Another Orchid Hunt

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Cartmell Fell, the Kent and Whitbarrow Scar from Arnside Knott.

An unexpected window for an evening stroll. I set out intending to walk around the Knott, rather than up it, but, as you can see from the photo above, I did eventually climb to the top. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Some more photos from the garden first…

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As if to prove my point about fledglings lacking caution, this little ball of fluff, a juvenile blue tit, sat in the Sumach in our garden and didn’t move or flinch as I approached with my camera despite noisy entreaties from a parent bird.

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For once, I didn’t start from home, but gave the walk a kick-start by parking in a lay-by on the south side of the Knott. From there the view of Arnside Tower…

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…makes it seem to still be in a good state of repair, rather than the semi-ruin which the view from the far side, which I more usually post, suggests.

I took the gradually ascending path which has become something of a favourite, but then cut back down into the fields of Heathwaite…

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There were lots of Common Spotted-orchids, here seen with Quaking Grass – they often seem to be companions. I’d also been tipped off, by Craig who looks after the local National Trust properties and was one of the attendees of the Grass course I did, that there were some less common orchids growing there.

These…

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…which have been protected from grazing rabbits…

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…are Fragrant Orchids, which I’ve previously seen at Tarn Sike nature reserve last summer. There were also some growing outside the netting, rather bedraggled specimens, but I was able to confirm for myself the strong carnation like scent which gives them their name.

Nearby another netted area held…

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…Lesser Butterfly-orchids, another flower which I was seeing for only the second time, having unexpectedly come across one in a tiny churchyard, also last summer.

There were a few Northern Marsh-orchids nearby too, but they were in the shade and my photos came out even less sharply than the ones above, so I’ve omitted them.

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Dropwort.

I was also hoping to find the Spiked Speedwell which I’d seen flowering here last summer, another first last year, but couldn’t find any, which was not entirely a surprise since Craig had told me that the long spell of hot, dry weather was adversely affecting the speedwell.

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Looking south along the coast.

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A poser. The shape and colour suggests Northern Marsh-orchid, but the markings on the flower look like Common Spotted-orchid. They do hybridise, so that’s probably the explanation.

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By now the light was glorious.

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But the sun was beginning to sink.

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I had one more spot to check out. Craig had perfectly described a patch of bracken, by the path in Redhill Pasture, where there were more Lesser Butterfly-orchids…

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The path continues to skirt the hill from here, but was in the shade, so I decided to climb so that I could keep the light for longer.

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A thrush’s anvil.

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A thrush.

I made an unfortunate choice, following a different path than the one I usually take, which petered out leaving me stranded in very tall bracken, which might not have been so bad were there not brambles and blackthorn growing concealed by the bracken.

Still, the views were worth it…

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And there were wild strawberries to accompany the views – small but very tasty.

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Across Silverdale Moss to the Pennines.

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Another Orchid Hunt

A Walk from Claughton

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Claughton Hall Farm.

A mid-week, post-work stroll. I wanted a shortish walk and not too much of a drive, so that I could guarantee an early finish. For one thing, I wanted to get back to take B to Lancaster for a late start to a school-trip to France. And for another thing, the forecast was for the weather to finally break, with rain expected as the evening progressed and gale force winds in the early hours. So I’d been poring over the map, looking at Lune tributaries close to my work-place in Lancaster. The slopes behind the villages of Caton and Claughton have several streams – Mears Beck, Westend Beck, Barncroft Beck and Claughton Beck – to which there is, frustratingly, little or no access. However, whilst inspecting these I inevitably noticed the gothic script close by denoting Claughton Hall and was instantly intrigued. A quick search on the internet and I knew that this was something I had to go and see for myself – “Large house, c.1600 with C15th remains, moved to present site and rebuilt 1932-5.” (from Historic England).

The house, which used to be in the village of Claughton, was dismantled and rebuilt half way up the moors above the village. One wing was left in situ however, now called Claughton Hall Farm and seen in these first two photos.

