Like a Dull Knife

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These sunset photos were gleaned from a late wander down to the Cove and across the Lots with the boys and were taken the day after the shots in the previous post, that is at the tail end of September, but have had to wait a lot longer to make it the the blog.

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Just so you know I’m still here, bumbling along, snapping away.

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Like a Dull Knife

Bright Skies and Big Clouds

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Bright skies and big clouds tempted my out into bracing winds on a Friday night after work.

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Horse Chestnut by Pointer Wood.

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Traveller’s Joy, Sharp’s Lot.

The path down through Fleagarth Wood to the end of Quaker’s Stang was extremely muddy even then, heaven knows what it will be like now, given all of the rain we have endured since. When I reached the saltmarsh, I was exposed to the full force of the wind for the first time, and was surprised by how brisk it was.

The tide was coming up Quicksand Pool…

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But the muddy banks were unusually firm, so I continued along them, rather than seeking the road nearby, because that way I kept my view of the retreating sun.

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From Jenny Brown’s Point.

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Sunset from Jack Scout.

 

Bright Skies and Big Clouds

Find Your Hope.

“Find your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.”

Wendell Berry  from A Poem on Hope.

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A third unexpected bonus in as many days – this visit to Foulshaw Moss came hard on the heels of the tiny lizards by Hawes Water and the heron at Bank Well, even though the respective blog posts have been more temporally spaced. The day had started wet, but then brightened enough, whilst I was at work, to kindle some optimism about the prospects for an evening walk. By the time I dropped off our budding ballerina for her classes in Milnthorpe, however, it was already raining again. Clutching at straws, I drove to Foulshaw anyway. In the wind and the rain, Foulshaw was a bit bleak, to say the least.

But then, and only for a moment, the sun dropped low enough in the western sky to suffuse the cloudscape with a hint of colour…

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And I was pleased that I had made the effort.

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By the car park at Foulshaw, as is the case at many nature reserves, there is a chalk board for recording sightings, to which somebody had added: ’93 Common Lizards’, which is exactly the kind of precise one-upmanship that these boards seem to invite. The one at Leighton Moss often makes me chuckle, when the numbers of common birds like Starlings, or some of the overwintering ducks, are numbered in huge round numbers into the tens of thousands, as if anyone can count those huge flocks even remotely accurately.

Find Your Hope.

Juvenile Heron.

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Another surprise. A Sunday afternoon stroll through Clark’s and Sharp’s Lots, down to Myer’s Allotment for the view of the Moss, and then back along the Row and across the fields. It was dull, but mild, and I’d hoped I might see some late season dragonflies, which I did, but only one, and that quickly flew by and out of sight.

As I passed Bank Well, something caught the corner of my eye. Double-taking, I was wondering why there was a pale grey boulder in the midst of the pond, when it had surely never been there before? The tall reeds around the pond made further investigation difficult, but once I’d realised that I was looking a Heron, I was surprised to see that it didn’t move, Herons usually being very shy birds, easily spooked. This one sat stock still whilst I moved around the pond looking for the best vantage point, taking many photos. Maybe this unusual behaviour can be put down to the fact that this is a juvenile; an adult bird would have a white crown and several distinctive black patches….

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Here’s one I took earlier at Leighton Moss in 2011.

Juvenile Heron.

Magical Things

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“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”

Eden Phillpotts

I think it’s fair to say that this year I have seen more Common Lizards than I did in the previous fifty put together. To what should I attribute this phenomena? The fact that I’ve been making an effort to get out at every opportunity will go some way to explain it, but is far from being sufficient on it’s own. It’s hard to think what other factors might contribute. A local abundance of lizards? Good fortune? It would be tempting to think that my wits really are growing sharper, but sadly, I’m sure that the opposite is true. It has been facetiously suggested that a form of animal magnetism is in operation and that wildlife is drawn to me, which seems highly unlikely, although earlier during the same walk a Hawthorn Shieldbug did alight on my hand…

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TBH and I were out for a Saturday afternoon ramble through Eaves Wood and then around Hawes Water. The lizards were in the same spot where we usually see them, on the edges of the boardwalk near the lake. We saw about half a dozen. They were all very small, tiny in fact, compared to those we have seen before. Presumably they were all from this year’s brood, born back in July. I suppose that they will be hibernating fairly soon, and it’s possible that these will be my last lizard sightings for this year, but hopefully there will be many more again next year, and other magical things to keep me occupied in the mean time.

Magical Things

Whitfell and Devoke Water.

Or: Three Brews with Views.

Birker Fell Road – Rough Crag – Water Crag – White Pike – Woodend Height – Yoadcastle – Stainton Pike – Holehouse Tarn – Whitfell – Woodend Height – Devoke Water – Seat How – Birker Fell Road.

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Hesk Fell, Woodend Height and Stord’s Hill seen across Devoke Water from Rough Crag.

