Kentmere Horseshoe

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Looking back down towards Kentmere from near the top of the Garburn Pass.

An early start to get one of the few parking spaces by the church in Kentmere. It had been raining, but was clearing rapidly.

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Red Screes.

It was another windy day, but sunny, and warm if you could get out of the wind.

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Troutbeck and Wansfell. Coniston Fells beyond.

These days I rarely take my camera with me, but with less warm gear in my bag, regrettably as it turned out, I could fit it in on this occasion. I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t bother. The photos I took of Butterwort flowers weren’t in focus, and I prefer my phone’s camera’s pictures of the scenery. So where possible that’s what I’ve used here.

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Yoke. Ill Bell ahead.

The problem with using both is that that seems to confuse Flickr so that the pictures end up out of sequence. I’ve tried to put these in order, but I’m not sure I have it completely right.

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Looking back to Yoke.

Anyway, it’s a cracking route, which I’ve done many times before, although I think the last time I did the route in its entirety would be over twenty years ago when I was preparing for the London Marathon and I ran it, in about three and a half hours if memory serves me right. I didn’t include Thornthwaite Crag or High Street back then. This time it took me more than twice as long, but I wasn’t in a hurry.

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The head of Kentmere from Ill Bell. Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag, High Street, Mardale Ill Bell.

I was very taken by the top of Ill Bell with its many tidy cairns and superb views. Ill Bell has a steep north-east ridge which I keep promising myself I will climb. Next time.

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Windermere from Ill Bell.
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Looking back to Ill Bell.
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Thornthwaite Crag from Froswick.
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High Street and Mardale Ill Bell. The headwaters of the River Kent.
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Kentmere Reservoir.
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Looking across the Fairfield Horseshoe ridges to the Coniston Fells.
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Troutbeck Tongue, Wansfell, Windermere.
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Froswick and Ill Bell.
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Thornthwaite Beacon.

I have a real affection for Thornthwaite Crag, I think it’s at least partly to do with the huge architectural cairn. The view’s pretty good too…

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Froswick, Ill Bell, Windermere and Wansfell from Thornthwaite Beacon.

I sat here for quite some time, whilst a few parties came through from various directions.

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Grey Crag, Hayeswater, Rest Dodd, The Knott, Rampsgill Head.

Once you’ve made it to Thornthwaite Crag all of the hard work is behind you. Its a long, steady plod up to High Street and then it’s nearly all downhill. Well, aside from the steady climb onto Harter Fell.

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The path up High Street.
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High Street pano.
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Haweswater and Selside Pike. The Pennines across the Eden Valley.
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Rough Crag, Blea Water and Kidsty Pike.
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Blea Water.

Unlike nearby Small Water, I’ve yet to swim in Blea Water, something I shall have to rectify. The crags at the back of the tarns are renowned for the alpine species which cling on in that remote, inaccessible locality.

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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick.

I should warn you that most of the remaining photos, well, a lot of them anyway, are of Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick from various vantage points. I make no apologies, I think they looked magnificent.

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Looking across the Nan Bield Pass to Harter Fell
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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick across Kentmere Reservoir.
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Piot Crag, Rough Crag and Kidsty Pike.
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Looking back to Mardale Ill Bell, Thornthwaite Crag and High Street.
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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick.
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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, and my gradual descent route.
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Pano.
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Looking down towards Kentmere Pike. Long Sleddale ahead. The Kent Estuary just about visible in the haze on the right. Forest of Bowland also seen in the haze.
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Looking down into Kentmere. Windermere on the right. Kent Estuary much clearer now. Arnside Knott stands out.
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Cocklaw Fell, Green Quarter Fell, Skeggles Water. Brunt Knott and Potter Fell beyond. Forest of Bowland on the horizon.
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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick.
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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick.

Somewhere on the way down I lost the path completely. I thought for a while I would end up traipsing through acres of bracken, but actually my route worked out well and I just cut a corner.

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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick. Pano.

As I got down towards the valley it was actually quite hot, a novelty after a very cold spring.

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Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick.
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Germander Speedwell.
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River Kent.
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Big boulders!

Now, I just needed to cross some flower-filled and boulder-strewn meadows back to the village and my car.

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Kentmere Farmhouse.
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Kentmere Church.

MapMyWalk gives about 13½ miles and 1074m of ascent. Previous experience would suggest that the latter will be an underestimate, but I can’t be bothered to check!

