Leck Beck and Ease Gill Kirk from Cowan Bridge.

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Another Wednesday night and another after-work outing, this time starting at Cowan Bridge which is between Kirkby Lonsdale and Ingleton. This row of cottages is the village’s claim to fame. It once housed the Clergy Daughters’ School, once attended by the Bronte sisters…

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…and the model for the Lowood Institution in Jane Eyre, although apparently the reality was even more brutal than the fictionalised version. Maria and Elizabeth both died of tuberculosis after an outbreak of typhoid at the school.

Fortunately, the walk along Leck Beck from Cowan Bridge is a much more cheery prospect.

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There were great swathes of flowers. An under-storey of Ramsons…

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…the subtle yellow tinge of Crosswort…

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…spikes of Bugle…

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…a really dense patch of Stitchwort…

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…lots of Bluebells and Hawthorn…

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…and another Wild Privet tree, which was heavily infested with webs full of caterpillars…

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The village of Leck.

I’m currently reading ‘Counting Sheep’ by Philip Walling and realising just how variable the sheep I pass on my strolls are. By Leck there was a flock of quite long-wooled sheep, very different from the hill-sheep you might expect to see in this area. Apparently, there are thought to be more breeds of sheep in the UK than in any other country in the world. Although, as usual, I really don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m going to stick my neck out and hazard a guess that this lamb…

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…is a South Down.

Leaving Leck I crossed a couple of fields and then entered Springs Wood…

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A substantial footbridge over the beck was leaning at an alarming angle…

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I suspect that after rain this can be a raging torrent.

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Just short of the boundary to open access land, I was intrigued by this lonely wooden cabin…

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…but can’t find any information about it on the interweb.

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I’ve walked this way at least a couple of times before, once with my Dad shortly after he retired, when he brought a caravan up and camped behind the Whoop Hall Inn near Kirkby Lonsdale and we had a very good week’s walking together. That must have been back in the early nineties and we had to stick to the footpath which follows the hillside somewhat above the beck. This time I decided to more closely shadow the watercourse, where possible. That immediately brought me onto some very soggy ground, an ideal place to find Marsh Valerian…

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Early Purple Orchid.

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Leck Beck.

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Cream-spot Ladybird.

I found three broken eggs on the ground, all around the same size (quite large) but all slightly different in colour.

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I had to climb away from the stream a little here to find a stile. I descended toward the stream again, but realised that the bank was too steep, so had to climb again to the path.

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I didn’t find Leck Beck Head, the resurgence where all this water flows from, but the path brought me to the edge of a steep sided ravine. I found a way into it, but, although no water was flowing through it, there were large pools and also rocky, dry ‘falls’, so that I was unable to make progress along the bottom of the ravine. I climbed out and then found another way in, further uphill which brought me to Ease Gill Kirk…

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…a really atmospheric spot where the walls of the ravine are absolutely peppered with caves, many of them, presumably, entrances into the The Three Counties System, “the longest and most complex system in Britain” (source) with around 89km of passages.

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I climbed out of the ravine yet again, then dropped down into it again a little further ‘upstream’. It was more open here and must have been very close to where I joined Ease Gill when I came this way last. (I’m a bit taken aback to find that was three years ago.)

A group of four Ravens were apparently very vexed by my intrusion and circled around ronking noisily. What I’m pretty sure was a Cuckoo dashed across the empty stream bed and into a tree above on the hillside. I followed, climbing away from Ease Gill, this time for the last time, and finding an outcrop of limestone to sit beside for a quick bite to eat.

The nature of the terrain changed from here on, as I crossed mostly pathless, heathery moorland, passing numerous sinkholes and quite a few potholes, usually marked out by the trees protruding from them.

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Smokey Hole or Peterson Pot, not sure which.

They have sonorous names – Smokey Hole, Peterson Pot, Death’s Head Hole, Eyeholes, Long Drop Cave, Rumbling Cave, Rumbling Hole and Short Drop Cave – but are not particularly exciting to look at, at least from above. Rumbling Hole does at least have the sound of running water to enliven it.

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Looking towards Morecambe Bay and Warton Crag – there’s a hot-air balloon flying in the distance.

