Duke of Burgundies, A Holly Blue, An Osprey, Iridescent Clouds, an Interloper.

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TBH in Bottoms Wood

A post to take me a bit further through May. These first six photos were all taken on the same Sunday. I was out for an early walk with TBH, then took B to rugby training in Kirkby, a chance for another brief wander, and finally had a short stroll, which took a long time, around Gait Barrows.

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River Lune near Kirkby Lonsdale
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Herb Paris in the woods at Gait Barrows
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A pair of Duke of Burgundy butterflies

Obviously, Duke of Burgundy butterflies are like buses; I’ve waited years to see one, then two come along at once. Seeing me with my camera, a fellow enthusiast asked if I was looking for Duke of Burgundies? And when I replied; ‘That would be nice’, he pointed out where I could find a pair on one of the ropes which cordoned off the path.

“Hurry,” he said, “I’ve been watching them there for 45 minutes. I don’t know how much longer they’ll stay.”

Long enough for me to take lots of almost identical photos! What surprised me was how tiny they were – this is a really diminutive species of butterfly. Perhaps that’s why I’ve found them so hard to spot? They didn’t move at all, so intent on mating were they, so I didn’t get to see their upperwings. Maybe next May.

Duke of Burgundy butterflies are seriously in decline. Here’s the distribution map:

You can see that our population is very much an isolated North-Western outpost. The wonderful Back On Our Map project (BOOM!) are aiming to reintroduce or spread a number of rare species in the area, including Dormice and possibly Pine Martens. At Gait Barrows huge efforts have been made to encourage Primroses and Cowslips which are the food-plants of the Duke of Burgundy caterpillars.

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Big skies over Gait Barrows
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Iridescent clouds above Farleton Fell.

Here’s a curious phenomena which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before – rainbow colours in the sky, but not in a rainbow arc. Sadly, none of the photos I took showed the colours very clearly, but you can just about see them here in this enhanced shot. Fascinating to see; due to tiny ice-particles diffracting the light apparently.

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Another view of Farleton Fell.

One evening whilst A was at a dance lesson, I made a first visit to Hale Moss nature reserve. There were lots of snails and a few Bird’s-eye Primroses dotted about the boggy open ground.

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Hale Moss.
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Holly Blue butterfly, photographed in the grounds at work.

Not much more to say about that one. Not the first Holly Blue I’ve seen, but the first I’ve seen locally. Probably, I think because they’re another small butterfly, and because they tend to fly quite high in the tree-tops.

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Reed Bunting at Foulshaw Moss.
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Male Great-spotted Woodpecker (the females don’t have the red patch on their nape)
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Two male Redpolls.
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Foulshaw Moss.

I was standing on the raised platform at Foulshaw Moss which gives great views over the wetland, when a large white bird flew directly overhead from behind me. By the time I’d got my camera pointing in the right direction, the bird had already travelled a long way, but it was still obviously an Osprey.

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Osprey

The Wildlife Trust had webcams stationed over the nest at Foulshaw and through the spring and early summer I periodically watched the adults and then the chicks. Still special to see the bird ‘in the flesh’ though.

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Osprey being harried by a Crow.
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Perched Osprey.
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Two more views of Foulshaw Moss.
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Sedge Warbler.

This bird was bobbing about in the reeds beneath the platform, singing enthusiastically. I think the prominent eye-stripe makes this a Sedge Warbler. I took lots of photos, but none were quite as sharp as I would have liked.

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And finally, this also flew overhead that same evening whilst I was at Foulshaw Moss – ironically, I think that this is an Osprey too: a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. The rotors tilt so that it can take off, land and manoeuvre like a helicopter, but also fly like a plane. But what is an American military aircraft doing flying over Cumbria? Well, RAF Alconbury, RAF Fairford, RAF Lakenheath, RAF Mildenhall, RAF Menwith Hill, RAF Croughton – all US run bases in the UK apparently. None of them are near here, but I guess it must have come from one of them? Good to know that we’re still living in Airstrip One. When will we be ‘taking back control’ of military bases on our ‘sovereign’ territory? Don’t hold your breath.

Duke of Burgundies, A Holly Blue, An Osprey, Iridescent Clouds, an Interloper.

The Wrong Trousers

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Ward’s Stone from Baines Cragg.

Early in May, we met up with our old friends for a walk, and to celebrate Andy’s birthday. We had the least far to travel, since we were meeting at the Littledale carpark on the edge of the Forest of Bowland, not too far from Lancaster. So, naturally, never knowingly on time for anything, we were the last to arrive. I think the last of Andy’s bacon butties had yet to be washed down with a mug of tea at that point, so we may not have delayed things too much.

Leaving the cars, we started with an easy ascent of Baines Cragg, which, despite many previous visits to this area, I’ve never climbed before – it turned out to be an excellent viewpoint. It’s a shame the skies were so grey – I shall have to go back and have another look when the weather is more clement.

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Bluebells in Cragg Wood
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Crossing Ottergear Bridge, part of the Thirlmere Aqueduct.

