Equinoctial

P1160668

The evenings are drawing in, and the windows for post-work walks are rapidly closing.

P1160669

Time to squeeze in a few trips to The Cove to catch some sunsets.

P1160671

Advertisements
Equinoctial

Whitfell and Devoke Water.

Or: Three Brews with Views.

Birker Fell Road – Rough Crag – Water Crag – White Pike – Woodend Height – Yoadcastle – Stainton Pike – Holehouse Tarn – Whitfell – Woodend Height – Devoke Water – Seat How – Birker Fell Road.

P1160580

Hesk Fell, Woodend Height and Stord’s Hill seen across Devoke Water from Rough Crag.

It was our turn to do Kitchen Duty at rugby and TBH offered to go in my stead. I didn’t need to be asked twice. The MWIS forecast gave hill fog, with the best chance of some sunshine in the west, so I drove out to Ulpha in the Duddon valley and then up to park on the Birker Fell Road. Pike How, just above the road is a marvellous view point and one to bear in mind for future reference. It didn’t take long to reach Rough Crag either and I found a comfortable spot out of the chilly wind blowing from the north…

P1160582

…and settled down for an early brew stop.

P1160586

Water Crag from Rough Crag.

Water Crag was also easily and quickly ascended.

P1160587

Looking back to Rough Crag from Water Crag.

P1160590

This rocky little knoll is Brantrake Crags. It’s off modest height and probably doesn’t appear in any guide books anywhere, but I thought it looked worth climbing. The stream beside it, Linbeck Gill, which drains Devoke Water, also looked like a good place to explore.

After Rough Crag and Water Crag, Birkett suggests a lengthy traverse to take in The Knott. For once, I’d done my research in advance and discovered that Wainwright, in his Outlying Fells book, has a separate walk which takes in the Knott, but also the ancient settlement at Barnscar and the waterfall of Rowantree Force. That seemed like a more sensible option to me, so I skipped The Knott and climbed directly to White Pike. After the previous two, very easy, ascents, this one seemed like a long way. It was well worth it though. The prominent cairn…

P1160595

…marked a spot with excellent views.

P1160597

Whitfell and Stainton Pike from White Pike.

P1160600

Cumbrian west coast from White Pike.

P1160602

Eskmeals viaduct and Isle of Mann.

P1160596

Woodend Height and Yoadcastle.

All of the peaks on this walk had stunning views. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favourite, but Woodend Height would be hard to beat; from it’s top you can have great fun picking out all of the big hills of the western Lakes, across Devoke Water.

P1160604

P1160607

Yoadcastle, Whitfell and Stainton Pike from Woodend Height.

Aside from the minor difficulty of surmounting a wire fence with a top strand of barbed wire, the walk around to Stainton Pike was delightful. This was yet another good view point.

P1160616

Looking back to Yoadcastle from Stainton Pike.

P1160617

Holehouse tarn and Whitfell from Stainton Pike.

P1160618

The estuaries of the Irt and the Esk from Stainton Pike.

It seemed like another brew was in order, and I found a wonderfully sheltered spot to sit to enjoy it.

P1160625

The Irt and the Esk and the dunes of Drigg nature reserve.

P1160624

Muncaster Castle.

P1160629

Isle of Mann and Eskmeals viaduct.

From there then, on to Whitfell.

P1160632

Large summit cairn on Whitfell.

P1160631

Looking back along my route.

P1160633

Duddon Estuary, Black Coombe and Buckbarrow.

On Whitfell you are a bit further away from the hills of Wasdale and Eskdale, but if anything, I thought this enhanced the view. I took several panoramas during the course of the day. Sadly, none of them were very successful, but I’ve included this one, if for no other reason than to remind myself of the great sweep of hills from Whin Rigg in the west round to Caw at the southern extreme of the Coniston Fells.

P1160638

Despite the forecast hill-fog, the higher fells were often clear…

P1160642

Scafells, Esk Pike, Bowfell, Crinkle Crags.

I’d flirted with the idea of descending from here, via Biggert to Hole House, then climbing The Pike and Hesk Fell on my way back to Devoke Water. This now seemed overly ambitious, and Hesk Fell looked every inch the tedious lump which Wainwright bemoans. So I wandered back to Woodend Height, skirting the other summits on my way.

Dropping off Woodend Height toward Rowantree How, I found another comfortable, sheltered seat and settled down for another brew.

P1160645

The view from my final brew stop.

P1160647

The same view from a little lower down: the rocky knoll on the left is Rowantree How. Note Seat How to the right of Devoke Water.

P1160650

Devoke Water and Seat How.

P1160653

Devoke Water boat house.

Seat How is another modest little top, but it is gratifyingly craggy, giving a satisfying scrambling finish to the round

P1160658

Devoke Water from Seat How.