Wainwrights: Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag, High Street, Mardale Ill Bell, Harter Fell, Kentmere Pike, Shipman Knotts.

Another nine ticked off!

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Kentmere Horseshoe

Whit’s End III

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Hawes Water.

Into June. A slightly longer local walk this time, to Hawes Water and the limestone pavements of Gait Barrows.

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Peacock Butterfly on Bird’s-eye Primrose.
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Peacock Butterfly on Bird’s-eye Primrose.
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Bird’s-eye Primroses.
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Female Damselfly. I think one of the forms of Blue-tailed Damselfly, which come in several colours.
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And my best guess is that this is another form of the same, with its green thorax and lilac ninth segment of its abdomen. Even my field guide admits that female Blue-tailed Damselflies are ‘confusing’.
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Bird’s-eye Primroses and a bug, possibly Oedemera lurida. But equally, probably not.
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Common Blue Damselfly, male.
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Blue-tailed Damselfly, male.
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A gaggle of geese.
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A holey leaf. Guelder Rose I think.

I took a lot of photos of partially devoured leaves this spring; I was amazed by the extent to which they could be eaten and not collapse, whilst still remaining recognisably leaves. I never saw any creatures which were evidently munching on the foliage. Maybe it happens at night.

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Scorpion Fly, male.
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Bird’s-eye Primrose again. With possibly Oedemera lurida again?
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Northern Marsh Orchid.
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Yellow Rattle.
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Germander Speedwell.
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Micro Moth on Yellow Rattle.

In the grassland at Gait Barrows these tiny moths hop about, making short flights around your feet, landing in the grass and apparently disappearing when they land. Close examination sometimes reveals that they have aligned their bodies with a blade of grass or a plant stem and are thus well-hidden. I was lucky, on this occasion, to get a better view.

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I think that this might be a sawfly, but I’m not even confident of that, let alone what kind of sawfly.
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Angular Solomon’s Seal.
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Angular Solomon’s Seal.
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Bloody Crane’s-bill growing in a gryke.
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Lily-of-the-valley.

I met a couple who were holidaying in the area, mainly to see butterflies, but they were looking for the Lady’s-slipper Orchids. I took them to the spot where, for a while, they grew abundantly, but there was nothing there to show them. Such a shame. At least I know that they are growing more successfully elsewhere in the region, but I don’t know where. I think the consensus is that the spot where they were planted on the limestone was too dry.

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Brown Silver-line Moth.
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Dark Red Helleborine, I think. Not yet flowering.
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Maidenhair Spleenwort.
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Lilies-of-the-valley.

The lack of Lady’s-slipper Orchids was in some way compensated by an abundance of Lily-of-the-valley. In my experience, although there are always lots of the spear-like leaves, flowers tend to be in short supply. This year there were lots. I must have timed my visit well.

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Tired Painted Lady.
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Painted Ladies: they have Union Jacks on their faces.

This is from a couple of days later from a neighbour’s garden. We had an afternoon buffet and an evening barbecue to celebrate the jubilee. Being a fervent monarchist, obviously, I was full of enthusiasm for a party. Especially since the weather was so warm and summery. Well…I’m all for extra Bank Holidays. And get togethers with the neighbours, particularly if I’m excused from decorating as a result!

Whit’s End III

Whit’s End II

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Dame’s Violet, Green Alkanet, Cow Parsley, Buttercups, Docks.

The next time I escaped from the woes joys of decorating, I managed a slightly longer walk. I think I wanted to visit this little scrap of verge where Elmslack Lane becomes Castle Bank and I knew I would find Dame’s Violet flowering.

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From there I walked along Inman’s Lane along the bottom edge of Eaves Wood, then along the Row. Inevitably, I was heading for…

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Lambert’s Meadow.
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Mating Crane flies. Possibly Tipula oleracea which is common and favours damp grasslands.

It’s quite easy to ignore Crane Flies, Daddy-Long-Legs; they’re common and plentiful, their larvae – leatherjackets – are a garden pest and I think some people are freaked out by their ridiculously long legs. But I thought the silvery-grey hue of this amorous pair, and the golden iridescence caught in the wings of the lower partner where very fetching.

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Ichneumonid Wasp?