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Great Coum and Crag Hill.

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Another largish egg, but clearly of a different species.

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Leck Fell House and Gragareth.

The moor was extremely busy with small birds.

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Meadow Pipit?

I heard lots of calls which had me thinking ‘Stonechat’, although why I felt so sure of myself I don’t know, because they aren’t birds I encounter very often. I was right though, for once; on a fencepost by Eyeholes I managed to photograph a male, though it wasn’t a very sharp image. Then a female regaled me from a perch on a Mountain Ash growing out of Long Drop cave…

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Leck Fell House again.

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This large, and slightly grisly, nest was in a tree growing from Rumbling Cave. I don’t think it was occupied. I’m not sure what the bone was, but it was quite substantial.

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Leck Fell Road, looking toward The Forest of Bowland.

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A parhelion, or sundog.

For the walk back to Cowan Bridge I stuck to the Leck Fell Road – I don’t usually choose to walk on roads, but it certainly makes navigation easy and this is a very minor road, although there was a bit of traffic, much to my surprise.

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As well as the sunset, I was entertained by a Roe Deer racing away from me across a field and by a pair of partridges comically running away, apparently petrified by my presence, but inexplicably unwilling to fly to escape.

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Leck Beck and Ease Gill Kirk from Cowan Bridge.

All we have to do is look.

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How is it that we can have Roe Deer in our garden, even up near to the house, but I still get excited when I see one across a field, partially obscured by reeds? This one, incidentally, is male, unlike the two which were recently in our garden and seems to have lost it’s winter coat completely.

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How is it that I feel drawn to return to Gait Barrows every year to see the reintroduced Lady’s-slipper Orchids and photograph them yet again, even though it’s overcast and the photos won’t be as good as those I’ve taken before?

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Not that I’m complaining.

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I’m very lucky I suppose, that I never tire of the views over the Gait Barrows limestone pavements. Or of our ever changing skies.

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Or Rowan flowers.

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‘You can’t see Venice twice for the first time,’ Mirabel said. After the first excitement of newness, will there always be the same enchantment every year, watching the rose buds open, the irises unfurl? It’s the challenge that faces us all at some point, and which faces me now, twenty years on from the beginning of the garden. And it’s true: you can change the colour of your tulips, you can forswear roses in favour of dahlias, you can even move house and make a new garden, but you can never leave yourself behind. For it is the eye which becomes jaded – the mind, not its object. Even for Traherne it was a struggle to retain that freshness of vision, to protect it from the eroding sea of experience. As he constantly reminded himself, ‘I must become a child again.’ But even if we cannot see all anew each year, we can each time strive to see it deeper, differently: the experience can be enriched not impoverished. A rose at forty or at eighty means something different from a rose at twenty; we naturally bring to it more associations, whether personal or literary or historical, more ‘back story’. And if we can’t see Venice twice for the first time, neither can we step into the same river twice – the world is perpetually changing, renewing itself. See how different a single rose, a single petal can be, not only every year, but every day, and every hour of every day, as the world turns around it – in all weathers, in every season, bud and bloom, calyx and corolla. All we have to do is look.”

Katherine Swift The Morville Hours.

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Traherne is Thomas the seventeenth century poet, Mirabel is Mirabel Osler who writes, like Swift, about gardening. I’ll probably have more to say about ‘The Morville Hours’ at some point, but for now, suffice to say that it is an excellent read, and I’m not an enthusiastic gardener.

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Ear Fungus.

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And all we need to do is look.

That being said, I’m happy to stick with just looking. Any additional interaction is generally unwelcome.

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I wasn’t overly struck with the attentions of these six ponies. Admittedly, they were pretty docile, just following me across the field.

But the calves in the next field ran after me. Now, of course, here in front of my computer I can see that they were inquisitive, gambolling playfully perhaps, and not ravening beasts braying for blood after all.

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Anyway, there were only five of them. And I reached the stile before they made it across the field.

In the next field, there were more like thirty. It was a large field and I felt quite uncomfortable walking across it with all of them behind me. Could they tell that I’d had roast beef for my tea? I only stopped to take a photo once there was a wall between them and me.

