Colton and Rusland Moss

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So, here we are, racing into 2014, and it’s February already. In my quest to catch up with my blogging, I’m assisted by the fact that, well – I haven’t been out all that much. Both boys have joined local football teams. Different ones. S trains on a Saturday morning. B plays on a Sunday morning. Naturally, I am the designated driver. I’ve stood on a lot of draughty touchlines this winter, which is all good, but it has hampered my walking a little. And those draughty touchlines bring me to the second reason  that opportunities have been restricted – the weather.

Last year, you may remember, February rather overstayed it’s welcome, lasting roughly 4 months in total. This year, it didn’t really arrive properly at all. It rained and it blew, then it blew and it rained, then it rained and it blew, etc etc, No snow. No frosts. Just one downpour after another.

These days I’m a pretty fair weather hiker, but we all get stir-crazy now and again, and when a football free day presented itself, I packed off to the Lakes despite a rotten forecast.

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I don’t see much point climbing up big hills to get rained on in the clouds, so this trip took me to one of those less frequented corners of the National Park. I had a Quixotic desire to revisit Rusland Moss. I parked outside the substantial church, seen above, by the hamlet of Colton. As I walked around Moss Wood and down the edge of Black Knotts Plantation, the drizzle turned to more earnest, purposeful rain.

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The Nature Reserve at Hay Bridge, and Hulleter and Rusland Mosses are really well worth a visit, I’m surprised that they aren’t better known. But today I half-expected, after all the weather we’d been having, to find them submerged.

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To my surprise, I got right across both mosses with only slightly soggy feet.

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But when I reached the far-side of Rusland Moss I found….

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A path which I didn’t fancy swimming along. I backtracked to Low Hay Bridge and took the path (my O.S. map doesn’t show it as a path – I thought I was making a sneaky trespass) to Hulleter.

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Looking across Rusland Moss.

On the path to Kirkthwaite Cottage I encountered a ‘ford’, or to put it another way: another flooded path and this time I decided to bite the bullet and wade through it. Dry feet are over-rated however. Probably.

Whilst I was circumnavigating a little knoll called Lone Riggs, the sun even made an appearance.

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When I reached OxenPark, the sky was a filthy black again and soon after it was raining again.

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Spotted on a wall in Oxen Park – something to do with a blacksmith’s?

Here’s a map. I drew on the route (in black) using a malfunctioning mouse, which is why it meanders a bit at times, not because I was drunk in charge of a satnav.

Rusland Map

Crossing the last couple of fields back to Colton I even had a little more sunshine – it was one of those sort of days. The sort of day when the last stile of the day turns out to be a kissing gate constructed of two huge, tall slabs of stone, much too close together for one of my great girth to squeeze between and still open the gate, requiring some deft acrobatics to be surmounted. The sort of day when you take off your soaking wet trews for the drive home and then find yourself on a gated road having to get out and faff about opening and closing gates in your undergarments!

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Colton and Rusland Moss

Chapel-le-Dale Weekend

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Our annual pre-Christmas gathering. (Because Christmas comes but once a year, a bit like posts on this blog.) Our previous trips have been to Youth Hostels: Slaidburn, Keld, Dufton, Kirby Stephen, Malham and for the last three years Ninebanks (we’ve been to some of the others more than once too, and quite probably other places which I’ve temporarily forgotten. This was the tenth trip of this type, that much I do know). Much as we enjoyed Ninebanks, the consensus last year was that we should try somewhere new and we hit upon the Old School Bunkhouse at Chapel-le-Dale near Ingleton. And a top choice that turned out to be. The weather was pretty miserable, but the kids were content to charge around playing bizarre games and (most of) the adults equally content to sit in the spacious kitchen drinking endless cups of tea and shooting the breeze.

On the Saturday, when it did eventually stop raining for a while, we dragged the kids out for a poke around in the vicinity of Great Douk Cave. I seem not to have taken any photos at all, which is a shame. Many moons ago, the Shandy Sherpa, Geordie Munro and I explored this cave a couple of times, when we were dabbling in the art of speleology. It had even been mooted that we might take the kids into it whilst we were nearby, but a considerable flume of water was spouting from the entrance, so it will have to wait for another time.

