Posted by: lensweb | July 3, 2013

Wardlow Hay Cop – Orchids and Wildflowers 2013

Meet 2pm at parking space in Monsal Dale for uphill walk to nature reserve with stunning views and fascinating plantlife.

Grid ref SK 176 723

Leader Brian Gough

Wardlow Hay Cop, Sat June 29

On a glorious afternoon in June a small group met in Monsaldale to explore the limestone loving flowers of Wardlow Hay Cop.

Common spotted orchids

Common spotted orchids

The meadows looked beautiful covered in low-growing flowers, such as white fairy flax, purple thyme, blue speedwell, milkwort, which varied from purple to blue to pink, yellow rock rose and many more. The yellow mountain pansies were a special treat. We saw twayblade and hundreds of stems of orchids, mostly common spotted, again varying in colour from white to deep pink. How wonderful to see all these flowers in the sun!

woolly_thistle image

Woolley thistle

We spotted an unusual thistle, not yet in flower. Our leader, Brian, was excited as he believed it to be the first record of a woolly thistle on Wardlow Hay Cop.

Later, we remarked how late the summer flowers were. Some early purple orchids still had a little purple left in them and we even saw a few bluebells, which hadn’t totally lost their blueness.  Butterflies were in short supply, but a few small heaths were on the wing and we saw common blue and small white. Brian showed us the early leaves of harebells, several stems of fragrant orchids in bud and two gentian plants, but we’ll have to return later in the summer to see the flowers!

Nottingham catchfly

Nottingham catchfly

We had come to look for one plant in particular. It wasn’t easy to find, but fortunately Brian knew where to look. When we saw him disappear over a cliff accompanied by a chorus of ‘Jack’s from a large group of jackdaws, we wondered whether only the brave would be rewarded. However we all managed to see the precious Nottingham catchfly growing on a ledge next to clumps of striking bloody cranesbill. Not much of it and I’m reliably told it is currently growing in much greater quantities in Kent! But ours was all the better for the challenge of finding it.

Article and photos © Joan Breakwell

Related Links;

Wardlow Hay Cop – Defra

Wardlow Hay Cop – Ecological Continuity trust


  1. Great article thanks. It sounds a lovely occasion; I wish I had been free to attend.


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