An ¡Ándale! Walk

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Look at that sky!

When we got back from Underley, I was keen to get out for another walk whilst the daylight and the good weather lasted. I fancied one of my favourite local routes from last year, which takes in Eaves Wood, Hawes Water, Yealand Allotment and Leighton Moss. I usually walk it clockwise, in that order, but it occurred to me that the path ’round the back’ of Leighton Moss might still be flooded, so went widdershins so that I could ask at the visitor centre. Which I did. I was assured that all of the paths around the reserve were open, by a volunteer, well-intentioned I’m sure, who may have been distracted by the fact that he was just about to go on his break.

Pheasants…

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…are daft creatures, apt to stay hidden until you’re almost standing on them and then burst out in a flurry of wings and calls, leaving you every bit as flustered as they clearly are. But this hen pheasant was one of several I saw last Sunday which were apparently completely sanguine about my presence.

The meres (and paths) were partially frozen over still…

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I wondered what had caused these strange undulations and gouges in the ice in front of the public hide…

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There were lots of ducks in evidence. Mainly Shovelers, Teal and Pintails. Judging by the reactions of the proper birders who were about, the Pintails are the most exciting of these.

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I walked around to Lower Hide. The path was pretty wet and the last bit was iced over and decidedly treacherous.

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Teal on the ice.

The onward path from there was barred with a notice saying it was closed because it was flooded. I went past it anyway, as I am wont to do. But not very far. It was flooded. Oh….blast!

Time’s winged chariot was hurtling on, as it is wont to do, the sun was low in the sky…

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…and my plan was thwarted. What to do?

I contemplated the possibilities as I wandered back to the visitor centre.

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Stopping briefly again at the public hide for another gander. There were cygnets…

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And…a willow?…catching the lovely light.

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And Black-headed gulls briefly launching into the air before making shallow dives into the water. I wonder what they were after?

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I’d heard several people discussing the Starling murmuration, and since, slightly ridiculously, its several years since I’ve been at the Moss to witness that, one possibility was to wait to watch that. It seemed to me that the other sensible option would be to head down towards Quaker’s Stang and Quicksand Pool to catch the sunset. I chose the latter. But that meant a stretch of road-walking and a need for speed to find a good vantage point before it was too late.

So, I was in the unusual position of being in a hurry on one of my walks. Which is what made me think of Speedy Gonzales and “¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! ¡Epa! ¡Epa! ¡Epa! Yeehaw!”. (Well that and the fact that ‘An ¡Ándale! Walk’ follows on quite satisfyingly from ‘An Underley Walk’.)

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Quicksand Pool.

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Little Egret.

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Sunset from Quaker’s Stang.

Recent high tides had left a series of pools across the saltmarsh, making a nice foreground as the sun dropped into the Bay.

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By the time I’d crossed the Stang and was back by Quicksand Pool, the sun had gone.

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But again…

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…it was great to be out in the gloaming, enjoying a subtle light-show…

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The land reclamation wall at Jenny Brown’s Point.

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 From near Gibraltar Farm and The Wolfhouse.

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An ¡Ándale! Walk

An Underley Walk

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Today has been a slightly odd Sunday because not only I have not been to Underley Park,  home of the Rams, Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC, but I also haven’t been to any other muddy, wind-blown, rain-lashed venues to watch boys play rugby. But that’s this Sunday, which will have to wait for a post of its own. Last Sunday I was at Underley Park, as I so often am.

Having said that, I haven’t been there as much this season. The boys fixtures used to generally coincide so that they would both be at home or both be away at the same venue. But this year they mostly have different fixtures, so that often one is at home and the other away. Sometimes they are both away. I’m the designated driver for away games, and TBH now does home fixtures and training.

Last Sunday, however, both boys had training. In fact, I think that all of the junior teams had training. As a result, it had been decided that some of the senior players would lead a strength and fitness session. With my ‘little and often’ head on, I decided that this was a great opportunity for me to log a few bonus kilometres, before the actual rugby was underway.

Underley park, the rugby ground, is within Underley Park the grounds of Underley Hall one of Ye Stately Homes of England.