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Since this is not something which usually happens to me, four times in one week seems like more than just a coincidence. I shall have to assume that either I have suddenly started to emit some sort of ‘hunter-gatherer’ pheromone which is inducing this behaviour, or that it’s a spring-time, fading-light instinct particular to this season in herding animals. The latter seems more plausible.

All we have to do is look.

Nice Weather for….Snails

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Brown-lipped snail.

After a prolonged spell of mostly dry weather, the rains had started to reassert themselves. I decided to get out for s short walk anyway, but to leave my camera at home. But when I stepped out the front door I was almost immediately confronted by an abundance of snails. They were clearly relishing the damp. It was late and very overcast, but the lovely strawberry tones of that first brown-lipped snail had me thinking that a quick tour around the garden could precede my longer wander.

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Another Brown-lipped Snail in paler, more pastel shades.

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A really tiny snail, possibly some sort of Glass Snail.

Elsewhere in the garden, Brown Garden Snails abounded.

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Apparently, they are good to eat. I’ll pass thanks.

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I’m not sure which kind of snail this is…

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…but the swirls of white and dark chocolate colouration on the shell were delightful.

The retaining wall in the back garden was not only busy with snails, but one of the crevices in the wall…

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…was occupied by a very bronzed and relaxed frog. Relaxed in as much as it didn’t seem in the least bit bothered by me or my camera.

Nice Weather for….Snails

Teesdale – an Embarrassment of Riches

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Low Force.

Make a cup of tea, maybe grab a biscuit to dunk or an apple to crunch: this is a long one with a lot of pictures, but I think it’s worth a few moments of your time. OK, settled, ready? Then we’ll begin.

I’ve mentioned before that when I read John Fisher’s ‘Wild Flowers in Danger’ last year, and realised that many of the flowers in the book grow reasonably nearby, I resolved to make an effort to see some of those flowers this year. This trip was planned to, hopefully, find one of those rarities. Once I’d decided to drive up to Teesdale, I searched my bookshelves, wondering whether I might have a book with a suitable route to follow. I found one in Christopher Somerville’s ‘Somerville’s 100 Best British Walks’. (It is, I realise now, an anthology of walks from The Torygraph – you can find the Teesdale one here.) Somerville’s description made me all the more determined to come this way, but I really wanted to incorporate High Force and so devised a longer version. Then I decided I couldn’t omit Low Force, so extended the walk again. The trouble was, I already had things to do in the early evening, so an early start was necessary. I was walking just after seven (after a drive of about an hour and a half, mostly through rain, wondering what I was playing at.)

I parked in the picnic area near the visitor centre at Bowlees. They have a ‘donate and display’ scheme, an excellent idea I thought. As I arrived, the rain cleared and the sun began to shine, just as the forecast had predicted, although a little earlier than I had anticipated.

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This is Wynch Bridge, just below Low Force. I have a picture of my Dad here (well actually he has it) taken in April 1985 when we walked the Pennine Way together. He was a little younger then than I am now, a sobering thought, and like me, he had a white beard, although his was temporary, tolerated only until we returned home from Kirk Yetholm.

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Because I had a relatively long walk planned, and wanted to get home reasonably early, I knew that I couldn’t afford to hang around taking lots of photographs.

Some chance! There were just too many distractions.

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Low Force again.

In the first instance, the falls and the river. Low Force and High Force are the consequences of volcanic activity:

“High Force is a great place to see the famous Whin Sill. This is a layer of a hard, dark rock called dolerite, known locally as ‘whinstone’. The Whin Sill formed about 295 million years ago, when molten rock at over 1000°C rose up from within the Earth and spread out between layers of limestone, sandstone and shale. The molten rock cooled and solidified underground to form a flat sheet of rock, known as a ‘sill’. After millions of years of erosion the Whin Sill is now exposed at the Earth’s surface, forming dramatic landscape features such as High Force”

Source

Then, there was an absolute abundance of wild flowers. Some familiar: Bluebells, Wood Anemones, Primroses, Marsh Marigolds, Pignut, Early Purple Orchids…

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White-lipped Banded Snail.