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Claughton, incidentally, is pronounced Klaften by locals and probably a hundred and one other ways by the rest of us.

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St. Chad’s Church.

St. Chad’s Church is next to the farm. There has apparently been a church on this site for almost a thousand years, although the current building only dates back to 1815, so it’s a shame to see it locked-up and abandoned and disappearing behind thickets of weeds and saplings.

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There’s only one path from Claughton which heads up into the hills so I decided just to do an out and back. There look to be a couple of other good options, but both require a little more time and effort.

I hadn’t gone far up the track before I came across this…

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…by a path which was shadowing Claughton Beck. This seem to me like a kind invitation to visit the falls, so, pleasantly surprised, I left the track and set-off by the beck, but didn’t get far before I came across a tangle of fallen trees blocking the path and elected to turn back again…

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Honeysuckle.

Despite the gloomy skies, I was enjoying the views down the valley to the hills around Kirkby and, dominating the view, Ingleborough.

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I was also intrigued by the low, partially wooded hill in the middle distance, which I now know to be Windy Bank, behind Hornby and between the Lune and the Wenning, and which is now on my list of places I need to visit for a walk.

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Lune Valley pano.

Sadly, behind me there was no view of Claughton Hall, only a dense hedge of Leylandii, or something similar. I reflected that the impulse which drives somebody to move their home away from a village and half-way up a hill might also lead them to screen themselves completely from the outside world, but I’ve since discovered that the hall could still be photographed from the track relatively recently. The gateway was open and I suppose I could have taken a wander down the drive, but I’ve settled instead for a photo of the hall, from around 1910, before it was moved…

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Source

From this point on, the walk turned into a bit of a birding excursion, as these Lune Catchment walks have often been prone to do.

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Juvenile Wren, at least I think it’s a juvenile.

It may partly be to do with the time of year: there are lots of fledglings about and they don’t seem to share the caution of their parents. Then to, the parents themselves are busy fussing over their brood, providing food and guidance.

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Along the track there were several more of these curious headstones and I began to think that perhaps they weren’t an open invitation to the hoi-polloi like me. Maybe they’re for visitors to the hall?

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Hedge Woundwort. The gorgeous ginger bumblebee just wouldn’t pose for a photo.

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This strikes me as unusual, although I’ve no real idea whether it is or not: Claughton has a brickworks which is supplied from a clay-pit (essentially a large quarry) on the hillside above, via this aerial ropeway.

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Skylarks.

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I passed Moorcock Hall, a farm, and then the wind-farm on Caton Moor. The towers are huge and, up close, a bit oppressive.

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I was convinced that this must be a juvenile Stonechat. I’m not sure why I was so sure, since I can’t recall ever having seen one before.

Perhaps stupidly, I’d set off with just my camera and a map for company. No bag, or coat, or other kit. To the north I’d seen the hills of the Lake District slowly disappear in a miasma. There’d been odd drops of rain in the air and I’d wondered about the sanity of continuing. But when I reached the summit of Caton Moor, which I’ve never visited before, it brightened up and I was even treated to a little weak sunshine.

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The Three Peaks from Caton Moor.

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Ward’s Stone from Caton Moor.

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There were clear paths heading off towards Littledale and Roeburndale, which would be the two other possible walks I could envisage on Caton Moor. I was particularly taken with the path towards Roeburndale. Another time.

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Small Heath butterfly.

I saw loads of these on my evening walks last summer, so I was pleased to finally see one this year.

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Walking back past the wind-farm I kept seeing a pair of Painted Lady butterflies. I couldn’t understand how I kept losing them and then seeing them as they flew up apparently from almost under my feet. Then I spotted one with its wings closed…

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Beautiful, but also cunningly disguised.

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I also saw a family of the same kind of birds that I seen on the wall when I was on the way up…

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But this time with an adult male Stonechat initially with them on the wall…

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…though he soon flew off.