I think that this Hansel and Gretel house may have been a gatehouse to the Hall…

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This is Underley Business Park…

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…once a stable block perhaps? There was also a small pond which was dammed, I wondered whether the other buildings behind this one were a former mill, but I can’t find any history on the web.

You can sort of see the Hall here…

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…partially shielded by trees.

This is the current house…

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…in its heyday.  I’ve shamelessly lifted this from wikipedia and they have it from A Series of Picturesque Views of Seats of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland by Francis Orpen Morris in 1879. There was a hall before this one, and this building has been extended since this painting.

There’s actually a good view of Underley Hall from the rugby club. Here’s a photo I took back in 2014, but never used on the blog…

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And with a zoom…

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It was a very changeable day.

Anyway, back to last Sunday, I followed this Leat…

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..which took me to the banks of the Lune (but with too many trees between me and the river for a good photo) and a little gate which let me back into the rugby club…

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The gate was unexpected, but very handy because I had to meet TBH and A. I had realised that the girls’ team were training and had rung to let A know, because she has decided that she no longer wants to be left out and now she’s going to play rugby too! Quite how we will get all three of them to matches and training in potentially three different locations, I’m not sure.

More photos from 2014. The clubhouse as it was then…

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…it’s been extended since then.

One thing Underley Park definitely has is great views. Here’s B’s team warming up…

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…and here they’re playing, you can see that the weather has changed…

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It’s a very exposed spot. You’ll just have to imagine the cold and the wind.

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Here’s B. Not in a ruck, which is unusual. I realise that I have no other photos of him playing and none at all of Little S. I shall have to rectify that.

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An Underley Walk

Big.

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I wasn’t thinking of the Tom Hanks film. Nor of the outrageously good ‘Big Chief’ by New Orleans maestro Professor Longhair.

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Not even of big children, although they do insist on growing up despite my insistence that they should slow down a bit.

The phrase ‘big kid’ was on my mind a little…

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…usually it’s the children who have to be encouraged to leave the play ground in the caravan park so that we can get on.

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On this occasion, it was the children all piling onto the swing and making it uncomfortable which persuaded TBH that it was time to move.

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This is not a big castle…

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…although I suspect it was once quite an impressive Pele Tower. Nor was our walk particularly huge; we were only going to Arnside and even then, not around the coast, but over the Knott, because we were late setting off (as ever) and wanted to reach Arnside for a late lunch.

The flooding on Silverdale Moss was quite impressive…

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…but that’s not what I had in mind.

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Arnside Tower Farm.

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Panorama from the Knott.

Arnside Knott is certainly not a big hill, although it does boast expansive views.

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Incidentally, this is the boys new favourite tree – The Ladder Tree – which has at least partially supplanted the tree at the top of the post in the boys affections. B actually climbed much higher than this but this photo shows why they call it the ladder tree – because of the handy series of evenly spaced branches which have grown across between the twin trunks.

By the time we reached Arnside it was very late for lunch, but the cafes were all still heaving. We managed to get seats in The Old Bakery (the Pie Shop to us) only to find that they were out of both Sausage Rolls and vegan options. We decamped and ended up in The Big Chip Cafe, adjoining the Fish and Chip Shop. At this point I have to say that I am full of admiration for those people who have the forbearance to photograph their food before they eat it. By rights, there should be a highly appealing photo of a fish supper here, but I’d eaten it before it occurred to me to take a picture. You’ll have to imagine it. Very nice it was too. Ages since I’ve had fish and chips. I can heartily recommend the haddock and chips (and the small portion is quite big enough).

So: The Big Chip Cafe explains the post title. Except….

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…when we left the cafe it was evidently too late to fulfil my design to get a walk around the coast. We took a shorter route which sort of curled up and around the Knott. And the big, late-afternoon, winter skies…

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Were fantastic.

When we reached Eaves Wood, I couldn’t persuade the others to come back up to the Pepper Pot with me.

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Big mistake.

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Even though the sun had long since set, it was a perfect, still evening and the views were superb.

