I rashly agreed to rendezvous with the boys on one of their bike outings, to take some photos. No surprises that, shortly after this trip, we had to replace the back wheel on B’s bike, which was buckled beyond repair.
We were drawn to a bit of a commotion overhead. A buzzard and another bird of prey were apparently being harried by a group of jackdaws.
Actually, it soon became clear that the jackdaws weren’t at all interested in the buzzard, but were all in pursuit of the other raptor…a peregrine!
I’ve seen peregrines before, but whilst I’ve been aware that they nest locally, I’ve never actually seen one close to home.
Racking my brains for a song for this post, it occurred to me that ‘The Vision of Peregrine Worsthorne’ by McCarthy, from their brilliant debut album ‘I am a Wallet’, would be at least superficially appropriate. But then I remembered ‘Governing Takes Brains’, by the same band, the arrogant lyrics of which seem entirely apposite at the moment…
From there it seemed like an obvious step to ‘Follow the Leader’ by Eric B and Rakim. I can well remember the first time I heard this, in Eastern Bloc records in Manchester, sifting through their extensive collection of imported American hardcore punk and being stunned by the sheer menace of this sound.
Whilst I was searching for that track, I fortuitously stumbled upon ‘Follow the Leader’ by George the Poet, Maverick Sabre and Jorja Smith.
“That’s the kind of music we listen to,” the DBs tell me.
What’s more Little S has been studying George the Poet for his English classes:
Hagg Wood – Bottom’s Lane – Burtonwell Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Bank Well – The Row – The Golf Course – The Station – Storr’s Lane – Leighton Moss – Leighton Hall – Summer House Hill – Peter Lane Limekiln – Hyning Scout Wood – Warton – Warton Crag – Quaker’s Stang – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – The Lots – The Cove
A long walk which didn’t go even remotely to plan. I had intended to climb Arnside Knott, but instead went in almost entirely the opposite direction.
I began by heading for Bottom’s Lane, in the ‘wrong’ direction, to drop some bread flour off with some friends of ours who were having to self-isolate after a positive test for the virus and for whom TBH had done a shop, but come up short on numerous predictable items like tinned tomatoes, yeast, toilet paper, bread flour etc.
Crane fly – possibly Tipula luna. Male – the females have a pointy tip to their abdomen for pushing eggs into the ground.
Hmmm. Marsh valerian? Why I didn’t photograph the leaves too I don’t know.
After that I kept spotting people on the paths ahead and changing course to evade them, and before I knew where I was, I was heading across Leighton Moss on the causeway path – the only part of the reserve which has remained open.
Canada goose and coot.
From that point, I just did what I normally do and made it up as I went along.
The view from Summer House Hill.
Bluebells on Summer House Hill.
Peter Lane Limekiln.
Tree felling on Warton Crag has exposed a crag I didn’t even know was there. And expansive views from the top of that cliff.
Warton and a distant Ingleborough.
The Forest of Bowland and Carnforth.
From the top of the Crag a path which seems like a new one to me seemed to promise more views, to the distant Lake District…
Why the fences either side and on the ground?
Because the path crosses one of the three Bronze Age walls which ring the summit of the Crag. Admittedly, it doesn’t look like an ancient monument in the photo, but it did seem quite obvious ‘in the flesh’.
The tree felling seems to have been successful, in as much as it has produced masses of primroses, a key food plant for certain butterflies.
Early purple orchid.
In amongst the cowslips at Jack Scout, these primulas stood out. If that’s what they are? Or are they a naturally occurring variation of cowslips? Or a hybrid?
Post sunset from above the Cove.
I bumped into a neighbour on The Lots, she was walking her dog, and she told me that she has stopped taking photographs of ‘the best sunsets in the world’, because she has thousands already. I have thousands too, probably. And no end of photos of early purple orchids and clouds and primroses, of Leighton Moss and of the views from Summer House Hill and Warton Crag. Fortunately, none of those things ever seem to get old, or lose their fascination and I fully intend to take thousands more.
Note to self: this was too long a walk without carrying a drink – I keep doing that to myself. Did it again yesterday and have given myself a headache – golly it was hot.