Some less familiar, like this Globe Flower…

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It’s a kind of buttercup, but is relatively tall and has quite large flowers. It’s found in the north, mainly in wet, upland, limestone meadows.

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There were lots of birds too, many singing from the trees by the river, Lapwings and Curlews in the meadows, Dippers, Oystercatchers and Sandpipers by the river.

I have a strong feeling that this…

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..is a Garden Warbler, but the only thing I can say categorically is that it wasn’t a Chiff-chaff, its song was far too musical.

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Cowslips.

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Curlew.

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More Globe Flowers.

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Water Avens.

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More Cowslips.

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Common Sandpiper.

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I was surprised to see this Scurvy Grass here (the other flower is Cuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock). I thought that Scurvy Grass was a plant confined to coastal locations, but I think that this is Mountain Scurvygrass – the leaves are a slightly different shape from Common Scurvygrass.

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Even more Globe Flowers.

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When I was a boy, Lapwings – or Peewits as we called them – were a common farmland bird. Even then numbers were in decline and sadly that decline has continued. We’re fortunate to still see them close to home, and in the fields and skies around Roeburndale they had been present in great numbers.

But in Teesdale they were not only plentiful, but also less wary about human visitors.

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I took lots of photos of this individual, and as I did so, it moved towards me, not away as I would have expected.

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Rabbits too were both numerous…

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…and less wary than those I usually encounter.

This…

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…I’m hoping, is yet another phenomena which I’ve noticed several times over the years: when I manage to put a name to something, or notice it for the first time close to home, I then find that it is much more common than I previously realised. It happened with Bee Flies, Eyebright, Gatekeeper butterflies and I could probably quote a host of other instances if I put my mind to it. The surprising thing about this is that each of these things was apparently invisible to me for a period before I suddenly cottoned on to its presence. Now I think the same thing may happen with Wild Privet (supposing that is what this is!).

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What’s this ball of fluff?

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A fledgling Lapwing, watched over by a cautious parent.

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Bugle.

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Lady’s Mantle.

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Mountain Pansy.

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I came across Mountain Pansies several times during the day, at various altitudes. They were numerous and very variable in colour. Sadly, many of my photos didn’t come out too sharply.

As I approached High Force, I entered England’s largest Juniper woodland.

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I’ve never thought of an area of Junipers as woodland before, but I suppose it is. This one was rumbustiously alive with bird song, but the songsters were very well hidden on the whole. Only this Song Thrush showed itself for more than a brief moment.

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I’m hoping that somebody can help me with an identification for this tree. It was growing through a Juniper. I suppose it superficially resembles Elder, but I don’t think it is Elder.

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Sadly, the Junipers are under threat from a disease which is killing them off. At either end of the wood there were boot cleaning stations to be used as you exit, to stop the spread of the disease.

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I saw several Junipers with these orange fungal fruiting bodies on them and wondered whether this might be the pathogen.

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It isn’t, but I’m glad I photographed it, because these are telial horns of one of the species of Gymnosporangium. These fungi infect Junipers, produce these fruiting bodies which release spores which go on to infect a different plant: apples, pears, hawthorn, rowans…trees which are all from the same family (and a different species for each different species of Gymnosporangium, I think). There they produce a rust, galls on the leaves and then new fruiting bodies which produce spores which complete the life cycle by infecting Junipers. A parasite with alternating host species – where is the evolutionary advantage there?

Down below the Junipers, this…

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…had me puzzled. But I think it is a white flowered Bugle. Is that possible?

I’d finally reached High Force…

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Ironically, this view was taken from behind a safety barrier, but at the top of the waterfall, I could lean out and take a view straight over the drop…

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Just beyond High Force I witnessed a family meal for four. I actually thought I was watching some sort of territorial dispute, so aggressive were these juvenile Dippers.

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They kept up a constant racket and shook those stubby wings angrily.

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Eventually, one of the adults took some time out to preen itself close to the river bank…

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This was close to the incongruous scar of Dine Holm Quarry.

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The path climbed away from the rive for a while, on Bracken Rigg, before dropping down to the farm at Cronkley.

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Green Hill Scar and Cronkley Scar.

