“That’s a pretty full set of experiences for an evening walk. Flowers, birds, deer, caves, gorges, rivers.”
“Yes – I may continue this theme of exploring tributaries of the Lune – a walk which starts low in the Lune valley and then climbs up into the hills gives a tremendous variety of scenery, flora, fauna etc.”
“I think your suggested tributary project is a good idea.”
This exchange, between Andy, Conrad and myself, from the comments on a previous post, really set me to thinking. The idea of exploring the tributaries of the Lune, which started life as no more than an off-the-cuff remark, now seemed really quite enticing. I found a list of tributaries on Wikipedia; even a cursory glance at a map revealed that list to be far from comprehensive, but there’s intrigue and poetry in some of the names: Peggymarsh Pool, Whitespout Gutter, Sweet Beck, Traitor’s Gill, Aygill, Wrestle Gill. There are some familiar names which surprised me a little: the waterfalls on the River Rawthey which drains Baugh Fell and Widboar Fell and the Mare’s Tail on Whernside both ultimately feed into the Lune, as does Fell Beck which tumbles into the yawning chasm of Gaping Gill and resurges from Ingleborough Cave. On the other hand, there are many more unfamiliar areas: Birk Beck up near Shap, the many becks and gills which run down the northern valleys of the Howgills into the infant Lune, the River Wenning and it’s valley.
I’ve begun to pore over maps even more than I usually do; tracing wriggling blue lines back up away from the Lune through steepening contours. Of course, not even obsession is original: while looking for a map of the Lune watershed I came across ‘The Land of the Lune’ by John Self. I’ve a strong feeling that I’ve seen this book before, made a mental note that I ought to buy it in future, and then promptly forgotten. Fortunately for me, the second addition is available free online. I suspect I shall be consulting it a lot in the coming months.
Anyway, after two days of heavy rain, when the opportunity of an after work walk presented itself, something with waterfalls seemed appropriate. I opted for the Rivers Twiss and Doe, which join to form the River Greta and then flow into the Lune. Of course, this is better known as the Ingleton Waterfalls walk, and has appeared on this blog once before. According to the leaflet I was handed when I paid my fee for parking and for the walk, the route is roughly 4½ miles and should take between 2½ and 4 hours. I had already decided that, having paid for the privilege, I was going to do the leisurely version and get value for money. (I had thought about parking elsewhere in the village and walking the route in reverse, thus circumventing the charge, but…£6 well spent I thought, you can judge for yourself at the end of the post!)
There were still quite a few other people embarking on the route even though it was quite late, but they’d soon left me behind because I spent so long taking numerous blurred photos of the juvenile Dipper and the parent who was in attendance. The interactions between the adult bird and the youngster were momentary and purposeful and often involved the fledgling moving before receiving its snack, so that the only photo I managed to get of them together involves a lot of moving feathers and smudged wings.
Taking my time like this, I was pleasantly surprised by how rocky and steep-sided the Swilla Glen is. I also don’t recall ever noticing this cave before.
When I finally left behind the distraction of the Dippers, I found I moved into the territories of several Grey Wagtails. I took a lot more photos, and some of them even came out reasonably sharp.
Early Bumblebee on Water Avens.
Near Thornton Force I sat on a bench to eat a snack and watched a group of hard-hatted, hammer-toting geology students, the latest in a series of such encounters along the Glen.
Above the Force, it was the turn of a Pied Wagtail to pose for many photos.
Another male Reed Bunting.
I tried, in vain, to get photos of the Sand Martins which were streaming along above the river.
A Meadow Pipit (perhaps).
Looking towards the Forest of Bowland.
There are many waterfalls on both the Twiss and the Doe and I haven’t included photos of them all. This may be one of the smallest…
…but look for the little speck of white on the mossy rock on the far bank. It’s another…
It was preening itself. I was standing with my back to the trunk of the tree on the left of the photo below and the Dipper didn’t seem to be aware of my presence. I was able to take lots of photos, but unfortunately most of them are blurred.
Throughout almost all of the walk, I could hear woodland birds on all sides, but generally couldn’t see them. Towards the end of the outing I heard Woodpeckers on more than one occasion. Eventually I managed to pick out one of them in the canopy above…
I do realise that not all of the Lune’s tributaries are this spectacular; still, this has hardly dampened my enthusiasm for the scheme!