Springtime in the Hightown dunes.

L125 SpringtimeThe recent spell of fine weather and sunshine has convinced me that Spring has finally arrived.

I went for my usual walk along the coast to see what was about.

As it was a Bank Holiday the car park by the coastguard station was packed but I avoided the crowds by taking the track at the back of the dunes alongside the golf course.

The first thing I notices were the bluebells. Only small clumps but this is not their normal habitat of deciduous woodland.

L121 Bluebells

These were not the native British bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, but their Spanish cousin, H.hispanica. They have paler flowers which are produced on all sides of the upright stem.

Getting closer I realised that further hybridisation had taken place and some of the flowers were pink or white.

Bluebell hybrids

A mile further on I reached the shallow ponds that are the breeding ground of the rare Natterjack toad. The area is now well fenced off and from my vantage point I could not see any signs of activity, but they are nocturnal. Nearby in the dunes I spotted a little blue flower. A bit of crawling around on my hands and knees and I was close enough to take a photograph.

2014-03 Heath Dog Violet

L166 Heath Dog VioletL169 Heath Dog Violet

I am fairly sure that it is the Heath Dog Violet, viola canina. They were quite small, only 8cm in height. The blue flowers were about 1cm in width, they had five petals with the lowest one having a yellowish white spur.

On the coast I walked along the erosion and saw some Cowslip, Primula veris, a member of the Primrose family. Once again these were outside their normal habitat of rough pasture but had probably been dumped here in some soil.

Cowslip

The scented yellow flowers appear on a leafless stalk and all face in the same direction. There are red dots at the base of the five petals.

Cowslip is sometimes referred to as the ‘key flower’ as its flower head can resemble a bunch of keys. According to legend, St Peter, the guardian of the Heavenly gates dropped his keys. They fell down to earth and at the place where they landed the ‘keys of heaven’ sprang shoots.

In Norse mythology the Cowslip is dedicated to the goddess Freya and was believed to be protected by magical properties.

A tincture produced from the flowers has a soothing effect when used as a cough mixture and is still used in some herbal preparations. The roots have diuretic properties and a tea made from Cowslip can be used to clam the nerves.

It had been an interesting afternoon. Just an hour and a half and a couple of miles, half of it spent on my hands and knees. I wonder what I will find nest week.

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About crosbyman66

My aim is to create a photo diary of my walks and my travels. I have two main hobbies, walking and photography and these complement each other. I am a senior citizen, what used to be called an old age pensioner, but I don't feel old. Since retirement I have had more time to pursue my hobbies and the opportunity to travel more. My philosophy now is - Do what you can, while you can. My other interests are fine wines and keeping fit. These may not complement each other but keep me happy.
This entry was posted in Hightown Dunes and Meadows, Natural History, Photography, Sefton Coastline, Wild Flowers. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Springtime in the Hightown dunes.

  1. Marie says:

    I am doing a walk this morning about 2hours along Coast and bush land. I will take my ipad and see if I can take any interesting photos to send back to you. Thanks again for your interesting photos and information. I won’t be hanging over any cliffs or crawling through the bush but may see something of interest.

  2. wendy says:

    Do you think the cowslip tincture was the idea for buttercup syrup; sounds better than cowslip syrup! Some lovely pictures here Alan, the dog violets look particularly good.

    • crosbyman66 says:

      It’s an interesting idea but there are definitely no Cowslips in Buttercup syrup.
      It contains Squill liquid extract and Capsicum tincture and is used as an expectorant.
      The famous English botanist, Nicholas Culpeper mentions Cowslip in his famous work, The Complete Herbal (1653)
      Today it is used as a herbal remedy for insomnia and a skin lotion made from Cowslip is used to treat acne.
      I think I may go back to being an Alchemist!!!

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