We’re back in Cornwall; this time on the Roseland Peninsula and in the campervan. We were pretty knackered when we arrived but after an excellent 9 hours and 44 minutes sleep we felt rested and ready for Madame’s favourite walk ever. This is a campsite we’ve stayed in for years and between the site and the sea there’s a bridle way about 2.5Km long lined on both sides for the majority of the way by Cornish hedges. It’s a very special environment – partly at least because you rarely see anyone on it apart from the occasional walker or horse rider.
Today we saw Red Admiral, Small Blue, Small White and Orange Tip butterflies; we saw a buzzard hunting at a little distance and later we saw a Kestrel no more than 25 m away. It was a wonderful and inspiring sight with its capacity to keep its eyes completely still over the prey, whilst fluttering and gyring in the sky.
On the way down to the sea I kept on seeing such a variety of wildflowers I decided to record them whilst walking back up the hill. There were way more than I recorded, but I made a list of forty species in the gathering rain. I was never more grateful for the waterproof pen and notebook. Many of them require further exploration but that’s half the fun. For instance I caught sight of a single Geum urbanum, that’s to say Wood Avens or Herb Bennet in the UK. The word “Bennet” caught my eye because Benedict was often shortened to Benet. So Herb Benet has a history in herbalism – probably because this ‘Blessed Herb’ found a use in herbal medicine, probably because of its aromatic root. There were also large numbers of Pellitory of the Wall – Parietaria judaica – used to treat urinary infections. Of my forty plants, twelve were either traditionally used as foods or medicines – excluding the Foxglove which will damage your heart!
They’re all common enough plants; for instance the Broadleaf Plantain travelled to the US in migrants’ boots and spread wherever they went – hence the First Nation name “White Man’s Foot”. It’s apparently a remedy for foot pain – you just wear a fat leaf inside your socks. I really should try it some time. A guide at the Lost Gardens of Heligan once showed us how you could peel off the outer skin of Navelwort – Umbilicus rupestris -with your thumbnail, and apply the sticky side of the leaf to your skin as a kind of natural plaster. I’ve often wondered whether Stitchwort is a cure for the kind of stitches you get when you run?
Anyway, on our return to the van, and when the real work began, I began to wonder whether my Fumaria could possibly be F. capreolata but, like the Polypody, that ID might demand a microscope.
I was especially pleased that my list of forty species was as long as my previous best but which took a fortnight to complete, but the price you pay for speed is a bent back and a compulsive swivelling of the eyes; not a good look.