A lovely outing and the rain held off until I was safely ensconced in my car. By the time I got home it was raining hard and when I dropped B off it was pelting down. The wind also eventually arrived, if anything even worse than forecast. There was a lot of debris on the roads the following morning and we drove past the end of a lane which was blocked by a fallen tree.

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A Walk from Claughton

Another Tour of Farleton Fell

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Beetham Fell, Kent Estuary, Whitbarrow Scar and Lakeland Fells from Farleton Fell.

The Explorer Scouts, with A amongst them, were trying out scree running on the slopes of Farleton Fell. Since it would fall to me to either take A and her friends or collect them, I decided that I would do both, earn double the brownie points, and get out for a walk of my own whilst I waited for them to finish. I dropped them off near Holme Park Farm, but since there isn’t much scope for parking there, I drove up to the high point of the Clawthorpe Fell Road and left the car there (near the spot height of 192 on the map at the bottom of the post). After fulfilling a promise I made to myself not so long ago – of which more later – I set off following the wall which forms, initially at least, the eastern boundary of the access area on Newbiggin Crags.

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There’s a track here, not marked on the map, close-cropped and with different vegetation than the surrounding area; I would hazard a guess that this is an old track, in long use.

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It follows a level shelf which circles the hill and makes for very pleasant walking.

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Scout Hill.

It was a gloomy evening, very overcast, but the forecast had said that it would brighten up, so I had high hopes.

Eventually, the track swings westward and climbs a shallow, dry valley with a low, limestone edge on the right…

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The grassy slopes below the edge…

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Had lots of orchids…

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They were mostly quite dried-up and finished. These had me confused at the time, but looking at them now I feel sure that they must be Early Purple Orchids. In the fields around home these have long since shrivelled up and disappeared, but I suppose the extra bit of elevation must be sufficient to make the flowering both begin and end a little later here.

The path brings you to the little col between the twin summits of Farleton Knott and Holmepark Fell. If I’d had a little more time I would have stayed with the path – it drops down to the paths which follow the base of the western edge – but I was conscious of the time, and too tempted by the view from the top.

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Farleton Knott.

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Looking back down the dry valley, sunshine finally arriving.

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Middlebarrow, Arnside Knott, Beetham Fell.

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Looking along the edge to Warton Crag.

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Hart’s-tongue Fern.

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Meadow-oat Grass – I did learn something on my course.

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Returning by a higher route on Newbiggin Crags. Ingleborough still in the murk in the distance.

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Skylark – I think.

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Coal Tit.

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The sunshine has reached the hills to the east by the time I was approaching the car again. The wind had picked up too; the little wind-turbine in the centre of this photo was whizzing around now. I’d walked past it twice earlier – the first time it wasn’t turning at all and the second time only rotating lazily.

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You can see on the map above why I’d already walked past the wind turbine twice. I detoured down to Whin Yeats Farm, where there’s a…

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…portashop?

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An honesty box, a fridge, and milk and cheese for sale…

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I’d seen this advertised on a previous visit to Fareton Fell and resolved to try this local produce when an opportunity arose. The next evening, the boys and my Father-in-Law joined me to sample the cheeses…

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I think this is the Farmhouse on the left and the Fellstone on the right. Both very tasty. The consensus was that we preferred the Fellstone. B described it as being ‘like Manchego, but stronger’, which is high praise, because he’s very fond of Manchego. I shall be getting those again.

 

Another Tour of Farleton Fell

An Introduction to Grasses.

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Exactly a week after my Grassland Monitoring course and I was on another course, organised again by Morecambe Bay Partnerships, this time on grasses, and based here in Silverdale.

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Initially, there was a presentation in the Green Room of the Gaskell Hall, introducing a handful of species commonly found in the major habitats in this area. Then we progressed to The Lots to test our new found knowledge.

And finally, went down to The Shore to look at the grasses on the salt marsh.

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Botanising.

