Posted by: lensweb | July 12, 2021

LENS Ticknall Limeyards Walk

Mon 5 Jul 2021 Ticknall Limeyards

Meet 2pm Ticknall Village Hall, Ingleby Lane, Ticknall DE7JW, grid ref SK353 242. Enjoy a 3 mile afternoon walk through these places with natural history and industrial heritage interest on the Calke Abbey estate.                                     

Leader Marion Bryce                                                                          

The old village of Tichenhalle is mentioned in the Domesday Book as land belonging to Burton Abbey (eat your heart out Nigel of Stafford, you were on the wrong side). Ticknall developed from independent farmers with seasonal sidelines, until the 1539 dissolution of the monasteries and subsequent land enclosure led to dependence on Calke Abbey and the villagers became estate workers in a hive of industry, peaking in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when the limeyards, brickmaking, tile and pottery industries were operating at maximum capacity. As a quirk of geology, Ticknall had all of the raw materials on hand but by the twentieth century industry had largely ceased, and the village became a desirable commuter village in an attractive rural setting.

In the early 1960s a group of concerned people gathered together to oppose plans to tip fly ash at Ticknall Limeyards (I can see the long hand of Norman Lewis MBE here) and decided to form a local charitable organisation to handle such issues. Derbyshire Naturalists’ Trust (now called Derbyshire Wildlife Trust) was officially launched in 1962 and Ticknall Limeyards became it’s first nature reserve. In 1984 the abbey changed from private occupation by the reclusive Harpur-Crewe family to administration by the National Trust and subsequently the National Trust took over management of the limeyards.

It is definitely the rainy season in Derbyshire but we met between rain showers in the car park of the village hall, where the committee had kindly coned off an area for us to park. We walked alongside locally quarried llimestone walls, past bright green water pumps, under the Tramway Bridge, where the yellow flowered strawberries grow, to the limeyards. The eccentric estate workers cottages were overflowing with floral delight, we tipped the bright pink cranesbill Geranium oxonianum as one of the fastest spreading weeds in the county but everyone loves it!

At the entrance to the Calke estate bumble bees were buzzing around the Purple and Pink tubular flowers of Russian Comfrey and Old Mans Beard was just getting out of bed. It was dark and ferny in the wood with Harts Tongue, Hard Shield and Scaley Male fern creating a pre-historic landscape.

A deft left turn took us to some claypits full of opalescent blue water and an brick old tunnel. The pond here is a delight of fringed water lily where grey herons, coots and great crested grebes find food and sheltered isolation. A small flurry of flowers gave us Wood Sanicle, Dog’s Mercury, Hairy St John’s Wort and our first Common Spotted Orchids.

Returning to the main drag we continued until we were lured into an ancient quarry site which is a favourite for butterfly enthusiasts, no Silver Washed Fritillary for LENS today, but, Orchid Delight! Common Spotted, Twayblade and Fragrant Orchids in profusion. Growing on chalky soil this must be the Common Fragrant Orchid, we stooped to take in the delicious fragrance. Amongst a large breakfast of egg and bacon (Lotus corniculatus) was another plant we don’t often see; Eyebright a low growing herb with spiky leaves and small white, purple streaked flowers that feature a splash of yellow near the center. Probably this was Common  Eyebright (Euphrasia nemorosa), although it is not so common these days.

This particular pond is very picturesque with Brooklime, Water Forget-me-not, Common Bedstraw and Yellow Flag. The egg yolk flowers of Lesser Spearwort, which spangled marshy areas, look very like buttercups until you see the spear-shaped leaves.  We looked in vain for the kingfisher but bright blue Emperor and Hairy Dragonflies were hunting. Deep green ferny spikes of Mare’stail were poking out of the water, alongside the pastel green solid stems of water horsetail. There is a lot of confusion with the names of these two water plants so it was good to see them side by side.

A large earth mound by the quarry entrance was covered with fruiting wild strawberry planted to sustain Grizzled Skippers which were introduced in 2018. You can read about the reintroduction, which is a collaborative project between the National Trust and Butterfly Conservation here.

The weather continued fine and so we wended our way to the site of the old lime kilns which were abandoned to nature in the 1940s. In the sheltered dip of land at last we found some insects, a Red Admiral, a Large Skipper and a spectacular yellow and black banded Ichneumon wasp. Moving on, the path took us over fern-filled pot kilns and then through Oak, Ash and Sycamore woodland, recently thinned, magically full of Enchanter’s Nightshade.

We paused in front of the entrance to the 128 meter long tramway tunnel, which passes under the drive to Calke Abbey. It was built in 1802 to connect the brickyards and limeyards to the Ashby Canal at Willesley Basin, the National Trust restored it in the 1990s for foot passage. ‘Have you got a torch?’ Joan asked nervously, well in truth, the sunshine usually lights the tunnel through a series of iron-grilled skylights, but today it was very dark. Then John overcome with delight at the walk, suggested a group hug to help us be brave. Everyone was horrified and plunged into the tunnel!

LENS in front of the Ticknall Causeway Tunnel

Marion Bryce 12 July 2021

Ref Ticknall Pots and Potters Janet Spavold and Sue Brown ISBN 1-84306-172-4


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