Sunday, 12 June 2011

Gem in the stingers

Jewelled beetles are not the monopoly of the tropics or the gorgeous East. We had a lovely walk at Gargrave yesterday and spotted this gleam of turquoise, the colour of the Turk, in a clump of nettles. It was an industrious Green Nettle Weevil which is not only fearless of the poisonous spikes which cover the plant quite impressively in the close-up pic below. It eats them.

The nettle weevil family is black underneath the layer of iridescent sheen, and as the year goes on, many of them lose their beautiful top coat, just as we get wrinkly after the bloom of youth. For the weevil it probably matters less than it does to all those misguided souls who spend money on Botox et al. Weevils just go on eating nettle.

If you live within reach of Gargrave, I thoroughly recommend the walk - following the Pennine Way north from near the church to a lonely signpost in a field between the summits of the village's little Everests, Mickleber and Scaleber hills, then down to the flight of locks at Bank Newton and back along the canal towpath to the village. Gargrave is a favourite example in talks I give on the need for optimism about the UK's North. When the last big cotton mill closed after the 1929 crash, things looked disastrous; but Johnson & Johnson down in Slough were looking to locate somewhere cleaner and set up a huge (but very discreetly-sited) factory, which benefited additionally from local skills in the making of its main product, cotton wool. It's Systagenix now, but still a fine example of skilled and interesting jobs which allow a wide range of people to live in this little piece of Paradise.


Banished To A Pompous Land said...

The walk along the infant Aire from Gargrave to Horton-in-Ribblesdale used to be a favourite warm-up for a wander around the 3 peaks the next day. In the summer with the banks alive (well alive for England) with grasshoppers and the budding river still full of trout you felt you could tickle...

Then on to the Crown at Horton for a well deserved pint to quench the summer thirst

Ah happy days

MartinWainwright said...

You arer a tougher man than me, Banished! One peak at a time is what I say. But it's all just as you describe, not spoilt at all.

We didn't feel alcoholic so had a FANTASTIC lunch/tea at the White Cottage in Gargrave. I can't recommend it too highly but don't tell everyone...

all v best