Chapel-le-Dale Weekend


Our annual pre-Christmas gathering. (Because Christmas comes but once a year, a bit like posts on this blog.) Our previous trips have been to Youth Hostels: Slaidburn, Keld, Dufton, Kirby Stephen, Malham and for the last three years Ninebanks (we’ve been to some of the others more than once too, and quite probably other places which I’ve temporarily forgotten. This was the tenth trip of this type, that much I do know). Much as we enjoyed Ninebanks, the consensus last year was that we should try somewhere new and we hit upon the Old School Bunkhouse at Chapel-le-Dale near Ingleton. And a top choice that turned out to be. The weather was pretty miserable, but the kids were content to charge around playing bizarre games and (most of) the adults equally content to sit in the spacious kitchen drinking endless cups of tea and shooting the breeze.

On the Saturday, when it did eventually stop raining for a while, we dragged the kids out for a poke around in the vicinity of Great Douk Cave. I seem not to have taken any photos at all, which is a shame. Many moons ago, the Shandy Sherpa, Geordie Munro and I explored this cave a couple of times, when we were dabbling in the art of speleology. It had even been mooted that we might take the kids into it whilst we were nearby, but a considerable flume of water was spouting from the entrance, so it will have to wait for another time.

We had a little bit of a wander around the limestone pavement above the cave and at that point most of the party were content to head back to the bunkhouse. A select band of more hardy, or more foolish, types decided to investigate another flume of water apparently issuing from the hillside above us. It transpired that the water was pouring out of a pipe which jutted out of the slope – something to do with Chapel-le-Dale’s water supply?

We were most of the way up Simon Fell now, so continued to the path which skirts the edge of the plateau and then followed that round towards the summit of Ingleborough. It was raining again and when we reached the point where we had an option to take the path down into Humphrey Bottom we consulted the junior members of the party and let them choose – back to the bunkhouse it was. Of course, shortly after we turned away, it stopped raining and then the cloud even cleared from the summit – Sod’s Law in operation, as ever.


On the Sunday, we did the Ingleton waterfalls walk. You have to pay to do it, and it’s not cheap (although – it’s worth knowing that the best bits – Pecca Falls and Thornton Force – are both on access land), but it is a fabulous walk, especially when there’s been plenty of rain and the falls are at their most spectacular.


I absolutely can’t resist waterfalls, and in stark contrast to the day before, took hundreds of photos.


Whilst we were up at Thorton Force, the sun even shone very briefly.


Here’s the falls catching the light….


I even took a video, probably by mistake because I’ve rather given up on the idea of getting satisfactory films from my camera, but it hasn’t come out too badly, and, for my money, a moving waterfall has it in spades over a still image:

Not much else to say about this one.


The top section of the walk gives great views of Ingleborough, which we see so often (if distantly) from home.


I must bring B (who almost made it to the top on the Saturday) back again soon. Also – choose a better evening to climb it after work this year.


Most of us were able to stay on until the Monday, but that brought really foul weather so after packing up we headed home. A great weekend – we shall be heading back again this Christmas.

I should mention that Andy took sole charge of the grub this year, and very good it was too. (I believe he’s available for weddings, bar mitzvahs, children’s parties etc).


He’s also cooking up a storm (did you see what I did there?) over on his blog: here’s his version of events which includes photos of the Saturday walk.

Posted in Cave, Friends, Waterfalls | Tagged | 2 Comments

Newlands Weekend


Racing through time to last November then, we reach the annual ‘adult escape’, when we farm our kids out to grandparents, gullible friends or boarding kennels, wherever will take them essentially, and head up to the Lakes for some much needed R’n’R. This year we stayed at the Littletown Farm Guest House, which was superb – highly recommended.

All the usual things happened – catching-up with each others growing list of infirmities, drinking one too many beers (which these days is two), playing anecdote bingo, breakfasting lavishly and languidly and consequently finishing our walks in the dark.


Oh – we did manage to squeeze in a couple of walks, despite the rather grey and damp weather. On the Saturday, we climbed Dale Head by a path which climbs to some old mine-workings. The top photo shows the assembled masses sitting by a ruined building. I can’t remember what was mined there, but I found some pieces of ore on an old spoil-heap…..


