A Snowy Sunrise

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Snow came to Silverdale, an unusual occurrence.

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I’d been up for a while, catching up on some red-ink dispersion, but was now heading for those woods on the skyline, to catch the sunrise.  I should really have set off earlier; twenty minutes before the sun came up the clouds were suffused with a pink glow which I didn’t have a decent vantage point to photograph.

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When the sun did finally rise, it was obscured by the clouds on the eastern horizon. I suppose I could have waited, but my toes were cold, I had places to be (well a place – Cartmell – to collect B from a night away with his team-mates), and if I had stayed put, I would have missed the spectacle of the sun appearing through the snow-rimmed trees…

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As I’ve noted before, coming back down the hill creates an illusion of a second sunrise…

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And with that, astonishingly, I’m up to date.

Feels a bit weird.

A Snowy Sunrise

A Family Outing to Whitbarrow

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The title pretty much says it all, so I could just let the pictures do the talking, but I rarely miss an opportunity to pontificate, so: no such luck.

When I lived in Arnside, I could see Whitbarrow Scar from my living room window. Not that surprising then, that I used to come this way often. Far more surprising, is the fact that, since I moved back to Silverdale, I’ve rarely been back, and until just after Christmas, the kids had never been at all. The path in the picture above, not a right-of-way and not shown on my OS map, but as you can see, extremely well made, winds it’s way up the steep hillside without, mercifully, ever becoming steep itself. Leading to…

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…an old bench with a bit of a view…

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…presently of flooded fields. The hillside here was, long ago, the coastline. The river in the distance is the Kent, with Arnside Knott and Beetham Fell beyond.

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A short climb from the bench, and then a slight detour from the main path, leads to the top of the scar and even more expansive views.

I was playing with the panorama function again…

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We found a sheltered spot for a brew and some left-over goose sandwiches and then continued across the plateau towards Whitbarrow’s highest point.

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The view behind of the Kent Estuary was magnificent. (You probably need to click on the photos to see bigger versions in flickr to get the full benefit of the panorama shots.)

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Looking towards the top.

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Eastward: floods in the Lyth valley.

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At the top.

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Heading for the descent route…

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…which cuts very steeply through the trees.

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Two more panoramas. Light a bit too low at this point I think.

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On the outskirts of the hamlet of Beck Head we found this…

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…very well appointed self-service cafe with honesty box.

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I shall have to contrive a walk which arrives here in the middle, rather than near the end, so as to feel justified in partaking of what’s on offer. (Purely for research purposes you understand).

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The boys were very taken with the actual Beck Head, where the stream appears from underground.

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A slightly longer version of this walk appears in Wainwright’s ‘Outlying Fells’ and he says of it:

The walk described is the most beautiful in this book; beautiful it is every step of the way.

Can’t say fairer than that.

A Family Outing to Whitbarrow

Wade in the Water

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Another post-storm ramble from just after Christmas.

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We’d left it fairly late to get out (lots of shiny new toys to play with) and the light was soon getting low.

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Lambert’s meadow, still impersonating a lake.

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A had brought one of her shiny new toys with her and was playing around with its panorama feature, which reminded me that my camera has exactly the same facility…

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I think I shall enjoy playing with that, especially in less gloomy conditions.

We completed our walk with a wander through Eaves Wood to the Pepper Pot.

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Wade in the Water

A Bird-Watching Walk

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Two views from the top of RSPB Leighton Moss’s new Skytower. Which is…well, a tower. It’s about 30’ feet tall – affording great views, but hardly scaling empyrean heights.

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I think the RSPB can be forgiven the hyperbole – it really is a great place from watch a quartering Marsh Harrier, or flocks of Teal on the mere…

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…as I did.

My walk to the Skytower was just before Christmas, in a moment of calm before the next storm hit.

The causeway across the Moss was still flooded from the previous deluges, but I had new Wellies and waded across, then wandered past Leighton Hall and up Summer House Hill to the benches and viewpoint at the top…

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Naturally, I decided to sit for a while, despite the bracing wind, and was rewarded by some close up views of a pair of buzzards.

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I associate the display flights of male buzzards with the onset of spring.