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Bit cold though. I eventually stumbled down through the dark woods and home to listen to the dub version of Black Uhuru’s ‘Right Stuff’, which, due to the curious workings of my grey matter, the Big Chip always puts me in mind of.

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So maybe it was the Big Chip, or perhaps the big skies, or possibly the Black Uhuru song, or probably some combination of them all. Who knows?

Now: Fish supper with – mushy peas, curry sauce, gravy, tartar sauce, ketchup or none of the above?

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Big.

Little and Often: Kickstarting the New Year

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After a flurry of ‘Little and Often’ posts last spring, eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I’ve been increasingly quiet about my fitness drive. I kept it going through the dark days of winter and it was easy to do in the spring and the early summer, but then….I’m not even really sure when exactly it fizzled out, but it did, as these things are wont to do, at least where I’m concerned anyway.

I’m still feeling the benefits though and the New Year feels like an appropriate time to get cracking again, even though I don’t generally make resolutions.

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Part of the impetus is my ‘new’ phone and the MapMyWalk App (I’m sure lots of similar products are available). Last Spring I flirted with the idea of having a crack at a ‘walk 1000 miles in the year’ challenge, this year I’m going to get on and do it. Judging by the plethora of websites which offer to help and encourage you to do just that, I must be one among many.

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These photos were taken on some of the many local rambles which kick-started my progress whilst I was still off work. The weather was a bit mixed, to say the least, there was no flooding, but paths were about as muddy as I can remember seeing them and walking across the fields involved an uncomfortable amount of slithering, squelching and slipping. One day in Eaves Wood I lost my footing completely and fell rather heavily, fortunately without any lasting consequences.

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I tended not to venture particularly far, heading out several times each day rather than aiming for a single long walk. There were numerous trips to the Cove and Eaves Wood as well as a solitary wander around Hawes Water.

On New Year’s Day, whilst A was out for a Penny Walk with her friend, the rest of the family took part in a South Ribble Orienteering Club event. It was a score event, rather than following a course it was just a case of finding as many controls as possible in an hour. Great fun.

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Later in the week, A and B joined me for an Eaves Wood jaunt.

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An aside – this hole in a limestone pavement has been the source of an ongoing family dispute: until recently the top was blocked off with a number of branches. Little S and I contended that it wasn’t that deep a hole – about B’s height we maintained. B was adamant that it was much deeper. He looks chuffed here because, now that the covering branches are gone, it’s evident that he was right.

One day, our friend X-Ray came over and Little S and I took him out for a stroll around Eaves Wood and across The Lots. S was searching for holocrons using his Stars Wars Force Band, so he was happy. (No, I don’t understand what I just wrote either). It was very windy and a bit grim, but as we reached The Pepper Pot on Castlebarrow we had some brief moments of extraordinary light.

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After his walk, X-Ray stopped on for a vegan curry and a few games, including Camel Cup and King Domino. Hopefully, we’ll do something similar again soon.

The tides were high all week. I think that the water was already receding here…

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…and that the sea had actually been into the smelly cave at the Cove.

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These photos were all taken with my phone. It’s not that I’ve abandoned my camera, but with unpredictability of the weather, it was easy just to stick the phone in my back pocket, where I wanted it anyway to clock my mileage, and use it for photos when opportunities arose.

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It’s much less faff uploading the photos too.

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A thousand miles is a fairly arbitrary target, I know, but it gives me something to aim for. To be honest, at the moment I’m just enjoying watching the distance steadily accumulating.

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Some rules: I’m on my feet most of the day at work, but that’s walking I would do anyway. None of that counts. Nor pottering about the house or garden. Walking to the Co-op however, rather than taking the car, is fair game.

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I haven’t decided yet whether any ‘travel’ done under my own steam counts, so that swimming, cycling, skateboarding, canoeing etcetera would add to the total or not.

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Somewhere during the week, we squeezed in visits to the climbing wall in Lancaster and also to see Aladdin at the Dukes with some of our friends from the village (hello Dr R!).