…and I think it’s safe to assume that copper was involved somehow.


Littledale Edge (perhaps)


We descended via Robinson. As you can see I was dawdling behind the group. Most unusual! My excuse is that I was taking photos of interesting boulders….


Dropping steeply towards High Snab Bank, it’s well worth sticking right to the western edge of the ridge. It’s vertiginous and gives great views across Robinson Crags to Newlands Hause.

On the Sunday we climbed Rowling End, Causey Pike and Scar Crags, a repeat of a route we did on the equivalent weekend a few years back, except, to ring the changes, we descended to the South to the hause between Sail and Ard Crags before following Rigg Beck back into the valley.


After a bright start it turned into a very grey day and I don’t seem to have taken many photos at all. Fortunately there are many from 2009, when the weather also deteriorated, but on that occasion much later in the day. (That post here).

A more lucid and complete account of the weekend, with more, and better, photos, plus maps, can be found on my friend Andy’s blog here.

Posted in Birketts, Wainwright bagging | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Autumn Round-Up


So, what else was going on here in sunny Silverdale during last year’s back-end?

Well, we had a regular visitor to the garden, sometimes with a friend. Usually, but not always, seen either early in the morning or late in the evening, or sometimes both. We strongly suspected that it was sleeping-over.



….there were skies, with clouds n’stuff. This was taken just before sunset from Castle Barrow, by the Pepper Pot – I can tell. But I don’t really remember taking it.

Here’s something I do remember: a conversation with Little S:

“How come I haven’t had my Birthday treat yet?”

“Eh?” (His Birthday was months earlier)

“You said…”. (A lot of S’s sentences begin with an accusatory “You said”.)

“You said that I could go horse riding, but you never took me.”

For once he appeared to have us bang to rights. So we took him, and his siblings, to Bowkerstead Farm in Grizedale.


It was destined to be one of those days – the sun was shining, but to the North the sky was ominously black. When the rains arrived they brought with them a spectacular double rainbow.


It rained intermittently whilst we were out, but we all enjoyed the experience. We went into the forest, initially climbing steeply on a very boggy track, and eventually came back down on wider forestry tracks. TBH and I walked – it was fairly strenuous keeping up with the horses. TBH had the unenviable task of leading the pony which S was riding – a thoroughly wilful and uncooperative creature, it stood on her foot a couple of times, shouldered her into particularly boggy bits of the track and walked poor S into a couple of low branches.


When we took A and B pony trekking before, S wasn’t old enough to join them, and I think he saw this as an opportunity to right an injustice. He was very happy anyway.


The others enjoyed it too.


So much so that A asked for riding lessons for Christmas.


I would have strongly recommend the riding centre, but sadly, it has subsequently closed.

The weather cleared up somewhat in the afternoon and we took advantage of the opportunity to have a wander around one of the sculpture trails in the Forest. (Photos from a previous visit here.)


Another Eaves Wood snap.


The Cove.


A Happy Halloween to all our readers!

Posted in Deer, Eaves Wood, Grizedale Forest, Pony Trekking | 4 Comments

An Autumn Ramble


Little S, who isn’t that little anymore, but is probably always destined to be Little S in my mind even when he’s towering over me, has often been the family’s reluctant walker. Pleasing to report then, that last autumn he began to suggest, even to demand, that we take him out on walks.

These photos are from one of several local walks we did together, this one will stick in my mind because it was just the two of us, with the rest of the family being busy elsewhere.


We discovered a superabundance of fungi and ferns, and in one spot a woodland windfall of surprisingly sweet and tasty apples (these were decidedly not crab-apples). I’ve made a mental note of the place for future reference.


This, I think,…..


…is a Harlequin ladybird. It’s not native to the UK, but was introduced in 2004, is extremely invasive and represents a threat to our indigenous species.

We’d walked through Pointer Wood and Clark’s Lot, through Fleagarth Wood, past the old chimney to Jenny Brown’s Point (near where, S insisted I take this picture)….