I’ve had a couple of Field Guides to non-flowering plants – grasses, sedges, rushes, and ferns – for quite some time, but never seem to have got to grips with them. I still think that I’m going to find them challenging, but maybe now that I’m familiar with a few, I can start to slowly chip away at the others, like I have done with flowers.

Having said that, I didn’t make a good start – I took no pictures of grasses to add to this post, but when we got down to the shore and there were some flowering plants to see, out came my camera!

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Sea Milkwort.

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Sea Plantain.

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Thrift.

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These leaves, I was told, belong to an Orache. There are several, I’m not sure which this is. Not very exciting to look at I know, but it pleased me, because I knew I recognised the name and that I would find it, and I subsequently have, in the pages of the first field guide to plants which I bought – Richard Mabey’s ‘Food for Free’. Apparently, young leaves can be picked and used like spinach. Perhaps I should try it.

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When we’d finished, I walked home by a circuitous route across the sands to The Cove. Many people were out making the most of the firm surface created by the long spell of dry weather we were enjoying. We were all surprised by two microlights flying surprisingly low above the beach, you can see one in the photo above.

An Introduction to Grasses.

Perch in Lancaster Canal

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For reasons too tedious to go into, after work one afternoon I needed to leave my car on Aldcliffe Road and walk across town to Caton Road. It was frankly, a bit too hot for my liking, especially since I was still in my work clothes, but it did give the compensation of a walk along the canal. Now, I’ve walked along this stretch of water many, many times over the last twenty years, but I’ve never before had the impression that it was particularly densely populated with fish. On this occasion, however, it was blatantly teeming with them.

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This photo doesn’t really capture it, but shoals of them were just below the surface, spreading ripples across the canal. I could see they they were striped, with a greenish, orangey tinge, so I assume that they were Perch.

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Red Valerian again. Native to the mediterranean, it has been naturalised in the UK for centuries.

In the old wharves, opposite the Water Witch pub, there were, if anything, even more fish, but much smaller ones.

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Whether these were simply shoals of smaller Perch, or something else entirely, I couldn’t say.

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They could be though, since apparently Perch spawn in shallow water in spring. I can’t recall ever seeing anyone fishing this stretch of water, which is curious since…

Perch flesh makes exceptionally good eating. Adjectives that have been used to describe their flesh include white, firm, flaky, and most importantly, boneless and well-flavoured. On the continent perch are farmed and eaten in large numbers. Indeed, in Finland perch is the third most important fish by weight, after herring and sprats.

Perch also make good sport. On a summer’s evening the smaller perch can be seen queuing up to take the bait – perfect angling for beginners – while the larger, solitary individuals are sufficiently secretive and wary to make a specimen hunters life interesting. Although no where near the size of a decent pike or salmon, a large perch is a stunning animal. The Scottish rod record stands at 4lb 14oz (2.21 kg), but bigger perch undoubtedly swim in Scottish waters.

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I was tickled, in this passage, by the image of the Perch forming an orderly queue to take the bait. How very British.

Perch in Lancaster Canal

An Orchid Hunt

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Female Broad-bodied Chaser in the garden again.

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The final day of our Whit half-term holiday. TBH and I were out for a turn, looking for various kinds of orchids: I’d heard the previous day that there were Fly Orchids flowering at Trowbarrow Quarry, and felt that there would probably be Bee Orchids too, TBH wanted to see the Lady’s-slipper Orchids at Gait Barrows.

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The Elder was in flower and TBH had been busy making cordial, as she habitually does at this time of year. Very nice it is too.

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Trowbarrow.

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Comma butterfly.

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Fossilised coral at Trowbarrow.

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Common Spotted-orchid and Quaking Grass.

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Common Blue Butterfly on Bird’s-foot Trefoil its principal food-plant.

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Northern Marsh-orchid. Possibly.

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Bird’s-eye Primrose by Hawes Water. At the southern limit of its range.

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Common Spotted Orchid again.

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Northern Marsh-orchid or maybe a hybridisation of same with Common Spotted-orchid.

