Core ash-and-elm-rich ravine places: Craighall Gorge, Keltneyburn, Borders, Clyde Valley
Ravine revelations :
- Sound of water from a burn or river far below
- Trees that grow tall on steep slopes, stretching up towards a skyscape that’s overhead, not to the side
- The smell of wild garlic underfoot in early summer
- Banks of ferns, some glossy leaved, others matt green, festooning parts of slopes and cliffs
- Tiny liverworts in shades of red, in the splash zone of burns and falls
- A dipper flying past upstream, its dumpy body a blur of chocolate-and-cream-coloured feathers
Rich and shady
Such things can be part of the essence of the ‘Tilio-Acerion’ forests of slopes screes and ravines in the Core Forest project. Ash and wych elm are often common in the Scottish woods of this woodland type. Throughout the UK, such woods often grow on the fairly rich soils that can build-up in shady places near the bottom of slopes and ravines.
The sheer difficulty of moving up and down some of these steep slopes has reduced the level of human disturbance to some of these woods. Things such as the degree of slope and the direction slopes face give variety to the plants you could find in an ash-rich ravine wood.
Some of the ravine woodland plants, such as the dark-red helleborine orchid that survives in some of the Clyde Valley woods, are scarce in the UK. Others, such as Herb Robert and dog’s mercury, are common, but give their own character to the woodland floor. Many of the ravine woodland plants thrive in damp conditions and without much direct sunlight.
Ravine woodland birds include plenty, such as different kinds of tits that like to nest in hollows in old trees. But the burns or rivers which run through the woods also make them good places for waterbirds such as dipper, grey wagtail and pied wagtail.
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