I think this is an Ichneumonid wasp. It could be a sawfly, a digger wasp or a spider-hunting wasp, but on balance I’m going for an Ichneumon. After that I’m struggling. Apparently, there are around 2500 British species. Identifying them requires a microscope and an expert. Most species are parasitoids, meaning that they lay their eggs in other species of insects, caterpillars and grubs, and the larvae will eat and eventually kill the host. From my limited reading, I get the impression that each species of wasp will specialise in preying on the caterpillar or larvae of one particular species.

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Mating Chrysolina polita. Perhaps.

Some of the photos which follow are bound to look familiar, if you read my last post. Hardly surprising that if you walk in the same place just a couple of days apart, the bugs and beasties which are about and active are likely to be the same each time.

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Mating Chrysolina polita. Perhaps.
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Weevil, possibly Phyllobius pomaceus.
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Ichneumon Wasp?
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A Honey Bee. I think.
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Scorpion Fly, female.
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Scorpion Fly, female.
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Sawfly, Tenthredo mesomelas. Possibly.
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Troilus luridus.

I’m reasonably confident that this Shield Bug is Troilus luridus. I’ve seen this given the common name ‘Bronze Shield Bug’ online, but my Field Guide gives another species that title, so I’ll stick with the latin name.

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Green Shield Bug.

I took lots of photos of this Green Shield Bug and as a result was lucky enough to catch it in the act of taking wing…

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Green Shield Bug.

You can see how the outer wings have adapted as a cover for the hind wings, so that when they’re on a leaf or a stem it’s hard to imagine that they even have wings.

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Hoverfly.
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Variable Damselfly, female, I think.

Variable Damselflies are not listed in the handy booklet ‘An Atlas and Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Arnside and Silverdale AONB’, a publication whose long title completely belies its actual brevity. So, if this is a Variable Damselfly, which I think it is, the species must have fairly recently arrived in the area.

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Green-veined White on Ragged Robin.
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Greenbottle.
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Another female Variable Damselfly on Guelder Rose.
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Chrysolina polita. I think.
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Dandelion Clock.
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Silver-ground Carpet Moth.
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White-lipped Snail.
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A very different White-lipped Snail.
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Brown-lipped Snail.
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Nettle leaf with rust fungus – Puccinia urticata?
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Later in the day, a double rainbow from our garden.
Whit’s End II

Whit’s End I

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Sawfly, possibly Tenthredo mesomelas.

One of the advantages of teaching, it can’t be denied, are the very generous holidays. And what would you do with those holidays? Decorate the house of course! Famously, painting the Forth Road Bridge, colloquially at least, is a Sisyphean task, needing to be recommenced as soon as it has been finished. It sometimes feels like our household decorating is on a similar scale. On this occasion, with A imminently leaving home*, she and Little S were swapping rooms. Both rooms needed redecorating, in the case of A’s room, twice, after she decided she didn’t like the pink paint she had initially chosen. All of their belongings had to be shifted, the furniture was moved and in some cases replaced. It was a major undertaking.

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White-lipped Snail

When a lull in proceedings provided an opportunity to sneak out for a bit, I didn’t go far, but went on a Lambert’s Meadow safari, to see what I could see. On this occasion, the first thing I spotted was a gorgeous bluey-green weevil on a nettle. My photographs of the tiny creature didn’t come out well, but I saw another later. After that, my eye seemed to be in, and it turned out, of course, that there was plenty to see, if you looked carefully.

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Brown-lipped snail.
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A nettle leaf nest. Lots of species live on nettles, including many of our common, colourful garden butterflies.
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Another Brown-lipped snail.
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Water Avens.
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Ragged Robin and Guelder Rose.
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Guelder Rose.
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Cucumber Green Orb Spider.

This spider was tiny. The photos (I took loads) don’t really do it justice; to the naked eye it seemed to be luminous yellow. I was very chuffed to have spotted it, since it was absolutely miniscule.

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Guelder Rose flower with a very long-legged fly. Some sort of mosquito?
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Green Shield Bug.
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Scorpion Fly, male. The curled ‘stinger’ is for display only.
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And again – possibly the same fly.
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A leaf beetle – possibly Chrysolina polita.

Leaf beetles have become firm favourites – they are so often bright, shiny, metallic colours. As often seems to be the case, once I’d seen one of them I suddenly seemed to spot lots more.

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Mating Chrysolina polita (perhaps).
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I drew a blank with this one. It had orange elytra (hard front wing which protects the hind wing). I think it is probably some kind of Soldier Beetle.
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A colourful fly.
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Common Blue Damselfly.
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Azure damselfly (I think).
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Yellow dung fly, male.
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Common Carder Bee on Ragged Robin.
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Another Scorpion Fly. This time a female, without the extravagantly curled tail.
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And again.
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7-Spot Ladybird.

