The Three Amigos Ride Again

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It’s quite a long time since CJ, X-Ray and I have been out for a stroll together. Back in 2010 it seems, although we started a walk together in January 2011, but X-Ray turned back for the comforts of the tea-shop. It was very satisfying then, that the team were back together at the end of last week. Here we are – I’m represented by my rucksack – on the summit of Whitbarrow. We’d parked near Witherslack Hall and took the relatively steep ascent from there.

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Kent Estuary and Arnside Knott from Whitbarrow.

The walk southwards along the plateau is delightfully easy walking and the Kent Estuary and the small hills of home loom larger in the view as the distance closes.

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Field Scabious (I think).

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As we dropped down through the trees towards the village we came across this mystery…

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Something hanging in netting from a tree. Artwork?

We passed through the village of Beck Head and visited the Hikers’ Rest Self Service Cafe which I first came across on a family walk just after Christmas.

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CJ, who wasn’t carrying a rucksack, bought himself a bottle of water. The cafe is well-stocked with reading material. Here X-Ray is reading a randomly selected sentence from The Complete Sherlock Holmes. From that clue, CJ correctly identified the story as The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk. Quite a party trick.

We strung some paths and lanes together, across the Winster valley, to reach the Derby Arms for lunch. The beer was good, the sun continued to shine (rather contrary to the forecast) and the food, particularly the Thai Chicken Broth, was vey palatable.

At that point CJ had to speed back to the cars, needing to make an assignation at Oxenholme Station prior to a planned wild-camp at Sprinkling Tarn, so took the direct route via the road. X-Ray and I took a slightly more circuitous route.

First stop was Latterbarrow, where the wildflowers were stunning (I can’t think why I didn’t take any photos)

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Meadow Browns.

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A pleasant walk through woods brought us to Witherslack Church, also known as Barwick’s Church…

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There’s a little more about this church in this post about my first visit back in 2010 with B.

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We sat in the churchyard for a while and I watched this Red-Tailled Bumblebee’s progress around the flowerbeds.

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One final short, steep climb over Yewbarrow and a steady descent brought us back to the car. We still had one final treat in store however: a fox cub strayed on to the road as we drove back down the valley.

A very fine walk; hopefully our next outing will come around less than six years from now.

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The Three Amigos Ride Again

Free Lunch

Across the fields and the golf course to Leighton Moss – Free Lunch – Home via Myer’s Allotment

Silverdale has an annual food fair, a recent innovation, and this year TBH won a voucher there in the raffle, exchangeable for lunch for two in the cafe at the Leighton Moss visitors’ centre. The boys were, indeed are, still at school, but TBH and A had now finished so the three of us wandered over for a bite. When we got there, it was to find that their electricity was off due to some work being done by the suppliers, but the centre has photo-valtaic panels and they seemed to be coping remarkably well. A enjoyed her humus and falafel wrap, despite it being ‘too leafy’ and TBH and I both loved our prawn salad.

TBH couldn’t be induced to venture onto the reserve (and to be fair, we did need to get home for the boys return from school) but the promise of striking Cinnabar Moth caterpillar lured TBH and A to join me in visiting Myer’s Allotment on our return journey. Here they are…

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…enjoying the view from the top of the hill.

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There was plenty to see within the reserve too.

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Rock Rose.

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Harebells.

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Self-heal.

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A lone Common Red Soldier Beetle – must be hunting!

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Normal service is resumed! Caption competition anyone? I think that those contrasting antennae are very expressive.

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Hoverfly on Ragwort.

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Bumblebee on Ragwort.

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Meadow Brown.

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I suppose the Meadow Brown is one of or drabbest butterflies. But I have to confess that I’m still captivated none-the-less.

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Damselfly.

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Red-tailed Bumblebee.

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Gatekeeper  Butterfly and Common Red Soldier Beetle.

Ardent followers of Beating the Bounds, if such a beast exists, will have seen photographs of Gatekeepers many times before; most, if not all, taken in North Wales, where we camp each summer and where Gatekeepers are extremely common. In fact I associate them with that area, because I’ve always assumed that we don’t get them here. Oops. Wrong again. Mea culpa.

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I almost missed this Gatekeeper too. It was resting low on Ragwort, very still, with its wings folded and very close to the ground. The dark patches are apparently scent scales and are only found on males.

I was studying that particular Ragwort because of its other residents…

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Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.

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There weren’t as many caterpillars evident as there had been on my previous visit, but there were enough to make good on my promise. Not that it mattered particularly; A was very happy photographing butterflies with her iPod. Nice to see that the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree!

Free Lunch

Holidays Are Here Again…

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A short post to celebrate the arrival of the holidays and the restoration of my camera to its usual reliable performance. With the family now spread across four schools, our holidays don’t always exactly coincide. In this instance, I finished before everybody else. A perfect opportunity then for a short afternoon stroll to Woodwell and back. It was whilst photographing this Water-lily that I stumbled across the inappropriate ISO setting on my camera.

