Fairy Steps

This morning we drove to Cockshot Lane for a walk on Beetham Fell. We were into the woods straight away and came across these Aqualigea’s.

It’s quite a way from any gardens so they’ve done well to seed themselves here.

After climbing a very awkward leaning style we were in fields and lush long grass. We played follow-the-leader so that the kids wouldn’t mind walking in single file. Ben found a pheasant feather, which is almost as good to wield as a stick. He had been carrying a stick I but I took it off him after a couple of accidental whacks. Amy decided to eat some clover. She seems to be none the worse for the experience.

Near Hazelslack Farm, the grass was shorter and there were Rock Rose:

In the garden at the farm this peacock was calling loudly…

…but his two female companions seemed completely impervious to his strutting and shouting.

Nearby a pair of Guineafowl fussed and pecked:

The day had started bright, but by now a few dark clouds had appeared and we felt the odd spot of rain. Fortunately, the weather recovered from this point and the rest of the day was sunny, although the wind was quite cold.

From the farm the path is rocky and arrow straight. It climbs steadily until a blue rock face apparently bars any further progress:

But the path seeks out a fault in the rock…

And we pass through with ease:

Remarkably, before Arnside had its own Church, this was the coffin route over which the dead were carried to be interred in Beetham. The rock wall on the right has a rusted hinge fixed to it as if this passage were once gated.

Ahead a second band of rock once again blocks the route. This time the way ahead is more obvious, but more tricky:


Ben on the Fairy Steps

Local legend has it that if you can climb to the top without touching the sides then you are granted a wish. Amy assures me that she made it, and that from now on all of our rain will fall between Monday and Wednesday, guaranteeing dry weekends.

I know that I certainly can’t climb up there without being squeezed between the sides, and with Sam asleep in the back carrier I didn’t think that I could make it at all. I took a path which skirted below the cliff, intending to meet the others in a large clearing where a number of paths meet. When they didn’t initially show up I followed their route back towards them. I was struck by the light on this tree and the dappled light on the path:

I was surprised not to have come across them and so headed back the way I had come, only to find that they were just moments behind me:

On the way back down through the woods to the car, Ben waged war on the many wood ants criss-crossing the path. I was more interested in this low shrub..

…which I thought might be another garden escapee like the Aqualigea, but I find in my books that it is actually Tutsan, from the French toute-saine meaning all healthy. Herbalists laid the leaves over wounds and it does have antiseptic properties. In contrast to the amorous associations that every plant I came across a couple of weeks ago seemed to possess, Tutsan has a reputation for inducing chastity. Apparently, men should drink infusions made from the plant, and women should spread its twigs below their beds.

The leaves when dried are reputed to smell like Ambergris and so it is also called Sweet Amber.

These flowers are not quite open. I wonder if I can get back this way to see them when they are?

Fairy Steps

7 thoughts on “Fairy Steps

  1. Another fantastic trip out.. ha! I would have been stuck fact between those rocks..
    When you have the time Markcan you nip over to my place I have something there waiting for you.. ;o)

  2. What lovely walks you take your children on!
    I will be in Uk the first 3 weeks of June so I’m hoping to take some of those beautiful walks myself, maybe we’ll pass on the path and nver know it!!

  3. Mark,

    I am so amazed how you can make your jaunts feel as if we’re right along with you and your sweet family. It truly gives me so much pleasure – of a vicarious sort, tinged with some of my own memories. Mostly, though, I don’t think I spent nearly enough time in the natural world when the children were young, and I cannot tell you how much I regret that (I who am not otherwise inclined to regret since I know we mostly only do the best we can at the given moment).

    Anyhow, do you know “The Magical Child” by Joseph Chilton Pearce? I have it somewhere, and remember thinking it was a fine guide to the very things you and Angela already seem to know. It may serve as a reinforcer of what you’re doing, though. Is it in Rousseau’s education that all childhood is spent in the wild? Or maybe I’m remembering “The Once and Future King,” the first half of all the magical animal transformations. In any case, you and Angela seem to be engaging in the very best parenting I know of, taking it all out of the books of discipline and returning it (parenting) to the joy of the natural world. I think it was Oscar Wilde who said the way to have a good child is to have a happy one.

    (Something’s up with me lately – I have no wherewithal to check my sources. Hmmm. Please forgive discrepancies.)

    Thank you for these walks. It is for me like being both geographically and historically in a “place” I’ve always longed to be.



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