I don’t know why this should be the case, but I often seem to spot ladybirds in the hedges along Bottom’s Lane.

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Ladybird, probably a Harlequin.
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Ladybird, probably a Harlequin.
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Wych Elm seeds. I think.

My modus operandi on my entomology wanders is to walk slowly scanning the vegetation for any movement on contrasting colours. I kept getting caught out by Wych Elm seeds which seemed to have settled all over the place – a good sign I hope.

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Dewberry Flowers?

These flowers seemed to be a bit on the big side to be bramble flowers, and based on the fact that I’ve found Dewberries before along Bottom’s Lane before, I assume that they are Dewberry flowers.

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Dewberry Flowers?

As ever, I’m more than ready to be corrected by anybody who actually knows what they are talking about.

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New Sycamore Leaves
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Spangles – made by tiny gall wasps.
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Ants and aphids.

I remember reading that ants ‘farm’ aphids, but I’m not sure that I’ve often seem them together.

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A Soldier Beetle, possibly Cantharis Rustica.
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Weevil, possibly Phyllobius pomaceus.
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Cantharis Rustica again, I think. You can see the ‘robust mouth parts’ well here. (Source)

When I got home, in no hurry to be indoors, I had a wander around our garden, photographing some of the ‘weeds’ growing there.

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Pink Campion.
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Welsh Poppy.
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Bumblebee on Aquilegia.
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Aquilegia Vulgaris.
Whit’s End I

Skiddaw and its Satellites

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Sunrise from Latrigg.

I woke up at around five, with an urgent need to get out out of my bivvy and sleeping bags. Once out, despite the many layers I was wearing, I began to shiver quite violently. I decided that the best thing to do would be to get moving, so hastily packed up.

Sleeping on the ground on a hilltop might not lead to a perfect, restful night, but it does have its compensations, chief among them being a hilltop view when the sun rises.

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Keswick and Derwent Water. The sunlight catching Cat Bells.

It was spitting with rain, and still a bit breezy, but I didn’t get far before I was thoroughly warmed-up and needed to stop and rethink my layers. It felt a bit odd to be stripping-down when it was raining on me, albeit only in a very half-hearted fashion.

Having already abandoned my ambitious plans to romp home over the Dodds, Helvellyn, Fairfield etc, it seemed logical to continue upwards from Latrigg and climb Skiddaw and its satellites. After all, I could just as well catch the 555 from Keswick as from Grasmere or Ambleside.

These days, I’m generally happy to be going uphill. I’ve long since rid myself of the illusion that I can climb hills quickly, so I just settle into a steady plod which feels comfortable. On the broad motorway which sweeps up the slopes of Skiddaw, I just couldn’t seem to find that tempo, however many rest stops I threw in. I shouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that Purgatory consists of an endless slope on just such a broad, stony featureless track. Or perhaps I was just tired after the exertions of the day before? I half contemplated turning back, but fortunately, I eventually reached the point where the angle eased and I could strike-off the main path for Lonscale Fell.

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Little Calva, Great Calva and Knott from somewhere in the vicinity of Lonscale Fell.

There was still plenty of climbing to do, but the gradient was more conducive, or I’d had a second-wind, or both, or something else; whatever it was, the slow-plod mode was working just fine again. It was still very early, but I had seen a couple of other walkers, both of whom had a ‘steady-plod mode’ which was at least twice the speed of mine.

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The route ahead: Skiddaw Little Man and Skiddaw.
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Derwent Water and surrounding hills from Skiddaw Little Man.
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Blencathra and Lonscale Fell from Skiddaw Little Man.
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Skiddaw from Skiddaw Little Man.

On my unhurried ascent of Skiddaw, I met a guy coming the other way who was wrapped up in winter gear: big down jacket, cagoule, warm hat as well as hoods, many layers etc. It was pretty windy at this point, but his attire seemed completely over the top.

“You’ll be the second person up there today”, he greeted me, with a broad grin.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him about the two people who had overtaken me on my way up, or the couple I’d just seen coming down ahead of him, since he seemed inordinately chuffed with his supposed status as ‘first summiteer of the day’.

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Derwent Water and surrounding hills from the southern end of the Skiddaw summit ridge.

