Close Bosom-Friend of the Maturing Sun

More mists:

This is from early on Saturday morning. We’re lucky in that our house has a slightly elevated position and when these mists develop, sometimes in the mornings and sometimes in the evenings, we get a view over them to the woods beyond and to Farleton Fell on the horizon.

Saturday developed into a beautiful day, part of which we spent at Brockholes visitor centre on the shores of Windermere. It has a great playground for the kids:

And views of my favourite playgrounds too:

Close Bosom-Friend of the Maturing Sun

Seasons of Mist

On Tuesday, with the boys at a birthday party and their sister dining at her friends’ house, I found myself at the station on the way home from work with a couple of hours to kill. It wasn’t raining, although it had earlier. In the woods with the steady drip from the trees it might as well have been. It was damp and murky however.

I followed the edge of the wetlands at Leighton Moss, and since the vistas were obscured by the gloom, focused on the close at hand.

I’ve posted a few pictures of bindweed flowers, but this one had twined itself up a sapling, almost out of reach, so that I was forced to shoot from an unusual angle. So much the better.

In the hedgerow many leaves are beginning to turn. But adjacent trees of the same species can be in complete contrast to each other – one with leaves edged with brown, the other green and vibrant and apparently unaffected by the proximity of Autumn. Sometimes the contrast could be seen on the same tree. On one Hazel there were…

…leaves in camouflage motley, but also pale bright leaves which looked like they had just emerged from a bud…


From Leighton Moss I took the path that skirts the edge of the Golf Course. It follows the Trough a natural fault line which crosses the area and here manifests itself as a small cutting closed in by rock walls and roofed by the leaves and branches of nearby trees. It’s said that in the time of the Border Rievers the locals hid their livestock here from the marauding Scots. Where the path leaves the Golf Course it passes through a gate into Trowbarrow Nature Reserve, formerly a quarry. Fittingly, the gate resembles a Karribiner…

…which is appropriate, since the quarry is part owned by the BMC (British Mountaineering Council) and is very popular with climbers, and because the the gate is also a memorial to a climber.

Colourful Bramble leaves on the floor of Trowbarrow Quarry

The path from the Quarry took me onto Moss Lane which I followed to Haweswater.

Crab Apples in the woods near Haweswater.

Wildflowers in the meadow by Haweswater.

Turning Horse Chestnut leaf:

From Haweswater a path through Eaves Wood brought me home.


A woodland floor leaf.


Yesterday I made an slight detour on the way home to try again to photograph the Spindle leaves.


This morning it was misty and the grass was silvered with dew. As I walked to the station, the sun was low in the Eastern sky ahead making the mist was glowing orange. Behind the sky was already blue, a blue interrupted only by a luminous three-quarter Moon.

Having caught the earlier train home, I had time to put Sam into the baby carrier and whisk him off for a wander to the Cove and round the Lots. A few tractors were cutting the hay. Sam was delighted. He also enjoyed the lambs and chickens that we saw, whilst I seem to have been looking for spiders a lot recently:

Seasons of Mist

Doddington Hall

Almost next door to Whisby is Doddington Hall. Mum and Dad had won a family entrance ticket in a raffle, so that’s where we went after lunch in the cafe at Whisby.


The inside of the House was interesting, and the kids loved the leaflet that they filled in by searching for things in each room. And they especially enjoyed the bag of goodies reward for when they had finished. But it was the garden that really interested me. In the walled kitchen garden Artichokes were flowering:


And pears and apples had been trained up the walls:

Another Comma on a Dahlia:

A squash:

I’m not sure what this is, but it must be related to Bindweed:

Look at this seedhead Granddad:

Pictures of children climbing trees seems to becoming a recurring theme of this blog:

But who could resist this wonderfully gnarly…

…Sweet Chestnut:

And for those of us who didn’t want to climb, there were always the Cyclamen beneath to admire:

A Tortoiseshell butterfly and a bee on a Sedum:


More tree climbing action:

Old wagons in the stable behind the cafe and farm shop:

We even had time to take a short walk across a field to the pond before we left. A got in on the Nature Photography act. No doubt she’ll soon have her own Blog.

White dead nettle:


Fancy fretwork clouds:

Heading back to the car park:

It was a fabulous day and particularly good to see my Dad making progress after major surgery a few weeks ago.

Doddington Hall

Whisby Nature Park

On Saturday afternoon we drove down to Lincoln to visit my Mum and Dad and on Sunday morning we went to Whisby Nature Park which is a little haven of peace and tranquility just off the A46 ring road. After a cloudy start the sky cleared and the sun shone. It was warm. Briefly, we could remember again what it is like to have a summer.

Strolling the paths together there was so much to see that we were spoiled for choice.

There were toadstools of many different shapes and sizes.

These ones seemed to have had a hem stitched around the bottom of the cap:

I’m afraid that I don’t really know what any of these are. (Any hints welcome)

Perhaps this could be a Shaggy Inkcap?

