Perhaps I should be embarrassed to admit to getting lost on my own home patch, but it made for one of the most enjoyable walks I have had for quite some time.
Mum and Dad were visiting and they both joined me for a wander around Eaves Wood. Saturday had been clear, frosty and bright, but I was stuck indoors catching up on work (or trying to). Sunday had started foggy, then turned briefly bright before clouding over. There was plenty of frost and ice, but in places it was beginning to thaw, although the modest height gain on King William’s Hill made a surprising difference, slushy leaf litter and mud turning to crisp frozen ground.
As ever I was navigating by mental map and improvising a route as fancy dictated. We decided to climb the stile into Middlebarrow Wood and then, on a whim, left the one path I am familiar with there and followed a progressively thinner trod through the woods. I was assuming that the path is made by dog-walkers from the caravan park and that it would take us to the path climbing back into Eaves Wood without having to drop down into the park.
The woods were full of birds, particularly mistle thrushes, but tits too. My mum spotted a solitary tree-creeper. It was very enjoyable to be on a ‘new’ path so close to home. As in many of the higher woodland areas the trees were stunted with many birches pocked with woodpecker drills and some impressive oaks which had clearly been coppiced at some point. Many of the birches were host to polyps…
…this one with an attractively wavy perimeter.
The path eventually emerged onto the open area of limestone pavement shown in the first photograph. I was thrilled. Although I have wandered around in Middlebarrow Wood occasionally, I was sure that I had never found this feature before. We tottered across the limestone, slipping on the icy surface. It was impossible to see where the path might have crossed the rock and hardly surprisingly we failed to find the spot were it picked up on the far side. Gingerly we edged back across to the path and having retreated a little way followed another fork of the vague path. We soon came to a small clearing from which we had partial views to the north and west of Arnside Knot and the Bay. Shortly after that we recrossed the wall into Eaves Wood onto a familiar path not far from Castlebarrow.
Of course we were never truly lost. Heading down hill in any direction would have brought us to a well known path. The only danger we risked was the prospect of a slightly delayed lunch. Back in my study I can easily identify the limestone pavement on the map as a black hatched area on the southern edge of Middlebarrow Plain. I’m surprised a little that I have never sought it out before. But I know that I shall spend some time exploring that area more thoroughly in the future.