At Jack Scout we stopped to do a spot of birding, having, for once, remembered to bring some binoculars along for that purpose. Memorably, we watched a black-backed gull catch a crab – we could clearly see the crab frantically wriggling its legs whilst pinned in the gull’s beak. A pair of crows then harried the much larger gull, with, I think, some partial success – I’m fairly certain that they gained possession of part of the crab.

Later the same day, we all had a wander down to Leighton Moss. From Lillian’s Hide, we spent quite some time watching a pair of snipe in the reeds at the near edge of the mere. They were incredibly difficult to spy, their camouflage is so effective. This photo was taken at maximum zoom and has then been heavily cropped:


It was only today, six months later, that I realised that both of the birds are in this shot. Can you pick them both out?

They were pointed out to us by some Proper Birders, who very kindly let us view the snipe through their powerful monocular. They thought, or perhaps hoped, that these might be the more uncommon jack snipe, but I think that they were wrong – some of the many photos I took show the yellow crown stripe which identify them as plain old snipe.

Posted in Birds, Jack Scout, Jenny Brown's Point, Walking | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Off Piste around Mardale and Kentmere

It’s late September, the forecast is good and I’m still capable of getting out of the door early enough to be parked at the end of Haweswater by eight in the morning.

(In fact, it’s early January, the forecast is rotten and after two weeks off work – with mostly miserable weather – I’m finding it hard to drag myself out of bed until long after eight. But that’s by-the-by, bear with me here, I’m attempting the Sisyphean task of catching-up with my blog posts. And re-living a splendid day out into the bargain.)

I’d driven up in fine weather; it looked like blue skies and sunshine would be the order of the day, but Sod’s Law was in operation and the hills around the head of Haweswater were cloaked in cloud. However, I was a man with a plan – to join up some blue bits on the map, namely Small Water, Kentmere Reservoir, the River Kent and Blea Water – and I was not to be deterred. In fact, I was feeling pretty keen, and as I set-off to execute my plan – walking towards Small Water heading for the the Nan Bield Pass and hence Kentmere – rather than losing heart because of the weather, I was distracted by the left-hand skyline heading up towards Harter Fell. From below it looked like a ridge and a very tempting one at that, but a glance at the map revealed that it was really an edge formed by the intersection of the slopes above Small Water and the steeper eastern face of Harter Fell. Still….I’d never been that way before. I vacillated for a while as I plodded upward: should I stick with the original plan or divert onto Harter Fell?

In the end I compromised. I went to Small Water first….

 Small Water

….but then took a rising line across the slopes above it to hit the edge of the crags on Harter Fell’s eastern face, following those crags up onto Harter Fell.

I was pleased I took the diversion, although the views weren’t great.

Haweswater and clag 

Indeed, I was soon in the cloud. From odd glimpses I could sense that most of the Lake District Fells were bathed in sunshine; looking directly overhead I could see clear blue sky, but all around me was clag. I was pretty confident that it would lift though, and by the time I had descended to the Nan Bield, it had. From that point on sunshine ruled.

This is the view from Nan Bield…

Kentmere Reservoir from Nan Bield 

…down to Kentmere Reservoir. On the lower left-hand side of the photo you can maybe make out the path descending across the slope. I took a more direct route beside Lingmell Gill. I was heading for the Reservoir and the Kent. I have, over several strolls and several blogposts, been following the course of the Kent between sea and source, and was keen to walk this, as yet unexplored (by me anyway) upper section.

But as I followed the gill down, it wasn’t the reservoir, or the river which feeds it, which had my attention, but the magnificent, curving, north-east ridge of Ill Bell…

Ill Bell and Froswick 

Ill Bell and Froswick. (That’s ‘ill bell’ not ‘3 in Roman numerals’ Bell)

Looks inviting doesn’t it? It’s another pathless ascent route which I haven’t yet explored and I was sorely tempted again. In the end, I decided to leave it for another time, but I must go back before too long.

I turned instead to the delights of the River.

