The limestone pavements of Hutton Roof offer a treasure trove of flora including, but not limited to, a magnificent hoard of helleborines. The predominant orchids of this special place are the Dark-red Helleborines Epipactis atrorubens championed by the late, great Bryan Yorke. They grow in enormous profusion here, and exhibit an unusual amount of variation.
In the friendly company of European orchid expert Dr Richard Bate, we will be exploring on foot the extensive limestone pavement habitat of the area, and will undoubtedly find some colourful varieties of Dark-red Helleborine, including perhaps the rare ivory-coloured lutescens form. We will also be expecting to encounter the scarce hybrid Epipactis x schmalhausenii, the hybrid formed by Dark-red and Broad-leaved Helleborine. Hutton Roof is the only site in Britain where this hybrid is regularly and reliably encountered.
Our meandering walk around Hutton Roof will feature other rare botanical treasures, including elegant Angular Solomon's Seal Polygonatum odoratum, statuesque Rigid Buckler Fern Dryopteris submontana, and the regional endemic shrub Lancaster Whitebeam.
Other wildlife we may encounter include butterflies and reptiles - everything is grist to our mill, and there will be ample photographic opportunities throughout the course of the day. We would hope to encounter High Brown and Dark Green Fritillaries, and possibly a late Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Hutton Roof and Richard both featured in botanical bestseller Orchid Summer - this is a unique opportunity to spend a day with one of the friendliest and most charismatic of British orchid-hunters, on his local patch that he knows inside out.
Guests are asked to ensure that they wear sturdy and appropriate footwear, and in addition to their picnics and water also bring sunscreen, hats and insect repellant. Their reward for being intrepid and well-prepared will time enjoying a true botanical wonderland!
Guests may wish to make a weekend of it, and combine this day-trip with the Helleborines of Helsington on Saturday 6 July, a day that will also feature many Dark-red Helleborines, but also some other different orchids besides.