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17 September 2014
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Heathland - Whitbarrow

Limestone landscape

Whitbarrow c/o Paul Glendell and  Natural England

One of the great things about the Lake District is that you don't have to go far to escape the crowds. Even in summer a gentle walk will take you to places where you can have a whole hillside almost to yourself. Whitbarrow is just one of them...


Whitbarrow - a landscape pavement rich in plant life

FlowersWhitbarrow is one of the best limestone habitats in Europe, and boasts a perfect example of a limestone pavement.

The name Whitbarrow means "white hill", named after the limestone which gives its slopes and rocks their colour.

The limestone was laid down during the Carboniferous period about 350 million yeas ago.

Limestone is very susceptible to weathering and this erosion has resulted in the limestone pavement.

The limestone pavement is characterised by limestone blocks called clints and fissures called grikes.

Limestone ferns c/o Natural England and Paul GlendellKaleidoscope of colour

This hill provides a variety of habitats with its lower slopes being predominantly covered in woods whilst the top is made up of layers of limestone.

As visitors follow the path up beyond the trees, the hill becomes a kaleidoscope of colour.

The limestone provides an attractive habitat for some really specialist plants and butterflies.

At the top of the limestone also look out for the delicate, yellow Rock Rose, and the herbaceous Thyme.

These plants love dry, stony conditions, little soil and limestone.

Butterflies, berries and birds

Juniper berries c/o Peter Wakely and Natural EnglandThe high summer is the time to come to Whitbarrow when the butterflies are at their peak in July and August.

It's also the best season for many plants and flowers including berried bushes like strawberries and juniper.

The limestone reflects the sun, helping to ripen tiny wild strawberries.

Wild Juniper also thrives - its aromatic berries take two to three years to ripen.

Many of the wild flowers are scented to attract insects such as bees, moths and butterflies to pollinate them.

Whitbarrow is so good for Fritillaries because of the limestone.

Keep your eyes open...

Pearl bordered Fritillary c/o Martin  Hammett and Natural EnglandThe area is a stronghold for Dark Green Fritillaries and the rarer High Brown Fritillary butterflies.

The best time to see the butterflies is early morning or late afternoon on sunny days when they are more likely to be perching or feeding.

The Dark Green butterfly gets its name from the green patch under the wing from which it is easily recognised.

Other butterflies to look out for include the Pearl Bordered Fritillary, the Common Blue and the Grayling.

Look around and you'll also see a variety of birds including Skylarks, Wheatears, Meadow Pipits and Chiff Chaffs.

Photo credits

Whitbarrow c/o Natural Engladn and Paul GlendellWhitbarrow images copyright and courtesy of Paul Glendell and Natural England.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary courtesy of Martin Hammett and Natural England.



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