Friday, 10 August 2012

Heather Moor

A couple of weeks ago I had a meeting in Danby, with fellow artists Sue Morton and Gail Hurst as we are exhibiting together in September at the Inspired By... Gallery in Danby.  It is a lovely drive over the North York Moors and a journey I don't often make, so I left myself plenty of time to take in the beautiful moorland in all its glory.

I love the lone thistles, which seem to grow and stand tall despite the gails that blow across their stems and the wonderful cotton grass, whose tufts need the wind for dispersion.  

Really this plant is a sedge, not a grass and likes to grow in acid wetlands and peat bogs (another name for it is 'bog cotton').  The fluffy white tops are actually the plant's petals, modified, each tuft having a little seed at the base.

Cotton grass was once used for stuffing pillows and mattresses (I can see why, it is gloriously soft) and for making candle wicks. In the First World War it was harvested with sphagnum moss to make wound dressings.

The Bell heather was just starting to colour, attracting bees, insects and butterflies, and is the first to flower of the three heathers that give the rolling moor its vibrant purple. It has dark pink or purple flowers.

The other two are Cross Leaved Heath, which has leaves arranged in crosses of four on its stems. It has pale pink flowers and can often be found in boggy areas. And Ling which is the most common type of heather found on the North York Moors. It has very tiny pink flowers and generally flowers in mid to late August. 

Pondskaters proliferated on the black peaty ponds and reed stems exploded with flower. 

I even managed to capture a meadow-pippit, whose insistent alarm call alerted all to my presence.

I made a note to get up onto the moorland more often.

Our exhibition is called Texture, Light & Colour and runs from the 13th September to the 25th September - 10 am - 5 pm daily at the Inspired By ... Gallery, North York Moors National Park Centre, Danby.


  1. Beautiful photos of one of England`s loveliest stretches of moorland. When we lived in Yorkshire we loved driving across the moors towards the coast. So much bog cotton. I had no idea that it was used for wound dressings.

    Our New Forest moorland is starting to turn now. The ling is coming into flower and we have the same three heather types; ling, bell and cross leaved. I`ll have to get out there with my camera this weekend!

    1. It is such a beautiful sight when it begins to turn and the warm smell of the blossom too - really a sight to behold!


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