I didn’t find what I was looking for at Trowbarrow and at Gait Barrows the Lady’s-slippers were rather dried-out and exhausted looking.

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It was a very pleasant walk though.

 

An Orchid Hunt

Kirklands Kent’s Bank

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This tower, on Kirklands, by Kent’s Bank, which is a sort of suburb of Grange-over-Sands, was built as a folly, but nobody seems to know when or by whom. Allegedly, it’s on the site of a much earlier church and apparently open-air services are still held here sometimes in the summer. I was here as a continuation of the grassland monitoring, with Morecambe Bay Partnerships, which I helped with last year. We had a very short refresher course in the Victoria Hall in Grange and then came out here for some in-the-field revision. There’s no official public access to this area: we had permission, but judging by the well-walked paths in the area, the locals probably have a sort of de facto right-to-roam anyway. One of the volunteers in the party also volunteers on archeological digs and has worked here on three caves which revealed evidence of human habitation going back to just over ten thousand years ago. Also, even older remains of horses, elk and lynx.

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The hillside behind the folly, dipping into the cloud, is Hampsfell (not featured on this blog for far too long). The fact that lowly Hampsfell was in the cloud gives an indication of the weather – after several days which, even when cloudy, were still quite hot – the weather had turned overcast and a bit chilly.

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The hill seen across the Kent Estuary here is Arnside Knott – this spot is really not far from home, although it takes quite a while to drive because of a lack of a road bridge over the lower reaches of the Kent. One day, hopefully, a pedestrian bridge alongside the rail bridge will connect Arnside and Grange. On this occasion, I risked Northern Rails dodgy service and caught the train.

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Here’s the ‘team’ heading downhill. The low, wooded hill in the distance is Humphrey Head, another place I haven’t been to for quite some time.

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Botanising.

It was good to be out with like-minded people, not necessarily for a tutorial as such, but just to get back into the routine of how to carry out the surveys and the very close observation which is required in order to pick out some of the very tiny species which can be good indicators of healthy limestone grassland.

I did often get distracted by other things however. There was a Kestrel hovering overhead which I photographed several times, but on such a gloomy day none of the pictures came out very well.

Also…

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…this very dark and hairy insect which I thought would be distinctive enough to easily identify from a field guide. But sadly not: it looks to me like a mining bee, an Andrena speciesbut I’m not confident that it is one of those, and not at all sure which particular species.

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Hoverfly – possibly Helophilus Pendulus.

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Caterpillar of the Six-spot Burnett Moth.

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Bird’s-foot Trefoil (a food plant of the Six-spot Burnett Caterpillar).

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A Bedstraw. There are lots of different bedstraws and distinguishing between them is exceptionally difficult.

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Mouse-ear-hawkweed. There are lots of different Hawkweeds too, but this one, at least, is relatively easy to pick out.

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Lesser Trefoil (I think).

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Pig-nut. This plant has tiny tubers which taste, well, nutty. Pigs love them, and apparently they used to be very popular with country children too. Hard to try them now because it’s illegal to dig-up plants on somebody else’s land.

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Rock Rose (in profusion).

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Yellow Rattle, or Hay Rattle.

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Yellow Rattle seed capsules. They rattle, hence the name.

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Burnet Rose.

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Kidney Vetch.

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Heath Speedwell (that was the consensus opinion anyway).

Previous visit to Hampsfell here.

Previous visit to Humphrey Head here.

How to forage for pignuts.

Findings in Kent’s Bank Cave.

 

Kirklands Kent’s Bank

A Rumble of Thunder

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Red Valerian growing on a wall on the Row.

On the Friday of half-term, A was off in town watching a film and shopping with friends. The rest of us weren’t sure what to do, with storms and torrential rain forecast.

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Confusingly, ‘Red’ Valerian can be white, pinky-red or pink.

We settled for a local walk, sticking fairly close to home, so that we could scuttle back with our tails between our legs should the bad weather materialise. In fact, we heard the odd rumble of thunder as we set-off, and felt the occasional spot of rain, but that was all that came.