The meadows here were resplendent with a yellow wash of Marsh Marigolds.

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I had my first human interaction of the day here, a cheery wave from a very happy looking young lad driving a piece of farm machinery. (It wasn’t big enough to be a tractor, but a bit too big to be a quad bike so…I’m not sure what to call it.)

In the riverside meadows here there were several Redshanks…

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High House and the Scars again.

And lots of Lapwings…

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I also spotted a male Reed Bunting…

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The next long stretch by the river as it curved around Cronkley Fell was every bit as superb for birdwatching as the earlier sections had been, but with a definite change in the kind of birds showing.

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I think this is a Meadow Pippit.

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I would have missed this Frog, but for the fact that it took an extravagant leap into a sidestream as I crossed it, splashing very conspicuously.

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Common Sandpiper again (okay, not all of the birds were different).

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Wheatear.

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I’m even more convinced (i.e. almost convinced) that this is a Meadow Pippit. There were actually two birds which flew along the edge of the river ahead of me.

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More Bird’s-eye Primroses.

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Falcon Clints.

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Raven Scar and Fox Earths.

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Looking back down on Falcom Clints and the River Tees.

I finally left the river for the short climb to Man Gate and onto Cronkley Fell. It was here that I hoped to spot the rare flowers I had set out to find, but I had already enjoyed my walk so much that I decided that if they proved hard to find, I would be none-the-less happy about my decision to come this way.

In the event, I could hardly miss them…

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Spring Gentians.

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On Cronkley Fell several areas are fenced off to protect the flora, presumably from sheep and rabbits.

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The gentians are present here because of the Sugar Limestone…

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A metamorphic rock which has been crystallised by volcanic activity. It produces a fine, granular, almost sandy soil.

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I think that these tiny, delicate flowers…

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…are Spring Sandwort, such a good indicator of the presence of lead that it was also once known as Leadwort.

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More Mountain Pansies.

We are lucky at home, we have Bird’s-eye Primroses flowering nearby, right on the southern limit of their range. But I’ve never seen them growing in such profusion as they were here…

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I tried, unsuccessfully, to find a place sufficiently out of the wind to make it feasible to get my stove lit for a brew. Since I couldn’t, I rattled on, heading back down towards Bracken Rigg.

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Dropping down Birk Rigg I met a couple of walkers, the first I’d spoken to all day. It was around noon – these are lonely moors.

Well, they had been. I was vacillating: should I head back down Bracken Rigg and retrace my steps along the river, or vary the route by continuing along the higher moorland path. I’d enjoyed the riverside path so much that I was very tempted to follow that course, but just as I reached the path junction, a huge party came along the Pennine Way towards me from the river; I changed my mind and stuck with the higher path.

If I hadn’t I probably wouldn’t have seen…

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…this, which I think is a Golden Plover. The only reason I’m unsure is that all of my books show that black patch on the belly extending all the way up to the face. But this is summer breeding plumage, so perhaps this is a transition phase.

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An unusual stile.

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Holwick Scars.

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Holwick.

I turned out of Holwick on a minor lane heading back down towards Bowlees. A small, grey raptor landed in a tree ahead. It was gone almost as quickly with a lapwing in hafl-hearted attendance. It had something clutched in its claws. A Lapwing chick? It occurred to me later that this might have been a Merlin?

The hedge bottom by this same lane had a superb display of very tall Water Avens.

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This Common Carder Bee was enjoying the Water Avens too. Moving with great agility from one flower to the next, without flying.

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Lovely colours!

As I arrived back at Low Force…

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I found myself quickly stripping off layers – it had been sunny for much of the morning, but now it was finally warming up.

I had thought at one point that I might struggle to get back for my later engagement, but now found that I unexpectedly had time for a bite of late lunch at the Visitor Centre…

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I ate outside by a busy flowerbed…

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…with bird-feeders just beyond.

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Nuthatch.

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Siskins.

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What a day!