In Bottom’s Wood I was mesmerised by four Speckled Wood butterflies eddying and tumbling around each other in a dazzling, dizzying dance. I tried to photograph them, but the auto-focus and I were both far too slow (that’s my defence and the auto-focus can’t stick up for itself). Occasionally one would sit out for  a moment, perhaps to catch their breath for the next frenetic reel.

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Comments of the “Bloody teachers, 26 weeks off every year, only work ten till two, blah, blah, blah…” are invited. Always makes me feel enormously smug. Anyway, I’m catching my breath for the next frenetic reel.

Holidays Are Here Again…

ISO 3200

A walk to Myer’s Allotment with a defective camera brain.

Summer is in full swing, although you wouldn’t know that now, looking out of our windows at soft, low skies and heavy rain. But anyway, summer, of a sort, is here, which means Hogweed flowering on the verges of Bottom’s Lane and Soldier Beetles doing what comes naturally…

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Apparently Soldier Beetles hunt small insects, but I’ve only ever seen them doing one thing, they seem to be very single-minded.

The dreadful grainy nature of the photos is due to the fact that I had the ISO set to 3200. Which is very frustrating, but at least I know now that I haven’t broken it, which was my original diagnosis. I have no recollection of changing the setting, but then I only discovered the mistake when I inadvertently pressed the wrong button on the camera, or I suppose, in the circumstances, the right button.

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I’ve seen striking back and yellow bugs like this one, with their stark geometrical markings, on Hogweed before, and even tentatively guessed at what they are, but I’m now doubting my previous opinion, so I shan’t compound the error by restating it here.

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In Burtonwell Wood, and under the bracken at Myer’s Allotment, a number of fungi seem to be flourishing, probably a consequence of the abundant rainfall we’ve had of late.

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Lambert’s Meadow Common Spotted-orchid. (Probably)

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This grass seed-head was catching the sun and looked so pink that at first glance I mistook it for a flower.

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Agrimony.

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There’s a reason I haven’t given up on this walk and it’s poor quality pictures, and the reason is the treasure I found at Myer’s Allotment. There’s a fair bit of Ragwort growing in the open glades there and Ragwort is an important food plant for…

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…Cinnabar Moth caterpillars. In their burglar’s stripy jerseys they look like they will be easy pickings for predators. In actual fact I managed to walk past several plants before I noticed any of the residents, although once I’d seen one plant festooned with caterpillars I quickly realised that many other Ragwort plants were similarly busy. In any case, the vivid yellow and black get-up is intended to draw attention: it’s a warning. Ragwort contains strong concentrations of alkaloids and is highly poisonous, and since they feed on it, the caterpillars are also highly toxic and can brazenly feast with no fear of interference.

Cinnabar, rather appropriately, is a toxic ore of Mercury. It is often bright scarlet which is presumably the link to these moths, because the adults are black and scarlet. I photographed adults here earlier in the year; you can see photos in this post. At that time the females were presumably laying eggs; I would hazard a guess that the caterpillars on any one plant are all part of the same brood. They were certainly all of very similar sizes on each plant, whereas across different plants their growth varied enormously: in some cases they were tiny…

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Others were relatively huge…

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The caterpillars were pretty ubiquitous, even sneaking into this photo I took of Lady’s Bedstraw..

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The Soldier Beetles were almost as pervasive…

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And completely predictable…

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This grasshopper…

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…- I shall stick my neck to and say that it is a Common Green Grasshopper – was much less of an exhibitionist, I only noticed it because I was examining the labyrinth of insect-bored canals on the large flake of bark which it was sitting beside.

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I shall have to get myself back to Myer’s Allotment now that I’ve (accidentally) sorted out the problem with my camera. Sadly, there’s no option to similarly reset my defective grey matter.

ISO 3200

Sale Fell

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Skiddaw, Carl Side, Dodd, Bassenthwaite Lake, distant Derwent Water.

Cub camp for Little S; he and two friends needed dropping in Seathwaite at the bottom end of Borrowdale at eight o’clock on a Friday night (the day after my walk on Hollow Moor). Of course, I volunteered for the job! It was a glorious evening and driving down Borrowdale I was struck by how crag girt the fellsides are and my mind was busy with the various options open to me for a late stroll.

When we arrived at the campsite however, it was clear that the boys needed some help erecting their tent, a triple hoop tunnel affair with which they had no previous experience. We were hampered somewhat by the maddening distraction of a cloud of midges which were feasting on every square inch of exposed flesh. By the time the tent was shipshape and just lacking an odd peg or two, all I wanted to do was get in the car and get away from the ravening hoards. I set off with the intention of driving straight home, but I hadn’t driven far before I began to reconsider my options. It was now quite late to be starting a walk, I needed something not too ambitious, and I hit upon the idea of a smash-and-grab raid on Sale Fell.

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Lothwaite Panorama.

This modest little fell boasts three Birkett summits, Lothwaite, Rivings and Sale Fell itself. From a inspection of the map this seems excessive, but the photos above show the late evening view from Lothwaite across Bassenthwaite Lake to the bulk of Skiddaw. It’s a fabulous panorama and it would be a great shame to miss it by only heading for the higher summit of Sale Fell.