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Ragged Robin in Lambert’s Meadow. Always pink.

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Lambert’s Meadow has a new bridge, but the ditch it crosses has almost dried up.

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Water Aven’s.

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Water Aven’s gone to seed.

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Lambert’s Meadow.

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Ribwort Plantain.

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Why use the bridge when you can jump across?

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A banded snail.

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By Burtonwell Wood.

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Cow Parsley on Bottoms Lane.

Addendum: I completely forgot to mention, because I have no photos, and photos seem to serve in lieu of memory for me these days, that, at Bank Well, B and I watched fascinated as Newts repeatedly rose to the surface and dived again. These were fleeting glimpses that we had – nothing like the clear view we had last summer in Red Tarn, but satisfying none the less.

 

A Rumble of Thunder

High Dam and Thornton Force.

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We didn’t visit High Dam and Thornton Force in the same trip, but on two consecutive days over half-term. The Wednesday was overcast, but still warm and sticky and the boys and I decided to check out High Dam. It’s above the southern end of Windermere near Finsthwaite.

As the name suggests, it’s a reservoir, with a dam…

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…but don’t worry, it’s not drinking water.

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Columbine on the dam.

The water is relatively shallow (but deep enough to swim in), peaty, and was surprisingly warm – in other words: not freezing.

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We started from the small bay southwest of Roger Height…

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…and swam across to visit the two little islands. On the second a fallen tree, laying out over the water, gave the boys a chance to jump in, which seems to be essential. We swam back, and then back across again, by which time Little S was worn out. So we swam to the southern shore exiting close to the western end of the dam (which looks further on the map than back across the lake would have been, but Little S was happy with it).

Having said the water was warm, I should perhaps qualify that admitting that Little S’s fingers were a bit blue by the time we got out of the water.

As well as being a bit muggy, it was a windless day and I had been surprised that we weren’t attacked by midges when were changing to get in the water. We weren’t so lucky when we were changing back again. Overall, though a great place to swim, which is not too far from home.

Talking of which…

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…this is Thornton Force, on the River Twiss above Ingleton. My cousin R is lucky enough to own a house nearby and generous enough to invite us to visit during half-term. The invite was an open one, but since his sister, my cousin K, was also visiting with her family on the Thursday we decided to crash their family get together. It was great to see them again.

I’d already bribed the boys with the possibility of a walk to Thornton Force and Little S almost immediately started to drop not so subtle hints like: “I’ve got a good idea – we could walk to the waterfall and have a swim.”

Eventually, we let him have his way. The pool below the force turned out to be of a good size and ideal for swimming. The photo was taken when I visited one evening last summer. It was much, much busier this time. But we were the only ones swimming and the falls had a lot less water coming over them so that we could duck our heads into them, which was very bracing. I entrusted TBH with the camera, but she took lots of close-ups of peoples heads – all very well, but not really showing where we were swimming.

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That evening TBH got a fire going in our new fire-pit and the kids lit sparklers and tried making campfire popcorn (not entirely successful, well, actually, not remotely successful, but maybe the fun was in the trying)

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Those are both swimming spots we will visit again, I’m sure.

High Dam and Thornton Force.

Small Water Camp and Swim

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On Piot Crag, Haweswater behind.

We eventually arrived at the end of Haweswater late on the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon. The car park was still fairly busy, but was also noticeably emptying. We chose to revisit Small Water, the site of A’s first wild-camp, two year ago, for the same reasons we’d chosen it then: it’s a short walk-in, starting from quite high altitude. In addition, we now knew for sure that there were a number of good spots in which to camp by the tarn.

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An early rest during the ascent to Small Water.

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Looking back to Hawes Water from close to the top of the climb to Small Water.

