Lost Again

Asked about how we should continue our walk, A wanted to visit ‘the limestone on the way back from Arnside‘. She was thinking of our weekend walk last summer. It occurred to me that I could fulfil that wish and also revisit the large area of limestone pavement on Middlebarrow Plain which I ‘found’ with my parents some time ago. We came at the pavement from a different direction this time. We found it easily enough, but once again couldn’t find a path on the far side, even though I knew that one was there from my last visit. Eventually we found a thin trod, probably a deer track – we briefly saw the bobbing white flashes of departing roe deer rumps. The girls were convinced that we were lost. R was fiddling with his GPS, ostensibly for geocaching purposes, but I think that his trust in my navigation may have been dinted too. Eventually, we stumbled upon a more convincing path and were soon heading back uphill into Eaves Wood.

Spring has sprung and yew trees were flowering…

new leaves were emerging…

…and whilst I’m on the subject of leaves, this is my best image yet of leaves with squiggles on, although this time it’s a bramble leaf and not honeysuckle…

Any ideas about the perpetrator which left this evidence?

A has been studying Victorian childhood at school and took it upon herself to experience child labour (I kid you not) by carrying an expanding pile of logs…

She did elect to put them down briefly to climb on a low (but not low enough in my view) branch of one of the beeches in the Ring of Beeches in Eaves Wood, which she remembered climbing on with her Aunt and Uncle last summer.

 

In the same spot, blue flowers which I don’t recognise…

…any ideas?

In the hedgerow alongside the Potter’s field path…

…hawthorn leaves emerging. In ‘Food for Free’ Richard Mabey says that you can eat them. And he’s right, they’re quite palatable. I suppose I should have foisted some on A so that she could experience hunter gatherer childhood.

At home with the logs, and a boulder for some reason.

Lost Again

March Many Weathers

True to form, March has brought windy and changeable weather. Snow had been forecast for this weekend, but in the event we had one very sharp frost and a couple of cold bright spring days. Yesterday afternoon, A and I, accompanied by A’s friend S and her Dad R, went for a wander around Eaves Wood. Initially, we headed for the Pepper Pot, with the girls confidently in charge of navigation. TBH and the boys were all at home catching up on sleep, and without baby S along examining every rock and twig on the path we walked at a lively pace, something which I clearly need more practise at.

It was a very clear day and the views from Castlebarrow were good.

Ingleborough isn’t always easy to pick out over the treetops.

Across the bay to the south, beyond Heysham power station, Blackpool Tower’s homage to Eiffel rises high above the Lancashire coast.

But the most dramatic view was provided by the cloud and the light out over the sea.

The girls had spent most of the morning together perched in a tree, but clearly hadn’t run out of topics of conversation – we could follow their progress as they disappeared in and out of the trees around the top by their incessant nattering.

R showed us the geocache stashed in a gryke near the Pepper Pot. The next part of our walk was in part an effort to find a suitable location for a new geocache.

March Many Weathers

The God of Small Things

A very hairy moss on a wall on Humphrey Head

You could spend a lifetime studying a hedgerow or a pond.

Roger Deakin Notes from Walnut Tree Farm

A man looking at reality brings his own limitations to the world. If he has strength and energy of mind the tide pool stretches both ways, digs back to electrons and leaps space into the universe and fights out of the moment into non-conceptual time. Then ecology has a synonym which is ALL.

John Steinbeck from Sea of Cortez: a Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research

On one of our walks X-Ray was extolling the virtues of Steinbeck, a writer who has completely eluded my radar. By chance I picked up Cannery Row from readitswapit and loved it. I shall see X-Ray at the weekend. Must tell him.

The God of Small Things

Not Peak-Bagging II

On Sunday morning we drove down to Inverarnan just north of Loch Lomond. We had intended to park in Glen Falloch as near as possible to the start of a hydro track, but couldn’t find anywhere to stick three cars. Some hasty route revision followed, and we hit upon the idea of following the Allt Arnan uphill. The going wasn’t particularly easy – more frogs attested to the generally bogginess, and where the stream flowed under the railway we had to scramble in the streambed on very greasy rocks, but the stream did add some interest to the climb. Frequent drizzly showers tested the functionality of my new waterproofs. When we hit the track which we had originally intended to climb, the sun briefly appeared. Uncle Fester took an unscheduled detour towards the Lairig Arnan and when he realised and headed back to join us, announced that he and his dodgy knees would be heading back to the warm and dry pub in Inverarnan. From this point the climb steepened considerably and route finding became a puzzle as we picked our way through the crags.

 

Despite the gradient, I found a nice snail’s pace plod and was able to make steady progress uphill. I lost the others as I contoured westward looking for easier angles and they stopped for some lunch (I was still weighed down with another full breakfast).