Apparently the Thirlmere Aqueduct, which transports water from the Lake District to Manchester, is the longest gravity-fed aqueduct in Britain (source).

The track which crosses Ottergear Bridge was presumably constructed as part of the engineering work related to the aqueduct. It took us to the path which climbs Clougha Pike from the Rigg Lane car park.

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Slow Worm

When we lived on The Row, we used to see Slow Worms in our garden quite often. They seemed to like our compost heaps. B did once find one in our current garden, but that was years ago.

They are thought to be the longest-lived of all lizards; the remarkable age of 54 years has been reliably recorded.

from ‘Fauna Britannica’ by Stefan Buczacki
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Brew/lunch/cake stop number 1.
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Looking over Caton Moor towards Ingleborough.
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Andy Goldsworthy sculpture.
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TBH in one of the sculptures.

Below the sculptures we found a sheltered spot, out of the wind, for our second cake/brew/lunch stop. For me, this was a highlight of the day. The heathery slope was comfortable, the view to the north, if somewhat hazy and grey, was still extensive and, above all else, the company was excellent.

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Ward’s Stone.

Andy had been keen to tick-off Ward’s Stone, but the weather wasn’t great, so we decided to follow this track which looped around Grit Fell and then come back over the top of Grit Fell.

It was along here somewhere that ‘the trouser incident’ occurred. J has a pair of waterproof overtrousers, apparently designed for cross-country skiing, with zips down both the inside and the outside of both legs – making it possible, in theory, to put them on whilst wearing skis. However, with all 4 zips undone, and in a strong wind with driving rain, the trousers had 4 long flapping pieces and even without the encumbrance of skis, try as she might, J couldn’t get them on. It didn’t help that she got the giggles, which turned out to be infectious and soon, whilst TBF and TBH tried to help, the rest of us were doubled-up laughing and making entirely unhelpful suggestions. Eventually, the trousers were tamed, just about in time for the fierce shower to come to an end.

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TBF, J and TBH heading to Grit Fell, Ward’s Stone behind. Hats, gloves, full waterproofs – a wintery May!
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Ingleborough. And showers over The Lune valley.
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On Grit Fell.
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Our descent route.
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Brew stop number 3. It started to rain moments after we sat down.
My phone batteries packed up (temporarily) near the end of the walk – I think it may have been because I let my phone get too wet – hence the gap in the route.

Andy’s account, with a better map, better photos etc is here.

Whose birthday is next?

The Wrong Trousers

Early May, Mostly Birds

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Buzzard

A post to cover the first half of May, excepting for a weekend walk with friends which I’m saving for a separate post. These first couple of photos are from a wander around Gait Barrows. There was actually a pair of Buzzards soaring overhead. I took lots of photos whilst not straying too far from cover, because I’m very wary of Buzzards in the spring and summer.

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Cowslips
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Sunset over Coniston Fells from Arnside Knott.
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Late light, Foulshaw Moss

I went to Foulshaw frequently, sometimes on consecutive evenings. It was often quite cool by the time I got there. Sometimes I did see the butterflies and dragonflies which I’d hoped to see, but rarely managed to get any photographs.

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Whitbarrow Scar from Foulshaw Moss
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Reed Bunting.

I think I saw at least one Reed Bunting during every visit. I even started to recognise their song.

This poster…

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…is on display in the hide by the bird feeders. Why did I take a photo of it – purely vanity! – some of the photos on it are mine, from the blog. Fame at last!

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Tree-creeper.
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Coal Tit.
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House Sparrow.

Although I always had a wander around first, on many of my visits I ended up sitting in that hide and photographing birds on and by the feeders for quite some time.

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Water Rail.

Initially, when I noticed this Water Rail, I quickly snapped a couple of photos, thinking, for some reason, that it was a Moorhen. I suppose the shape and the beak are similar, but otherwise there’s little resemblance. Then, when it dawned on me what I was looking at, I turned my attention from the feeders to the Water Rail beneath them. I’ve occasionally seen Water Rail before, at Leighton Moss, when the meres were frozen over. But only briefly. I’ve more often heard them: they make an extraordinary racket, squealing like pigs. I’ve never photographed one before. I assumed that I was incredibly lucky, but a couple of visits after this one, I was talking to a lady who told me: “Oh, he’s always there.” And on another visit, a Wildlife Trust volunteer told me that he thought that Water Rails were becoming less shy and are now often seen beneath feeders in various wetland reserves.

Oh well, I was still very chuffed to have had such a good view of what has always been a very elusive bird.

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Reed Bunting.
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Goldfinches and Lesser Redpoll.
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Lesser Redpoll.
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Male Lesser Redpoll.
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Pheasant.
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Crepuscular Rays from The Lots.
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Crepuscular Rays over The Bay.
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Orchids on The Lots.

This photo was my attempt to emulate an amazing photo of these orchids which I’d seen online. At the time that I took it, I was disappointed with it, because it’s not a patch on the photo which inspired it, but with hindsight I rather like it – it does at least hint at the profusion of orchids on that area of The Lots.