River Kent - waterfalls and deep pools 

These deep plunge pools put a thought in my head, sunny as it was, and when I came across a slightly larger pool…

Another River Kent pool 

…I stripped off and went for a brief skinny dip. (I know: that’s created an unpleasant image for those of you that know me. I hasten to add that the valley was deserted – no innocent hikers were harmed in the making of this blog post. What’s more, in case you’re worried, the reservoir was built to feed mills further down the valley and isn’t for drinking water.) Was the water cold? Yes – and so was the breeze, but not too bad: my kids went swimming in Grasmere that same day, so it must have been a reasonably warm day.

River Kent and Gavel Crag 

I followed the dwindling river into Hall Cove where several streams meet to form it. The most prominent of those streams flows down the valley on the right of the picture below and I had thought of following that onward, but I was now drawn by the rocky shoulder of Gavel Crag.

'Gavel Crag' ridge 

The way was steep. The crags were broken, but I engaged in a little scrambling. There was probably a lot more to be had if you went looking for it, although nothing very sustained.

On the ridge 

Around the base of the crags and boulders this herb-like plant grew in profusion….

Interesting plant...? 

Can anybody offer an I.D.?

Now that I was on the plateau, the views were superb.

Hall Cove 

Looking down into Hall Cove.

Looking back down Kentmere 

Kentmere and it’s fells from Gavel Crag.

Looking West 

Another view 

I wandered over to Thornthwaite Beacon for a late lunch. There were a fair few people about, which was a bit of a shock after a virtually pathless wander during which I had hardly seen anyone.

South from Thornthwaite Beacon 

The wind was quite biting here, but I found reasonable shelter in the lea of the tall stone beacon.

With two stiff ascents behind me, I decided to take a fairly direct route back towards the car. I used the path, popular with Kentmere Horseshoe walkers, which contours round the head of Hall Cove from near Thornthwaite Beacon to Mardale Ill Bell (again that’s – ‘ill bell’).

Kent and its mountains 

Looking back to the upper reaches of the River Kent.

River Kent and the 'Gavel Crag ridge'. 

For anybody who might be thinking of following in my footsteps: that’s the shoulder I climbed in the centre of the photo (Gavel Crag is the nearest named feature on the OS map so I’m calling it the Gavel Crag Ridge). It looks formidably steep to me, but it was OK, even for a wimp like me.

Here’s a closer view of the upper part:

A closer view of 'Gavel Crag ridge' 

On Mardale Ill Bell I discovered a bonus bit of blue, a mini tarn.

Small Tarn on Mardale Ill Bell 

Blea Water 

Blea Water.

I’d picked out another off-piste ridge for my way down: Piot Crag, which is the ridge dividing the two corries containing Blea Water and Small Water.

This is the view looking down it:

Piot Crag 

Again, it was a little steep in places, but with care made for an interesting way down and would, I think, be fun in ascent.

One final view: this is Harter Fell, (seen from the path down from Blea Water):

Harter Fell

The ‘edge’ which caught my eye is the dividing line between light and shadow on the left. The lower rib might make an interesting scramble, but I can’t be sure because I didn’t take that route. I climbed the grassy slopes in the centre of the photo and then went left across the obvious large and grassy shelf to the edge of the crags, and up from there.

A top-notch outing. Three Birketts included, none of them new, but all of them by routes new to me, at least in part.

Hawewater and Kentmere Map

Now: roll on more sunshine!

Posted in Birketts, River Kent, Swimming, Tarns, Wainwright bagging, Walking | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

A Families Weekend at Ours

I haven’t fallen out of love with blogging, I’ve just been preposterously busy; and then, the further one gets behind, the more daunting the prospect of catching up becomes.

So – hopefully on the road to catching-up – a weekend back in September. What has become one of the many regular fixtures in our calendar – a gaggle of friends dropping in for a weekend in the Arnside/Silverdale AONB. We can just about squeeze them all in, although some have to sleep on the drive in their campervan. Two years ago the weather was rotten. Last year it was superb. This year it was….well, neither one nor the other really.