Showers still threatened, but occasionally there were even patches of blue sky…

…and partial views of Loch Lomond…

Everything went well until, nearing the summit of Troisgeach, I crested the slope onto a more exposed part of the ridge and was instantly buffeted by very powerful winds. It had been windy in the night, and breezy at times as we climbed, but nothing had prepared me for this. I was finding forward progress difficult. I couldn’t find the others. The terrain was such that they could have been nearby, or turned back without seeing me. Then again, they might have already gone on to our agreed aim of the Corbett Meall an Fhudair. I carried on a little further by dropping slightly back down the hillside out of the wind and contouring, but eventually decided that this was no fun and that I would turn back. Almost immediately I saw two figures below me on the ridge. They looked like Mogs and the Shandy Sherpa – it seemed logical to assume that they had indeed turned back and missed me, whilst the Adopted Yorkshire Man and Geordie Munro – ardent peak baggers – had somehow struggled on. I didn’t have to descend far to be back out of the wind and I enjoyed the craggy hillside again on the way down, although finding a route through the crags was more difficult going down than it had been on the way up.

I followed the track, occasionally stopping to watch the amorous frogs in the track side ditches or to admire rainbows up the valley.

I was saved the long walk down the track and then the main road to Inverarnan by an engineer who was working on a pipeline project in Gleann nan Caorann and who stopped to pick me up.

The Adopted Yorkshire Man and Geordie Munro were already in the car, having hitched a lift from the head of the valley after succesfully ticking-off Meall an Fhudair.

Back in Inverarnan the weather felt pleasantly spring like – it was hard to believe just how ferocious the wind had been up on the hill.

Not Peak-Bagging II

Not Peak-Bagging I

River Fillan

Just back after a two day pass out to do some walking and catch up with some old friends. So how many peaks did I ‘bag’? Well….none.

We were based, for the fourth year running, at the Ben More Lodge. After a few sunny days last week, Saturday morning was bright and clear and full of promise. By the time we had taken a hefty ballast of fried pork for breakfast however, the cloud had moved in, obscuring both the blue sky and the tops of the surrounding mountains. We drove a little further north and parked in Strath Fillan. As we crossed the river Fillan at White Bridge, a dipper skimmed low across the water.

A track took us to the Allt Gleann Auchreoch, where a decrepit bridge, not marked on my map, led us across the river…

…for a confab with the map…

Rather unusually, we were in an area of native woodland, with lots of Scots Pines, which made for very pleasant walking, although it was very soggy underfoot.

We climbed past the skeletal remnants of a dead tree, still towering over the birches surrounding it…

And were soon out of the woods and climbing beside the waterfalls of the Allt Coire Dubhchraig…

When we crested the rise at the top of the falls we were in the clouds. The boggy path we were following struck westward towards the broad northern shoulder of Beinn Dubhcraig. I was finding the going a little tough, and having left the stream and the woods and entered the clouds, found the prospect of slogging the rest of the way up a featureless hillside pretty unappetising. So I didn’t. I rationalised the decision by making the excuse that I’ve climbed these hills before. Uncle Fester is usually on the look out for company for a tactical withdrawal and has a dicky knee at the moment, so leaving the rest to carry-on we turned tail and after a short descent picked up a forest track dropping down into Gleann Auchreoch.

Naturally, Sod’s law was in full effect and by the time we stopped on a rocky knoll for a breezy lunch, it was clear that the cloud was beginning to lift. Soon after all the tops were clear, including Beinn Dubhcraig and Ben Oss where our friends would now be enjoying panoramic views. We found a sheltered, sunny spot on a bridge in the forestry and a photo stop…

Cloud clearing from Beinn Dorain and Beinn Odhar

…became a sit down, then a lie down, then a nap. (Uncle Fester reports that he was only resting his eyes, but I was definitely snoring – I kept waking myself up)

In fact we had a very pleasant afternoon exploring the woodland around the rivers Fillan and Cononish, spotting frogs in path side pools and ditches and taking advantage of the sunshine to take lots of photos.

Hillside Birches

 

Scots Pines

Ben More, Stob Binnein and Cruach Ardrain

White Bridge and the River Fillan

One of the sculptures in the Tyndrum Community Forest

Backlit birch bark

Coltsfoot by the Car Park

Not Peak-Bagging I

A Shrine and a Mine?

A late afternoon stroll to the Cove and across the Lots for all the family. Our walk to the Cove is enlivened by the spectacle of two teenage girls trying rather half-heartedly to get a halter onto a reluctant small pony. The sun is shining and a grassy bank is yellow with daffodils and primroses. In a garden on Cove Road…

Propped near the base of the cliffs at the cove, with offerings of broken glass, a simple shrine to the spirits of the bay?

B’s friend T is here with his mum and they play together in the mud/sand for a while.

A decides to investigate the odd hollow in the cliffs…

This is reputedly a haematite mine dating back to Roman times. From within we get a worms eye view of the cliff-top trees…

The presence of the haematite is betrayed by the red hue of the limestone…

…of the walls of the mine, and in some of the shingle on the beach…

A Shrine and a Mine?

Blackbird Bathing

I’ve spent a lot of time at home of late, and have really enjoyed the birds in the garden – robins, chaffinchs, blue tits, great tits, goldfinches, goldcrests, bullfinches, coal tits….

The bird bath has been more busy than usual with a collared dove making a few visits and a brief dip by a bullfinch, but it’s blackbirds which display the most gusto and enjoyment when bathing there.

I see this bird in our garden regularly, at least I assume that it’s the same bird I keep seeing because of the distinctive white marks on his neck…

Blackbird Bathing