Tuesday 9th August - Styal Woods/Bollin Valley

We met at Twinnies Bridge car park just off the Styal Road, for our last scheduled evening walk this summer. We more frequently visit this area in spring when there are many flowers in the woodland, so it was interesting to explore at a different time of year. As expected the flora was not very showy, but there is always something of interest. Within the woodland by the river Bollin, Enchanter's Nightshade, (Opposite-leaved) Golden Saxifrage and Pink Purslane were all seen. Umbellifers included Upright Hedge-parsley, Hogweed and Wild Angelica. In the upper part of the woodland, one grass species seemed fairly frequent and quite noticeable. It formed loose tufts with slightly rough leaf sheaths, and with unusually long ligules. Our best identification was Rough Meadow-grass (Poa trivialis).

On leaving the woodland we entered a housing estate, and found a track (presumably one which existed well before many of the recent houses were built) cutting between many of the properties, passing quite close to Pownall Hall - a former country house, but now a school and a grade II listed building.

A little further along we saw a large tree, with much fruit in one of the gardens. Having found a couple of the fruit, it was apparent after removing some of the outer flesh, that the fruit were walnuts. It should give a good crop a little later in the year.

An abundance of walnuts
An abundance of walnuts
Some of the plants seen along this track, including the attractive, yellow Dotted Loosestrife, were likely garden escapes, but they are still worth seeing. The route back to the Bollin took us towards Twinnies Bridge, but we continued along the western side of the river. There are extensive marshy areas with Purple Loosestrife, Meadowsweet and Common Ragwort, and the riverbank itself unsurprisingly supported large stands of Himalayan Balsam.

River Bollin and Himalayan Balsam.
River Bollin and Himalayan Balsam.
Rather more surprising were the Moorhens perched in some of the trees/shrubs close to the river. While this behaviour was unfamiliar to us, it seems that it is not uncommon.

The river was quite clear with abundant vegetation, probably water crowfoot, although it seemed confined to the faster flowing, perhaps better oxygenated areas.

It was becoming darker as we returned to the car park, which at least gave the opportunity to look for bats - and this was successful with at least a couple of bats seen flying rapidly over the water very close to the bridge.

A worthwhile walk in late summer, with still much of interest.

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