Posted by: Ross Gardner | November 12, 2014

Wherever there’s a wall there’s a way

Following on (kind of) from my last post and the idea of looking at walls rather more closely than we might perhaps feel inclined to do, I found myself doing so again the other over evening.  This time however, not with invertebrates in mind.

This wall is a good deal older than the one running along the dockyard at Sheerness.  This one is getting on for 900 years old, although it would be fair to say it is in a state of a good deal more disrepair.  It is the ruins of Hadleigh Castle to which I refer.  It is a great spot.  Time, spells of stone pilfering and landslips have all taken their toll, but enough of it remains for the imagination to do a fair job on the rest.  It was built in the 13th century on the top of a slope and to stand watch over the Thames Estuary and the marshlands beneath it.  It must have looked pretty imperious and continues to do so to some extent, with most of the ruins still perched up on their hill.  Spreading away from it is an area of varied wildlife habitat, complete with nationally rare insect and plants, most of which lies within the boundaries of Hadleigh Country Park.

But what of the wildlife on the walls.  The walls of the towers are rarely without a pigeon or two, perhaps even a kestrel every now and again.  But it was ferns that caught my eye.  One section of wall was dotted with little rosettes Hart’s-tongue Fern, not exactly the most resplendent I have ever seen, but a pleasant discovery nonetheless.  This is a most distinctive fern with it’s strap-like leaves that can measure up to 60cm long – a good way off of the 6cm specimens growing here.  Among them was Black Spleenwort (Asplenium adiantum-nigrum), a plant I have found before, growing from the mortar of old red-brick railway bridge.  Obviously one with a taste for vertical surfaces.

Not only ferns, but there we other plants besides, finding a toe-hold among the aged walls.  Evidence once again that wherever there’s a wall……

Hadleigh Castle.  Ross Gardner 2014.

Hadleigh Castle, Essex. Ross Gardner 2014.

Hart's-tongue Ferm (Phyllitis scolopendrium).  Ross Gardner, 2014.

Hart’s-tongue Fern (Phyllitis scolopendrium). Ross Gardner, 2014.

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