It was our turn to do Kitchen Duty at rugby and TBH offered to go in my stead. I didn’t need to be asked twice. The MWIS forecast gave hill fog, with the best chance of some sunshine in the west, so I drove out to Ulpha in the Duddon valley and then up to park on the Birker Fell Road. Pike How, just above the road is a marvellous view point and one to bear in mind for future reference. It didn’t take long to reach Rough Crag either and I found a comfortable spot out of the chilly wind blowing from the north…

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…and settled down for an early brew stop.

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Water Crag from Rough Crag.

Water Crag was also easily and quickly ascended.

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Looking back to Rough Crag from Water Crag.

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This rocky little knoll is Brantrake Crags. It’s off modest height and probably doesn’t appear in any guide books anywhere, but I thought it looked worth climbing. The stream beside it, Linbeck Gill, which drains Devoke Water, also looked like a good place to explore.

After Rough Crag and Water Crag, Birkett suggests a lengthy traverse to take in The Knott. For once, I’d done my research in advance and discovered that Wainwright, in his Outlying Fells book, has a separate walk which takes in the Knott, but also the ancient settlement at Barnscar and the waterfall of Rowantree Force. That seemed like a more sensible option to me, so I skipped The Knott and climbed directly to White Pike. After the previous two, very easy, ascents, this one seemed like a long way. It was well worth it though. The prominent cairn…

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…marked a spot with excellent views.

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Whitfell and Stainton Pike from White Pike.

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Cumbrian west coast from White Pike.

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Eskmeals viaduct and Isle of Mann.

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Woodend Height and Yoadcastle.

All of the peaks on this walk had stunning views. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favourite, but Woodend Height would be hard to beat; from it’s top you can have great fun picking out all of the big hills of the western Lakes, across Devoke Water.

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Yoadcastle, Whitfell and Stainton Pike from Woodend Height.

Aside from the minor difficulty of surmounting a wire fence with a top strand of barbed wire, the walk around to Stainton Pike was delightful. This was yet another good view point.

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Looking back to Yoadcastle from Stainton Pike.

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Holehouse tarn and Whitfell from Stainton Pike.

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The estuaries of the Irt and the Esk from Stainton Pike.

It seemed like another brew was in order, and I found a wonderfully sheltered spot to sit to enjoy it.

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The Irt and the Esk and the dunes of Drigg nature reserve.

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Muncaster Castle.

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Isle of Mann and Eskmeals viaduct.

From there then, on to Whitfell.

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Large summit cairn on Whitfell.

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Looking back along my route.

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Duddon Estuary, Black Coombe and Buckbarrow.

On Whitfell you are a bit further away from the hills of Wasdale and Eskdale, but if anything, I thought this enhanced the view. I took several panoramas during the course of the day. Sadly, none of them were very successful, but I’ve included this one, if for no other reason than to remind myself of the great sweep of hills from Whin Rigg in the west round to Caw at the southern extreme of the Coniston Fells.

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Despite the forecast hill-fog, the higher fells were often clear…

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Scafells, Esk Pike, Bowfell, Crinkle Crags.

I’d flirted with the idea of descending from here, via Biggert to Hole House, then climbing The Pike and Hesk Fell on my way back to Devoke Water. This now seemed overly ambitious, and Hesk Fell looked every inch the tedious lump which Wainwright bemoans. So I wandered back to Woodend Height, skirting the other summits on my way.

Dropping off Woodend Height toward Rowantree How, I found another comfortable, sheltered seat and settled down for another brew.

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The view from my final brew stop.

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The same view from a little lower down: the rocky knoll on the left is Rowantree How. Note Seat How to the right of Devoke Water.

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Devoke Water and Seat How.

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Devoke Water boat house.

Seat How is another modest little top, but it is gratifyingly craggy, giving a satisfying scrambling finish to the round

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Devoke Water from Seat How.

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The pastures around Woodend, Hesk Fell behind.

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Harter Fell, Crook Crag, Green Crag, Great Crag.

I’ve often pontificated about the elements which come together to provide a good day on the hoof; I shan’t start again here, except to say that a really good walk might not just leave you wanting to come back and do it again someday, but may also fill your head with ideas for other walks you’d like to do soon. That was certainly the case with this one: not only did I find myself wanting to return to reascend many of the familiar hills I could see around me, but I also now plan to head round to the west coast to grab The Knott, and to explore the dunes at Drigg; I need to bag Buckbarrow, and The Pike, and even Hesk Fell; I spent large parts of the day thinking about a Duddon watershed walk and also wondering how to continue a high level route which would begin with Black Combe and then head north over Whitfell and these Devoke Water tops. Speculating about these more fanciful routes was great fun….in fact: where are my maps? After Harter Fell, where next?

Whitfell and Devoke Water.