Arnside Tower and Arnside Knott

Arnside Tower

Arnside Tower

Now thoroughly behind with blogging due to pressures of work: here’s an overdue instalment of our Easter Adventures. The boys were off playing football (good for them) and A had a friend staying over. The sun was shining, so we decided to tick off another couple of locations on our list of 40 Places worth visiting locally.

On Saul's Drive 

It was cooler than it had been a couple of days before, but warmer than I had anticipated.

Approaching the trig pillar 

Approaching the trig point.

At the top 

There was a real haze and not much in the way of views from the Knott – a real contrast with my previous visit just a couple of weeks before.

What happened to the view? 

What with it being warmer, we most of us ended up carrying coats, gloves and hat rather than wearing them. I dropped my hat and had to leave the others to head home whilst I retraced our steps.

The 'lost' hat

Somebody had hung my hat from a prominent yew branch, presumably to make the place look neat and tidy.

More stuff to follow. Sometime.

Arnside Tower and Arnside Knott

Sharp’s Lot Picnic + Eat Your Greens II

Throwing a frisby

And then – it was warm! Only for a day, but what a boon. We walked the short distance to Sharp’s Lot, not a new novel by Bernard Cornwell, but along with Pointer Wood and Clarke’s Lot, a small National Trust property on the outskirts of the village. We chucked a Frisbee around and picnicked on hotdogs, with sausages heated up over the trusty Bushbuddy…

Heating hotdog sausages 

….which for some reason I can’t quite fathom we got going straight off this time and which really roared, warming the sausages and boiling a couple of kettles full of hot water in no time.

TBH and A decided to head home after our picnic, but the boys were content to play with sticks and poke about under boulders…

Playing with sticks 

So, this being a sheltered spot where things often seem to appear earlier than they do elsewhere, I had a wander with my camera, seeking out some signs of our delayed spring…

Hazel catkin 

Hazel Catkin (male flower)

Female hazel flower 

Female hazel flower.

Barren strawberry 

Barren strawberry.

New hawthorn leaves 

New hawthorn leaves.

More lichen 

More lichen.

An abundance of primroses 

In a dip in the limestone pavement in Pointer Wood, there seems to be the perfect environment for primroses – they really thrive here.

An abundance of primroses II 

There’s always something new and/or odd to look at when we’re out locally, on this occasion it was this bracket fungus on a broken branch…

Bracket fungus 

Bracket fungus II 

Bracket fungus III 

On our outings this Easter we’ve been foraging for ramson leaves. Non more enthusiastically then little S, who loves their garlicky tang.

Gathering ramsons 

I’ve twice made this soup with them:

Serves 6

  • 1 onion
  • 1 leek
  • 3 average potatoes
  • A dash of vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 l of chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150 ml cream
  • 50 ml white wine
  • 100 -150 g of ramson leaves
  • Salt and white pepper

1) Slice onion, leek and dice potatoes. The size doesn’t matter because it will be blended in the end. Chop the ramson leaves.

2) Sweat onion and leek in oil and butter mixture in the pot. Add potatoes, bay leaf and hot stock. Keep cooking at moderate heat.

3) When potatoes are cooked and soft, add cream, wine and ramson. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to gentle boil, turn down the heat and blend everything in blender.

4) Serve hot with toasted white bread or baguette.

This recipe is from Picante Cooking.

Actually, I left out the cream and the butter. And I served it with homemade bread, since I’ve discovered this holiday that making bread, even without a bread-maker, is both very easy and very satisfying to do, and what’s more, that if I make it, the kids will eat wholemeal bread. Having flour from Little Salkeld Mill, which one of our local Booths now stocks, probably helps too. (more about Little Salkeld Watermill  and there wares here)

A fierce briar

Sharp’s Lot Picnic + Eat Your Greens II

Dow Crag from Torver

The MWIS forecast was predicting the best chance of cloud free summits in the South and West. I was fancying a Birkett bagging trip, but also felt drawn to the Coniston Fells, where I’ve ticked off all of the higher summits (barring Black Sails which lies just west of Wetherlam). But, I had a cunning plan: park at Torver and climb Dow Crag via the ridge south-west of the Walna Scar road, where there were 4 lower ticks waiting for me.