We had a little bit of a wander around the limestone pavement above the cave and at that point most of the party were content to head back to the bunkhouse. A select band of more hardy, or more foolish, types decided to investigate another flume of water apparently issuing from the hillside above us. It transpired that the water was pouring out of a pipe which jutted out of the slope – something to do with Chapel-le-Dale’s water supply?

We were most of the way up Simon Fell now, so continued to the path which skirts the edge of the plateau and then followed that round towards the summit of Ingleborough. It was raining again and when we reached the point where we had an option to take the path down into Humphrey Bottom we consulted the junior members of the party and let them choose – back to the bunkhouse it was. Of course, shortly after we turned away, it stopped raining and then the cloud even cleared from the summit – Sod’s Law in operation, as ever.

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On the Sunday, we did the Ingleton waterfalls walk. You have to pay to do it, and it’s not cheap (although – it’s worth knowing that the best bits – Pecca Falls and Thornton Force – are both on access land), but it is a fabulous walk, especially when there’s been plenty of rain and the falls are at their most spectacular.

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I absolutely can’t resist waterfalls, and in stark contrast to the day before, took hundreds of photos.

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Whilst we were up at Thorton Force, the sun even shone very briefly.

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Here’s the falls catching the light….

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I even took a video, probably by mistake because I’ve rather given up on the idea of getting satisfactory films from my camera, but it hasn’t come out too badly, and, for my money, a moving waterfall has it in spades over a still image:

Not much else to say about this one.

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The top section of the walk gives great views of Ingleborough, which we see so often (if distantly) from home.

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I must bring B (who almost made it to the top on the Saturday) back again soon. Also – choose a better evening to climb it after work this year.

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Most of us were able to stay on until the Monday, but that brought really foul weather so after packing up we headed home. A great weekend – we shall be heading back again this Christmas.

I should mention that Andy took sole charge of the grub this year, and very good it was too. (I believe he’s available for weddings, bar mitzvahs, children’s parties etc).

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He’s also cooking up a storm (did you see what I did there?) over on his blog: here’s his version of events which includes photos of the Saturday walk.

Chapel-le-Dale Weekend

Newlands Weekend

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Racing through time to last November then, we reach the annual ‘adult escape’, when we farm our kids out to grandparents, gullible friends or boarding kennels, wherever will take them essentially, and head up to the Lakes for some much needed R’n’R. This year we stayed at the Littletown Farm Guest House, which was superb – highly recommended.

All the usual things happened – catching-up with each others growing list of infirmities, drinking one too many beers (which these days is two), playing anecdote bingo, breakfasting lavishly and languidly and consequently finishing our walks in the dark.

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Oh – we did manage to squeeze in a couple of walks, despite the rather grey and damp weather. On the Saturday, we climbed Dale Head by a path which climbs to some old mine-workings. The top photo shows the assembled masses sitting by a ruined building. I can’t remember what was mined there, but I found some pieces of ore on an old spoil-heap…..

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…and I think it’s safe to assume that copper was involved somehow.

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Littledale Edge (perhaps)

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We descended via Robinson. As you can see I was dawdling behind the group. Most unusual! My excuse is that I was taking photos of interesting boulders….

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Dropping steeply towards High Snab Bank, it’s well worth sticking right to the western edge of the ridge. It’s vertiginous and gives great views across Robinson Crags to Newlands Hause.

On the Sunday we climbed Rowling End, Causey Pike and Scar Crags, a repeat of a route we did on the equivalent weekend a few years back, except, to ring the changes, we descended to the South to the hause between Sail and Ard Crags before following Rigg Beck back into the valley.

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After a bright start it turned into a very grey day and I don’t seem to have taken many photos at all. Fortunately there are many from 2009, when the weather also deteriorated, but on that occasion much later in the day. (That post here).

A more lucid and complete account of the weekend, with more, and better, photos, plus maps, can be found on my friend Andy’s blog here.

