The start of a brand new summer season in the Picos de Europa has begun and David Charlton has joined the team for 3 weeks to share his extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for wild flowers in the area. Having spent the past few years wild flower walking in the Italian Dolomites and subsequently producing a book (Wild Flowers – The Dolomites) about the different species, David and his wife Judy know Collett’s well and they never fail to stir up some excitement before heading out into the mountains for the day. With a large interest in resort this week, guests went out in convoy to try and find as many orchids as possible; setting the challenge of 20 different species in one day.
The clouds were beginning to part as the three cars wound their way through the Hermida Gorge to the first orchid spotting place of the day. David brought with him a collection of reference books and between the group enough cameras hung around necks to ensure each and every find was captured. The first spot was an unlikely place to find beautiful orchids – in a lay-by at the side of a quiet road. However, putting all faith in the flower enthusiast it wasn’t long before we were all crouching down to have a look at the intricate Man orchid, quickly followed by the Bee Orchid.
At the next stop the group split up along the valley, staring intently at the ground as they walked along. Whilst some guests admired the Pink Pentrocoptis (a flower found only in the Picos) hanging from the rocky outcrops, others called over to David in hope that they had found another Orchid to add to the list. The small walk along the river was stunning and the large cave encouraged everyone to look up and admire the view every now and again.
We diverted onto a windy road in order to reach a wildflower meadow that was now flourishing and ticked off a number of Orchids including Heart Tongue, Pyramid, Fragrant, Woodcock, Early Spider and the Red Helleborine Orchid. With a proud total of 12 so far, we headed up to Pica de Laspuertas to enjoy the view and a well earned sandwich. But this lunchtime break did not go without entertainment and this time we were looking to the skies. Griffin and Egyptian vultures appeared in their numbers, with a total of 20 soaring above as at one time! They flew in from above, below and almost within arms reach which resulted in group neck ache by the end of the show. Lizards chased each other along the fence and one went in search of food in a guest’s rucksack when she wasn’t looking.
On our last stop we were given the challenge of finding the Fly Orchid. After 20 minutes of searching we were about to give up when a proud guest spotted it amongst the grass. This took our daily total to 15 which everybody was happy with; ensuring the day was left on a high we decided to end it by enjoying a refreshing drink in the sunshine. It was evident that sharing a day with interested guests, regardless of whether they knew their flowers or not, brought to life the enjoyment and passion that David holds for wildflower walking, spotting and identifying. It was a great day to be a part of.