Clougha Pike and Grit Fell.

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A hazy view toward Morecambe Bay from Clougha Pike.

Okay, the weather has been a bit ropey so far this summer, but there have been some pleasant days too. This was another evening outing, this time taking advantage of the proximity of the western edge of the Bowland Fells to Lancaster, where I work.

I parked in the Rigg Lane car park and from there took an almost out and back route, via Clougha Pike, except that I diverted off the ‘ridge’ path to visit the Andy Goldsworthy sculpture and then followed the track from there which looped around back to the main path east of Grit Fell, from where I turned back for the car via Grit Fell and Clougha Pike again.

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The Bowland Hills are moorland, but occasional, scattered rocky knolls add some character.

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The Andy Goldsworthy sculpture, Caton Moor wind farm beyond.

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Near to the sculptures, this neat curved structure…

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..is intriguing.

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It occurred to me that it might be a Grouse Butt, although it’s quite large for that and also very poorly camouflaged.

Seen from Lancaster or Morecambe, Clougha Pike looks very imposing, but on the map it barely seems to be a summit in its own right, looking more like an edge on the flanks of Grit Fell. Approached from Grit Fell however, it does have a clear independent identity…

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I found a party of four enjoying a picnic on the summit, so dropped down the edge a little way before stopping for my own snack and brew. Whilst I sat, I had a superb view of a male Kestrel flying very close by parallel to the edge. I’d seen a male Kestrel, possibly the same on, as I first reached the edge during my ascent. There had been Meadow Pipits too, many Red Grouse, and some Curlews, loudly demonstrating their objections to my presence.

As seems to be obligatory this year, this hill walk included several encounters with hairy caterpillars…

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I saw three of these hirsute fellows…

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All making no attempt what so ever to hide in any way – apparently their hairs make them unpalatable to many birds who might otherwise eat them. Unusually, I recognised this species: they are Oak Eggar Moth caterpillars. I’ve seen them before, several times, on Carn Fadryn and Yr Eifl on the Llyn Peninsula, on Haystacks and, most recently, on Skiddaw last summer.

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Clougha Scar.

A very pleasant outing, and I was still home in time to vote in the European elections.


This weekend, I shall be attempting to complete the annual 10 in 10 challenge. Briefly, the idea is to walk a route over 10 Wainwrights in 10 hours or less.  You can find out more here.

The event is a fundraiser and I’m hoping to get some sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. My Just Giving page is here. All donations, however small, will be most welcome. I should add that the sponsorship is not a condition of my entry and that I’ve already paid a fee to enter which covers all costs, so all sponsor money would go directly to charity.

A huge thank you to those who have donated already. Since the event is almost upon us, I shall soon stop pasting this onto the end of posts, I promise. Preparations have gone reasonably well and I’m beginning to think that it’s at least possible that I will get close(ish) to the ten hour target time, all things being equal. Either way, you’ll eventually hear all about it…

 

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Clougha Pike and Grit Fell.

Five Photos

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A wasp’s nest on the underside of the roof of our summer house (glorified shed). It was a little bit larger than a golf ball. The has been empty for weeks – it was right by the door, perhaps too busy a spot, and the wasps seemed to have abandoned it – but just today we noticed that the nest is once again occupied.

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Orchids on the Lots.

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A double rainbow from our garden; a fair indication of the weather we’ve been having this ‘summer’.

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A roe deer buck on our garden.

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He has very lop-sided antlers. I wonder whether that will put him at any disadvantage during the imminent rut?

Five photos taken on different days, aside from the last two obviously.

Five Photos

Hornby, Windy Bank and Melling Circuit

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River Wenning and Hornby Castle.

A post-work walk, with, for once during this non-event of a summer, some sunshine.

I’d noticed Windy Bank, the high ground which rises between the valleys of the Lune and the Wenning, when I walked from Claughton this time last year, and thought that it would make a pleasant evening walk.

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Windy Bank from the bank of the Wenning.

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River Wenning.

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Confluence of the Lune and the Wenning.

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River Lune.

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The far bank of the Lune, pock-marked with holes which look prefect for Sand Martins to nest. There weren’t any in evidence, but I should probably go back to check my hunch.

I followed the Wenning down to where it meets the Lune and then turned to follow the Lune upstream.

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Lapwing again. There were Little Egrets and Oystercatchers about too.

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A broken egg.

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Orange-tip butterfly.

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The Lune.

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Loyn Bridge.

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Loyn Bridge – ancient, but of unknown date.

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Melling, with Ingleborough behind.