Tunes. Back to Elvis in his Sun days, probably my favourite of his songs, ‘Mystery Train’:
Like most of Presley’s output, it’s a cover, and the laidback original by Little Junior and his Blue Flames is well worth seeking out.
And, while I’m making recommendations, the weird and wonderful 1989 film ‘Mystery Train’, directed by Jim Jarmusch, and starring, amongst others, both Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Joe Strummer, is also worth seeking out. Oddly, the song which recurs through the film is ‘Blue Moon’.
This next song, dating back to 1940, so older than Junior parker’s 1953 song, also contains the line ‘Train I ride, sixteen coaches long’.
When I was a nipper, my Dad bought a Reader’s Digest box set of Country records.
Photo credit: my mum or my dad? Ta.
He mostly listened to the Johnny Cash album, but somehow I cottoned on to the bluegrass of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, both alumni of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. This is one of their better know tunes, Foggy Mountain Breakdown:
They also recorded the first version of ‘The Ballad of Jed Clampett’ theme tune to ‘The Beverley Hillbillies’.
Lord and Lady pigeon – the current residents. I briefly got a bit excited about this pair – the double wing bar, one of my books tells me, is characteristic of the Rock Dove, which is very limited in range in the UK. But the RSPB website says that feral pigeons can look exactly like their ancestors Rock Doves. So, these are nouveau riche residents of the stately pile then.
Herb Paris – flowering right by the main path in Eaves Wood. How have I missed it before?
Blackbird by The Cove.
Grange catching the sun again!
Welsh poppies and bluebells – nice colour combination, I thought.
The seventh cavalry arrive, in the nick of time, with bread flour. More prosaically, we club together with friends, an ongoing arrangement, to order wholesale from an organic supplier of pulses, grains, tinned goods etc. And that’s how we got flour.
Two very different versions of a gospel standard today. First, perhaps the familiar version by Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch from the soundtrack of ‘O Brother Where Art Though’. (Great film by the way)
And then, continuing the brass band theme, not that the brass band I played in ever sounded even remotely like this, worst luck, here’s a New Orleans version from The Dirty Dozen Brass Band…
Early light on the new leaves at the circle of beeches.
Pano from Castlebarrow. (Click on this, or any other, picture to see a larger image on flickr)
Orchids on the Lots.
Early purple orchid.
Post sunset at The Cove.
The entire beach has acquired a silver-grey crust. Not the best light to show it, I know.
So, back to my wish list of lockdown activities. Have I ‘practiced my trumpet playing’?. Have I heck. It sits in its case under my desk, just as it has for years. Perhaps I should explain – in my teens I was in a brass band. It was great fun, but I was a lousy musician: I didn’t practice enough. I didn’t play the trumpet. I started at second baritone horn and slowly progressed to first euphonium, not because of any progress on my part, but because it was a junior band and the other players grew up and left for pastures new. Mostly the senior band which practised in the same hall. I don’t remember anybody playing the trumpet, the closest we had was a solitary flugelhorn and a host of cornets. In good time, I moved away myself, and for many years didn’t play an instrument.
Anyway, some years ago, when all our kids were learning to play various instruments, I decided that it was a shame that I’d ditched mine and decided to buy a trumpet – that being smaller and cheaper than what I’d played before. I did practice for a while, but my enthusiasm didn’t last all that long. I thought while we were off that I would have loads of time on my hands and would get started again, but it hasn’t really played out that way. Tomorrow though….I’m bound to pick it up again. There’s always tomorrow!
…as well as providing the title for the post, is the piece which I remember most affectionately from my brass band days.
This is obviously very different. I saw Kid Koala live down in London many years ago with my brother. I think he was the support act, but I can’t remember who it was he was supporting. I do remember being spellbound when he performed this.
And from ‘Drunk Trumpet to ‘The Piano Has Been Drinking’:
We imagine that as soon as we are thrown out of our customary ruts all is over, but it is only then that the new and the good begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is a great deal, a great deal before us.
This is Pierre, in ‘War and Piece’ talking about his incarceration following the sack of Moscow. Seemed apposite somehow.
Arnside Knott from near Know Point. I’d walked across the sands from Park Point – something I’d been thinking of doing for a few days beforehand.
Roe Deer Buck in Eaves Wood – one of a pair I encountered.