Pairs mate for life. To attract a mate (or impress his existing mate) the male performs a ritual aerial display before the beginning of spring. This spectacular display is known as ‘the roller coaster’. He will rise high up in the sky, to turn and plummet downward, in a spiral, twisting and turning as he comes down. He then rises immediately upward to repeat the exercise.

from Wikipedia

I wonder if these birds were confused by the very mild weather which we had been experiencing, as many of our spring flowering plants seem to have been.

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Buzzards, now thought to be Britain’s most numerous raptors, are very common in this area. But…

“…the species large size, free-floating movements on broad wings and wild high calls still have a capacity to capture our attention and imaginations.”

from ‘Birds Britannica’ by Mark Cocker and Richard Mabey

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I certainly never tire of watching them.

From Summer House Hill I walked through Cringlebarrow Woods and Yealand Allotment to Hawes Water…

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A Bird-Watching Walk

Chapel-le-Dale Weekend II: Ingleborough

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Whernside.

On the Sunday I missed the opportunity to get out with any of the others – it’s a long(ish) story involving a cancelled rugby match and a lack of mobile phone reception, but the long and the short of it was that I was ready for a walk at about midday. The weather was forecast to be mixed, which was how it turned out, but mostly dry with some spectacular sunny spells.

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The obvious choice was an ascent of Ingleborough via the flagged path through Humphrey Bottom, which I remember as a purgatorial quagmire on my first visits to this area back in the Eighties.

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This route has a short, sharp shock in store – a final (well almost) steep ascent to gain the ridge.

I arrived on the huge plateau of the top at an opportune moment – just in time for a break in the cloud and some wonderful, low winter sunlight.

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During my ascent I’d bumped into Uncle Fester on his way down. He opined that whilst the route along the ridge looked attractive, the inevitably pathless descent from it would be deeply tedious after all the wet weather we’d had. I could see that he was absolutely right. But I couldn’t resist…

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This was the third time in recent years that I’ve followed this path, skirting Simon Fell and sticking to the edge – it’s a cracker.

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Especially when the sun shines!

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The most prominent view from there is across the valley to Whernside – tantalisingly, the clouds kept ushering patches of sunshine across the valley below without ever spotlighting the ridge or the summit. Until…

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In the end the descent wasn’t anything like as bad as it might have been – I found a sheep track which traversed from the low point in the ridge before Park Fell, then I followed a wall to a track and then found another path, not marked on my map, which took me through the Ingleborough National Nature Reserve back to Great Douk Cave and hence to the Old School House.

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Storming afternoon.

Chapel-le-Dale Weekend II: Ingleborough

Chapel-le-Dale Weekend I: The Caves of Ribblehead

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Nobody look at the camera, it only encourages him.

Our thirteenth annual-rent-a-hostel-pre-Christmas-weekend-with-our-camping-friends (snappy title eh?). The first ten of those were characterised by snow, ice, and generally artic weather conditions. (At least when viewed through my backward-glancing rose-tinted spectacles.) But for the last three years, since we decided to relocate to Chapel-le-Dale above Ingleton, the weather has been mild, wet and generally abysmal. To be fair, this year’s trip, amidst all the general carnage, had the best weather of the three to date, with some decent dry spells between the showers.

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On the Saturday we took the kids for a longish walk up to the moor beyond Ribblehead Viaduct.

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We were well prepared with head-torches and wellies and had a very enjoyable poke about in some of the caves to be found up there. Hardly surprisingly, they were pretty wet, and some of us resolved to come back for another look-see when the conditions are a bit drier.

I’ve explored and written about these caves in a bit more detail before – there’s a post about them here, which includes a link to a more much complete and expert account on another blog, if you are thinking of trying the caves yourself.

By the time we’d finished our exploration, the weather had deteriorated considerably and I think the children who had remained found it rather a long trudge back in the rain and gathering gloom. Still, chilli, guacamole, corn bread and tortilla chips (for 22) followed, accompanied by the usual banter and re-hashed jokes. Marvellous.

Chapel-le-Dale Weekend I: The Caves of Ribblehead

Between Coats

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So, with the electricity out in Lancaster I found myself off work with some unexpected free time. When it became apparent that this would happen, my first thought was, “I’ll paint the kitchen.”

Well, that may have been my second thought, after “I can have a lie in.” Or third perhaps, after “I could get out for a good walk”. And if not third, it was definitely my fourth or maybe fifth, well, not more than my eleventh thought. It occurred to me just after TBH said: “You could paint the kitchen,” as she lugged paint tins, brushes, etc in from the garage, wearing an expression which brooked no argument.

