High Cup


The Hardman came for a weekend visit, at the tail-end of November, bringing his daughters E and C with him. On the Saturday, none of us got up particularly early and we were very late leaving the house, which wasn’t ideal since we hoped to visit High Cup Nick. On the drive northward, the hills beyond Orton were plastered with snow, and with the sun shining, the children were very keen to stop to walk there. I confidently assured them that both the sunshine and the snow would be equally abundant at our eventual destination, but proved to be wrong on both counts.

The Hardman was very keen to access the Nick from below and the walk in from Dufton turned out to be quite a lengthy one. As we began to ascend into the High Cup valley, we found a reasonably sheltered spot for a brew and some butties…




Our late start ensured that we never made it to the Nick, instead we walked up the valley and then cut back up the hillside to meet the Pennine Way. We finished in the dark, which I always think is only right for a winter walk. The High Cup valley is stunning, I’m not sure if my photos really convey that, but it’s well worth a visit.

High Cup

High Cup

And Other Seas…


Just occasionally, after very heavy rain, the fields behind our house can flood. It’s a rare occurrence, but the downpours towards the end of November brought the most extreme flooding we’ve seen in our time here…


This is what it looked like on the Thursday morning. On the Wednesday evening I’d driven through water which, I suspect, I would have baulked at in daylight. After I took this photo, we struggled to commute into Lancaster, having to turn back twice where roads were closed.

Of course, every cloud has it’s proverbial silver lining. Where I saw flooding, the DBs saw an opportunity. On the Wednesday night they’d already been out together for a ‘paddle’, or more accurately, a wade, in the temporary lake. On the Thursday they decided to go one better.


And paddle a kayak in the field.


It was windy, and pretty cold, so we didn’t stay out for long, but it was an unusual experience, to say the least.


And Other Seas…

Far Other Worlds…


I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to think what I did with the rest of the weekend after my walk by the Lune. It took a a while, but it’s come back to me. I had things to do in the garden. My Dad had pointed out that the woodwork around our garage roof is need of a coat of…..varnish? Woodstain? Treatment? Anyway, whatever the stuff is that woodwork generally gets painted with. With a recommendation from a knowledgable friend I’d been to buy the requisite ‘stuff’, between dropping B off for his match and my walk by the river. When we got back, I set about preparing the ground; pressure washing and then sugar-soaping all of the woodwork. Then I read the instructions on the tin and discovered that the ‘stuff’ shouldn’t be applied when the temperature is below eight degrees. It was five. Bother. Is almost what I said at the time.

Not to worry. There were leaves to be swept up and composted and the Virginia Creeper which is supposed to climb attractively up the garage wall, had overstepped the mark and was now enveloping the entire roof, like some many tentacled Kraken, and threatening to lever off some of the roof-tiles. Before I could get in to hack that back, I had to lop another belligerent shrub, an overgrown Viburnum which was preventing me from reaching parts of the creeper.

That, and other odds and ends, kept me occupied for the Saturday afternoon, and for most of the Sunday, and, in honesty, whilst most of the cuttings have gone in the green bins, or been through the shredder and then added to the compost, the larger branches from the shrub are sitting in an unruly pile on the patio waiting for me to do something with them.

Anyway, the point is, when I finally called time on my ‘uncessant labours’, I took a wander down to the Cove, arriving just as the sun disappeared.

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find,
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that’s made
To a green thought in a green shade.
from The Garden by Andrew Marvell
I know that I’ve quoted bits of this poem here before. The whole thing is here.
Maybe, the busy day which had preceded it made sitting on the bench watching the colours change in the sky and reflected in the water and the mud all the sweeter?
Far Other Worlds…

Crook O’Lune and Aughton Woods


B was playing away for his school team in Liverpool, necessitating an early drop off in Lancaster and a lunch time pick-up. I decided to use the time between the two for a little wander along the Lune. The car park at Crook of Lune is pay and display these days, but only a pound for the whole day. Signs at the car park warned me that the path along the north bank of the river was closed due to a landslip, but, being pig-headed, I decided to head that way anyway, to take a look-see. The forecast promised fair weather, but I set-off with atmospheric, early-morning mist. The fields along the Lune here were very soggy, as if the river might recently have been above its banks.


What could be the purpose of this building on the far bank? Surely, the weir doesn’t need to be watched?


I was surprised to find Campion flowering on Armistice Day.



Waterworks Bridge – actually an aqueduct carrying two pipelines which supply water from Thirlmere to Manchester.


Just beyond the bridge, the path enters Aughton Woods.


I took the higher, permission path hoping it might perhaps take me around the damaged section of path by the river.

It didn’t, but it did take me to this view point in Lawson’s Meadow…


This would be an easy spot to get to after work. I can see myself returning as soon as the evenings are light enough.

