IT IS HARD to imagine a more stunning panorama than that from the top of Alva Glen, looking down upon the deeply incised wooded valley below.

On the upper slopes just above the trees, yellow flowering gorse abounds in a blaze of colour.

There is an old country saying that goes along the lines of 'when gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season' – a reflection of the fact that at least a few of its vibrant yellow flowers are likely to be in bloom no matter the time of year.

However, it is in spring and summer that gorse is at its best. It is said that the pioneering 18th century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus fell on his knees and wept at the sight of gorse in its full flowering glory, such was his astonishment at the stunning colour.

Alva Glen is one of my favourite places in the Wee County and on my most recent visit there was plenty of wildlife around too. On my way up through the wooded section of the glen I saw a spotted flycatcher hawking for insects.

It was using the branch of an elm as a perch and would frequently flutter into the air to snap up a passing fly before returning to the same lookout point. Sadly, spotted flycatchers are scarce birds nowadays, having declined dramatically in recent decades.

Once I had left the trees, the path zig-zags steeply up through an open area that is rich in wildflowers and herbs such as rock rose and wood sage.

This part of the glen is a real sun trap and is abuzz with insects, including common blue butterflies.

Look out too for yellow speckled moths – a small delicate day-flying moth that looks just like a butterfly.

This is a natural paradise brimming with an abundance of life.