On our way up to Llangollen we stopped for a couple of days near the village of Ravensmoor, a small village in the parish of Burland. I looked for information online about its history. Only a brief mention in Wikipedia came up with a note that most of the village dates from the second half of the 20th century.
On our way back out of Llangollen we’ve fetched up in the same place as the view is lovely, it is an easy place to moor, and we have full 3G, five bar Internet signal and an easy to locate satellite signal for the TV.
There are several good footpaths across the fields nearby and we decided to strike out one sunny day and enjoy a lovely walk.
One of the amazing things to me is how plants are generally left to their own devices here in the U.K. Mixed hedgerows of sloe, Hawthorn, roses and blackberries bend and weave over and amongst one another; public footpaths are cloaked in unchecked vines, and laced with small plants growing on the verges. To me this looks like an arch inviting me to step under…
…and follow the path wherever it goes. A lively little stream meanders through the woods on the left. I almost feel like Alice in Wonderland. Where is that rabbit?
Bright Bellis Perrenis—English Daisies sprout form the grass. This is one of my favorite flowers. Their twee, hardy beauty cheers my spirit wherever I see them. they make a lovely addition to tea mixtures., and the fresh young leaves may eaten raw or added to soups.
The flower heads are used medicinally. The main constituents are saponins, an essential oil, tannins, and mucilage, flavones and a bitter compound which give Daisy an expectorant and astringent properties. It has a beneficial effect on gastritis, enteritis, and diarrhoea,and infections of the upper respiratory tract. In herbal medicine Daisy is usually used as an infusion. (The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Dorset Press, 1984, p.84.)
Externally Daisy is used in compresses and bath preparations to treat skin disorders, wounds, and bruises. A decoction of the leaves may be used for the same purposes.
Ahead the path veers to the right through another natural arch of tree branches. Pied wagtails, wrens, and other small species of birds will the wood with their songs. the air is crisp and clean, with the bright green scent of spring.
Looking back along the way we came. Daffodils line the verge with their springtime cheer, while up ahead the path narrows…
…around a bend and out into a large, grassy pathway bordered by large hedgerows. I love the surprise that awaits around each bend!
I am entranced by the way nature leads me on to the next bit of footpath…
...playing peek-a-boo with my senses.
Ah now I see the path veers right past that large, round shrub. There’s no guessing what waits around the next bit…
Wow! Gates to an old estate no longer owned by wealthy gentry; a lovely home with horses saddled to ride and folks standing around the end of the long drive. Directly across the way is a metal gate opening on to a small field with a path into the village.
We however opt for the tree and hedge lined road which invites us to continue on ahead.
More natural arches and bending pathways…
which straighten out and lead to an intersection with a farmhouse.
Cleavers (bedstraw, goose weed, or catch grass) fill the side of the road. In the States this sticky garden weed is viciously eradicated. Here it is allowed to mind its own business along the paths and hedges.
Gallium Aparine is well known to medicinal herbalists and homemakers of old who used it to clabber their gently boiling milk, turning it into curds and whey. Now days cheese is clabbered with rennet made form calves stomach. Many vegetarians still opt for Cleavers in home cheese making. It grows en mass all around Whitchurch—an old cheese making site and home of Cheshire cheese. Anywhere this plant is found in abundance is a clue that folks thereabouts made a lot of cheese way back when.
Cleavers is edible and medicinal. It has been used for centuries as an alternative medicine by indigenous peoples on many continents. It is mainly used as an addition to soups. Using the plant as a vegetable has a slimming effect on the body. Cleavers seed is one of the best coffee substitutes, it merely needs to be dried and lightly roasted and has much the same taste as coffee. As a member of the Madder family the is plant is related to coffee.
Cleavers has a long history of use as an alternative medicine and is still used widely by modern herbalists. It is used both internally and externally in the treatment of a wide range of ailments. The dried or fresh herb is alterative, anti-inflammatory, antiphlogistic, aperient, astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, tonic and vulnerary.
A valuable diuretic, it is often taken to treat skin problems such as seborrhoea, eczema and psoriasis, and as a general detoxifying agent in serious illnesses such as cancer. The plant contains organic acids, flavonoids, tannins, fatty acids, glycoside asperuloside, gallotannic acid and citric acid. It has a mild laxative effect and stimulates the lymphatic system and has shown benefit in skin related problems.
