We're just starting to see the first bluebells appearing and within the coming weeks many people will head out to enjoy the sight of carpets of these lovely blooms in local woodland - but are we missing something?
While both snowdrops and bluebells are (deservedly) well celebrated - what about those forgotten beauties that also herald the arrival of Spring that pop their yellow heads up to brighten our days. Primroses, cowslips, marsh marigolds, celandine, and don't forget the much maligned dandelion - we should have yellow walks just to celebrate them.
Take a walk at Oakthorpe Colliery in April and peep into the woods on the north side of the lake - you'll be rewarded by the sight of large patches of primroses which seem to be growing year on year. At the end of the lake nearest the car park the valley is a wonderful carpet of green and yellow where the new growth is generously carpeted with celandine.
A recent stroll around Sence Valley revealed beautiful patches of Marsh Marigolds dotted along the feeder streams and brought to mind previous visits to Carvers Rocks where these wonderful blooms usually put on a magnificent display at this time of year.
With the arrival of the warmer weather suddenly our lawns and verges start to grow - lush green grass springs up and out come the lawnmowers. No sooner have we started to admire the smooth green surface we've created than, horror or horrors, we see dandelions popping their smiling yellow faces up. Please don't reach for the weedkiller though - they are a great source of food for bees at this time of year and it is wonderful to see many roadside verges being allowed to grow and provide this kind of forage now. You've got to admire their resourcefulness too - cut them off with the lawnmower and they just grow back and pop up their flowers at a lower height! Just watch a big fat bumblebee enjoying the fruits of a dandelion bloom and you are bound to find yourself smiling.
I'm looking forward to enjoying carpets of blue soon, but currently wallowing in the yellow!
Oh isn't it lovely to finally see some warmer weather - a couple of times we've even caught a glimpse of the sun peeping through.
I'm back on the trail of the National Forest Noon Columns - for this months Ashby Life magazine I wrote up a shortened version of one of the Staunton Harold walks from the book which passes by the Melbourne Parklands Noon Column. If you want to give it a try you'll find it, along with the other Noon Column walks already published, online here.
Next on my list was the Mease and Sence Noon Column. The Mease and Sence Noon Column is situated within Grangewood (vaguely near to Overseal) which is a little confusing since there is another noon column which is actually situated within Sence Valley near Ibstock, but that is called the Leicestershire and South Derbyshire Noon Column! Strange, I know.
Anyway, back to Grangewood - it's a big area which includes many paths around new plantations, a large equestrian cross country course, some beautiful footpaths through older, more established, woodland and even a section of the National Forest Way. You can literally meander around for hours if you wish (and sometimes even if you don't wish as it's easy to become disorientated with so many paths to choose from).
The Noon Column is pretty well hidden, standing within a circle of grassland with trees on all sides - I kept getting tantalising glimpses of it through the branches before finding the path that allowed access. I loved the fact that this Noon Column is well within the woodland and requires exploring before you find it - quite different to the others. Well worth the trip and all of my meanderings around the area proved enjoyable even in the cold weather of Feb and March.
Four Noon Columns discovered now - just two to go and it's coming up to the perfect time of year to, hopefully, enjoy bluebells within the woodland at one of them.
I just can't resist a footpath sign. The lure of that little arrow just says 'explore me' and sooner or later I just have to find out where it goes. Happily the National Forest is just full of paths. Public footpaths, permissive paths, tracks, trails and long distance paths - we've got the lot!