When I reached the long summit ridge it became immediately clear why the down jacket, cagoule etc had been necessary – it was ridiculously windy up there. I was soon fighting with my own cag, trying to get my arm into a wildly flapping second sleeve. I even put my balaclava back on. It was the kind of wind which has you staggering about and leaning onto the wind at a weird angle in an effort to stay upright.

These perhaps weren’t the windiest conditions I’d encountered this year, but they were the most striking, because as soon as I left the top, the wind abated considerably, leaving off just as suddenly as it had started when I reached the ridge.

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Looking out to the Solway Firth. Criffel just about visible.
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Longside Edge and Ullock Pike from Skiddaw and the first bit of sunshine for quite some time.

On the way down the very steep and loose path towards Carl Side, I met a couple of ladies going the other way.

“Is it very windy up there?”

This question was presumably prompted by the fact that I was, in my turn, now wearing far too many clothes for the immediate conditions. When I confirmed that it was extremely windy on the ridge, the reply was:

“Yes, always seems to have its own wind.”

I’ve heard this said of Cross Fell in the Pennines, but never of any hill in the Lakes before.

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Longside Edge and Ullock Pike again.
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A Violet Ground Beetle, probably Carabus problematicus.

The ability of my phone camera to take close-ups seems to have improved enormously. Updates to the software I suppose?

From Carl Side I took the path heading down to the south, heading for Dodd.

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Derwent Water and the surrounding hills from the long path down.
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And again from White Stones, which were very white. I thought Maiden Moor looked quite striking from this direction, with its very steep sides.
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Derwent Water again, from Dodd.
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Bassenthwaite Lake from Dodd.
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The North-Western Fells from Dodd.

It’s now that I have to confess to a bit of utter muppetry. On my way up Dodd, I’d seen no sign of the right-of-way I needed which follows Scalebeck Gill and which I ought to have passed. So when I saw a footpath sign saying something like ‘Dodd Route’, I optimistically followed it. I think I was attracted by its very easy gradient: it descended very gently, or contoured around the western slopes of Dodd. I hoped that it was a very lengthy zig and that eventually there would be an equally long zag taking me back in the direction I needed. When I finally had to admit that this wasn’t going to happen, I felt like I’d come too far to turn back. Unfortunately, the path, good though it was, was heading for the car park to the north-west of Dodd, in completely the wrong direction for Keswick.

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It was a long walk on the permission path beside the main road, then through Dancing Gate (what a terrific name for a hamlet!), Millbeck, Applethwaite and Thrushwood back to Skiddaw. In complete contrast to earlier it was hot. I was very conscious of the fact that I was already a bit sunburned from the previous day, and so stuck to the shade wherever I could.

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Skiddaw, Skiddaw Little Man, Jenkin Hill.
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Latrigg.

When I arrived in Keswick, it was early afternoon, but I’d just missed a bus, so, with an hour to kill, I stocked up on refreshments and waited in the sun. I didn’t get the seats at the front on the top deck – I couldn’t compete with the sharpened elbows of the bus-pass brigade. I shall be happy to join their ranks in the not too distant future, if using the buses yields trips like this one.

Some stats: MapMyWalk gives 14 miles and just a little over 3000′ of ascent.

Wainwrights ticked-off: Lonscale Fell, Skiddaw Little Man, Skiddaw, Carl Side and Dodd. Can I count Latrigg again?

Skiddaw and its Satellites

Highest Point – Grasmere to Keswick

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Easedale.

After all that waffle, in my last post, about my aspirational hare-brained schemes, here’s the evidence of what happens when one of them comes to fruition. Or not.

I’d been planning this one for a while. When I say planning, I mean that in the vaguest of ways. ‘Thinking about’ would be more accurate. Attention to detail was completely lacking.

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Sourmilk Gill.

My family had all bought tickets for Highest Point, an outdoor music festival in Lancaster, not to be confused with Lancaster Jazz Festival, or with The Lancaster Music Festival which is mostly staged in pubs. Why wasn’t I joining them? Well, I was tempted by Kaiser Chiefs and even more so by Basement Jaxx, but the latter were playing a DJ set, and frankly, whatever the attractions, they couldn’t compete with the prospect of a weekend of early summer walking.

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Tarn Crag

So, TBH very kindly dropped me off in Milnthorpe, with about 30 seconds to spare, and I caught the 555 bus through Kendal and Windermere to Grasmere.

