Sunday afternoon stroll on The Stray; July 5th

Posted on 19th July 2015

Another bright day with some cloud, but a chilly and strong wind.

We started by looking at an old map of the area from 1930 which showed where we were standing to be a putting course – amazing – and then when we looked closely we could imagine all the humps and bumps as a miniature golf course. On our hands and knees, first to see the Wild Thyme which was flowering in abundance amongst the mown grass and then hunting around to discover Salad Burnet, Lady’s Bedstraw and Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil there too, all coping quite well with the regular mowing by growing smaller than usual. As the grass is likely to have been mown/cut here since 1930 then it’s likely that these plants have grown here for more than 80 years.


Walking straight over to the mud path amongst the dunes just behind the sea defences to see Small Mallow (the first time I’d seen this species, which to be fair would be fairly easy to miss) and then along the path to compare vegetation growing in areas of nutrient-rich soil (Hogweed, False Oat-grass) with the much smaller plants on the now fixed sand dunes (Red Fescue, Lady’s Bedstraw) and then some plants of the white-flowered form of Common Stork’s-bill.


Just before the children’s paddling pool we stopped to admire a single plant of musk mallow in full flower – this one also of the rarer white form – and then noticed a cluster of the more subtle and much smaller Hare’s-foot Clover, an annual not previously noted along The Stray. Dotted behind were the unusual flowerheads of Wild Onion, a mixture of bulbils (miniature onions) and flower buds.

And so over to the sea shore to investigate the many flowering plants of Sea Rocket and the grey foliage of Frosted Orache along with the odd plant of Sand Couch and Lyme-grass where perhaps new dunes are starting to form in front of the newly installed sea defences.

Up high on the old dunes again for a quick look at a bush of the Duke-of-Argyll’s Teaplant and a yellow-flowered form of Stinking Iris in splendid isolation amongst the grass, before turning back towards the cafe and walking past many scattered plants of White Campion (noting they have separate male and female plants) before the heavy cloud dripping rain on the horizon reached us.