Newlands Weekend

Autumn Round-Up

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So, what else was going on here in sunny Silverdale during last year’s back-end?

Well, we had a regular visitor to the garden, sometimes with a friend. Usually, but not always, seen either early in the morning or late in the evening, or sometimes both. We strongly suspected that it was sleeping-over.

And…

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….there were skies, with clouds n’stuff. This was taken just before sunset from Castle Barrow, by the Pepper Pot – I can tell. But I don’t really remember taking it.

Here’s something I do remember: a conversation with Little S:

“How come I haven’t had my Birthday treat yet?”

“Eh?” (His Birthday was months earlier)

“You said…”. (A lot of S’s sentences begin with an accusatory “You said”.)

“You said that I could go horse riding, but you never took me.”

For once he appeared to have us bang to rights. So we took him, and his siblings, to Bowkerstead Farm in Grizedale.

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It was destined to be one of those days – the sun was shining, but to the North the sky was ominously black. When the rains arrived they brought with them a spectacular double rainbow.

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It rained intermittently whilst we were out, but we all enjoyed the experience. We went into the forest, initially climbing steeply on a very boggy track, and eventually came back down on wider forestry tracks. TBH and I walked – it was fairly strenuous keeping up with the horses. TBH had the unenviable task of leading the pony which S was riding – a thoroughly wilful and uncooperative creature, it stood on her foot a couple of times, shouldered her into particularly boggy bits of the track and walked poor S into a couple of low branches.

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When we took A and B pony trekking before, S wasn’t old enough to join them, and I think he saw this as an opportunity to right an injustice. He was very happy anyway.

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The others enjoyed it too.

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So much so that A asked for riding lessons for Christmas.

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I would have strongly recommend the riding centre, but sadly, it has subsequently closed.

The weather cleared up somewhat in the afternoon and we took advantage of the opportunity to have a wander around one of the sculpture trails in the Forest. (Photos from a previous visit here.)

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Another Eaves Wood snap.

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The Cove.

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A Happy Halloween to all our readers!

Autumn Round-Up

An Autumn Ramble

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Little S, who isn’t that little anymore, but is probably always destined to be Little S in my mind even when he’s towering over me, has often been the family’s reluctant walker. Pleasing to report then, that last autumn he began to suggest, even to demand, that we take him out on walks.

These photos are from one of several local walks we did together, this one will stick in my mind because it was just the two of us, with the rest of the family being busy elsewhere.

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We discovered a superabundance of fungi and ferns, and in one spot a woodland windfall of surprisingly sweet and tasty apples (these were decidedly not crab-apples). I’ve made a mental note of the place for future reference.

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This, I think,…..

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…is a Harlequin ladybird. It’s not native to the UK, but was introduced in 2004, is extremely invasive and represents a threat to our indigenous species.

We’d walked through Pointer Wood and Clark’s Lot, through Fleagarth Wood, past the old chimney to Jenny Brown’s Point (near where, S insisted I take this picture)….

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At Jack Scout we stopped to do a spot of birding, having, for once, remembered to bring some binoculars along for that purpose. Memorably, we watched a black-backed gull catch a crab – we could clearly see the crab frantically wriggling its legs whilst pinned in the gull’s beak. A pair of crows then harried the much larger gull, with, I think, some partial success – I’m fairly certain that they gained possession of part of the crab.

Later the same day, we all had a wander down to Leighton Moss. From Lillian’s Hide, we spent quite some time watching a pair of snipe in the reeds at the near edge of the mere. They were incredibly difficult to spy, their camouflage is so effective. This photo was taken at maximum zoom and has then been heavily cropped:

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It was only today, six months later, that I realised that both of the birds are in this shot. Can you pick them both out?

They were pointed out to us by some Proper Birders, who very kindly let us view the snipe through their powerful monocular. They thought, or perhaps hoped, that these might be the more uncommon jack snipe, but I think that they were wrong – some of the many photos I took show the yellow crown stripe which identify them as plain old snipe.

An Autumn Ramble