidgy a bit like a damp sponge. The damage to the bark? Is this natural decay or has some critter or other had a helping hand I wondered.
|Looking back from whence I came|
my house is obscured from the trees of in the distance in the centre of this shot
There are groups of Hawthorn planted on the sections between the development site boundary and the path. Or at least I think they are Hawthorn. I would suspect this particular grouping were deliberately planted, it looks to uniform not to be. This site is really open and with the prevailing wind from the West they all list in exactly the same way.
|Hawthorns between the path and the site boundary|
What particularly struck me is the fact that on this side of the river there are very few snowdrops growing. On the opposite bank - clumps were happily growing. Observing these snowdrops over the years made me aware that our common snowdrop, G. nivalis, will quite happily thrive in far from perfect conditions. The water can be high here for many many weeks on end.
Dead? I think so or at the very least on the way out. Many of the trees that line the river bank I note have suckers rising from fallen remains.
There is bracket fungus about the size of a dinner plate nearer the top of the trunk of this particular tree.
There is a man made fork in the path here. The path veering off to the left is to higher ground and preferred by the local dog walkers. In the 9 years I've lived here the only folks I've ever noticed using this path are locals. The fact that this path goes nowhere means we never see any serious walkers. Older folks in the village tell me that at one point you could walk right through to the neighbouring town (Broxburn) but the through path has been blocked further up the route.
As you round the bend the area opens up a bit more. It does not feel so narrow and enclosed. The river is now a good 50 yds or so away from the foot path at this point. Right now the river is still accessible but in the coming months once the nettles and brambles take over you need a suit of armour to get down there.
A close up of the viaduct in the background. This Viaduct forms the boundary between Edinburgh City and West Lothian. This viaduct, The Almond Valley Viaduct, was built between 1839 and 1842. Part of the main Glasgow to Edinburgh train line it remains the longest structure on any railway in Scotland. If you are so inclined, I've provided a link with more historical details for you. I waited, yet no train came!
|Almond Valley Viaduct|
This tree at the next clearing I thought would make an ideal candidate to follow. I have absolutely no idea which particular species it is. Something common obviously as I have passed by many that look very similar.
I thought it had some interesting features.
An elephant's eye?
There are lichens. I note that a lot of the trees here have this same yellow lichen on them. This particular lichen, if I have my identification right, is Golden Shield Lichen (Xanthoria parientina) is found in sunny exposed areas. In the shade it lacks this orange/yellow colouring. I wonder will it loos it's colouring once the tree leafs out.
There is fresh green growth appearing on the floor beneath. Again, showing my ignorance, I haven't the foggiest as to what this is. I've a lot of learning to do. Native or a non native invasive? I know for sure there is the invasive Himalayan Balsam growing along the river bank here. It will be interesting to see what else I come across.
I can hear but can't see many birds. In particular there is a male chaffinch peeping like mad behind me. I have obviously unsettled him. Perhaps he knows it's me, the lady that provides the sunflower hearts in her garden. I shall bring some with me next time I think.
|Seed heads around my chosen tree|
I hope you enjoyed your wee walk today.