I parked in the church car-park in Torver, where they ask for a £2 donation, far less than the robbery which goes on elsewhere. I was walking by about 8.30. The first field I crossed seemed absolutely saturated, but fortunately was well frozen. And the large snowdrift alongside the drystone wall was firm and a pleasure to walk on.

I climbed up through the conifers of High Torver Park and then up to an easing of the gradient at Bull Haw Moss, which was predictably boggy, but again relatively easy to cross since it was mostly frozen hard.

Dow Crag Group

This photo, looking across Bull Haw Moss perfectly catches my ridge walk, starting from the little pimple just peeking into the extreme left of the skyline and finishing at Goat’s Hause on the right-hand side.

Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man 

Coniston Old Man was imposing from here and I was planning to include that in my walk too. Don’t be fooled by the blue skies and sunshine: the by now familiar easterly was howling through, not just cold, but buffeting too.

As I approached Ashgill Quarry, I left the excellent path to head across the grassy slopes of Bleaberry Haws.

Ashgill Quarry workings and Coniston Old Man 

I wasn’t heading for the summit of Bleaberry Haws itself however, but it’s neighbour High Pike Haws, the little pimple seen in the first photo, and below….

High Pike Haw 

The OS map has a couple of features on Bleaberry Haws marked out in the Gothic script which suggests something of great antiquity. Somehow I missed the Enclosure, but found this….

Cairn on Bleaberry Haws and High Pike Haws 

,,,which I assume is what is marked on the map as a Cairn. A Ring Cairn? Subsequent internet research suggests that there is also a small stone circle on Bleaberry Haws which isn’t marked on the OS map. I shall have to come back one balmy summer evening and have a proper explore, take a closer look at both Bleaberry Haws and also Ashgill quarry.

In the dip between Bleaberry Haws and High Pike Haw, a well compacted snowdrift was sculpted into ridges and hollows. By the wind?

Sculpted Snow 

From High Pike Haw I followed my nose uphill toward White Maiden. More by luck than judgement, I found a route which followed a slight dip alongside a line of crags.

The edge of the dip was drifted deep and the crags often festooned with ice….

Snow drift and crag I 

Snow drift and crag II 

One particular ice formation stood out from quite some distance…

Boulder and ice formation 

Here it is in all it’s glory. I estimate that it was around 15’ high.

Substantial ice formation 

Reaching the summit of White Maiden, the views really opened out.

Black Combe, Whitfell, Caw in the foreground 

Black Combe and Whitfell at the back, Caw in the foreground.

Looking towards Upper Eskdale and the surrounding fells from White Maiden 

The high fells around Upper Eskdale.

The 'ridge' to White Pike 

Along the ‘ridge’ to White Pike, my next objective.

Up here on the tops the wind was really something. The walk to White Pike, pretty much with the wind, was OK, but turning back to head for Walna Scar with the wind into my face was rough going. It was the kind of wind which has you turning your head to snatch a breath and which you know will throw you over when you’re off balance. I met another walker, my first of the day, who I’d watched descending the ridge from Buck Pike. He said he’d intended to continue to Coniston Old Man but the wind had changed his mind for him.

At the top of the Walna Scar road, where the wind seemed particularly ferocious, I was having similar misgivings. The climb up to Brown Pike afforded some degree of shelter however.

Buck Pike 

Buck Pike from Brown Pike.