Late sun on Silverdale and the Bowland hills.
A man of no convictions, no habits, no traditions, no name…emerges – by what seems the strangest freak of chance – from among all the seething parties…is borne forward to a prominent position. The incompetence of his colleagues, the weakness and inanity of his rivals, the frankness of his falsehoods and his brilliant and self-confident mediocrity raise him…his childish insolence and conceit secure him …glory. He more than once finds himself on the brink of disaster and each time is saved in some unexpected manner.
He has no plan of any kind; he is afraid of everything; but the parties hold out their hands to him and insist on his participation.
He alone, his insane self-adulation, his insolence in crime and frankness in lying – he alone can justify what has to be done.
He is needed for the place that awaits him and so, almost apart from his own volition and in spite of his indecision, his lack of plan and all the blunders he makes, he is drawn into a conspiracy that aims at seizing power, and the conspiracy is crowned with success.
Do you have a clear picture? Can you guess who the passage describes? Yes – you have it – it’s Napoleon. In Tolstoy’s words. I’ve edited out all of the specific references to times and places which would give the game away. I can’t help thinking that this might fit quite a few leaders past and present. There’s a great deal more of this in ‘War and Peace’; I think it’s fair to say that Tolstoy did not hold Napoleon in high regard.
It hasn’t all been blue skies and sunshine. The day following my sunny walk by the Kent channel was very grey and overcast. I was out on the sands again, but this time heading in the opposite direction, round to Jenny Brown’s Point.
I think you could probably count the number of times I’ve ridden a horse on the fingers of one finger, but I have to confess to feeling slightly jealous every time I see this lady on her horse cantering across the sands.
It looks pretty exhilarating. All that space to gallop!
We know from our visits to Roa Island that many species of crab can be found in the bay, but we only ever see shore crabs closer to home and even those very rarely.
Walk along the tideline, however, and you will see any number of discarded shells. A crab’s exoskeleton doesn’t grow, so in order for a crab to grow it must moult and that means everything, not just the main carapace, but legs, claws, mandibles, the lot.
The land reclamation wall.
The old wharf.
Early purple orchids.
I came back by Clark’s and Sharp’s Lots a small National Trust property, where there was a good display of spring flowers.
Gratuitous picture of homemade bread. Made with malted bread flour because that was all I managed to buy, and lucky to get that I think. I’ve decided that I prefer bread with at least some malted flour in it.
Looking back to Silverdale.
A sunny but windy day: on the sands it was cool; in the trees, with a little shelter, quite warm.
The long ridge of Heathwaite and Arnside Knott.
Know point and Clougha Pike beyond. I was following the tide line, but in the opposite direction.
The channel and Humphrey Head beyond.
I felt sure that, the water levels having dropped due to the prolonged dry weather, I would be able to find a place to cross the stream, but it was always a little bit too wide and a bit too deep for me to even contemplate trying.
So I followed it back towards the shore and Arnside Knott…
When I reached the shore I discovered the source of the water, a deceptively small spring…
…carving its way through the sand. Not sure how I missed it before.
I noticed the where the sands had been dry for the longest, on the highest ground, it had begun to acquire a greyish crust…
I followed the thin strip of sand between the cliffs and the channel again, heading for Park Point. The dropping water level had exposed a muddy island in the channel which was popular with red shanks…
Rounding Park Point.
A dog whelk shell?
On my previous wander this way I had watched a runner make a beeline for Grange. At the moment, the River Kent swings away from the Arnside shore and curves seemingly almost to Grange. I didn’t want to go quite that far, but I set off from Park Point towards the river, weaving a little to check out any obvious shapes on the sand, which usually turned out to be driftwood…
Looking back to Park Point.
I haven’t been out into this part of the estuary before and, although more enclosed than the bay itself, I was surprised by how vast it felt…
Eventually, I reached a slight dip, beyond which the going looked very wet and muddy…
River Kent and Meathop Fell.
I turned and followed the edge towards Arnside…
A skeletal flounder perhaps – know locally as fluke?
I’d originally intended to return home via the Knott, but I’d spent so long on the sands that it was now getting on in the afternoon and I wanted to get home to cook tea. I thought I knew a spot where I could access the cliff-top path and was very chuffed to hit the right place, where a break in the cliffs gives access, at the first attempt.