It was still hot, so when we arrived at Small Water, we dumped our heavy bags in a suitable looking spot, and made a bee-line for the lake. The southern side of the tarn was still bathed in sunlight, but the sun would evidently soon disappear behind the hills, so we made the most of the opportunity and dived in for a swim. (Except TBH, obviously). The water was cold, but not at all bad, once you were in, and the surroundings were superb.

The place we’d selected to pitch our tents, which was close to where A and I camped last time and which I’d ear-marked then as a likely place to get two tents comfortably, was still in the sunshine fortunately, at least for a little longer. The Quechua tent we bought A goes up very quickly and A has the process down to a fine art, having used it several times now. The boys and I took a little longer with Andy’s tent, but felt that we’d made some progress with how to do the trickiest part of the process, so that was something.

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We enjoyed our pasta tea whilst watching pink clouds drifting overhead. The boys went through their usual routine of running around excitedly, exploring our surroundings and climbing every boulder and small crag they thought they could manage, whilst the rest of  us filtered water for the morning. One final, short outing, to circumnavigate the tarn, the boys constantly on the look out for places where they might jump in, and then we turned in.

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Our pitch.

The next morning brought low clouds and, in our tent at least, recriminations: the boys and I all felt that we’d had a poor night made worse by the snoring and tossing and turning of the other two, who had, in our opinions, both clearly slept soundly and loudly. We can’t all have been right. TBH and A, meanwhile, who both sleep like proverbial logs, slept on after we’d got up, and eventually I steeled myself and woke them up.

We’d all put together our own versions of this porridge mixture. B was adamant that the edition of powdered milk, which we didn’t have when he’d tried it before, had transformed the result so that it was “as good as porridge at home”. A meanwhile, had ground up her oats so that, after the addition of hot water, her’s actually looked like proper cooked porridge. She’d also added chocolate chips and I have to confess that, having tried it, the result was delicious. TBH’s innovation was powdered coconut milk, which I didn’t even know existed. That worked too. You’ll have to excuse all of the details about food, but if you’ve ever been back-packing, you’ll know how vital getting that right is to the success or otherwise of a trip.

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The boys loved these slabs, right by where we camped. Here, Little S is shouting “Look at me Andy”, which he seems to have adopted as a catch phrase. I think the first time he did it, he will have been only about three and had just scaled a small cliff above a beach at Towyn.  I don’t know if, even then, he was being mischievous and deliberately trying to frighten our old friend Andy, but that’s been his intention ever since, so that now he sees it as an in-joke and will shout it even if Andy is not with us.

After our leisurely start we set-off up Piot Crag. It looks fairly intimidating from below, and perhaps more so when you are part way up, but we knew that the route ‘would go’ as A and I came this way last time.

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You reach a point where the way ahead seems barred by crags…

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But in fact there are two lines of crags and if you head right you reach the bottom of a stone-filled gully which leads up between them, steeply, but safely.

I had been quietly hoping that we might find…

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…some Roseroot having read that it can be found on the steep crags above neighbouring Blea Water.

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It’s a member of the stonecrop family, many of which are quite small, but this is fairly sizeable by comparison. It’s a succulent and has thick leaves, like a Sedum. The Wild Flower Key lists it with Orpine, which grows abundantly on walls near home. Apparently, its roots, when dried, smell like roses, hence the name. I’m sure that I’ve seen it before, but can’t think where. I think it’s quite rare in the wild, but is also grown in rock gardens. The flowers weren’t fully open, which was a shame, but gives me something to look out for in future. I wanted to climb above it to get better photos of the flowers, and Little S, naturally, was keen to come with me. When the first hand-hold I grabbed, a very substantial lump of rock, started to come away from the rockface, I abandoned the idea.

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Parsley Fern.

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At the top of the gully there’s a fair bit of spoil and a few structures. There must have been some sort of mining or quarrying hereabouts in the past. We stopped for a quick drink.

From there it’s not much of a climb to the top of Mardale Ill Bell.

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Small Water and Harter Fell..

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High Street and Blea Water.

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Small Water and Haweswater. Piot Crag is the ridge on the left in shadow.