On the Saturday, when we finally dragged ourselves away from copious cups of tea around the kitchen table, we walked down through Fleagarth Wood to Jenny Brown’s Point and then back via Jack Scout and very possibly the Lots and the Cove.


Near Jenny Brown’s Cottages there were numerous and varied fossils in the rocks.




Most impressive (I’m hoping the Andy’s photos do them more justice than mine), but I can’t work out how I’ve walked past them hundreds of times in the 20 years I’ve lived in the area without noticing them before.

As in previous years, we rounded off our Saturday with a very fine sample of dishes from our local Indian take-away. (I’m very fond of the Handi Achar, but the Kursi Chicken was very good too. So much so that it may be my new favourite.)

The weather on Sunday showed much more promise and we were full of hope as we crossed the causeway at Leighton Moss (soon afterward the scene of the BBC’s AutumnWatch).


But when we stopped for some lunch on the benches on Summer House Hill above Leighton Hall, there was a rather cold wind….


…and we watched a curious blanket of low cloud enveloping the view and putting a bit of a damper on the day.


We decided to abandon our plan of an ascent of Warton Crag and instead went to explore Cringlebarrow, Deepdale, Yealand Allotment and the environs of Hawes Water – which, according to some younger members of the party, was much too long a walk even without the addition of Warton Crag.


Anyway – a very fine weekend. The ankle-biters are firmly of the opinion that we should have two such weekends next year……

Posted in Fossils, Friends, Walking | Tagged , | 5 Comments

A Walk in the Wolds: Caistor to Market Rasen

After our fortnight in the States, TBH had to go back to work. The kids and I had one more week however, and spent a few days at my Mum and Dad’s home near Lincoln. Given some children to provide him with an excuse, my Dad likes nothing better than a trip to Sundown Adventureland, so whilst he and Mum took the kids for a day of rides on the ’Pirate Flume’ and the Robin Hood Railway etc. I caught a bus to Caistor with a plan to walk a bit of the Viking Way, along the Lincolnshire Wolds, and finish with a bus home from Market Rasen.


Church of St. John the Baptist at Nettleton.

It’s a while ago now, and I can’t remember the details, but there must have been some of the usual camera muppetry – low batteries or missing memory card – because I didn’t take many photos.


The valley of Nettleton Beck

From the village of Nettleton, the Viking Way winds up the rather lovely valley of Nettleton Beck. I remember that there was some unexpected bogginess, a herd of white cattle, and another, large, herd, in a mixture of shades and styles with a huge bull amongst them.

Dad was born and raised in nearby Osgodby and this whole area has family associations. Across a couple of fields from the route is Nettleton Top mine where my Grandfather worked as the Store Keeper during the 1940s. Dad tells me that he remembers riding on his father’s handlebars on his way to the mine.


A Wold’s top track.

The sun was shining, the walking was pleasant and very quiet. The Wolds are only little hills, but little hills amongst pretty flat country, so the views are extensive: power-stations in Yorkshire and, more impressively, Lincoln Cathedral standing proud of the Lincoln Edge. (Another hill in an area renowned for not having any hills.)


St. Peter’s Church at Normanby le Wold – apparently the highest church in Lincolnshire.

I found a very pleasant spot to eat my pack-up and then dropped down to the village of Walesby. Slightly above Walesby stands the so-called ‘Rambler’s Church’.


All Saints or the ‘The Rambler’s Church’ at Walesby


A window, donated by the Grimsby branch of the Rambler’s Association.

After Walesby there’s some unusual farming: first farmed deer, then pedigree Lincoln Longwool sheep at Risby Grange. (Where, if you intend to walk this way, it’s worth knowing that there is an unmanned shop/shed with an honesty box – I can recommend the Elderflower and Gooseberry  ice-cream.) Then there’s an unusual farm, Castle Farm, which looks a bit like…well, a castle.

I dropped down to Tealby for a couple of pints at the King’s Head, a picturesque thatched pub.

From Tealby I left the Viking Way and followed the course of the River Rase into Willingham Woods and hence to Market Rasen. A very satisfying outing.

