It is easy to overlook this little bit of land, tucked away in north Torquay between the Willows Retail Park and the industrial units on Barton Hill Way. But you shouldn’t, especially at this time of year.
Nightingale Park, a brownfield site that was once a tip, is ambitiously named. Most people who visit are cutting through to somewhere else or walking their dogs. There are some nice bits of boggy grassland, some regenerating scrub, and a small conservation area with a bit of woodland. To quote a published botanical survey of the site, carried out in 2014, ‘… no rare, notable or protected plant species were recorded…’
So why am I writing about it? Well because right now, the orchids are out, and this year they are looking simply marvellous.
In fairness to the 2014 survey, they did point out that there are Bee and Pyramidal orchids on the site. But, this doesn’t do justice to the purple and pink carpet of delicate spikes that transform this boggy bit of ‘wasteland’ each May/June.
This really is the time to see them because they get past their best fairly soon, so get on down! In addition to the Pyramidal and Bee orchids, I’m pretty sure there are Early purple and Marsh purple there too, but I’m the first to admit that I’m not a super hot botanist so don’t quote me on that.
The best displays are in the northeast corner of the site, on the open grassland near to where Barton Hill Way meets Browns Bridge Road. Park in Barton Hill Way to enter the park by any of the entrances in that corner.
I visit the site most Saturday afternoons at around 12.15pm. If anyone would like to join me I’d be happy to show you my favourite bits of the park and even happier if you can tell me more about it, or why you like it. Get in touch via the comments or mail [at] howiewatkins [dot] co [dot] uk.
- The park has an unofficial Facebook page
- Check out the botanical survey (2014)
- Report of a community consultation on the use and development of the park by Shiphay and the Willows Community Partnership (2015)
- There’s some video on YouTube which shows the location of the park