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I quite fancied continuing along the ridge to Harter Fell, but I was in a minority of one.

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A dry Kentmere reservoir. Working on the dam apparently.

The consensus was that we should return to the tents for lunch and then another swim in Small Water.

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Small, odd structures by Small Water, marked on the map as ‘shelters’. By boys decided that they are garages, although they aren’t remotely big enough for anything but a Dinky toy car.

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Lunch was humus and pan-fried bread, an experiment with camping food that I’ve wanted to try for a while. I’d made chapatis with tea on the Sunday night and remembered, or thought I could remember, old friend Geordie Munro once making them in a Trangia pan lid, whilst we were on a backpacking trip, and how welcome they were after a few days of less imaginative fare. So I’d brought flour, salt and dried yeast in a freezer bag and then warmed some water to add to the bag after we’d had breakfast, leaving it to rise in the tent’s porch. When we got back I found that the mixture was so sticky that there was no real way that I could hope to flatten it out into chapatis. Instead I turned lumps of dough out of the bag into a hot pan which I’d sprayed with oil. I couldn’t even flatten the mixture in the pan, because it stuck to my spoon, but, if I cooked it for a while and then flipped it over, I found that enough of a crust had formed that I could then press on the cooked side to begin to shape the loaf. By repeatedly flipping and squishing the loaves I managed to get them to cook through okay. I made three, of which the photo above shows the last and by far the largest. How were they? Well, there was none left and I shall definitely being doing that again. My hands did get a coating of sticky dough, but I found that it soon dried and fell off without my having to worry too much about how to remove it.

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Small Water pano.

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After lunch – another swim in Small Water. It being earlier in the day, we could try the north shore and still be in the sun. Here the bottom shelved even more quickly than it had on the other side, so that two strides in you were already deep enough to swim. Only me and the boys swam this time, TBH and A watched and took photos, including these which TBH took with my camera.

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I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to swim here before. With the steep slopes of Small Water Crag as a backdrop, this is an amazing place for a dip. I was reminded of a larger tarn in a similar, but larger corrie in the Pyrenees, where I swam when TBH and I were there years ago. Without a wetsuit, Little S didn’t last too long, but B and I had a good, long swim. That’s us, the tiny dots in the photo above.

We weren’t the only ones enjoying a swim: we repeatedly saw fish jumping out of the water. Probably after these fellows…

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Mayfly piggybacking on my towel.

After that it was just a question of packing up and retracing the short walk back to the car.

Sadly, one further bit of excitement as we walked down – a herd of sheep went hurtling past us down the hillside with a collie in close pursuit. The sheep gradually split into smaller and smaller groups until the collie was only chasing three, then just one lamb. They were quickly way below us, but I could see that the dog had the lamb cornered against a wall. Still barking furiously, the dog had the sheep turning repeatedly back and forth, back and forth. We carried on down and, when we reached the same wall, I dumped my bag and started to make my way around towards the pair of them. I tried to discourage Little S from joining me, not knowing what frame of mind the dog would be in, but he went racing off and soon B had joined us too. We realised that they’d moved on again and the sheep was in Blea Water Beck, trapped against the fence which continued the line of the wall across the beck. As we neared the stream, Little S, anxious to help the lamb, went haring off ahead, disappearing over a slight rise. He reappeared seconds later, at quite a lick, looking more than a little alarmed.

“The dog’s after me, the dog’s after me.”

It was only a small collie, dripping wet, it had clearly been in the stream. It took one look at me and turned to run back up the hill to its owners. The lamb didn’t seem to be hurt in any obvious way, but nor did it want to budge from it’s position, backed against the fence at the edge of the stream. We left it, and later saw it head up the hill to rejoin the flock. We also saw the feckless dog owners, with the collie now back on a lead, approaching the car park, but chose to head to Shap chippy for some tea rather than staying to get into a row with them.

Small Water and Piot Crag

 

Small Water Camp and Swim