Further Tales of Incompetence and Evening Hills

Pines of Cragmire Plantation

I seem to have let things slide a bit around here once again. I’ve left several hilltop sunset moments unrecounted, for a variety of reasons, mostly related to camera muppetry.

I have no photos to offer of the first of these evenings, not because I didn’t take any, but because the light was so low it wasn’t really worth taking any, and the end results weren’t very satisfactory. Around a month ago now, when the days were as long as they come, I’d planned a late visit to Brunt Knott which sits above Staveley on the east side of the Kentmere valley. Things, however, don’t always go as planned and I had begun my walk very late, even for a long June evening. What’s more, a rather splendid day had clouded over and so, somewhere above Potter Tarn, I decided that the light was insufficient to get me to the top and back and turned tail. So – a bit of a flop in some ways, but a very pleasant walk none the less, most memorable for the very strident oystercatcher by Potter Tarn which must have had a nest nearby, judging by the belligerent attention it paid to me.

Cragmire plantation and the Howgills 

I also have no photos of the second walk, which happened a few days later. Once again my plans didn’t run smoothly. This time I’d arranged to meet my friend T again, who had accompanied me on Ingleborough not so long back. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten about a late meeting at work and left him sitting in a lay-by wondering what had happened to me. Luckily, T’s a very forgiving chap and eventually we were parked on the Littledale Road on the North –Western edge of the Forest of Bowland. It was a cracking evening and we had a fine and sunny walk – sandwiches and a cuppa on Clougha Pike then over Grit Fell to Ward’s Stone. It was a little hazy and there was a covering of cloud to the north and west. For that reason, we didn’t really see a sunset as such, but when the sun was low it was reflected, a deep red, in the waters of Morecambe Bay. Beyond the Bay, Black Combe glowed pink, presumably catching that reflected light, since we were seeing it’s eastern flank. It was a really odd phenomenon, and it would have been good to see whether a photo could do it justice. What’s more I had a new camera to try out: my Dad has down-sized to an upmarket compact and has donated his old DSLR to me. He gave me two camera bags too. And he was very specific about which one actually had the camera in it. Only an idiot would take the other bag and leave the camera behind.

I’ll let you connect the dots.

Hazy view of the Lakeland Fells 

We had a proper bona fide sunset, a real beauty, looking across the bay from the top of the hill behind Lancaster in Williamson Park. We were there for the Play in the Park, an annual promenade performance, this year an unusual retelling of the Robin Hood story, set in a dystopian future (thoroughly recommended – the play that is, not the dystopian future). Because we were there for the play….I hadn’t thought to take a camera.

Valley of.... 

The photos here were all taken on an evening ascent of Scout Hill. Unless you live locally or collect HuMPs or trig pillars you probably don’t know it. It’s a modest hill, 285m, and there is no access to the top. But we can see it from our bedroom window and I’ve long wanted to investigate. As a self-confessed wuss, I’ve been deterred by the need to trespass, but after reading about Mike Knipe’s visit earlier this year, in which any mention of shotgun-toting “get-orf my land” types was notable by its absence, I decided to give it a go.

Standing Stone? 

And I didn’t regret it. It has tremendous all  round views.

If you can ignore the masts on the top that is.

Masts 

There was a huge bull in the field which has a footpath through it, but I gave him a wide-berth and he didn’t seem too interested in me. (The one I’d encountered in the fields near Side House on Potter Fell had been, to my mind, all too interested in me and I’d resorted to trespass then too, in order to avoid him.)

Trig 

The lanes around Scout Hill are decidedly minor – single track with long grass growing down the middle, but it’s possible to pull off the one on the north side directly opposite the bridleway. A well made track heads through the gate from the road there, but the right-of-way follows the wall. The flowers on display – lousewort, bog asphodel, ragged robin – all love wet ground and I imagine that during a wetter spell of weather you might want something more robust than the sandals I was walking in.

Ragged robin 

It was a beautiful evening and I was snapping away with gay abandon – the only draw-back being the hordes of clegs in attendance, seemingly waiting whilst I was distracted by my camera before they took lumps out of me.

Setting sun I 

Sadly, I’d also temporarily forgotten the very careful instructions my Dad had given me about the camera’s autofocus. So I have a lot of blurred photos.

Setting sun III 

These are the best of a very poor lot. Better than no photos at all I suppose.

Low sun

Now, can a bear of very little brain adjust to a camera which needs to have a little think before you can take a photo? We shall see.

Whilst this sweltering weather continues, I think I shall be more inclined to go swimming than walking anyway. We all swam in the Kent again recently and the water was, if not actually warm, a good deal warmer than it was last year.

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Further Tales of Incompetence and Evening Hills

10 thoughts on “Further Tales of Incompetence and Evening Hills

  1. I usually have a camera with me, but sometimes it just breaks the flow a bit to take it out and start snapping. When I’m out in the hills, a lot of the time I’m to immersed in the moment to bother!

    The pictures you did get were good, though – lovely sunsets!

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      I’ve been through phases with cameras. These days, if I’m in company I often forget to take any pictures, but when I’m on my own I tend to take an awful lot of photos, at least when I think the light justifies it.

  2. The one thing you haven’t mentioned is something I’ve done several times. Remember the camera, but when you get it out for that wonderful photo, realise you haven’t checked to make sure the battery is charged……….

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Oh yes – I’ve done them all. Often. No battery power. No memory card (a perennial favourite that one.) No camera etc etc.
      In the days of an old fixed lens 35mm AGFA hand-me-down and a seperate light meter I also did: lens cap on, thumb/camera strap in shot, running out of film just when the views got really good, accidentally opening the camera and exposing the film. Shooting loads of photos and then realising the film was loaded properly and wasn’t actually winding on. The list is probably endless!

  3. I am one of those sad people who have visited all the trig point on various OS maps so perhaps I was the previous visitor to yourself to visit Scout Hill about four years ago?

    I’ve been looking for an opportunity to do Brunt Knot for over a year now. I am sure when I get there I will find I have visited it before, and maybe I will meet you at the trig.

    My Cannon SX150 Is runs on two AA batteries and I always have two spare ones in the pouch. Using lithium batteries I can take around 600 pictures at full resolution on one set of batteries.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      I imagine that trig point bagging is like any other kind of list mania – it gets you out and also takes you to places you might otherwise not visit. Nothing sad about that.

      For some reason, of the many small hills in the Lake District which I’ve never climbed, I have a real hankering to do Brunt Knott – so I’ll see you there?

  4. One of the reasons I use a compact camera is it minimizes the hassle although I am seriously tempted by a decent DSLR. I always carry loads of spare memory cards and batteries. Sounds organised yes? Reason I have all those spares is I thought I’d lost some, replaced them, then promptly found the originals. Now I have spare, spares. Middle age eh! 🙂

    1. I use a – well, not DSLR, but decent enough bridge camera, and I’m tempted to go the other direction purely for the convenience. The lenses in some of the small compacts, and the optical zoom, is really quite good now. For web publishing, or prints up to A3, a lot of the time it’s fine.

      Of course, there isn’t the same control over aperture, focus etc., but I’m thinking the trade-off might be worth it for the convenience.

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