I must use the bus more often. It’s a bit slow. And we did sit in Kendal Bus Station for quite some time, for no apparent reason. But I enjoyed being a passenger, and taking in the views, especially after the front seats at the top became available in Kendal, and not having to worry about parking.

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Easedale Tarn.

Anyway, when I finally arrived in Grasmere, it was bright and sunny and warm for once, much more so than the photos suggest. I popped into Lucia’s for some extra provisions (highly recommended) and then set-off up Easedale in the company of two gentlemen from the North-East, one of whom was very keen to ask for directions (“Is that Helm Crag?”) and tell me about his route, their accommodation in Keswick and so on. The other gent was as taciturn as his companion was garrulous, which made me feel like I was intruding.

Over the years, I’ve looked at maps of the Lakes (particularly my colourful old inch-map, which has a lot to answer for) and thought that I ought to walk along the broad central spine of hills from the Langdale Pikes northwards. I’ve also often thought that it would be brilliant to walk the long ridge from Threkeld to Ambleside over the Dodds and Helvellyn and Fairfield etc. So, here was my madcap scheme – to (sort-of) combine those two, with a bivvy in between, probably on High Rigg I thought.

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Dor Beetle.

Since I was using the 555, a start in Grasmere would be easier than trying to get to Langdale, and it would also make it convenient to include Tarn Crag.

It was a really glorious day and on Tarn Crag I sat for quite some time, enjoying the pasty I’d bought in Grasmere and video-calling my mum and dad, to share the views with them.

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Tarn Crag.
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From Tarn Crag Helm Crag, Heron Pike and Nab Scar, Loughrigg and Silver How.

Since I’d already climbed High Raise earlier in the year, I contemplated trying to contour around from Tarn Crag to Greenup Edge, hopefully visiting a remote little tarn on route, but in the end I couldn’t resist the temptation to climb High Raise again.

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High Raise from Tarn Crag. Codale Head is the prominent pimple in the centre.
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Codale Tarn.
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Bilberries in flower.
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Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle and Sergeant Man.

I had another stop on Codale Head, and sat for while.

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Newlands Fells, North-western Fells and Skiddaw.

And then another bit of a sit on High Raise. The views from High Raise are expansive. On this occasion I was sharing those views with quite a few people, most of whom seemed to be participating in some sort of organised challenge walk, with people in teams; I wondered whether it was a corporate bonding exercise, based on some of the conversations I overheard.

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Bowfell, Esk Pike, Scafell Pike, Great End, Great Gable across Langstrath.

Not to worry, they were all heading down to Grasmere from Greenup Edge, having started, I gathered, in Langdale. In fact, the remainder of the day was very, very quiet, at least until I reached Keswick.

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Ullscarf, with the Helvellyn etc ridge behind.
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Looking back to High Raise.
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Helvellyn and Fairfield from near the top of Ullscarf.

It took a while to reach the top of Ullscarf, so another rest and a sit-down seemed appropriate. I have a bit of a soft spot for Ullscarf. Years ago I bivvied a couple of times with friends on the slopes above Harrop Tarn and would then climb Ullscarf via its eastern hinterland early the following morning, often in thick mist. In the days before sat-nav, I was chuffed when I actually managed to arrive on the summit. Those empty slopes above Thirlmere always seemed to be a good place to spot Red Deer.

I finished the last of my water on Ullscarf and then dropped into the top of Ullscarf Gill to refill my water bottle.

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From Ullscarf: High Tove, Raven Crag, Skiddaw and Blencathra beyond.
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The cairn on Standing Crag. Last time I was here there was a fence.

Standing Crag is a Birkett, but not a Wainwright. It’s well worth a visit in my opinion. I didn’t stop for a sit here. It was well into the afternoon, and it was becoming clear that I’d probably bitten off more than I could chew.

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Blea Tarn and High Tove. I think the lump beyond the tarn must be Grange Fell, which I don’t think I’ve ever been up.
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Looking back to Blea Tarn and Ullscarf.
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Shivery Knott, Shivery Man, Middle Crag, High Tove.
It doesn’t look all that boggy does it? Compared to some of the treacherous mires lurking in wait to swallow unsuspecting walkers in the Pennines, for example, it was a walk in the park. If the park is mostly about 6 inches under water, with occasional deeper sections for added fun.

I can’t say I was overly fond of this section. I’d originally thought I would do an out and back to tick-off Armboth Fell, but with time marching on, decided to leave that particular delight to another day. When hell freezes over. Or the bogs on Armboth Fell freeze over, at the very least. It will give me an excuse to climb Fisher Crag. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

I think I was thoroughly underwhelmed by High Tove. I don’t seem to have taken any photos anyway.

