I think that this was the day after the one we spent paddling on Windermere from Harrow Slack, if not it was at most a couple of days later. I was back at Harrow Slack, but without the boats or the rest of the family, with the prospect of a free day and a chance to get out for a walk. The forecast was pretty mixed, so I’d opted for a wander around the low hills above Windermere rather than anything more adventurous. And indeed, there were a few drops of rain in the air as I embarked on the steep climb away from the lake shore.
Still, there’s usually something to brighten the way, on this occasion, these tiny….
….but rather splendid Small Balsam flowers. Introduced from South East Asia apparently.
Keen on shade and lime-free, nitrogen rich soils, and seeming very happy in these Lakeland woods.
I’m finally beginning to remember to take lots of photos when I find something new I want to identify, and having a record of the shape of the leaves was very helpful here (meant I could rule out some very wide of the mark ideas I initially had).
Growing in amongst the Small Balsam, but with much larger, more insistently showy flowers, were a relative, Touch-me-not Balsam, which is, apparently, our only native Balsam.
It’s Latin name is Impatiens noli-tangere and both names refer to the explosive nature of the seed heads. (Impatiens – impatient or not-allowing, noli-tangere – do not touch; the Latin and popular names are essentially the same.)
Anyway, both plants were plentiful here, and most welcome at a time when not much is flowering in the deep, late-summer shade.
You don’t climb very far on this path before you encounter….
…The Viewing Station. Built in the 1790s and now undergoing significant repair work under the auspices of the National Trust, this building had tinted viewing windows – with different coloured glasses meant to simulate the views during different seasons and even, through a lilac window, the moonlit view. Later, I read, dances were held here. The National Trust plan to restore the building and eventually open a cafe.
By the time I was reaching the top of the hill, the sky was clearing and it was getting quite warm. The views were only partial ones, but enjoyable none-the-less. That’s Belle Isle down there, the near shore being the one we’d paddled in the lee of.
There’s quite a network of paths across the Claife Heights area and I had the option to turn right to head for High Blind How the highest point in these hills, but instead I went left and downhill.
Towards Far Sawrey….
This is the Village Institute in Far Sawrey…
Silverdale has it’s own Institute, and after a recent coup, a new committee has been inviting suggestions about what should happen to it’s building and field and how they should be used. Ideas seem to have flooded in, some of them quite radical. My main concern is that the field isn’t too messed about with, so that the sports which take place there on our Field Day can continue. But I do like the idea of some picnic tables.
And perhaps a sign like this one.
I resisted the temptation to join the crowds at Hill Top in Near Sawrey, Beatrix Potter’s former home and struck off uphill once again. It was very pleasant, easy walking. Just after I crossed Wilfin Beck I paused for a few minutes to watch the antics of a pair of Nuthatches in the trees by the path.
On the verge of the broad track, I noticed a Small Copper sunning itself…
And when I’d taken a few photos of the butterfly, I realised that there was a grasshopper sat almost alongside…
And then, that there were actually three grasshoppers, not just one…
I wonder sometimes, just how much I miss when I’m out, because it’s so easy to pass interesting things by unknowingly.
These are definitely grasshoppers, the short stubby antennae distinguish them from crickets, but further than that I have little confidence. Grasshoppers vary enormously. These might be Field Grasshoppers I think. Maybe.
Now that my attention was focused on the track’s verges, I realised just how many different flowers there were to see…
I assumed that this was Yarrow, but now realise that it’s a related plant – Sneezewort, Achillea ptarmica from ptarmos the Greek word for sneezing. An old medicinal plant used for colds, but also recommended by the herbalist Nicholas Culpepper for toothache.
A yellow one. (I know, I was doing quite well there for a while.)
Part of the reason for coming this way, was that it would take me past Moss Eccles Tarn….
…which once belonged to Beatrix Potter.
Apparently Potter and her husband used to come up to the tarn to row a boat and fish on summer evenings.
Quite a mixed herd of cattle of various shades, shapes….
…and sizes on the open ground above the tarn.
I’m not overly fond of sharing a field with a bull. Fortunately, he wasn’t the least bit interested in me.
..is Wise Een Tarn. With a view of the Langdale Pikes behind. The higher hills were generally hidden in the clouds all day, so this was a rare view. Claife Heights feature in Wainwright’s outlying fells. He says that the tarns here are all reservoirs, none of them appearing on nineteenth century maps. Real or man made, they’re all quite attractive.
I don’t know who owns the tarn, but I envy them their secluded boathouse and boats – what a spot to wile away the weekends in!
Another little reservoir.
The next section of the walk took me into the forestry plantations, which I suppose might have been tedious, but for the fact that there was a profusion of large and colourful fungi to distract me.
I’m afraid I’ve made no attempt to identify these. One day perhaps I’ll get to grips with toadstools, but they’re very difficult to tell apart.
I could have done with Beatrix Potter’s company. Before she was the successful children’s author we now know she became, she made a painstaking and very thorough study of fungi and lichen. She came up against the prevailing prejudices of her time and wasn’t able to present her findings to the scientific societies because women weren’t allowed to attend the meetings. We’d seen some of her watercolour studies of fungi at Wray Castle a few days before. (She visited Wray Castle with her father when she was eighteen, her first visit to the Lakes). I believe that there are more on display at the Armitt Museum in Ambleside, which, until now, has somehow passed me by, but I intend to investigate when the chance arises.
Whilst I was in amongst the trees, the weather deteriorated: you might notice that some of the fungi look a bit damp. So was I.
When I left the trees to climb Latterbarrow, it was chucking it down. Latterbarrow is another one of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells, and although it’s a mere 803’ above sea level, it’s an excellent viewpoint. I know that because I’ve been here before on a better day. On this occasion there was no view.
Just the very tall obelisk, and two other walkers huddled under a pink umbrella on the far side.
I remember a few years ago, sitting on Jenkin Crag above Winderemere and being surprised to see a stretch of water above and beyond the Lake. I’ve wanted to visit Blelham Tarn ever since. And I’m pleased that I did, but I don’t have any photos to show for it – the rain continued and I had a bit of soggy splodge down hill past the tarn to the Grounds of Wray Castle.
It was a bit late in the day for lunch, but I hadn’t eaten mine, so I settled on the roots of a lakeside oak, by one of the Castle’s boathouses, and tucked in. It had briefly stopped raining, but when it started again, I was nicely shielded by the branches of the tree. I enjoyed watching the raindrops puckering the surface of the lake.
All that remained was a pleasant stroll along the lake shore back to the car – the same route I’d cycled (twice) recently.
The weather took a turn for the better again, and the views were very pleasant.
The island on the right here…
….is Thompson’s Holme, which I think will be one of our first targets when we get the boats out again next summer.