And this one an Earthball?

I was quite happy with the abundant fungi, but the insect world was putting on a show to entertain us too.

I managed to get several intimate shots of this Comma butterfly. There were whites and Red Admirals and Speckled Woods sunning themselves on an information board. When we arrived, everything was still drenched in dew, which revealed spider’s webs everywhere. Later, near to the Comma, my mum spotted two spiders both eating the same insect caught in a web:

Look at those hairy legs:

Bees were ubiquitous, this one  on a Teasel:

This damselfly was a surprisingly patient model:

It’s stunning isn’t it! Again, I have no idea what sort of damselfly it is, nor what kind of Dragonfly this is:

It was a beautiful morning. A little to my surprise, I’m really relishing the beginning of Autumn, so I’ll finish with a little Autumn colour in these bramble leaves:

Whisby Nature Park

Three Seasons in One Plant

“I’m Nature Girl!” A announced, flourishing her stick as we set off on our Saturday morning walk. We were taking a circuitous route along Bottoms Lane into the village, to the coffee morning, where their mum was helping out. Both ‘Nature Boys’ were in the double buggy, neither looking remotely inclined to do the decent thing and have a nap.

Later I asked her – “How are you doing Nature Girl?”

“I’m good,” she said “but we haven’t seen any Nature yet.”

Well, we can’t have been looking properly, because from that point on I made sure that we found lots of nature.

There were quite a few flowers – Woundwort and Limestone Woundwort, a single Meadowsweet, Bramble flowers and still some fragrant Honeysuckle:

Most prominent though were the Ivy flowers and the attendant hordes of Bees:


The spiders were wise to the possibilities that the ivy provided and we found several webs. In one web a bee was struggling furiously. B was very excited by this and although I managed to dissuade him from touching the bee, he managed to free it by repeatedly twanging the web.

We saw numerous snails, a dragonfly and a couple of quite beautiful green and black bugs. Sadly, for reasons that now elude me, I took my point and snap camera and the photos didn’t come out well.

There were blackberries, haws, elderberries, rose-hips and spiky burrdocks to spot and examine. Several spindle bushes caught our attention, and became firm favourites when we realised that the outer layer couple be peeled away to reveal a bright orange fruit within. Some of the spindle leaves were fading to a pale yellow rimmed with a delicate pink. (I shall have to return for some shots of those).

The sycamore leaves have had black spots on them for a while.

I can imagine zooming in on those slim yellow borders and finding a riotous fractal complexity with all of the colours to match.

Since finding Tutsan on Beetham Fell back in July, I’ve been finding it all over – we must have at least six shrubs in our garden. At Silverdale Green, on the same plant, we found flowers:

Shiny new berries:

And dried up husks with turning leaves:

The best Autumn colour was provided by a garden spilling out over its boundary wall with lemon Wisteria leaves and scarlet Virginia Creeper (I think):

Nature Boy and Nature Girl had by this point decided that their legs were tired and were taking it in turns to join their baby brother in the double buggy.

Three Seasons in One Plant

Town’s Field Sunset

Didn’t manage much of a walk today – my walks to and from the station don’t fit in with my daughter’s swimming lessons. Just after I put her and her brother to bed though I did saunter down to the end of the drive, lean on the dry-stone wall of Town’s Field and drink in the aftermath of the sunset.

My ‘new’ camera had finally returned from Olympus and seems to be in full working order again. It was nice to have this opportunity to play with it.

I’m quite pleased with the results, although they are not a patch on the real thing.

Town’s Field Sunset

Incoming Inclemency

As the train pulled out of Lancaster station on Tuesday afternoon and we crossed Carlisle Bridge, I looked out over the Lune, swollen by the high tide, across the Morecambe skyline to see a leaden sky over the Bay, slate grey verging on black. It seemed likely that we were in for an awful lot of weather before too long.

It hadn’t quite arrived when I embarked from the train and I crossed the golf course in strangely bright conditions given that the sky ahead was one huge livid bruise. I reached the Row and was walking past Bank Well when the trees on the far side of the pond suddenly hissed viciously as the rain hit them. I had a few seconds to listen to the surprising volume of the sound, before large wet cold drops were bouncing off me too. I was soaked in seconds.

There was lightening and thunder too. Back at the end of July I had a couple of nights down near Oxford and sat outside in a much more dramatic storm, but then the rain held off for quite some time whilst the the light show was in full swing. On this occasion it was the ferocity of the rain that was most striking. In the few minutes that it took for me to reach the lane that runs past the house, it had become a stream.

When I stumbled into the house, my clothes all clinging to me, my boots full of water, calling for a towel – the kids were delighted, they thought that it was hilarious. Now they’re waiting for a repeat performance.