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I did get out for some short strolls, between showers.

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Down at the Cove I could see various large bits of flotsam, presumably washed into the channel by the storm. I could also see the next shower advancing across the Bay…

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Time to get back to the painting!

The kitchen does look spick and span though. It’s white now. Much better than before.

What’s that? Before?

Oh,…

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…it was white.

Between Coats

After Desmond

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The storm came, the rains fell and the field behind our house developed a huge puddle. Or a small lake? It has flooded before, although not often, but this is the largest expanse of wet which we’ve seen there. It has never, to our knowledge, burst through the wall and flooded Bottom’s Lane for instance…

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…and I’ve never seen the graveyard flooded before. When you look at the depth of the water compared to the headstones you should bear in mind the fact that the ground in the cemetery is considerably higher than the land around it – soil was brought in to give a sufficient depth to make burials feasible; generally, the bedrock is not far beneath the surface in this area.

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Little S was very taken by the transformed landscape. Waterscape.

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This is Lambert’s meadow, or Lambert’s Lake as it seems to have become.

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Naturally TBH had to wade through the water to get to the submerged bridge.

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Sadly, I didn’t capture the expression on her face when the inevitable happened and the water over-topped her boots.

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Burtonwell.

Later, as the light was fading, I had another short walk on Warton Crag.

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There’s often flooding around Warton, but I’ve never seen it like this. With Kendal and Lancaster both flooded, in Silverdale we had a very lucky escape with no adverse effects at all. The extent of our fortune was brought home to me as the sun sank and the familiar view was eerily unfamiliar because of the absence of streetlights or lighted windows – Warton, Carnforth, Lancaster and many other places south of us were without electricity and would continue to be so intermittently for much of the following week.

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After Desmond

Home from Yealand

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Whilst I’m whinging about the weather I perhaps should say that at least when respite from the storms with sunnier, drier spells have come, they’ve often arrived at the weekends. I spent one particularly glorious morning in Lytham St Anne watching B play rugby and, unfortunately, the rest of that weekend patching-up the roofing-felt on our summerhouse (glorified shed) which had been badly damaged by Abigail.

Anyway, on the Saturday which followed hard on the heels of Barney blowing through, S had a play-date in Yealand and TBH offered to drop me there so that I could walk home again.

I climbed up into the woods of Cringlebarrow, where the paths were, unsurprisingly, puddled, muddy and occasionally obstructed by fallen trees. Then I turned right to drop down into the steep-sided hollow of Deepdale.

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…a deep depression in the limestone, formed by the collapse of a cavern roof in the water-worn cave systems that underlie the AONB. Such depressions are called ‘dolines’. These ubiquitous features are more colloquially known as ‘sink-holes’ and characteristically pepper the landscape in all areas of limestone (‘karst’) scenery. Massive underground erosion takes place as the limestone dissolves in the flow of subterranean water, which exploits the fracture and fissures of the rock, thus creating the cave systems so beloved of pot-holers.

Although someone once told me that it was actually a crater made by a meteorite strike, and apparently other explanations for its existence have been proffered…

As a small child, the current owner [of nearby Leighton Hall] remembers Deepdale pond being referred to as an extinct volcano.

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I remember there being quite a substantial pond at the bottom, but it has been silting-up for some time and even after this prolonged wet spell there was no surface water evident, so perhaps it’s gone.

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Leaving the wood, I was struck, as I am every time I come this way, by the huge oaks in the field by the wood.

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Passing Leighton Hall Farm and Grisedale Farm I came to the causeway across Leighton Moss. I was expecting the causeway to be flooded, in fact I was anticipating enjoying wading through the floods. I wasn’t anticipating that my wellingtons would leak.

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I can confirm that the water was very cold. And very wet. And that a wellington with a substantial split in it can hold a surprisingly large amount of water.

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Even so, the reedbeds are special when the sun is low in the sky.

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I was hoping to have a first proper look at the RSPB’s new ‘sky-tower’ but it was already well occupied by a keen crowd watching the starling roost, so I decided to defer that pleasure.

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Bird-watcher roost.

Links.

The quotes about Deepdale are from this pdf which has a suggested walking route:

Clints and Grykes

Home from Yealand