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Another aside: I noticed, down at The Cove, that the seasonal springs, which rise amongst the rocks on the bottom left of the picture below…

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…are now supplemented by, or perhaps have partially moved to, those two large greenish hollows on the bottom right of the photo. You can see that a fairly substantial stream out across the mud has been established. It’s been there a while, I’ve been enjoying the foreground it provides for my sunset photos…

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A low key sunset on a very still evening, which was very restful, but I think I may have said much the same thing only a few posts ago.

Little and Often: Kickstarting the New Year

New Year’s Eve

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A day of many changes. Firstly, the weather, which was changeable, but pretty consistently cold and windy. I was out early, up at the Pepper Pot to catch the sunrise, which was a bit of a non-event because of the massed cloud. The photo above was taken at the Ring O’Beeches when it had begun to brighten a little. I walked a circuit around Eaves Wood and then up Bottom’s Lane, into Burtonwell Wood, to The Green, and down Stankelt Road…

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The Old Post Office.

By the time I was crossing the Lots, the weather had brightened up considerably.

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Grange seen across the Lots and Morecambe Bay.

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The tide was unusually high and, with a very stiff breeze blowing, there were waves and whitecaps which is very rarely the case.

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Another change for us was that we had to say goodbye to our guests…

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…but we did drag them out for one final local stroll, a shorter affair down through the village to the Shore…

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Where the car-park seems to be eroding away now that the foreshore has gone.

TBH and I were out again later, through Clarke’s Lot and down the very muddy path through Fleagarth Wood, around Jenny Brown’s Point in the last of the light. It was cold and dingy and I didn’t take many photos, but I couldn’t resist these very early daffs, flowering on the verge opposite the Wolfhouse even before the year had ended.

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We had hoped to go to the Silverdale Hotel again for the New Year celebrations, but were too late buying tickets, so had a mammoth games session at home instead, which was great fun, and watched the fireworks from London on the telly.

Happy New Year (belatedly).

New Year’s Eve

Beetham Fell and Haverbrack

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River Kent, Whitbarrow and Lakeland Fells from Haverbrack.

A couple of days after our Boxing Day walk we were out for another family ramble. Our kids wanted to take their cousins to the Fairy Steps, so that’s what we did, starting from Sandside.

As you can see it was a clear, sharp sunny day.

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The walk was about the same length as the Boxing Day one, just a bit over five miles, but with more up and down.

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The Fairy Steps on Beetham Fell.

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Arnside Knott and the Kent from Beetham Fell.

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Panorama of the view from Haverbrack (click to see larger version).

One of my Christmas presents was a ‘new’ smartphone. I’ve been playing with the MapMyWalk app which does exactly that, but also provides a wealth of other statistics and graphs, some of which you can see here…

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…maps, stats, graphs, for a numbers geek like me this is Nirvana. It also keeps running totals. Expect more on this theme in later posts.

Beetham Fell and Haverbrack

Exploding Kittens

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The Cove on Boxing Day.

We spent Christmas at home here in Silverdale. My mum and dad and my brother and his family came to stay for the week. We packed a fair bit in: walks, turkey, stuffing, lots of games, trampolining (well, not all of us), a trip to the flicks, turkey pie, a get together with two of our cousins and their families, a take-away curry (no turkey in sight), more games, more walks, far too much chocolate etc.

The very serious expressions here…

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…don’t really convey how funny the card game Exploding Kittens is to play. We also played: Fives-and-Threes, One-armed Pete, Mexican Train (all dominoes), Camel Super Cup, Code Names (picture version), Tension, Caboodle, Pictionary, and probably several others which I have temporarily forgotten.

My own current favourite of the new games we bought each other is Kingdomino which we’ve played quite a bit since Christmas and which, especially with just two players, really makes you think, whilst being easy to understand and quick to play.

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At the Pepper Pot on Christmas Day.

On Boxing Day we had a fairly long walk, about 5 miles, to the cove, across the Lots, through Bottom’s Wood to Woodwell, along the clifftop path to the Green, through Burtonwell Wood to the rift cave, on to The Row and home through Eaves Wood.

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The weather started bright, but rain clouds were building and, whilst we didn’t get wet, it did cloud over. Still, a lovely stroll and there was more to come…

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