The walk along the ridge from Brown Pike to the summit of Dow Crag was enlivened by the variability of the gusts. At times the wind was howling up the cliffs on my right and seemingly continuing up and over and missing me. At other times I was buffeted and rocked by the gale. The snow was very firm and I probably should have stopped to put on the microspikes that I’d bought myself just a few days before for exactly this eventuality. On one particularly icy section a gust caught me and I fell, but fortunately only my pride was hurt.

Brown Pike and Blind Tarn 

Looking back to Brown Pike and frozen Blind Tarn. Morecambe Bay beyond.

Coniston Old Man from near Goat's Hause 

Coniston Old Man from the descent from Dow Crag.

Goat's Water and Dow Crag from Goat's Hause 

Dow Crag and Goat’s Water from Goat’s Hause.

By the time I reached Goat Hause (which was very busy) I’d made up my mind: I’d had enough of fighting the wind and Coniston Old Man would have to wait for another day.

Dow Crag from across Goat's Water 

All that remained then was a steady ramble down past Goat’s Water and then beside Torver Beck, past the imposing Banishead Quarry….

Banishead Quarry 

Torver Beck and quarry spoil heaps

And back to Torver.

Dow Crag from Torver Map

A very fine outing.

Dow Crag from Torver

Far Arnside, White Creek and The River Kent (41, 27, 20)

Two spaniels on the Far Arnside shingle 

A sociable walk this one, organised by a friend from the village. Perhaps she was thinking of the time we did this same walk together once before, which was, let me see….two years ago! I can hardly believe that it’s that long ago. This was a more modest affair with less human participants, but a superabundance of dogs, especially spaniels. Most of the children seemed to be assigned to a dog and given a lead to be dragged by. Initially, poor B didn’t have his own canine companion and was looking very glum. He didn’t have to wait long however before his turn came and I’ve rarely seen him grin so broadly. (He’s been offered the loan of a dog to take for a walk whenever he wants, before anybody starts lobbying on his behalf for me to drop my anti-mutt stance.)

It was a beautiful day, and almost warm, if you could get out of the biting easterly wind.

Daffs 

Far Arnside is a wonderful spot. It has excellent fossils in the rocks by the shore and, at this time of year, woods full of daffodils.

Whilst the rest of the party followed the shore, I took to the cliff path (this being a sociable walk and me being my usual sociable self). In my defence, I was the only adult male present, the kids were charging around after the dogs shouting and the mums were talking about…well, I don’t know what they were talking about obviously, as I was up on the cliff, but I’m willing to bet that they weren’t debating the likely outcome of the Manchester derby or trying to pick a winner for the Grand National, or mulling over what would make their personal top ten dub reggae tracks.

(Incidentally, my inability to ‘do ‘ normal conversation is a great frustration to TBH. She’s given up asking how my old friends are after I’ve met up with them for a walk or a weekend, since she was rarely duped by my shrugged: “Umm, seemed OK?” standard answer. “You didn’t ask, did you? What did you talk about?” Which is a daft question surely: football, mountains, music, motorway service stations, A roads, anecdote bingo…..Anything unimportant really. Ask somebody how they are and they might actually tell you. In great detail. You might need to think of an appropriate response. Minefield!)

He and my father had entered into one of those close (the adjective is excessive) English friendships that begin by excluding confidences and very soon dispense with dialog.

from Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by J.L.Borges

The cliff path 

In the woods, out of that wind, despite the lack of leaves it felt (whisper it) almost spring-like.

In the trees 

Somewhere in the vicinity of Park Point I dropped down to the beach, which was intricately patterned with waders footprints….

Bird footprints 

The walk along the sands here from Park Point to Arnside Point must be the finest ⅓ of a mile in the district.

Grange and Hampsfell 

It’s possible to carry on across the sands to Blackstone Point, thus avoiding the muddy salt-marsh, but we were looking for a sheltered picnic spot and headed for the shingle beach at White Creek.