Posted in Church, Walking | 9 Comments

Huntley Meadows – A Feast of Fungi

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Posted in Fungi, Holiday Snaps | Tagged | 5 Comments

Grand Falls and the Billy Goat Trail


Apparently, the weather we had whilst we were in the States was unseasonably cool. Living as we do on the 54th parallel, in the North-Wet of England, we’re used to cold rainy summers, so we thought it was hot, hot, hot. With an open-air swimming pool just around the corner, I think the kids would have been happy if we’d never ventured far from our base for the fortnight.

But we did get out to explore the area a little. The wide, watery expanses of the Potomac were a bit of a draw.


I’m pretty sure that this is a bald eagle flying high over the river…..


I didn’t really mention birds in the last post, but the bird-watching opportunities were every bit as fantastic as the entomological  and herpetological delights on offer. Once again, I rarely knew what I was seeing, but colourful and striking kingfishers, several humming birds, red-winged blackbirds, goldfinches (quite different from our goldfinches) and the bright pink cardinals which are a symbol of Virginia.

We saw lots of mammals too. As well as the beaver/muskrat at Huntley meadows, lots of deer….


…. a groundhog, foxes red and grey, but no racoons, which we’d been led to believe are ten-a-penny locally.

One particularly memorable outing took us along the Billy Goat Trail, alongside the Potomac, but a little upstream of where we staying.


It was bouldering walking through low trees, but little W was determined to do it all himself.


It wasn’t exactly a wilderness walk – Saturday morning and there were lots of people about, but we saw no end of wildlife, including a snake, lots of large birds of prey by the river, turtles, herons, fish…


In places the path crossed entirely rocky areas, where the route was marked with splashes of paint.


There was even one section of scrambling – where an orderly queue had formed to clamber up the rocks.


It was a superb little outing, but the heat and the exertion had completely taken it out of W….


But our trip wasn’t over yet, we had a picnic to come. And there was an added bonus nearby….


…Grand Falls. Not a high waterfall, but wide with an awful lot of water flowing through. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that this photo conveys just how large and spectacular they were. I’ve certainly never seen anything quite like it.


A final shot of the pool. There’s something very exotic about being able to swim in an unheated outdoor pool in the evening without the need to first lather-up with goose fat.

The first thing S asked me as our plan touched down in Manchester?

“Dad, when can we go to America again?”

Posted in Holiday Snaps, Walking, Waterfalls | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Virginia, plain?


So. Back in the summer – yes, we really had a summer, seems a long time ago now doesn’t it? – back in the summer, when the weather was, for the first time in living memory, genuinely summery, we went away. Can you guess where we were?


Now you know!

We went to visit my in-laws: the Professor (hi A!) and the Rocket Scientist – how fulfilling must it be to work in a place where you can say: “It is rocket science!” But I digress, both from the truth* and from the story of our holiday. We were staying in Virginia, close to Alexandria, which in turn is close to Washington DC – hence the photo with good ole Abe.

We did many of the things you might expect tourists to do – the presidential memorials, the Smithsonian’s many museums etc, (try the Native American museum’s cafe – superb!), Mount Vernon (George Washington’s house), and some less obvious ones – Fort Washington on the Maryland bank of the Potomac, Chicago live at Wolf Trap (an interesting experience – my sister-in-law was given tickets, she thought at first for a production of the musical Chicago – when she realised that in fact it was the band Chicago, I think she thought they might be more age-appropriate for TBH and I. You know Chicago – all the hits, like ‘If You Leave Me Now’, and, erm, er…..Well anyway, TBH liked the singing, but hated the musical interludes (“Too many notes”). I felt the opposite – a bit Jack Spratt and spouse).

It was a great trip –  a fabulous family get together, great to meet two nephews who we’ve only ever spoken to on Skype before.

And….all the wildlife! Who knew? Not me certainly.

Close to where we stayed was a fabulous place called Huntley Meadows. The land here once belonged to George Mason (one of the Founding Fathers) and was farmland, but it’s now a wetland surrounded by forest.


The wetland is amazing, with an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. The first striking thing was the number and variety of turtles around. These were relatively small specimens, but we also saw much larger ones swimming out in deeper water.


