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hartstongue fern


Monday, 22nd October 2001, West Yorkshire

the A1 flyover at WentbridgeHEAVY RAIN yesterday has resulted in some flooding in the fields near Wentbridge at the entrance to Brockadale, a gorge which the River Went follows through the outcrop of the magnesian limestone. Much of the gorge, with its, woodland, meadow and exposures of limestone, is managed as a nature reserve by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Today the little river is well up between its banks and running brownish with silt.

hartstongue fern On the woodland floor scores of Hartstongue Ferns, glossy after the rain, grow luxuriantly amongst the mossy boulders giving the place a tropical feel on this warm, humid October day.

The limestone, the wet leaves and the mud make it slippy underfoot, but I'm using a walking pole today, which gives me some confidence. As we walk along the river's edge path, one of my walking companions, a 75 year old woman, makes some remark about the slippy ground.

eddies'Don't fall in! . . . ', I say and as I turn there's a splash as she disappears beneath the swollen waters and surfaces again floating on her back, trying to pull herself in to the bank while still clutching her bag.

I momentarily visualise her floating off downstream and think that I'm going to have to jump in, even though I'm not a regular swimmer. I offer her the end of the stick, she pulls herself in to the side and, after a few moments to allow her to recover, we pull her up the steep bank.

She accepts a dry shirt but not a drink of brandy, and she walks the final short leg of the circuit of the dale in water-filled wellingtons, but in good spirits.

She swims every day at Wakefield baths, so the water itself wasn't a problem for her; just getting out. next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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