I was given a Bushbuddy stove several years ago and haven’t really got around to using it as much as I would have liked. But, for picnics with the kids it seems ideal, especially given that they have inherited their mum’s pyromania. (TBH is a Chemistry teacher, which is to say, a would be arsonist channelling their urges in socially acceptable lithium and Bunsen burner fireworks.) And for once, after the prolonged dry spell we’d been having, there ought to be plenty of suitable fuel around too.

Bushbuddy action 

In the event, it took an awful lot of matches and failed attempts before we got the thing going very successfully, but the tea and hot blackcurrant were highly appreciated when we finally had them ready.

On the bank of the Kent 

From Blackstone Point we followed the River Kent into Arnside. It’s a very pleasant walk, with lovely views.

On the bank of the Kent II 

At New Barns we had a momentary drama when we lost Pippin, one of the assembled crew of spaniels, but the kids finally found that she had diverted into Grubbins wood, presumably on the trail of an interesting scent.

When we reached Arnside Prom, the kids were clamouring for ice creams. Meanwhile the mums….

Window shopping

…were captivated. Captions on a postcard please.

We walked a little further, hoping to enjoy chips on the prom, only to find that we were too late (or too early) and the Big Chip Cafe was closed. Not to worry, we found an admirable substitute in the Heron Cafe next door.

By this point many of the kids had had enough. Phone calls were made, lifts arrived. Only B wanted to continue. He and I were joined, for a return walk along Black Dyke and through Eaves Wood by one of the other Dads, who had brought a car to give lifts and then found himself without a seat in the car for the return journey. We talked about vegetarianism, work, lacto-intolerance, keeping chickens, parenthood…dangerously close to a proper conversation in fact.

Far Arnside, White Creek and The River Kent (41, 27, 20)

Warton Crag and the Three Brothers (2 and 36)

Warton Crag Quarry Car park

Another cold and bright day, just over a week ago now. (I’m getting quite behind, which is good: it’s because we’re getting out together a lot.) We decided to head for Warton Crag. The boys and I had been here just a week before, but fortunately the hill is criss-crossed by paths and it was very easy to ring the changes. We followed a path out of the north side of the large quarry car park and then turned up the hill. I was struck by the profusion and variety of the lichen adorning the scrub here…

Lichen I 

Lichen III 

Lichen IV 

Lichen V 

Very quickly, views opened up to the North….

Coniston Fells from Warton Crag 

Coniston Fells from Warton Crag.

A little further up the slope we met a family indulging in the traditional Easter pastime of egg-rolling. It’s not something I’ve ever tried, but maybe next year…?

There’s been a great deal of moaning, and I’m as guilty as the next man, about our apparent perpetual winter, but I have to say that the snow on the surrounding hills really enhances the view. As well as the Lakeland Fells to the North, we had grandstand views of the Forest of Bowland to the South and in the East the distant sentinel of Ingleborough.

Distant Ingleborough from Warton Crag 

…which is distinctive from just about any direction….

Ingleborough (telephoto) 

As I say, there are numerous routes to the top of the crag, and all of them have some points of interest along the way, like a limestone crag to scale for instance….

A and S investigate a limestone crag 

Fortunately, there’s an easy way up just a few yards along the crag from here.

View from near the summit of Warton Crag 

Like all the local hills, Warton Crag is of very modest elevation and we were soon at the top.

By the trig pillar 

Where alongside the trig pillar stands a replica beacon erected, I believe, in 1988 to commemorate the defeat (by the weather) of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Beacon 

From the top we dived into the woods…

The way through the woods 

Heading for The Three Brothers….

Three Brothers 

…which were a big hit with the kids who saw them as an excellent opportunity to do a little bouldering.

The Three Brothers are a little off the beaten track and take a bit of seeking out. You’ll rarely encounter other walkers in this area. We did meet two groups of roe deer however, first a group of three and then, shortly after, another pair.

Roe deer bottoms

From that point on we were winding our way through the woods back towards the car. Passing a few more interesting features along the way….

Easter Island Heads 

…including a substantial area of gooseberry bushes which I have mentally noted as a destination for a foraging trip in the summer.