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My summer evening walks in and around the Lune always seem to bring at least one encounter with a Hare.  Usually, they’re so still and so well disguised that I’m almost on top of them before I spot them and then the Hare will disappear so quickly that any thought of getting a photograph is superfluous almost as soon as I have had it. This Hare, by contrast, was wandering along the path towards me, seemingly quite relaxed and unconcerned, and then, having spotted me, by choosing to squeeze through the wire fence, had to stop for a moment so that I did get a few photos.

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I saw another Hare shortly afterwards, but that was a standard fleeting affair.

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Last summer, I was convinced that I’d mastered the difference between Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, but clearly I was wrong. I think that this is one of those, and I’m leaning towards the latter, but I’m really not sure.

The route comes from Mary Welsh’s Cicerone Guide ‘Walking in Lancashire’. She lists it as 7 miles, but by the time I’d finished that evening, I’d walked over 11, which was really more than I’d intended to do. The reason being that the path became very unclear as it approached Melling. I should never have been close to this railway bridge over the Lune.  (If you examine the map below, you’ll see that I did a lot of faffing about).

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I was also trying to avoid a large herd of bullocks who seemed very agitated by my presence. In the end, I had no option but to walk right through the middle of the cattle, where they were tightly confined between a hedge and a body of water. They surrounded me and were very skittish, with the ones behind me making little feints and charges, which was a bit unnerving.

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Melling.

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Barley (?) on Windy Bank.

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Gragareth and Ingleborough from Windy Bank.

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Screenshot 2019-06-15 at 20.34.11

 

 

Hornby, Windy Bank and Melling Circuit

King of the Hill

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Cowslips.

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Looking south along the shore from Heathwaite.

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Mayflower (hawthorn).

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Lancashire Whitebeam.

Whitebeam is a southern species in the UK, except the Morecambe Bay area has its own sub-species.

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Arnside Knott panorama.

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Early Purple Orchids.

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New Ash leaves.

Sunshine and blue skies have been at a bit of a premium for some time now – summer seems to have been postponed somewhat. Nice to look back then at these images from a Sunday in May when we did have some warmth and brightness. Naturally, I climbed Arnside Knott, my current obsession. The post title is a shameless excuse to squeeze in a song by my all time favourite band:

King of the Hill

Lapwings at Leighton Moss

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On the Tuesday evening after our weekend away in Wasdale, A and B had, as they usually do, Explorer Scouts over at Silverhelme Scout Camp on The Row. TBH was on taxi duty and she suggested that she could drop me off so that I could walk home. That seemed like a first rate idea, and so it was that I found myself on Storrs Lane at the point where the path which skirts around the back of Leighton Moss leaves the road. I popped into Lower Hide and ended up staying much longer than I had intended to, which often happens.

Although there were plenty of other birds about, it was some Lapwings right under the hide windows which kept me entertained.

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This adult male had chosen a prominent position in order to keep a watchful eye on the area. It looks like he’s on the remnants of some sort of nest. Not a Lapwing nest, I don’t think. Maybe something like a Coot.

When this first bird moved on, a second came stalking through the reeds…

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To take over the same position. At first, I assumed that the birds must be a pair, but this is another male. You can tell because the black patch extends all the way down his throat and further down his breast than it would on a female. Also, those striking plumes on his head are longer than those sported by a female.

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This, is a female…

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She looks a bit chubby, but that’s because tucked away under her skirts she’s hiding her entire brood…

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I watched as the chicks repeatedly made forays to explore the shallow margins of the mere…

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There were five chicks in all, but two was the most I managed to catch on camera at once…

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Her’s the matriarch without any chicks sheltering beneath her apron…

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You can just about see that she has some slight mottling in the black plumage on her throat, which is absent in males.

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The chicks seemed quite adventurous and would disperse over a fairly large area. This one came right up under the windows of the hide…

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But then the chicks, presumably acting on the some signal from an alert parent, would all turn and head back to the protection of their mother…

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And disappear into her feathery shelter…

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This chick…

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…seemed to be more independent than its siblings and was much less hasty when returning…

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Lapwings at Leighton Moss

Three Nights in Wasdale

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Great Gable.

Our annual Bank Holiday camping trip to Nether Wasdale. This year it was a bit brass monkeys. Actually, it’s often very cold. And it wasn’t as cold as the forecasters had predicted. And we didn’t have the tent-destroying gales that we’ve experienced more than once in the past. And it mostly stayed dry. And the company was excellent, as ever. And the Herdwick burgers sold in the campsite shop and made from their own lamb from the farm were delicious, even if I did burn them somewhat on the barbecue.