And it wasn’t over yet: the reason I wanted to get home early was that The John Verity Band were playing at Five O’Clock in the Silverdale Hotel and we’d promised the kids we would take them. (It’s not often a former member of Argent plays in the pub around the corner – and if you know who Argent were, then you are showing your age). In the event, the kids made us leave at the interval – in some sort of weird role-reversal they complained that it was ‘too loud’. I was really enjoying myself. Fortunately, it seems that the band will be returning to the Lower House later this year, maybe more than once.

Teesdale

Teesdale – an Embarrassment of Riches

Garden Visitors Again and a Hawes Water Wander

Eaves Wood – Hawes Water – Wildflower Meadow – West Coppice – Moss Lane – The Row – Hagg Wood

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A Saturday morning and we have visitors in our garden. Two Roe Deer. They were there, on and off, all day, shuttling between our garden and our neighbour’s.

Much later, TBH and I head out for a wander around Hawes Water.

I found broken eggs when I was in the high fields above Roeburndale, and again on this occasion…

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…it was quite a large egg, perhaps a Wood Pigeon’s? (I really know next to nothing about identifying eggs however, so this should be taken with a large pinch of salt. Always good with an egg anyway.)

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By Hawes Water, the Bird’s-eye Primroses have just come into flower…

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Although not all of them are there yet…

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We extended our usual Hawes Water route slightly to cross one of Gait Barrow’s unimproved flower meadows and then turn back across the shoulder of high ground of Trowbarrow, joining Moss Lane much further down than we usually would, near to the row of former quarrymen’s cottages. Above the meadow, a Buzzard was wheeling…

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In most of the fields, where fertiliser is regularly added, not many wildflowers prosper. Dandelions do well however.

When we were tidying up from our family tea, the two Roe Deer returned to the garden. One of them was not only eating the new leaves from our Sumach tree, but also rubbing her face against the branches. To help with the irritation of that moulting winter coat?

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To our surprise, as we all stood at the kitchen windows watching they came up the garden towards us.

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There is a price to pay for these visits, I noticed yesterday that some of our Aquilegias have been decapitated, shorn of their shapely purple flowers, but that’s something I can live with – and fortunately the Aquilegias have self-seeded all around the garden, so there are plenty more.

Garden Visitors Again and a Hawes Water Wander

Jackdaws and Orchids on the Lots

Hagg Wood – Silverdale Green – Stankelt Road – The Lots – The Cove

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A much more modest wander, this one, before a social event in Grange with TBH and a whole host of other people.

A small herd of cows on The Lots were seemingly a magnet for birds – as I approached several Starlings, a Magpie and a few Jackdaws all winged away from the sward around the cows. But two of the Jackdaws were less perturbed by my presence and continued to strut about between the apparently oblivious cows like a couple of minor officials puffed up with the importance of their office.

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Early Purple Orchids on The Lots.

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Shelduck on the bay, near The Cove.

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This Oystercatcher seems to have had a minor prang – the end of its beak looks like it needs remodelling.

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Cut flowers, by the benches above The Cove.

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An act of remembrance?

These benches are, for much of the year at least, a fabulous place to sit and watch the sunset and I’m sure that they are a favourite spot for a lot of people. Although, admittedly, I rarely come across anyone sitting there, I have, from time to time, had some memorable conversations here whilst watching the sun drop into the sea.

Jackdaws and Orchids on the Lots

Roeburndale Round

Wray – Hunt’s Gill Bridge – Outhwaite Wood – River Roeburn – Barkin Bridge – Lower Salter – Haylot Farm – Melling Wood – Mallowdale – Mallowdale Bridge – Higher Salter – Harterbeck – Stauvin – Four Lane Ends – Hunt’s Gill Bridge – Wray

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River Roeburn in Outhwaite Wood.

May arrives and brings with it the post-work evening walk season. Well, what I think of as ‘the post-work evening walk season’. Of course, I’ve been walking after work in the evenings all winter, in the rain and the dark, and during the spring, as the evenings have lengthened, my walks around home have gradually lengthened with them. But now there’s enough light to justify a short drive and a longer walk somewhere a little away from my home patch.