Descending through the trees

Warton Crag and the Three Brothers (2 and 36)

17 – Hawes Water

Early light on Oaks, Eaves Wood behind.

An early peek through the curtains revealed a pale blue sky and a hard frost. The rest of the house was quiet, everyone else asleep, so I crept out into the sun’s first rays for an early constitutional.

Oak tree silhouette 

Barring a low line of cloud in the east, the sky was completely clear. The frost was melting fast.

Hawes Water 

I took one of our most frequently repeated routes: across the fields to The Row, down Moss Lane to Hawes Water, around the lake and back through Eaves Wood.

With constant easterlies and unseasonably cold temperatures, it’s been hard at times to realise that spring is upon us. But in Eaves Wood the day before we had watched mixed flocks of tits (including long-tailed tits – my favourites) bouncing around in the treetops.

Now I found another reminder – two or three emerging spikes of toothwort flowers, tiny but unmistakable.

Toothwort 

I stopped in the woods two watch two crows, sitting on branches cawing softly to each other. Something in their behaviour struck me as odd. Then a buzzard dropped from a branch where it had been perched unnoticed by me. The crows followed. They didn’t seem to be mobbing or harassing the bird of prey, as they sometimes do. They landed again close by, all in adjacent trees. I watched all three for some time, flitting back and forth through the trees. When they landed to perch, I often lost sight of the buzzard, but never the crows. There was no apparent aggression in the behaviour of any of the birds. It was like a patient game of cat and mouse. Odd.

Sunlight on Hawes Water 

When I emerged from the woods the weather was totally transformed. I could still see a fringe of blue out to the west, but the rest of the sky has filled with ominous dark clouds. It had become rather gloomy after the brightness of earlier. There were a few flakes of snow in the air.

Close to home my ear was attracted by a particular bird song. I’ve been making some effort to learn some birdsongs and have made a little progress. This song had some of the trill of a chaffinch and a rasp not unlike a greenfinch, but was not either of those birds I thought. Probably a finch though. I scanned the bushes in nearby gardens….

Goldfinch

A goldfinch! I waltzed home for breakfast with a spring in my step.

“Where have you been so early?”

“Hawes Water.”

“It doesn’t count towards our list, you went without us!”

This might take a while.

17 – Hawes Water

7 – Middlebarrow / Eaves Wood

P3290021

Good Friday. We’ve resolved to visit 40 note-worthy attractions in the AONB, so which one would the kids choose for the first day of our break? The one right on our doorstep.

P3290020 

Not to worry: Eaves Wood is fantastic. In fact the kids were quite keen to include several separate locations within the wood on our list: The Pepper Pot, the limestone Pavement on Middlebarrow, the ruined cottage, the ring o’beeches. And, of course, The Climbing Tree:

P3290026 

Where we all had a bit of a clamber.

On Castlebarrow, you’ll find the Queen Victoria Jubilee Monument, known affectionately as the Pepper Pot. You might also spot some blue moor grass….

P3290031 

Which isn’t blue.

The kids love to build dens, and also enjoy finding pre-fabs, built by someone else, which they can check out. This one…

P3290035 

…is pretty substantial, but not yet homely enough to tempt me to spend a night there.

There’s always something new to see in Eaves Wood. This Crooked Tree…

P3290037 

…has appeared here before, but the kids deny all previous knowledge of it, and were impressed with it’s potential for tree-climbing purposes.

By the ruined cottage, where an area has been cleared of trees, numerous clumps of pale yellow primroses have appeared – more than were here last year, I’m sure.

P3290048 

P3290055 

Gratuitous birch tree photo.

Trowbarrow Quarry and Ingleborough 

Super-zoom image of Ingleborough and the top of Trowbarrow Quarry.

P3290065

The High Beam at the Ring O’Beeches.

7 – Middlebarrow / Eaves Wood