The path down from there proved to be treacherous. Wet leaves, tree roots and the kind of muddy surface which slips, taking you with it. I fell over a couple of times, the second landing, unfortunately, very heavily on my camera. The fact that the camera doesn’t seem to be damaged is testament to the Camera Care Systems bag which I scrounged off my Dad. My back seems to have recovered too, although it was a bit sore at the time.

The landslip proved to be substantial. Several large trees had come down and it didn’t look at all easy to get around the various blockages. It’s a while now since this happened and hopefully there are plans to restore the right-of-way.


Although it’s not shown on the OS map, I now knew that I could cross Waterworks Bridge, so turned back through the woods along the lower path.


Aughton Woods and Ingleborough.


Anybody know the purpose of this? There were a couple of them, set well back from the river bank. You can see one, in fact, in the photo above of Ingleborough.


Waterworks Bridge again.


Aughton Woods and the Lune again.

Whilst I was in the woods, the cloud had substantially cleared and the sun was shining. The river turns through a huge loop here, doubling back toward Caton. It was really enjoyable to walk: the sun was shining, there were Cormorants and Goosanders in the river and Ingleborough looked fantastic…


I took far too many photos of Aughton Woods, the river and the mountain which dominates the valley.


I liked this tree and the small hut beneath it too.


It wasn’t the only one of its type I saw that day. There’s something by the door for holding…I’m not sure what?


Could be for fishermen? Or wildfowlers?


Eventually, I left the riverbank near Caton and headed back towards Crook O’Lune on the former railway line which is now a footpath and cycleway.

It’s not as nice walking as the riverside path, but, ironically, much busier.

Again, I was surprised by what seemed like unseasonal wildlife, this time a Blue Tit feeding a late brood in a pathside nesting box…



The Lune from Crook O’Lune. Quite different from the first photo!

I still had some time in hand, so went seeking out Gray’s Seat, a viewpoint popularised by the poet Thomas Gray in the eighteenth century.


Art on the old railway.



River Lune.


One of the bridges at Crook O’Lune. Last time we were here, in the summer, the boys swam in the river, to get clean….


…after taking part, with some friends, in the Badass Mucker challenge, an assault course. Not everyone got quite so filthy. Our boys sought out the muddiest sections and then swam in them. Again. B’s right arm is in a waterproof plastic cover because his arm was still in a pot at the time, after he broke it



Gray’s Seat was originally by the road. Artists visited and painted the famous view, including Turner. Then the road was moved and Gray’s Seat became a woodland.

This is Turner’s version of the view…

Crook of Lune, Looking towards Hornby Castle c.1816-18 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

…which I think is now in the Tate. I think it’s fair to say that he has taken considerable liberties with the landscape. It’s hard to make a comparison however, since this…


…is what the view looks like now.

Shortly after I arrived at my scheduled rendezvous with B, he texted to say he would be back just after two o’clock, more than an hour later than I expected. I walked into town looking for a cup of tea, whereupon he texted me again to say that he was sorry, but he had meant just after one. I think I’d had a better morning than he had: he’d had a taste of some of the dark arts of the front row and I think his neck was worse than my back. I shan’t repeat the uncharitable things he had to say about his opponents, or Mr Magoo their teacher, who refereed.

Crook O’Lune and Aughton Woods

Boat Trip from Bowness


Before our encounter with the Sparrowhawk, we’d had a visit from our friend J, who had won in a raffle a ’24 hour freedom of the lake’ family-ticket for the steamers on Windermere. Would we like to use it? We certainly would. We were a bit tardy getting out however, and by the time we’d found somewhere to park in Bowness, only really had time for a trip up to Ambleside and back.

B was adamant that he wanted to sit in the open seats on the top of the boat, despite the November cold, and I volunteered to join him because the rest of the family went for warm and dry inside.


I love the fresh perspective you get with a view of the hills from a boat.


And as we progressed, the sun shone, the forecast showers held off, and the higher hills at the northern end of the lake got steadily closer.



The hills around Langdale.


The Fairfield Horseshoe.



Waterhead, Ambleside.

On the way back, the hills were mostly behind, so the views weren’t so dramatic, dark clouds shrouded the sun, and I really regretted choosing to wear shorts. Still, we had a nice pub meal in Bowness to round off the trip.


Boat Trip from Bowness



We were in the process of getting three generations of the family out of the house and into the car for a trip out. Somebody, I think my Mum, had wandered around into the back garden and called the rest of us to see the commotion on the trampoline. A raptor had killed a pigeon, but was now confused by the netting around the trampoline and was struggling to get out.

Some of my bird books say that Sparrowhawks only take small birds, so although I thought this probably was a Sparrowhawk, I had my doubts, and wanted an expert opinion. My friend the Proper Birder tells me that this is definitely a Sparrowhawk, a first year female apparently. As with most raptors, the females are larger and are capable of taking something as large as a pigeon.