When I arrived at some flagged sections of path I was mightily relieved.
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High Seat.

It seems that a consortium of charities have been restoring the peat bogs here. As well as flagging the paths (sadly with some very soggy gaps between the flagged sections) they’ve also created little dams to create some really wet areas…

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It was lovely, in a very wet kind of way.

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The trig pillar on High Seat.
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Bleaberry Fell from High Seat. Skiddaw and Blencathra beyond.

If I hoped that reaching the rocky top of High Seat would spell an end to the bog, I was destined to be disappointed. But it was drier, at least. And after Bleaberry Fell, the bog-snorkelling comes to an end.

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Skiddaw, Keswick and Bassenthwaite Lake from Bleaberry Fell.
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Bleaberry Fell from Walla Crag.
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Derwent Water and the surrounding hills from Walla Crag.
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Keswick and Skiddaw from Walla Crag
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Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite Lake from Walla Crag.

I had a long overdue rest on Walla Crag. I must have looked all-in, as a bloke who walked past asked me if I was okay. Which I was, of course. The light was lovely.

I did briefly contemplate a bivvy on (or near) Walla Crag, but I’d been promising myself a take-away tea in Keswick all day and the draw of a greasy, high-calorie meal won out.

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Keswick and Skiddaw and the setting sun from my descent route.

It was still light, just about, as I arrived on the outskirts of town, but it was also almost 10 o’clock, and I was striding out whilst using Google Maps in an attempt to work out where the nearest open shop was. Fortunately, I found a little grocery store which was still serving and stocked up on water and ginger beer. It had been thirsty work!

One of the pubs near the Moot Hall had a live band who were playing an excellent selection of covers. (Heart of Glass, Take Me Out, Maggie May, for example, if memory serves me right.) It was very loud out in the street, lord knows what it was like inside the pub. The town centre was extremely busy with revellers, I suppose I probably stuck-out like a sore-thumb. Or a sun-burned, muddy, sweaty, but very happy hill-walker. Anyway, I found a bench where I could listen to the band and tucked into my well-earned donner and chips. So I got my live music in the end, on top of a day’s walking.

I’d already decided by now that High Rigg (where I envisaged a soft heather bed and a very comfortable night) was much too far away. I was also having doubts about my proposed return route – it would be both longer and with more up and down than the walk I had just done. Too much, I thought.

I opted instead for a midnight ramble on Latrigg.

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It was dark, but the moon was bright and it’s a wide, well-made path, so I didn’t really need my headtorch. After a warm day, there was now a cooling breeze. Actually, it was pretty windy and quite cool.

I found what seemed like a reasonable spot, overlooking the town, put on every item of clothing I’d brought, including a balaclava, and climbed into my sleeping and bivvy bags.

How did I sleep? Well, better than I’d expected, which is to say – some. The ground was a bit hard, without a cushioning of heather. Also, at some point during the night, the wind changed direction and I woke up to find that it was blowing over my shoulders and directly into my sleeping bag. I’m usually reluctant to completely seal my bag over my head, it’s a bit claustrophobic I find, but I did that now and then slept much more soundly.

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Keswick and Derwent Water from Latrigg.

The app gives just over 20 miles all told, and almost 1300m of climbing (which is a bit of an underestimate I think, but maybe not too far out).

Wainwrights: Tarn Crag, High Raise, Ullscarf, High Tove, High Seat, Bleaberry Fell, Walla Crag, Latrigg.

Birketts: all of the above, plus Codale Head, Low White Stones, Standing Crag, Watendlath Fell, Shivery Knott, Middle Crag (I narrowly bypassed Blea Tarn Fell, but, fortunately, I’ve been up there before).

I’m grateful to Mr Birkett for all of those extra ticks: fourteen tops feels like a better return on the effort than eight. Some of them are a bit underwhelming however, but if you like walking in the Lakes (and why wouldn’t you?) I would recommend checking out Codale Head and Standing Crag, I think they should be in everybody’s lists.

And my new plan for the morrow?

You’ll have to wait!

(A short playlist for this post: ‘Higher Ground’ Stevie Wonder, ‘Gotta Keep Walking’ Willy Mason, ‘May You Never’ John Martyn.)

Highest Point – Grasmere to Keswick