Loftus Alum Quarries

Stray off the Cleveland Way between Skinningrove and Staithes and you could find yourself in the long disused Loftus Alum Quarries. (Part of the Boulby Quarries SSSI) The exposed Jurassic shales are a stark contrast to the farmed landscapes on either side and if you don’t mind a bit of a scramble it’s well worth a short detour to explore.SAM_2262

The lunar landscape doesn’t look very hospitable, but patches of dry heath and sheltered hollows provide habitat for wildlife and vibrant splashes of colour.
(As well as opportunities for romantic gestures, as the picture below shows)

SAM_2266

Here’s just a few of the species I encountered …

Cat's-ear  (Hypochaeris radicata)

Cat’s-ear
(Hypochaeris radicata)

Bell heather (Erica cinerea)

Bell heather (Erica cinerea)
So called due to the shape of its purple flowers.

Tormentil  (Potentilla erecta)

Tormentil (Potentilla erecta)
The root of this plant has a high tannin content and can be used as a red dye.

Red-tailed Bumble-bee (Bombus lapidarius) on Bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) Birds foot trefoil is sometimes also known as ‘bacon and eggs’ due to the bright egg yellow of its flowers and the deep red of the seed pods.

Red-tailed Bumble-bee (Bombus lapidarius) on Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
Birds foot trefoil is sometimes also known as ‘bacon and eggs’ due to the bright egg yellow of its flowers and the deep red of the seed pods.

Sheeps sorrel (Rumex acetosella). Often used as a herb due to its sharp fruity flavour, and reputed to have many health benefits. However, it also contains high levels of oxalic acid which act as a diuretic and can lead to kidney stones.

Sheeps sorrel (Rumex acetosella). Often used as a herb due to its sharp fruity flavour, and reputed to have many health benefits. However, it also contains high levels of oxalic acid which act as a diuretic and can lead to kidney stones.

Female Northern eggar moth resting on heather, and with the smaller, darker male (below).

Female Northern eggar moth resting on heather, and with the smaller, darker male (below).

A sub species of the Oak eggar, in which the only variation is a 2 year developmental cycle instead of 1 (although this distinction is not clear cut).

A sub species of the Oak eggar, in which the only variation is a 2 year developmental cycle instead of 1 (although this distinction is not clear cut).

How to find Loftus Alum Quarries:
Grid reference: NZ 73608 19816. Nearest postcode: TS13 4JJ.
On foot: Via Cleveland Way 1.5miles South from Skinningrove or North from Boulby. Access also via public footpath from Upton Hill, on the coast road from Boulby Bank to Skinningrove.

More information:  www.nationaltrust.org.uk/yorkshire-coast/things-to-see-and-do/

————

Kate | National Trust

Kate | National Trust

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