The fresh plant or juice is used as a medicinal poultice for wounds, ulcers and many other skin problems. An infusion of the herb has shown of benefit in the treatment of glandular fever, tonsilitis, hepatitis and cystitis. The infusion is also used to treat liver, bladder and urinary problems. The plant contains the valuable constituent asperuloside, a substance that is converted into prostaglandins by the body. Prostaglandins are hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels. (Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Dorset Press, 1984; p. 153)
Used as a love medicine by one tribe, the infusion of plant was used as a bath by women to be successful in love. Several Native American Tribes used Cleavers as an infusion of for gonorrhea. A red dye is obtained from a decoction of the root. A thick matt of the stems, when used as a sieve for filtering milk, was said to give healing properties to the milk and is still used in Sweden for that purpose. (Magic and Medicine of Plants, 1986, Reader’s Digest Publishing, p. 143.)
Medicinal Tea: To 1 pint of boiling water add 3 heaping tbls. of dried or fresh herb, steep 10 min. Take in mouthful doses throughout the day. Cleavers can be juiced raw with your favorite greens for a healthful green juice.
Les strides down the lane into the village, where he spots…
…this old Cardiff Ales lorry, parked in a farm shed near a big, blue tractor.
I spot the no-longer-so-common red phone booth planted in the hedge. In addition to sporting a crown emblem with ERII underneath, the sides indicate this is a 21st century phone in a red booth—email, text AND phone it indicates!
Just past the red phone booth the village lanes meet in a four way intersection…
…with an old fashioned village signpost offering directions.
Across the way is the local pub The Farmer’s Arms. It made me think of my farming friends back in Pullman, Chrisi and Keith Kincaid.
Imagine finishing a hard day on the farmstead and walking into the local for a pint and some natter with the other folks from round about the area. Here’s to you Chrisi and Keith!
We turned away from the pub and headed back in the opposite direction towards the canal. I spotted this interesting old log with a lovely bit of funghi growing on it.
Shortly we came to this wooden bridge over the local stream and we decided to follow it along…
Les was kind enough to stop in the middle and pose for me…
…before striding off along the leaf mould strewn footpath into yet another arch leading into a shady, narrow stretch which border the backside of the farms and house out on the main lane.
Birds rustled in the branches and rabbits ducked into holes along this natural corridor. I could just imagine how enchanting it would be for a child whose home borders this back alley to the natural world. Pirates might take over the bridge behind us; Robin Hood and his merry men could be waiting along here just anywhere along here, or Herne the Hunter (Cernunnos) could step out of the shadows, stop, offer a soul piercing gaze, and be gone with a flash of antlers.
Just past this small rivulet we came to a a footpath marked by a style so I asked Les to demonstrate for our American readers, how a style works.
Heave ho and over you go! Who ever builds these rustic public right of ways is obviously a 6 foot tall man. I have to approach a style carefully and the first step usually comes up to mid thigh on me. We won’t even discuss where the fence railing reaches!
“Why,” I asked Les, “are styles installed instead of gates? It is a designated public right of way. A gate makes it much easier to access the foot path.”
“Yes, but not everyone who uses a gate will close it behind them. The farmer’s livestock could escape if a gate is left open. Styles allow the public access and keep the livestock in the field where they belong.” I cannot argue with his logic so…heave ho over I go!
I followed Dear sir across the field. It was filled with cows which we wove our way through. I’ve never been close to a cow before and now that I’ve seen how disgustingly filthy they get I don’t feel the need to do it again any time soon!
Lesser Celandine clustered in a boggy patch at the far end of the field. Also known as pilewort, its acrid, irritating juice was used in creams to treat hemmorhoids, warts, and scab. It should never be ingested internally as it is toxic.
Folklore has it that Queen Elizabeth I “whose teeth were euphemistically described as ‘black pearls,’ was said to have once avoided a painful tooth extraction by dropping the acrid juice of Celandine into the hollow of a decaying tooth” after which she could easily remove the tooth with her fingers. (Magic and Medicine of Plants, Reader’s Digest Publishing, 1986, p. 135.)
A gate awaits us at the other end of the field! Thank you Goddess! Les strode and I stravaged back home to the boat for a cup of tea and our slippers.