Light Up Lancaster


Lancaster has long had an impressive annual firework display. Having said that, it’s a long time since I witnessed it myself, so I’m assuming that it’s still at least as good as it used to be. Recently, the show has been preceded by Light Up Lancaster which brings various light related street performances and artworks to the city centre. We chose to watch the fireworks in Arnside again this year, but Light up Lancaster was on for two nights, so had a chance to see that too.


The lights on these structures, which had come from China apparently, were constantly changing.


At the Castle there was a show projected onto a large wall, featuring recorded music and a live choir.

And at the Judge’s Lodgings…


…something similar but projected only on to the windows.


This may have been my favourite.

There were a number of things to see at the Library, mostly with a science theme. Here, A and Little S have made models of dynamite molecules…


Vying with the Judge’s Lodges, in my opinion, for top spot in the show were the two huge lighted kites flying above Dalton Square…


…which changed colour as they moved.

An unusual evening’s entertainment!

Light Up Lancaster

If It’s Not Broke…


The Thursday of half-term, the weather forecast was set fair, so we had decided to get out for a walk (well, four of us anyway, TBH was back at work, Cumbria having had their half-term a week earlier). I think it was Little S who first mooted a local stroll, pointing out the advantage of not wasting time in the car. So it was that we set off on a very familiar route: up to the Pepper Pot, via ‘The Climbing Tree’, around the coast…


…and along the Kent to Arnside…


For lunch in the Pie Shop, or the Old Bakery as I think it’s properly known (sadly, it transpires that they don’t do giant Scotch Eggs midweek much to my disappointment).

And then home over Arnside Knott.



Arnside Knott Panorama – click on the photo, or any others, to see an enlarged version on flickr.

It’s a route we’ve walked, with slight variations, many, many times before, but so far none of us has tired of it. Photos of the kids in the tree at the top of the post are a staple of this blog; the tree hasn’t changed much over the last ten years, not the kids enthusiasm for climbing in it or swinging from its limbs. When they were tiny, I worried that when they were older they would be climbing way out of sight and terrifying me, but although they still like to climb it, they don’t seem any more intrepid now than they were then, not that I am complaining. In fact, when she was just a tot, A climbed along that left-hand branch to well past where B is sat in the picture and then declared herself stuck, and I had a merry time coaxing her down. It’s good that they still enjoy clambering around in trees, although I did get a bit chilled on the Knott waiting for them whilst they explored the possibilities of a tree they hadn’t climbed before. At least I had the view to distract me from the cold.

Elsewhere, we found great piles of leaves and B found some pretext, an imagined slight, to begin a leaf war, so we charged around kicking them into the air and just occasionally managing to successfully shower them over another member of the party. Another childish pleasure which they haven’t grown out of. And, to be fair, neither have I it seems.




If It’s Not Broke…

Jack O’Lanterns


Halloween, and the chance to carve pumpkins, brings out both the artistic and the competitive spirit in the family. Here are the results.


B and I both elected to carve ours all the way around, making several faces or images, and so wiled away most of an afternoon working on them.


Have to say, I enjoyed myself immensely.


I stopped short, though, of getting dressed up to join them for trick-or-treating.


It’s American I know, and perhaps I should bemoan the demise of apple-bobbing and such-like (although we did used to play messy games of that sort with our kids when they were younger), but the kids put a lot of effort into their outfits and make-up and enjoy seeing their friends out and about, and don’t seem to do any harm whilst they’re out.


Later in the week, my Mum brought us another pumpkin (from Lincolnshire she would want you to know) and I scooped out the flesh, fried it with some other veg, mixed in some rice, put it all back into the pumpkin and finally baked the whole thing, and it was surprisingly palatable – I’ve always assumed we made lanterns with them because they aren’t much cop to eat.


Jack O’Lanterns

Must I Paint You a Picture?


‘What!’ I hear you cry. ‘More sunset photos from the Cove?’


Well, like buses and bad fortune, it seems that my dusk trips to the Cove sometimes come in threes. This was back in half-term, I’d had a lengthy rugby watching engagement earlier in the day. TBH and A had been out for a walk, which had taken in the Cove. Or was it a run? It depends on whether they were needing to hit their targets for intense exertion for the day, or simply the mandatory step-count. They both have these new-fangled watches which seem to do everything but tell the time and they’re very competitive with each other in reaching their goals for the day. Anyway, they’d been past the Cove, probably chiming simultaneously as their watches celebrated them hitting their vitamin D targets, or somesuch, and they recommended that I follow suit to see the art work on the beach.

So I did.


It was actually after the sunset, and quite dark, by the time I reached the Cove. My camera did pretty well capturing reasonably clear images I thought.


I don’t know who made this pattern, or why. But I like it.


The first tide will have washed it away.


Must I Paint You a Picture?