On our first visit, we struck lucky and this fellow….


…swam along a channel straight towards us, then under the boardwalk where we stood and into a large beaver lodge (well it seemed large to me, though I’m not really qualified to say – it’s the first one I ever saw!). The kids were adamant that it was a beaver, and they may well be right, but if it was, it was relatively small for a beaver. Maybe it’s a muskrat? B is sure that it had the wide tail characteristic of a beaver and he’s pretty sharp where natural history is concerned. Either way – we were all very excited.

Less dramatic, but equally fascinating, several bushes nearby had been completely stripped of leaves by these large caterpillars….


..and these too….


On subsequent visits we spotted some smaller cousins….



And in many places we visited we saw tent webs, some quite large…


…which were full of little wrigglers….


Of course, where there are caterpillars, there are likely to be butterflies and moths too. And there were. We saw them everywhere we went. In the car park of the local mall, a huge dilapidated hawkmoth. In the woods at Huntley Meadows, this rather muted and well camouflaged butterfly, which perversely, is perhaps my favourite amongst the many we saw…


And there really were a lot. Large swallowtails were most notable, but the variety in shape and size and colour was astonishing. And all of them new and unknown to us – except, surprisingly, for a handful of Red Admirals. Here’s a small sample….









As I say, we saw butterflies just about everywhere, but most of these photos were taken at River Farm, the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society, which is on the banks of the Potomac. A wildflower meadow there was particularly rich in insect and bird life. (Imagine a British wildflower meadow on steroids – everything way over head height, huge flowers, huge bees and wasps etc)

Huntley Meadows also had a huge variety of dragonflies. but they were even more elusive than the butterflies and so will have to be represented by just one photo…


One memorable feature of our stay was the constant loud racket of cicadas. At Wolf Trap – which is an outdoor venue – they were louder than the band. These insects live initially underground as nymphs, but then crawl up a tree to emerge, like a dragonfly does, from their skins. Here is the exuvia (discarded exoskeleton) of a cicada….


We saw three on the bark of a tree by the Potomac in Washington. And sheltering under the bark of the same tree…


An adult cicada.

I suspect that this is another….


…probably of a different species. B found it at River Farm.


It was dead, and therefore very amenable to being photographed from different angles.


Another River Farm tenant…


Here’s the building at River Farm….


…taken from one of the paths through the meadow. The gnarly old tree in the foreground had my attention because I was both interested and slightly wary of the bustle of activity around the small hollow in it’s trunk…



I had decided not to take my ‘bulky’ camera away with me – a decision which I began to regret almost immediately we arrived. The rest of the family all had point and snaps with them and at various times I borrowed them all. Some of these photos I took, but not by any means all of them.




One insect we took a close interest in, but didn’t photograph, were the fireflies which whizzed around the garden every evening as it grew dark. Prof A organised a hunt and the kids had soon filled a jam-jar with them. (Well – not filled, but they had caught a lot.)

Of course wherever there are bugs, there are bound to be predators.

I’m not sure whether this arachnid, photographed in the woods at Huntley Meadows, is a spider or a harvestman.


These frogs, very green and quite large relative to British frogs, were numerous at Huntley meadows…


I think that it may be the American Bullfrog.


These two species of tiny frogs…


…may have been equally numerous, but we only saw a few, and then only thanks to eagle-eyed B spotting the first of them.


I found a helpful website on the frogs of Virginia (there seem to be many species) and I think that this may be the Spring Peeper.


The centre of these large leaves seem to be popular with small frogs. This…


….is a green treefrog, the pale stripe is pretty distinctive. Here’s another….


I’ve never seen a treefrog in the wild before, but this was only one of many firsts.

We saw a couple of small snakes during our visit, and quite a few lizards.


Including a Komodo Dragon (another first)…


But that was at Washington Zoo!

*I’m not sure that, strictly speaking, Dr A is a rocket scientist, although she is an astrophysicist and she does work for NASA, so how much closer can you get?

Posted in Bugs, Butterflies, Dragonflies, Frogs, Holiday Snaps | Tagged , | 18 Comments