Or My Favourite Christmas Present IV
April was almost over and I hadn’t squeezed in my solo walking day out. So I packed up and by 7.30am was ready to set off, probably for Wetherlam from the Greenburn side. Just as I was about to leave B appeared (having just woken up) and asked if he could go with me. So – a quick breakfast for him and a swift change of plan. After a short drive we were parked near to the Derby Arms and were walking in bright sunshine, initially along the old B-road where the cats-eyes fascinated B, then on the verge of the busy A590 which has superseded the B-road , but we soon turned off past Catcragg Farm and into the peace and quiet of the woods beyond.
One of the first things we encountered was a number of large holes beneath some trees in a small hollow, which may or may not have been a badger sett. Nearby there were badger latrines – badgers dig neat little scoops in the ground and use those for their droppings – we spotted them in several places through the course of our walk and I’ve seen them before on nearby Whitbarrow: it seems that this area is a hotbed of badger activity.
In the woods the sunshine seemed to have enticed lots of butterflies to show themselves. Through the course of our walk we saw lots of peacocks…
Peacock butterfly on blackthorn flowers.
I think that this might be a female orange-tip – we saw several males later in the day but none would sit still for a photo.
This could be a green-veined white but I’m not at all sure.
We saw speckled woods too, one brimstone and an orange butterfly which fluttered by far too quickly to be identified.
Near to the possible badger sett we came across a hawthorn liberally festooned with …
..an impressive coral like lichen.
And not far from there we found a single cowslip in full display…
..we saw many more cowslips later, but no more which were as tall as this, or on which the flowers were fully open like this. I did wonder whether this might be an oxlip since it lacks the orange spots which cowslips seem to have, but my book says that oxlips are found from the east midlands eastwards, so not up here.
B was having a whale of a time, but was stopping to investigate every stick, hole in the ground or bug that he could find, so progress was slow.
I had been hoping that our route would give us views over the adjacent Nichols Moss where a woodland grows on very flat boggy ground. To that end we took a slight detour down hill towards the farmhouse at Slate Hill, but to no real avail. Never mind – I shall have to come back another time to try the path along the western edge of the moss.
Emerging from the wood we came across Witherslack church.
“Lets go in and have a look Dad.” So we did.
As you can see this painted wood panel is dated 1710 and apparently shows the coat of arms of Queen Anne. The church is a little older…
REVEREND JOHN BARWICK S.T.D. BORN IN THIS HAMLET LATE DEAN OF S. PAUL’S BUILT THIS CHAPPELL A.D. 1664
Barwick was a Royalist in the civil war and was imprisoned in the tower by the Parliament.
Back in the woods again, we saw a wood mouse sitting perfectly still on a rock. It was a way away and this was the closest I managed to an in focus photo…
…my first attempt to use the camera’s digital zoom.
We were climbing to the small hill of Yewbarrow. The open areas and woodland clearings on Yewbarrow are spotted with mounds, some of them large, which are the work of yellow meadow ants.
Where are the ants Dad?
Is the ant carrying an ant larvae or some food stuff? Lots of the ant mounds had half hazelnut shells scattered on them – obviously a lunch spot for someone, but who…?
B had been asking about his own lunch since about 10 and so when we reached the top i gave in and we stopped to eat. It was perfect weather for a picnic. “Like summer” B opined, and he was right. Yewbarrow has a great view of the cliffs of the western side of Whitbarrow, although I didn’t take any photos since it was quite hazy.
Back in the woods, we met this fellow…
Which I’ve subsequently discovered is oieceoptoma thoracicum and which feeds on other insects in dung, carrion and rotting fungi.
B admiring a particularly large meadow ant mound.
More emerging sycamore leaves and flowers (can’t resist the colours).
B found a rotting log with this tiny red mite on it. I can’t find it in my books. As ever suggestions more than welcome.
We dropped out of the woods again towards Hall Garth farm.
A short reascent along the woodland edge and a finish through Latterbarrow nature reserve brought us back to the car and a well-deserved choc-ice for B from the Witherslack community shop.
A Latterbarrow cowslip.