It’s all too easy to persuade yourself to stay in the warm and dry when the weather is inclement, but some of my favourite memories of days in the outdoors are of fighting the elements and revelling in foul weather. Scotland in winter, crampons on hard snow, fighting the wind for breath and stooping to cower and protect our heads and faces every time a hail shower hit. A lone walker we met described the showers as ‘incoming spite’. Walking down to Torla in the Pyrenees in a thunder storm, on a path that had become a swiftly flowing stream, the thick brown water rumbling rocks down the hill. Sitting on Bowfell in the darkness with a grandstand view of a thunderstorm lighting up the cloudscape in the eastern sky.


This morning as I walked to the station, we seemed to be directly below the edge of a change in the weather. To the east a duvet of mackerel sky:

Clearing away to leave blue skies in the west:

With an indistinct demarcation in  between:

A friend at work tells me that in the last week of August the weather station at Lancaster University recorded a total of 25 minutes of sunshine. The only surprise there is that there was any at all. September has brought a succession of showery days with many more sunny intervals.

We’ve had rainbows almost every day. I haven’t had my camera to hand for the best and brightest of them but I did catch this one this afternoon:

(It is there if you look closely enough.)

Incoming Inclemency

Eskdale Stag Weekend II – Scafell

A magnificent day. We followed the Esk valley. The river was running high, but not in spate.

Lingcove Beck Bridge

Over twenty years ago I came here and saw the river when it was in spate, brown and huge, an elemental force. The noise was tremendous.

The path climbs above the gorge and its waterfalls, with sometimes a fairly precipitous view down into the Esk.


We skirted Great Moss to Sampson Stones:

Before climbing beside Cam Spout:

Looking back at Great Moss and the infant Esk:

As we continued to follow the stream, the slopes on our right looked to be an unpromising mass of wet greasy slabs with no obvious route through them. In fact the path climbs in a small steep gully, full of loose scree and a fast flowing stream. I was in Trail Shoes and once again had wet feet all day, but walking in the stream here was the only time that my feet felt cold. (And no trench foot, fortunately).

The final steep pull from Foxes Tarn was quite a challenge for me, but pretty soon we were on the summit.

We were in the cloud, but brief gaps appeared giving tantalising views of the coast and the Irish Sea.  For a few moments through a rent in the clouds we had a view out across a cloudscape below us. As we descended the cloud began to lift and break. Views opened up of Burnmoor Tarn and Wastwater, the Coniston Fells and even the distant Isle of Man.

Two views of Burnmoor Tarn and the Irish Sea

Approaching Slightside:

Looking over Harter Fell towards the Duddon Estuary and Morecambe Bay. The lush green of Eskdale still along way away:

In the latter part of our descent we even had a sunny half hour, although there was still some very leaden clouds around:

And clearly still some rain, although not falling on us:

I’m still stiff two days later, but I’m so pleased to have had an opportunity to get out for a proper days walking. It was all the sweeter, given that this time last year climbing the stairs at work, or keeping up with toddlers on a walk into the village were tough going for me.

Bring on the next iron infusion.

Eskdale Stag Weekend II – Scafell

Eskdale Stag Weekend I

It has become something of a tradition amongst my walking friends that our Stag do’s take place in the Lake District and involve a pub-crawl with a twist – a long walk between pubs. This weekend with just that in mind we were planning to camp at Fisherground in Eskdale. However, with gales and torrential rain forecast, M – the stag – managed to book us all into the Woolpack Inn. As it turned out this was even better management than we originally realised because the campsite seemed to be closed – probably waterlogged.

Our itinerary for the day was (in brief) – along the river Esk to Dalegarth station – tea and cake –  Laal Ratty narrow gauge steam train to the mouth of the river at Raven glass – two pubs in Ravenglass (lunch and beer) – along the Esk estuary and under the Eskmeals viaduct – through the riverside woods in the grounds of Muncaster castle – up, along and over Muncaster fell – a pint in the George at Eskdake Green – along the river to Boot – food in the Brook House – more beer in the Boot Inn – back to the Woolpack for a final round before bed.

Just below the summit of Muncaster Fell, sheltering from a very strong wind.

The weather wasn’t particularly kind, but it was better than we expected and it didn’t rain all of the time. We got some views from Muncaster Fell, another tiny hill (231m) to add to this year’s list. We probably walked about 10 miles in total, although the walking didn’t begin in earnest until two o’clock when we left Ravenglass.

Everywhere was sodden. We were often walking in deep mud and/or water. What a good idea it was then to decide to walk in sandals.

Admittedly my boots do leak quite badly, but in this kind of slurry they would definitely have been a better bet. I’m not sure that my sandals will ever recover. It was a great relief shortly after I took this photo to have to ford a stream, where my feet and legs got a very thorough wash. I have every sympathy with the Roman legionnaires who were stationed up the valley at Hardknott fort, and who left the remains of a bath house at Ravenglass.

Despite the mud, rain and my crazy choice of footwear, it was a great day’s walk. Sunday was better still – of which, more later.

Eskdale Stag Weekend I