P1160659

The pastures around Woodend, Hesk Fell behind.

P1160661

Harter Fell, Crook Crag, Green Crag, Great Crag.

I’ve often pontificated about the elements which come together to provide a good day on the hoof; I shan’t start again here, except to say that a really good walk might not just leave you wanting to come back and do it again someday, but may also fill your head with ideas for other walks you’d like to do soon. That was certainly the case with this one: not only did I find myself wanting to return to reascend many of the familiar hills I could see around me, but I also now plan to head round to the west coast to grab The Knott, and to explore the dunes at Drigg; I need to bag Buckbarrow, and The Pike, and even Hesk Fell; I spent large parts of the day thinking about a Duddon watershed walk and also wondering how to continue a high level route which would begin with Black Combe and then head north over Whitfell and these Devoke Water tops. Speculating about these more fanciful routes was great fun….in fact: where are my maps? After Harter Fell, where next?

Whitfell and Devoke Water.

Middleton Nature Reserve

P1160474

Migrant Hawker.

Being the continuing adventures of a taxi-driving Dad.

Last Saturday, B had a rugby match, playing hooker (he’s suitably bonkers) for his school team away at Morecambe High (where, many moons ago, I used to teach). Unlike some of his contemporaries, B doesn’t seem too concerned about whether his team win or lose, just so long as the result seems fair, and at the end of the game declared: “That was fun!”, despite his team having taken a bit of a hammering.

Afterwards, we dashed home, but, in my case, only for a quick turn around, as I took Little S to a nerf gun birthday party in – guess where – Morecambe. I realise that the rational thing to do would have been to take both boys to both events, but it seemed easier at the time to do it this way. With S dropped off, only a few minutes late for his war game, I had the best part of two hours to kill and decided to go hunting for one of the three Wildlife Trust reserves which I knew to be somewhere around Heysham. Idiotically, I hadn’t checked the exact locations in advance, so resorted to driving around, with more hope than confidence, until I spotted a likely looking car park and found that I had stumbled upon Middleton reserve.

P1160472

After a bite of lunch, and whilst walking around the reserve, I met a man who told me that he remembered when this was the site of a petrochemical plant. Now it has two large ponds and a mixture of meadows and scrub.

P1160471

Hoverfly, possibly Helophilus pendulus, on an Alder leaf.

P1160480

Fox and cubs.

This patch of waste ground maybe a tad unprepossessing at first glance, but look a little closer and there is a great deal to enjoy. I was very much put in mind of Richard Mabey’s marvellous book The Unofficial Countryside, which is about how nature, left to its own devices, can reclaim scraps of once industrialised land like this.

The sun was warm and there were no end of dragonflies about, although few of them would pose for a photo.

P1160485

Female Common Darter.

P1160486

Speckled Wood.

P1160494

Blackberries.

There were lots of flowers still in bloom and it was obvious that, had I had been here earlier, in the summer, there would have been even more to see.

P1160491

Wild Carrot, the ancestor of all domestic carrots.

P1160493

When the flowers turn into spiny seeds, the umbel curls in on itself.

P1160490

P1160499

More hoverflies on what I assume are Michaelmas Daisies.

P1160500

A willowherb?

I could hear the contact calls of small birds from all sides and, with lots of teasels and other tall seed-heads about, I wondered whether they might be Goldfinches. Eventually, they flew across the path ahead of me, then settled above me, on teasels growing on a high bank. Here’s some of them…

P1160511

The photo didn’t come out brilliantly and only a small part of the charm are here, but the flocks of Goldfinches which gather at this time of year are delightful, so I wanted to include the photo anyway.

P1160518

Common Toadflax.

P1160523

Mute swans – could they still be nesting in mid-September?

P1160525

There were plenty of half-hidden reminders of the areas past – the remnants of tarmac covered surfaces, these huge tyres, odd bits of buildings here and there, but they mostly seem to be slowly disappearing.

P1160527

Abundant Haws.

P1160528

P1160534

Crane Fly.

A blade of grass apparently dancing in a way completely contrary to the direction of the wind alerted me to this spider, which was busy constructing a web.

P1160540

P1160544

P1160551

Male Common Darter.

P1160559

As I came to the end of my walk and was running out of time before needing to head off to pick up Little S, I came to a really sheltered spot where, not only were there even more dragonflies, but, in addition, the Common Darters were sunning themselves in obvious spots, as seems to be their wont.

P1160562

Male Common Darter.

P1160563

Male Common Darter.

P1160568

Alder cones.

P1160572

Male Common Darter.

P1160574

Mating Common Darters. I’ve been confused in the past by the colour of females like this one, expecting the females to be yellow, but this pale blue colour is apparently typical of older females.