A was once again involved in DofE practice and then wanted to stay at home because of forthcoming exams. TBH volunteered to stay at home to look after A (You might almost conclude that TBH doesn’t like camping when its chilly!). So it was just me and the DBs from our clan. Fortunately, we had lots of old friends to meet at the campsite to keep us company.

On the first day of our stay, we decided to repeat the route we walked last year, climbing Lingmell by the path alongside Piers Gill. I didn’t take so many pictures this time around. I didn’t even capture group shots at all of our many rest stops…

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…of which I think this was the first.

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And this…

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…was probably about the fourth.

We stopped again on the top, obviously…

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…but it was snowing at the time, so not the warmest spot. Easter weekend – river swimming; Spring Bank Holiday weekend – snow. Of course – that’s British weather for you: predictably unpredictable.

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Wastwater and the Irish Sea, plus snow showers heading our way.

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Scafell Pike and Scafell and approximately a million hikers.

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Looking down Lingmell’s shattered cliffs towards Piers Gill.

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Little S couldn’t resist this pinnacle. My heart was in my mouth when he nonchalantly scampered up and down, but, of course, he was fine.

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Lingmell, Piers Gill and one of Piers Gill’s tributaries, seen from the Corridor Route.

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Great Gable, Green Gable and Uncle Fester.

Great Gable really dominates the view for much of this walk. Our friend J pointed out to me last year that you can pick out Napes Needle relatively easily from the Corridor Route. Through the magic of my camera’s zoom, here it is…

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You can see three people in front of the Needle and, perhaps by clicking on the image to see a larger version on flickr, you can also see that two others are ‘threading the Needle’, a well known scramble which I’ve never done, and am not likely to do now, I don’t think.

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Looking towards Wasdale Head.

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Great Gable and Little S.

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This spring seems to have been a bumper one for spotting hairy caterpillars. This rather attractive specimen maybe destined to become a moth called The Drinker, because of the caterpillar’s penchant for supping dew. Then again, I could easily be wrong about that.

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Great Gable yet again. It’s become slightly irksome that I’ve revisited almost every peak in the area in recent years apart from Gable, and its neighbour…

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…Kirk Fell.

On the Sunday, we chose to repeat a route which, in a number of variations, we’ve walked many times before – a circuit taking in Irton Pike, the village of Santon Bridge and a wander back along the valley of the River Irt.

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I took even less photos than I had the day before.

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We had a leisurely stop on the summit of Irton Pike – I may even have dozed off for a while.

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Looking toward Wasdale Head from Irton Pike.

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Eskdale and Harter Fell from Irton Pike.

On the final day we needed to pack-up, faff about and mull over what we should do once we’d finished faffing about. The DBs had heard Andy’s tales of whopping great plates of waffles and ice-cream from the cafe in Seascale, so a visit there was very high on their agenda. Eventually, they were persuaded that we could manage that, but still also fit in an ascent of Buckbarrow, another favourite outing from our Wasdale trips.

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Scafell Pike, Scafell, Wastwater and the Screes from Buckbarrow.

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The Isle of Man is out there somewhere.

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The 2019 crew, having the obligatory brew/lunch stop.

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Buckbarrow.

And finally, if you were wondering about the awkward title: I manoeuvred “three nights” into the title, so that I could cram Three Dog Night into the post…

Three Nights in Wasdale

More Bad Birdwatching

Or: The Walk that Wasn’t.

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A Monday evening. I’d dropped A and her friend off in Milnthorpe for their dance lesson, then driven to Foulshaw Moss for a bit of a walk. This was my first visit of the year and I didn’t get very far before I discovered that Cumbria Wildlife Trust have been busy and built a hide near to the car park, with several bird-feeders just beyond it. I settled down, just for a quick look I thought, before I continued, but then was so happy watching the birds on the feeders that I didn’t move again until the need to go back to pick up the dancers at the end of their lesson was so pressing that I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

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The ‘bad’ birdwatching of the title refers to my misidentification of these birds on previous visits to Foulshaw. I thought that they were Linnets. Now, I’m almost equally convinced that they are Lesser Redpoll. Lesser because Common Redpoll are winter visitors and paler, but I’m more than ready to be corrected. When I’ve seen them before it’s been groups flitting about, usually high in the tree-tops. These feeders gave me a much better opportunity to observe them close-up.

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Male.

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Female.

They are finches, but much smaller than the Goldfinches and Chaffinches which were also visiting the feeders.

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Goldfinch.

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Female Blackbird.

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Male (I think) Great-spotted Woodpecker.

There were plenty of other birds about to keep me entertained, including a Jay in the trees behind the feeders and a male Reed-bunting hopping about below the feeders, tantalising me by never quite being fully in view.

More Bad Birdwatching