Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

28 Kilmichael Rd September (9.9.20)

Posted 9/9/2020


I started this series with a walk along the Kilmichael Road in early spring from Glechnabae onwards (Walk 1).  It’s a lovely walk at any time of year, so I’m including it again as a September walk, but this time looking at the section from Ettrick Bay to Glechnabae, about two and a half miles along a level, tarmac road.  There’s a bus service (except in winter) to the start at the Ettrick Bay Tearoom (GR NS036665).

Enjoy the first mile or so as much for the scenery as for its botanical interest.  On the seaward side there are still a few blue Meadow Crane’s-bill in flower, a plant that is abundant in the Ettrick Bay area but rarely found elsewhere on the island. 

Amphibious BistortAmphibious Bistort


In the ditch that runs along the righthand side for part of this stretch the strangely-named Amphibious Bistort is in flower (the name reflects the fact that there are two forms of this plant – one version floats on water and the other, as here, is land-based and upright.



After a series of bends, you come to a long straight section beside the Scarrel shore.  Thereafter, the road has woodland on both sides until the final stretch leading to Glechnabae.  Much of the botanical interest lies in the ditch that lines the righthand side of the road.


 It can be satisfying to be able to identify a plant in generic terms as, say, a Mint or a St John’s-wort;  but the next step is to go beyond this, to look at more details and so to identify the particular species.  The Kilmichael Road in September affords a good opportunity to do this for several related pairs of species.  Let’s start with the mints.

Spear MintSpear Mint

Water MintWater Mint


The different shape of the flowerhead makes it easy to distinguish between Spearmint and Water Mint.  If you look at your ID book, you will see that there are a number of other Mint species and hybrids, but these are the main two to be seen here on the island.


Square-stalked St John's-wortSquare-stalked St John's-wort

Slender St John's-wortSlender St John's-wort


You need to look rather more closely to distinguish between Square-stalked St John’s-wort and Slender St John’s-wort, though of course there is a clue in the name!  Both species have translucent dots on their leaves (hold a leaf up to the light) but the Slender species has black dots on the edge of the petals and sepals, unlike the Square-stalked (use a 10x lens).  Again, there are other St John’s-wort species to be seen on the island but a good ID book will help you with the features to look for.

Other pairs of related species that can be seen on this walk are Marsh and Hedge Woundwort (see also Walk 27), Meadow and Creeping Buttercup (see also Walk 23), and Creeping and Marsh Thistle.

Species in flower:

Amphibious Bistort Persicaria amphibia
Autumn hawkbit Scorzoneroides autumnalis
Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg.
Broad-leaved Willowherb Epilobium montanum
Bush Vetch Vicia sepium
Cat's-ear Hypochaeris radicata
Cleavers Galium aparine
Common Chickweed Stellaria media
Common Hemp-nettle Galeopsis tetrahit
Common Mouse-ear Cerastium fontanum
Common Nettle Urtica dioica
Creeping Buttercup Ranunculus repens
Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense
Curled Dock Rumex crispus
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale agg.
Devil's-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis
Enchanter's-nightshade Circaea lutetiana
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea
Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil Lotus pedunculatus
Hedge Bindweed Calystegia sepium
Hedge Woundwort Stachys sylvatica
Herb Robert Geranium robertianum
Hogweed Heracleum spondylium
Knapweed Centaurea nigra
Lesser Spearwort Ranunculus flammula
Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre
Marsh Woundwort Stachys palustris
Meadow Buttercup Ranunculus acris
Meadow Crane's-bill Geranium pratense
Meadow Vetchling Lathyrus pratensis
Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria
Montbretia Crocosmia x crocosmiflora
Perennial Sow-thistle Sonchus arvensis
Prickly Sowthistle Sonchus asper
Ragwort Senecio jacobaea
Red Campion Silene dioica
Red Clover Trifolium pratense
Rosebay Willowherb Chamerion angustifolium
Sea Mayweed Tripleurospermum maritimum
Sea Radish Raphanus raphanistrum ssp maritimus
Selfheal Prunella vulgaris
Silverweed Potentilla anserina
Slender St John's-wort Hypericum pulchrum
Spear Mint Mentha spicata
Square-stalked St John's-wort Hypericum tetrapterum
Tormentil Potentilla erecta
Water Mint Mentha aquatica
Wild Angelica Angelica sylvestris
Wood Avens Geum urbanum
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Yellow Pimpernel Lysimachia nemorum