P1160576

Drone fly, or something similar, on Evening Primrose.

P1160579

Guelder Rose berries.

Middleton Nature Reserve

Brew with a View Too.

P1160450

Hagg Wood.

The very next evening, after my Arnside Knott excursion, I was out a bit earlier and able to enjoy the sunshine a little more, although the breeze was cool.

P1160449

Wilding apples.

P1160454

Hedgerow lichen.

P1160452

Sloes.

I was intending to brew-up and watch the sunset again, but I was also intent on collecting some sloes. I had gardening gloves with me, the thorns on Blackthorn are vicious, but, in the end, didn’t use the gloves, finding that a bit of circumspection was sufficient to protect my hands.

The hedgerow had been cut-back hard, earlier this year, and the hard, tart ‘bullies’ were disappointingly sparse.

P1160455

Haws.

P1160458

Hips.

P1160459

More wilding apples – I tried one of these, it was palatable, but nothing to write home about.

Fortunately, the Blackthorn bushes on Sharp’s Lot, National Trust land, had been left well alone and I fairly quickly filled my cup. They’re in the freezer now, I need to weigh them and decide whether I have enough for the Sloe Gin I intend to make (or maybe Sloe Vodka – I’m not find of Gin).

P1160462

TBH is a bit bemused, “But you don’t even like Sloe Gin!”

Which isn’t quite true, but she does have a point: I don’t really drink spirits these days. In truth, I’m a bit puzzled by my own enthusiasm; I think it’s maybe got more to do with the making than the drinking. Well, we’ll see.

My walk brought me to Jack Scout, but a little too late really: the sun hadn’t set, but it had dropped behind a band of cloud on the western horizon. Nevertheless, I fired up the stove again…

P1160465

…and watched the light fade behind the clouds whilst I drank my char.

P1160463

Brew with a View Too.

Brew with a View

P1160430

Alpkit had a sale; I was in possession of  Alpkit credit notes: an irresistible combination. I  bought a gas stove, which the Hard Man had recommended when we were camping in the Howgills earlier this year, and also a folding windshield and a titanium mug. The stove and the windshield will probably get lots of use on family outings, but, in honesty, the mug is a self-indulgent treat.

Anyway, on the evening that the new kit arrived in the post, I heard that the tide was in at Arnside and decided to field test my new toys. Time was short, so I drove to park just above Arnside Tower farm and then stomped up the Knott, hoping not to have missed the sunset.

P1160429

In the event, low cloud in the western sky meant that I couldn’t see the sun, but the river, brimful as promised, was flat calm and reflecting the sky, so I set the stove to boil and settled down to enjoy the tranquility.

P1160435

New kit at work.

P1160439

It was enormously restful; a great way to chill out for half an hour after a day at work.

P1160445

New gear.

P1160446

New gear bagged and ready for the off.

Brew with a View

How Do I Get Down?

IMG_2022

We were at Fellfoot park with a bunch of friends from the village, for the annual church picnic. To us the park has become Fell-ten-foot Park because of Little S’s unfortunate experience here: our family has track record with tree-climbing accidents. I spotted A high in the tree and decided to take a photo. She managed a smile, as you can see, but was hissing at me, not wanting to attract the attention of our friends, but wanting a private word with me:

“I don’t think I can get down.”

After taking this ideal opportunity to lecture a captive audience on the inadvisability of climbing anything you aren’t absolutely sure you can definitely climb back down, I relented and helped her find the good footholds on the knobbly trunk which she was having difficulty picking out from above.

IMG_2031

IMG_2023

The weather was very changeable and would eventually have us abandoning our idea of a barbecue in the park. However, this didn’t deter The Tower Captain from taking his Mirror Dinghy for a row…

IMG_2028

…or the boys and their friend E from swimming to the far bank. This was some feat, because, after rain, this bottom end of Windermere has quite a strong current.

IMG_2029

A and I also took one of our inflatable canoes out, which she described as ‘extremely relaxing’; presumably much more enjoyable than being stuck up a tree.

I chatted to a National Trust volunteer about photographs of camping pods which were on display and she told me that the plan is for the Park to become a campsite, or perhaps, in part a campsite. Apparently it has been one in the past. The Trust’s campsite at Low Wray, at the far end of the lake, was fully booked for the entirety of August when I tried to make a booking, so more capacity for camping on the lake shore seems like a sensible plan.

How Do I Get Down?

Garden Guests Again.

P1160425

P1160422

P1160426

At this point, it would be ideal if I had something intelligent to say about these deer, which were wandering around on our patio recently. I wondered whether I could age this buck from its antlers. The answer is a qualified ‘yes‘. It’s not as simple as counting the tines, although the fact that there are three here does mean that this buck is at least three years old. After that it gets more difficult.

 

Garden Guests Again.