THE NATURE TRAIL
STOP No. 6.
our sixth stop, we find ourselves down on the banks of the River Dane.
Rising in the hills of Cheshire's neighboring county of Derbyshire,
the river forms the eastern boundary to the farm.
Many towns with "ford"
as part of the name usually indicate where such crossing points were
in times past.
The Dane is one of the fastest
rising rivers in the country and given a spell of wet weather, you can
quickly find the water level to be 2 meters to 3 meters above the level
in the picture above.
picture to the right shows the flooding of our lower meadows. The inset
gives some idea of the height that the river has risen in order to flood
we are at the moment, the bank is lined with trees. The majority are
willows (Crack Willow and White Willow); others include Alder, Ash,
Hawthorn, Lime and Maple to name a few.
As this picture shows, in places the growth is quiet dense, this area of the farm forms part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in which we participate.
As such it is left in a
completely natural, and undisturbed state.
With no effective natural
enemies to control their population, they are becoming an increasingly
use to be common, however with the introduction of the mink, the population
of voles and indeed other small mammals, has declined noticeable (though
I doubt this is entirely the fault of the mink).
to walk along the bank you may see an occasional brilliant flash of
turquoise and orange, this is the Kingfisher Sadly
in this case somewhat camera shy.
A somewhat more co-operative bird to photograph is this mallard, which is a type of duck.
Just then, a movement in the corner of our eye draws our attention to this Treecreeper.
It moves jerkily as it searches for insects and their larvae on the bark of the tree.
Moving a little farther
up stream, the trees begin to thin out and the going gets a little easier.
the trees being replaced by grasses and other plants such as Thistles,
Nettles, Butterbur, Willow herb and also the invasive Himalayan balsam
to name just a few, we can see an example of the more distinctive power
of the river.
carefully, and not too close to the bank, we find that here a large
part of the bank has slumped down into the river.
Without the deep penetrating roots of the trees to help provide a moderate level of stability the soil is easily eroded.
The bank here is very unstable
and steep in places, if a young child were to fall into the river here
it would have little chance of getting out
It is at this point, we leave the banks of the River Dane and walk up along the hedge dividing the Middle Meadow and the Heifer Meadow as we make our way to the seventh stop on our trail. The Middle and Heifer Banks.