The shingle beach at White Creek, much like the one at the Cove, is still liberally covered with the flotsam washed up by this winter’s Atlantic storms.
I think that these are emerging leaves of lily-of-the-valley.
Having followed the cliffs for a while, I dropped back down to the beach and returned to the village on the sands again.
Another dead flatfish. I’ve often wondered how they cope with the huge tidal range in the bay. I know that a lot of them end up in the river channel, because I’ve watched people fishing for them barefoot at Arnside. There are some many fish that it’s efficient to plodge about until you stand on a fish, then you simply bend over and grab them and chuck them to an accomplice on the river bank.
This sizeable toad seemed to be marooned in the middle of Cove Road. It seemed a bit warm for it be sat out in the sun and, even though there was noticeably less traffic back then, the road didn’t strike us as a safe place for it. We weren’t sure what to do with it, but when we passed the same way later it had gone – not squished on the tarmac, fortunately, but out of sight.
These mallard chicks were also on Cove Road, but more keen to get off the road and away…
At the end of Cove Road is the Cove, strangely enough, and that gives access to the sands where there’s plenty of room to…
…fly a kite.
Not exercise really, and so not within the letter of the rules at the time, but we thought close enough to the spirit of the thing. And there was certainly no difficulty with social distancing!
A good time was had by all and we even got Little S out of his pyjamas and out of the house.
This was another of my birthday presents. I’ve carried around a tiny pocket kite at the bottom of my rucksack for years, but it very rarely gets used. TBH has a huge stunt kite which also rarely gets used, because it’s not especially portable and you need a gale to fly it. I wanted something in-between – which would fit in a pack, so no struts, but with two lines for a bit more interest. This fits the bill perfectly.
I really am easily pleased.
All reggae cover versions today. First the aforementioned Toots and the Maytals version of ‘Country Roads’:
The Horace Andy’s take on Bill Withers ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’:
‘Billy Jean’ as performed by Shinehead on his wonderful first album ‘Rough and Rugged’:
And the Easy Star All-Stars taking on probably my favourite Pink Floyd tune:
They covered the entire album. Probably just so that they could call it ‘Dub Side of the Moon’. Covering entire albums seems to be their thing. They’ve done ‘OK Computer’ and ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and probably others. I’ve seen them live a couple of times and can heartily recommend that experience.
There was plenty of evidence of shelduck. Not only footprints!
I followed the edge of the channel in again, but this time, hitting land, I took the steep path up to Heathwaite.
Spring cinquefoil – I assumed I was seeing good old ubiquitous tormentil, but when I looked at the photo I realised that the flower has five petals not four. And then I discovered that tormentil doesn’t flower till June. So – not a rare flower, but new to me, so I’m chuffed.
New oak leaves.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought, since a comment from Conrad, about where the best viewpoints in the area are located, which is a very pleasant thing to ponder whilst out aimlessly wandering. The spot this photo was taken from, at the top of the shilla slope on Arnside Knott, would rank high on my list.
It was very hazy on this day, but there’s a good view of the Bay, of the Forest of Bowland, and over Silverdale Moss…
…to Ingleborough, which you’ll be able to pick out if you are using a large screen. (You can click on the photo to see a zoomable version on flickr)
I took lots of bird photos on this walk, but they were almost all of them blurred, or photos of where a bird had just been perched. A couple of nuthatches were particular offenders in that regard.
A very hazy view towards the Lakes.
This thrush, unlike most of the birds I’d seen, was very comfortable with my presence and happily hopped about catching small wriggling mouthfuls in the grass. Absolutely charming to watch.
Now, why would you cover an Otis Redding song? Seems to me you are on a hiding to nothing. But, it happens. A lot. So what do I know?
And having said that, I think Toots and the Maytals do a pretty fair job…
..I am a big fan of the Maytals though. Their version of ‘Country Roads’ is superb. And their own ‘Funky Kingston’ is one of my favourite tunes. There are lots of other covers, by the Grateful Dead, the Black Crowes, Tom Jones for example.
This is not a cover…
…apparently? It has different words and a new title, but I can’t help feeling that it sounds a little familiar?