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02 Port Bannatyne Tramway (12.5.17)

Posted 12/5/2017


Many woodland plants flower early so as to capture the light and the sun’s energy before the trees are fully in leaf and the canopy closes over.  This short section of the former tramway track, now a woodland footpath, is therefore ideal for a spring visit.  The walk starts at the bus turning circle, by the public conveniences, in Port Bannatyne (Grid Reference NS068674). 

Shortly after entering the wood, note the rocky left side of the path; here, despite the intense shade, Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage still manages to thrive, along with extensive areas of Great Woodrush.  Further along the track, where the canopy is more open, there are colourful glades across the stream – differing shades of yellow (Primroses, Marsh Marigold and Lesser Celandine) and white (Wood Anemone and Large Bittercress – the latter rather resembling Watercress but distinguished by its violet anthers).

The track soon joins up with the West Island Way (note the carpet of Wild Strawberries) and, almost immediately afterwards, the road to Ettrick Bay.  Two short extensions from this point are well worthwhile.   Turn left and walk through the wood along the WIW for a couple of hundred yards, in the course of which you will see Pignut (the small white umbellifer just coming into flower), Bilberry and Yellow Flag (not yet in flower).   Returning to the road, turn left as far as the end of the wood for another selection of flowers beside the ditch, including Red Campion and Broom.  Look across the road to see large areas of Tuberous Comfrey (yellow) and Green Alkanet (blue flower!), both non-native colonisers that brighten the landscape at this time of year.

Finally return to Port Bannatyne by the road, pausing to take a close up look at the fine specimen of Sweet Cicely that you pass shortly before arriving  at the coast. Pick a small leaf and enjoy the aniseed smell that it exudes.  After you have turned right, look carefully at the wall that borders the recreation ground;  here in a completely different type of habitat you can find, among other species, Ivy-leaved Toadflax and Maidenhair Spleenwort.

The total distance of the walk is barely more than a mile, but with such a range of habitats and so many species to observe, don’t be surprised if it takes you a couple of hours.  Many of the species listed below are not yet in flower, but all have made sufficient growth to be identifiable.  As ever the list is far from exhaustive.


Ash Fraxinus excelsior
Beech Fagus sylvatica
Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus
Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg.
Broad Buckler-fern Dryopteris dilatata
Broad-leaved Dock Rumex obtusifolius
Broom Cytisus scoparius
Cleavers Galium aparine
Colt's-foot Tussilago farfara
Common Bird's-foot-trefoil Lotus corniculatus
Common Bistort Persicaria bistorta
Common Dog-violet Viola riviana
Common Figwort Scrophularia nodosa
Common Mouse-ear Cerastium fontanum
Common Nettle Urtica dioica
Common Sorrel Rumex acetosa
Creeping Buttercup Ranunculus repens
Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense
Cypress Spurge Euphorbia cyparissias
Daffodil Narcissus agg.
Daisy Bellis perennis
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale agg.
Dog's Mercury Mercurialis perennis
Elder Sambucus nigra
Field Horsetail Equisitum arvense
Germander Speedwell Veronica chamaedrys
Gorse Ulex europaeus
Great Woodrush Luzula sylvatica
Greater Plantain Plantago major
Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea
Green Alkanet Pentaglottis sempervivens
Grey Willow Salix cinerea
Ground Ivy Glechoma hederacea
Ground-elder Aegopodium podagraria
Groundsel Senecio vulgaris
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna
Hazel Corylus avellana
Hemlock Water-dropwort Oenanthe crocata
Herb Robert Geranium robertianum
Hogweed Heracleum spondylium
Holly Ilex aquifolium
Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum
Hybrid Avens Geum x intermedium
Ivy Hedera helix
Ivy-leaved Toadflax Cymbalaria muralis
Lady Fern Athyrium filix-femina
Lady's-smock Cardamine pratensis
Large Bittercress Cardamine amara
Lesser Celandine Ficaria verna
Lime Tilia x europea
Maidenhair Spleenwort Asplenium trichomanes
Male fern Dryopteris filix-mas
Marsh Foxtail Alopecurus geniculatus
Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre
Marsh-marigold Caltha palustris
Meadow Buttercup Ranunculus acris
Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria
Montbretia Crocosmia x crocosmiflora
Opp-leaved Golden-saxifrage Chrysosplenium oppositifolium
Pignut Conopodium majus
Primrose Primula vulgaris
Ragwort Senecio jacobaea
Raspberry Rubus idaeus
Red Campion Silene dioica
Rhododendron Rhododendron ponticum
Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata
Rosebay Willowherb Chamerion angustifolium
Rowan Sorbus aucuparia
Sea Radish Raphanus raphanistrum ssp maritimus
Sessile Oak Quercus petraea
Silverweed Potentilla anserina
Spear Thistle Cirsium vulgare
Sweet Cicely Myrrhis odorata
Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus
Tuberous Comfrey Symphytum tuberosum
Wall-rue Asplenium ruta-muraria
Water Avens Geum rivale
Wavy Bittercress Cardamine flexuosa
Welsh Poppy Meconopsis cambrica
Wild Garlic Allium ursinum
Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca
Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa
Wood Avens Geum urbanum
Wood Dock Rumex sanguineus
Wood-sorrel Oxalis acetosella
Wych Elm Ulmus glabra
Yellow Flag Iris pseudacorus