On the Front Foot

Another Thursday evening walking commute home from Carnforth. A day of marked contrasts: TBH and I had breakfasted with an unappetising view of rain bouncing high off the patio beyond our kitchen windows, but by three o’clock the sun was shining and the temperature was mild. 

I opted to follow the road from Millhead bearing in mind my wading experience of the week before. Just beyond the Nib public house, I had a foretaste of what was to come when a sizeable host of sparrows lifted from a hedge and flitted across to the hedgerow on the opposite side of the road. On Warton Crag I followed a path, edged with wild marjoram, which runs parallel to the Crag Road and then turns steeply uphill when the quarry edge is reached. Once I was clear of the trees, it immediately became obvious that I had been sensible when opting not come over the fields from Millhead:

…the path I would have taken otherwise follows a hedgerow, seen here as the prominent dark line across the flooding. Even wetter than the week before!

A flock of long-tailed tits entertained me for a while darting about a holly nearby. Then a distant smudge perched high in a tree sailed away from it’s perch and ghosted down into the trees, resolving itself in the process into the lovely copper tones of a kestrel’s wing feathers. Whilst I was taking these photos a fine rain began to fall, but both the rain, and the rainbow which briefly appeared, were half-hearted affairs which soon left me to enjoy the sunshine undisturbed again.

Gaining the top of a low limestone scarp I was confronted with butterflies on all sides:

 Small tortoiseshell.

 Red admiral.

 Speckled wood with damaged wing.

As ever -  a bit of a poser: these look like male yellow dung flies to me. Golden fur, coarse hairs, red eyes.

But yellow dung flies eat other insects so what are these up to on this flower? Taking a well earned sweet-scented rest?

This dapper chap…

…is a hover-fly, possibly syrphus ribesii.

I crossed an area of the crag where scrub and open areas dominated by bracken alternate. Every time I turned a corner I seemed to manage to disturb a large charm of goldfinches, I think at least 50 birds. Eventually I got above them on the hillside and was able to watch from a distance as they would all move together down onto the bracken, and then apparently for no reason and with no signal, would all rise and sweep back to the treetops together. I took lots of useless photos and whilst this one doesn’t capture the magic, it will serve to remind me of it.

To reach the top of the crag I had to force my way through blackthorn thickets again – next time I really must remember to head further west to pick up the more substantial path from that direction.

I should perhaps have taken more note of the towering wave of cloud massing over the Lake District and hiding the Lakeland fells.

I took a path which dropped down to the knuckled ‘Easter Island Head’ rock and then on to Occupation Road. From there I took the same permission path I had the previous Thursday. There was lots of fungi about on the woodland fringe.

This one one the prize for its vast proportions: the cap was perhaps 7” across.

This won the prize for vivid colour.

I took a little detour to visit ‘The Three Brothers’ – large boulders. This was my favourite: like a pock-marked and enigmatic alien megalith-egg.

Walking along the road toward Summerhouse Hill it seemed that perhaps the weather was changing, with the sky darkening to the north, but a screen of trees prevented me from gaining a clear view. When I reached the crest of the hill I found that a great wing of cloud was folding over the Bay and enveloping the sun.

The sky to the north was very dark and clearly, just a few miles away, was full of rain.

Perhaps I should have been disappointed by the deteriorating weather, but frankly I was enthralled with the drama of it all.

The edge of the cloud was surprisingly clearly demarcated . I watched as the sun disappeared from view.

 

I paused to watch a woodpecker, with it’s fast oscillating flight, zoom from the Cringlebarrow woodlands to a small stand of trees on the hillside.

 Dryad’s Saddle growing on a fire-blackened tree stump.

As I continued to Leighton Moss it seemed appropriate to ask not ‘Will I get wet’?’, but ‘How Soon Will I Get Wet?’

By the bridge on the causeway there were many more fish rising than there had been a week before. This photo…

…contrasts sharply with the bright and sunny shot  I took a week before at around the same time of day. A lone egret high overhead looked impossibly white against the menacing blue-black clouds. By contrast a murmuration of starlings winged low overhead, just clear of the reed-tops – the whistle of their passing  and the whirr of their wings quite breathtakingly loud.

Ironically, when the rain finally arrived it was when the sky had brightened and had begun to clear a little. At first I could almost taste the rain: the faintest dampness on my lips, then a slight coldness on the bare flesh of my forearms, a whisper in the reed beds quickly rising in a gentle crescendo which just as quickly fell away again. The weather held its breath for a moment, gathering for a more concerted assault which duly arrived.

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On the Front Foot

One thought on “On the Front Foot

  1. fatdogwalks says:

    Can sympathise about the goldfinches Mark . Had the same problem last week on the Fife Coastal Path. Did exactly the same as you…pointed camera and hoped. Our photos look about the same (lol). The “slug umbrella” toadstool was a biggy. Came across one of them on Arran at about 600m! Hardy sods.

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