Oxenber Wood, from just above Austwick.
My post-work walking outings this year have been exceptional. So much so that I’m almost regretting the fact that work has come to an end for the summer*. This walk started on a sunny afternoon in Austwick, a picturesque village which, inexplicably, I completely neglected to photograph.
Robin Proctor’s Scar and Nappa Scars.
Robin Proctor’s Scar.
Skylark. I think.
Classic perched Norber Erratic.
Skylark and Meadow Pipit – the Proper Birder told me that Skylark’s are larger!
I spent quite a long time exploring the famous Norber Erratics, zig-zagging back and forth taking photographs of birds, boulders and the expanding views. I was pleased that the erratics were so clearly of a different rock than the underlying white limestone, having been mistaken about erratics before.
I wasn’t expecting to stumble across a manhole cover. A caver’s dig?
Seems likely. A quick google reveals that this is indeed a dig, an attempt to find an easier route into Nappa Scar Cave, which was itself discovered by a digging party in 2013.
The very white, highly-textured limestone, made for very distinctive drystone walls…
View to a distant Pendle Hill.
Pen-y-Ghent above Moughton Scars
Ingleborough from Norber.
Unusually, this post has no photographs of butterflies, although I did see quite a number of Small Heaths in the grassy areas between the Limestone Pavements and some Red Admirals later on.
Pen-y-Ghent across the head of Crummack Dale.
Crummack Dale is surrounded on all sides by limestone scars and at it’s northern end by two sets of cliffs with a large area of limestone pavement in between. I’ve camped near Austwick on several occasions in the past and feel that I must have been this way before, but, then again, if I have then surely I would remember: this is truly breath-taking scenery. To me it compared with seeing High-Cup Nick or Malham Scar for the first time. My photos totally fail to do justice to it, but perhaps that explains why it isn’t as well known as it might otherwise be – it is difficult to capture the grandeur of this scenery in a photo.
…was taken at Sulber Gate. Next time I’m in this area I intend to sit here and make a brew and eat a lengthy picnic whilst I enjoy this view.
Panorama, click on the photo (or any other) to see a larger version on Flickr.
I was a bit surprised to discover that this area, in amongst all of this limestone, is genuinely a moss, that is wet and boggy, with Bog Asphodel and Cotton Grass and a few acid-loving plants you might not expect to see hereabouts.
I wouldn’t normally include a picture of a stile…
…but this is named on the map: it’s the Beggar’s Stile. A path continues from here along the edges of Moughton Scars and I must come back to try that path sometime soon, but on this occasion I wanted to drop down into Crummack Dale.
To seek out another tributary of the Lune, Austwick Beck, which is the dark line in the middle of the photo below…
And which flows out of a cave mouth, which was unfortunately rather difficult to photograph because the sun was just above the horizon, making the light difficult.
Austwick Beck Head.
To the east…
…another stream flows down to join Austwick Beck from a spring at Moughton Whetstone Hole, somewhere else I shall have to come back to explore another time.
The Limestone Pavements had been busy with Wheatears, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. This wall was host to several families of Wheatears, juveniles and adults alike, all perching on the crest of the wall, or the wire, or the fence posts…
As I approached Crummack I could near a Buzzard calling from the crags off to the right. I scanned in vain, but couldn’t pick it out, until it flew away from the crag and apparently straight for me. It made a bee-line, but then veered off when it was about half-way between me and the crag, landing in the trees surrounding the farm at Crummack. I wondered whether the apparent flight in my direction was just a coincidence and continued to check the trees trying to spot the bird. I couldn’t see it, but could still hear it calling and then I noticed a second, larger Buzzard, presumably the female, heading up the valley towards the trees.
When I lost sight of this second Buzzard, I wandered a bit further down the valley, but stopped again a little way on to admire the view. The smaller Buzzard, the male, now made a second flight, arrow-straight and unmistakably heading directly for me, this time leaving it much later to veer off and return to the trees. This was nothing like the close shave I had in the past, but I definitely felt like I was being warned off. I did get a photo of the male, just as it changed course, but it is disappointingly blurred.
Part of the reason I’d stopped was to consult my map in order to amend my route. The western side of the valley was now in deep shade, so I opted to take the track across the dale towards Studrigg Scar.
Clapper bridge over Austwick Beck.
The track on the far side of the valley turned out to be a narrow affair, slightly overgrown and overrun with flies. It might have been a disappointment, given how shady it was, but for the fact that many of the verdant plants hanging over the path were canes loaded with Raspberries.
Most weren’t ripe, but there were still more then enough for me, and they were delicious. I don’t think I’ve seen such a fine crop of wild raspberries since I was walking in the Black Forest something like 30 years ago.
From the tiny hamlet of Wharfe, rather than heading straight back to Austwick, I crossed this little brook…
…cheerful with Monkeyflowers….
…then over Wharfe Gill Sike and round the hillside under Wharfe Wood and Oxenber Wood (more places to come back to explore). I had hoped that I could chase the sunshine up the hillside, but it was much faster than me and I finished the walk in shade, although I could see that the sun was shining still on the slopes of the hills above Bentham.
Flascoe Bridge and Austwick Beck.
The final section of path had a fine display of the tall and showy Giant Bellflower, though it was getting a bit dark to take photos. This has appeared here on the blog before, but I’m much more confident about my identification this time, partly because ‘The Wild Flower Key’ is excellent, especially now that I am beginning to know my way around it a bit, but also because there are several very detailed wildflower plant websites available now.