If the outing featured in the last post was partly inspired by somebody else’s blog post, then this walk was, I think, influenced by one of my own posts. I’ve been at this blogging malarkey for a while now and am rapidly approaching the one thousand post milestone. Most of my posts illicit a trickle of interest and then disappear without trace, but some have a curious afterlife, which I can follow via my blog stats. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this. For example, one post about a walk in the Wye valley gets a visit or two just about every day and the same holds true for a handful of other posts. The oddest of these afterlives is the curious popularity of this post, which attracts lots of readers from India, where, I can only imagine, a teacher or lecturer sets assignments on the essay ‘On Finding Things’ by E.V.Lucas. In search of something to plagiarise, the students who find my post about a family stroll in the woods must be sorely disappointed. Anyway, a post about a walk around Roeburndale, which TBH and I enjoyed four years ago at around this time of year, is another which has been making regular appearances in my stats of late. Which got me thinking about a return visit.

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I was intrigued by this small tree, or large shrub, down by the river on the edge of the wood, by a riverside meadow. I’ve pretty much convinced myself that it is an example of our native, Wild Privet. The flowers are plentiful and quite striking.

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My only nagging doubt is caused by the fact that I remember privet hedges having tiny leaves, but I suppose that they may have consisted of imported cultivars of another privet?

Once again, the Bluebells and Ramsons in Outhwaite Wood were stunning…

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All too soon, the permission path leaves the river and climbs up through the woods to traverse their top edge, close to the field boundary.

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Before eventually dropping down to cross the river by this footbridge…

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This is the stretch of river where I brought the children to swim a few years ago, and we were eaten alive by insects. No such problem on this occasion.

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Roeburndale – Ingleborough in the distance.

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Little Salter Methodist Chapel.

The route which TBH and I had followed turns left here and cuts across the valley before heading down, but I decided to continue onward, adding an extra loop around the head of the valley. (A PDF leaflet of that route can be found here and here, at least at the moment: the link I added to my previous post doesn’t seem to work anymore).

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Approaching Haylot farm I spotted a couple of Hares, a treat since it’s something I don’t see all that often. Years ago – I can date it fairly precisely to the early 1990s – I watched a pair of Little Owls near this farm. I don’t think I’ve seen any since.

Just past the farm, I walked through a small field where I was mugged by a flock of sheep. I’m familiar with the late evening behaviour of sheep at lambing time, whereby they will group together and follow a walker through a field, making a proper racket in the meantime, but this particular flock were the most aggrieved and aggressive bunch I have ever come across, shepherding me out of their field on no uncertain terms, snapping at my heels as I went. Well almost. It was very unnerving.

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More Wild Privet in Melling Wood.

The path through Melling Wood was an absolute delight. Firstly, there were no aggressive sheep. Secondly, the path contoured across the precipitous slopes of Mallow Gill. I definitely need to come back this way again. This path is part of the Lancashire Witches Way which I intend to investigate further.

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Mallowdale Pike and High Stephen’s Head – Ward’s Stone, the highest point in the Bowland Fells is not too far behind.

This was a great walk for birdwatching, but I didn’t do so well with my camera. In open fields there were Curlews and Lapwings on every side, but none of my photographs came out very well…

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I could hear Cuckoo’s constantly, and thought I saw one in Outhwaite Wood, as well as a Pied Flycatcher, though I couldn’t swear to either. I missed the Hares too, which were gone before I could train my camera on them.

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Brownthwaite Pike, Gragareth, Whernside, Ingleborough.

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Just after reaching the road at Harterbeck, I found a comfortable boulder to sit on to enjoy the sunset and have a bite to eat. The farmer was still out and about tending his sheep and came over for a chat. He was tickled by the possibility that I might be walking home to Silverdale that night (which I wasn’t obviously), and also by the fact that I originate from the ‘flat country’ of Lincolnshire. (I know, it’s not all flat Dad, but I’ve given up trying to argue that one).

I decided to follow the road down back to Wray: easy navigation and no more mad sheep encounters. Even though the temperature dropped rapidly once the sun had gone, I was accompanied, most of the way down, by the flickering wings of bats which were coursing up and down the lane.

A great walk, but quite a long one for an evening after work, I estimate close to 10 miles. I was glad to get back to my car in Wray, but already scheming about my next outing.

Roeburndale Round