The Slate Arch, and the Plants Growing in it.

Published 25 August 2013

A Sunday Picture has been a bit obsessed with the Lake District of late. There’s a good reason for that. I was there on my holidays recently. And I took some lovely photographs.

One I took was of some fern growing out of a drystone wall. And it was good. I almost put it up here today. But every time I looked at it, I didn’t see that photograph in my mind. I saw this one instead.

This is a plant growing out of a slate arch at the village of Ballachulish, near Glencoe in the West Highlands of Scotland.

The arch itself is an impressive construction, one of two built nearly two hundred years ago to aid the transportation of slate from the quarry to the shores of the nearby loch. Once there it would be taken away in boats.

Ballachulish Slate Arch
Ballachulish Slate Arch

The slate from the quarry was regularly used for roofing in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and production first started in 1692. The slate quarry’s long closed now, with the place shutting up shop in 1955, but the site remains today as a visitor attraction. You can walk round the former quarry site, and see the slate arch. And in the cracks of the slate arch you’ll find all manner of plant life growing.

It was in 2012 that I saw this plant growing most attractively in the wall. It’s probably not there any more. But should you visit, do keep your eyes open. There may be another just like it not far away.

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