Bradford Botany Group

Skipton Woods Visit

27th April 2013


Skipton Wood

A small crowd of 23 members gathered at the Mill Bridge near Skipton Castle for the walk up through Skipton Woods. The first part of the walk through the gorge below the castle itself is picturesque in any weather and the skies cleared as we made our way along the towpath, perched between the canal on the right and Eller Beck on the left. It’s been a late spring and, with few leaves on the trees, we took another late opportunity to brush up on our tree buds and flowers. Among horticultural species which have planted themselves here, we found Lawson’s cypress and Cherry-laurel.


After crossing Eller Beck, we saw brittle bladder-fern, growing on a wall on the left, its fronds only just beginning to appear. The broad track here passes several well-tended gardens full of interesting plants, a good place to look for escapes, as is the track back towards Skipton above the river and canal. We continued into Skipton Woods, past a massive stand of wild garlic; no flowers yet but the smell should be quite powerful in a couple of weeks.


We veered right, along the riverbank, noting the new paths recently put in by the Woodland Trust on the left. Herb-Paris was just appearing on the bank above the path, along with hairy wood-rush. Among other springtime plants, the alternate-leaved golden-saxifrage was found growing in several spots. Toothwort was relatively plentiful here also. We emerged into the sunny warmth on the south side of the A59/A65 Skipton bypass, which proved to be a suitable spot for lunch.

Wood Anemone

Several species of grass were growing on the embankment above the Eller Beck conduit here. None were in flower but we identified several, using the vegetative characteristics and the in-depth knowledge of one of our members. Moving west along the ‘top path’, we came upon Goldilocks buttercup, still not in flower but now showing the contrast between its broad basal leaves and the narrower stem leaves. We returned through the wood along one of the new paths before regaining the riverside and parting company, some proceeding along the east side of the wood and others making their way back along the paved road to the west, thereby avoiding the morning’s pedestrian traffic jams on the narrow towpath!


Total number of species recorded was around 130, an excellent total considering how late the spring has been in 2013.