August is a purple month

As we crest the hill of high summer and look down the slope towards autumn changes are occurring daily. This has already been a remarkable year – and we are barely two thirds through it – with the snow and bitterly cold winter followed by a late spring that suddenly erupted into the hottest, driest summer for many years. The plants and wildlife on Waldridge Fell and Daisy Hill put on a spectacular spring and summer show that was concentrated into a shorter period than usual. Now Waldridge Fell has put on its purple coat with the blooming heather overshadowing almost everything else. The bees are feasting on the banquet of nectar the mauve flowers provide, but if you look closely you can see that autumn is spreading its fingers – blackberries are ripening and rowan trees laden with bright red fruit zing the eye.

On Daisy Hill the wildflower meadow has all but gone over. The knapweed that just a few weeks ago was humming with burnet moths has turned brown and dry. A few flowers can be found nestling among them though, the lilac pincushion of a scabious flower has been found by a small skipper butterfly and the hawk’s beard nestling amongst the knapweed remains delights with its incredible yellowness. And not to be outdone in the purple stakes the harebells are springing up in the banks and verges, their delicate, papery flowers delight the eye.

By Vivien Kent