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Sale Fell from Lothwaite.

The paths across the fells are broad and well used; I’ve never ventured this way before, but clearly these are well loved hills, perhaps with the local walkers who have them on their doorstep. Certainly, despite the late hour, I met several other people that evening.

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Sale Fell from Rivings, two other walkers just about visible on the top.

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Sale Fell

Hollow Moor, Cocklaw Fell and Skeggles Water

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Another post walk escape, on a beautiful summer evening. I parked by the village rooms in Kentmere despite the signs warning me that, it being polling day, the parking was needed – it was very quiet and it didn’t seem likely that hoards of people would be arriving to register late votes. I’d cast my own vote before work and so could head into the hills and leave all thoughts of the neverendum behind. (I wish it were as easy to do that now!)

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Almost from the off, the path climbing out of the village gave great views. I was also very busy trying, and failing, to photograph the many and varied butterflies which were in evidence.

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I didn’t have to climb far before the butterflies I had been seeing were supplanted by…

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…Small Heath butterflies, which I would continue to see for much of the walk, until the sun began to sink and the temperature had dropped too low for butterflies.

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Bird’s-eye Primrose.

I thought that this…

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…looked quite like Lousewort. Turns out that it is Lousewort, and the plant which I have been wrongly identifying as Lousewort is actually Marsh Lousewort. So now I know.

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A first view of Skeggles Water.

On the slopes of Green Quarter Fell I got rather over-excited about a large orangey-brown butterfly I saw. For no sound reason at all, I decided that it must be a Large Heath, which are rare and confined, in the UK, to a few northern locations. When it finally settled I managed to get some photos and…it wasn’t a Large Heath, but a tatty, faded Painted Lady. I haven’t posted any photos because they were very poor. I also saw Red Admirals again, but they were completely uncooperative on this occasion, and refused to pose for photos.

Birkett comments on the fine view of Upper Kentmere which the summit of Hollow Moor affords and he has a very good point…

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I was thinking that in the winter, with the sun low in the southern sky this would be a prime spot from which to take a photo of the Kentmere horseshoe.

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I’d been expecting to find a fair deal of wet and boggy going underfoot, but had been pleasantly surprised. As I dropped towards the top of Shaw Beck however, I encountered ground so suspiciously mobile that I wondered whether I could get across it. There was no actual water visible but a strip about two yards wide ran down the hillside with completely different vegetation than the surrounding grassy heath. There was Bog Bean flowering (my photo didn’t come out too well, which is a shame because its quite a striking plant) and also this…

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…unusual purplish flower, which I recognised  as Marsh Cinquefoil, although I’m not sure how I knew because I’m pretty certain that I’ve never seen it before.

I followed the wet ground ‘downstream’ until it became an actual beck and therefore much easier to cross.

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Cocklaw Fell, in all honesty, turned out to be a bit of an non-event, but it was another Birkett ticked-off I suppose and it did bring me to a wall, busy with meadow pipits, which lead me down to Skeggles Water.

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I felt some apprehension about my plan to walk around the far shore of Skeggles Water, there being no path marked on the map and the ground looking from a distance to be very flat and so probably liable to be boggy and impassable.

In the event, the going was rough and pathless, but the only significant obstacle…

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…is surmounted by a sturdy bridge.

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The walk from Skeggles Water back to the car took me past two lonely ruins. This…

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…is the larger of the two.

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Heading back down into Kentmere.

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Hollow Moor, Cocklaw Fell and Skeggles Water

Orchids and Egrets

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River Bela

A Tuesday evening and another dance lesson for A, meaning another brief window of opportunity for a wander. I took an oft-repeated circuit along the River Bela to where it meets the Kent, then up on to the course of the old Milnthorpe to Arnside branch line and finally back along the road to the car.

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Whitbarrow and the Bela.

The sun was shining, but dark clouds threatened to the east and south; it seemed only a matter of time before the rain would arrive.

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Dark skies over the weir.

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Dallam Bridge

This Grey Heron was much further from my lens than the one which I photographed at Attenborough recently, but I decided to try to capture its antics anyway…

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It seems it was having some success…

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Whitbarrow Scar across the Kent Estuary.

The orchid triangle didn’t disappoint; the Twayblade has finished flowering, but there were new flowers to replace those…

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I’ve posted a few pictures to show the variety in shape and colouration.

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This middle one is, I suspect, Heath-spotted orchid, whereas the other two look more like Common spotted-orchid, but then orchids hybridise so who knows?

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I’ve walked past these woods a couple of times this year, on Monday evening outings, and noticed quite a cacophony of bird noise. I assumed that somebody was keeping some kind of poultry in the woods.

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But I should have known better…

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A friend told me years ago that there was a heronry here. As I watched – and fat rain drops began to fall – several Little Egrets  and a Grey Heron flew to and from the trees.

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Not the sharpest photos, I know, but its so rare that I manage to catch birds in flight that I’ve decided to post them anyway.

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Orchids and Egrets