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Ramsons, Bottoms Wood.
Early May, Mostly Birds

Uldale Force, Rawthey Gill, Baugh Fell

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Cautley Crag on Great Dummacks, partly obscured by cloud.

I haven’t ventured out on the hills on my own all that much this year. Of course, we were supposed to stay ‘local’, what ever that meant, for quite some time, then those restrictions were relaxed, but I don’t seem to have got back into the habit somehow. This walk, on the sprawling moors of Baugh Fell being the notable exception. It began inauspiciously, in the parking area just off the Sedbergh to Kirkby Stephen road, south of Rawthey Bridge, with low cloud obscuring the Howgill Fells and a light drizzle falling. I was heading for the path which cuts across the slopes of Bluecaster heading into the upper reaches of the River Rawthey.

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Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell

Along the path I leap-frogged a group of three who had set-off from the same parking spot just before me. They were the last people I would see for quite some time.

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The Rawthey near Needle House and Uldale House.
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The Rawthey
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Whin Stone Gill

The waters of all of the streams which feed into the Rawthey ultimately end up in the Lune, and so fall under the remit of my Lune Catchment project. On the map, Needlehouse Gill and Uldale Gill look like an interesting alternative way up onto Wild Boar Fell. Whin Stone Gill, on the other hand, skirts Holmes Moss Hill, one of the boggiest places I have ever walked, so I might be leaving that one for a while!

Anyway, sticking with the Rawthey, as I continued upstream I passed a series of small cascades, including this one…

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Behind which, through the trees, you can just about make out Uldale Force, contained within it’s own little amphitheatre.

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It’s not Yorkshire Dales tallest, widest, or most spectacular waterfall, but it’s a smashing spot. At the back of my mind, when I’d planned this walk, I’d been thinking that I might manage a brief dip in the pool at the bottom of the fall, but it was still a bit damp, and quite cool, so I reluctantly abandoned that idea.

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I took solace instead in the abundance of Primroses growing on the far bank – this photo just shows one small section of an absolute mass of flowers.

From Uldale Force, it’s necessary to climb up above the river and it’s steep banks for a while, but I soon rejoined the watercourse further up.

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The Rawthey passes through a rocky little ravine for a while, where progress was quite slow, as I crossed and recrossed the stream. (Somewhere, the River Rawthey becomes plain old Rawthey Gill.)

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At some point the sun had come out. I came across a rather tempting little pool and hatched a new plan: make a brew, swim whilst the tea cooled a bit, get out and drink the brew to warm up. Perfect. Or it would have been had I remembered to pack a gas canister. So I abandoned that plan in a fit of pique.

At Rawthey Gill Foot, (perhaps where the name change occurs?) the landscape opens up and the feeling of space is immense. This would prove to be a feature of the day.

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As I climbed and the slopes on either side of the Rawthey began to rise again and enclose the gill, I came across a series of delightful little pools, just about large enough for a dip.

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I’m pretty sure this…

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…is the one I swam in, not that there was room for more than a couple of strokes. What was it like? It was the first of May, so it was pretty bracing, but the sun was shining, the views were great and there was absolutely nobody about, so I enjoyed it immensely.

Would have liked a cup of tea afterwards though.

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A substantial side stream – I think this might be Swere Gill..

All of the streams hereabouts look like they would repay exploration. It would be good, in dry weather, to camp in the vicinity of Rawthey Gill Foot and have a proper explore. Some of the streams drain the other way, down into Grizedale, and into the Clough River, but that’s another tributary of the Lune, so it’s a win win from my point of view.

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Plodding up the stream I was really in my element – following a watercourse into the hills has always been a favourite occupation of mine. Progress can be slow, but there always seemed to be another little fall just around the corner to keep me entertained.

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I’d been a bit concerned beforehand that the going might be very boggy, but in the event, it wasn’t (not till later in the day anyway). I’ve subsequently read some fairly disparaging things about Baugh Fell, one of them being that it’s essentially a giant sponge, so I think I picked a good time to visit, after a prolonged dry spell. I did eventually sink to my knees into a patch of hillside which I should have noticed was a slightly brighter green than the surrounding slopes.
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Looking back down the Rawthey toward Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell.
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As I approached the top of the gill, I was careful to keep left at every opportunity, thinking that would have me emerging onto the plateau of Baugh Fell near to the East Tarns. I must have left it too late to turn left however, so that I actually came out just below Knoutberry Haw. The ground ahead looked worryingly flat so I cut left where I could see rocks, eventually hitting the ‘ridge’ between Knoutberry Haw and Tarn Rigg Hill.

Now I had a view to the south, of familiar hills from a very unfamiliar direction.

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Whernside and Great Coum over Aye Gill Pike.
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Looking north to Wild Boar Fell and the Mallerstang Edges.
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Knoutberry Haw from Tarn Hill Rigg – Howgill Fells behind.

There was a couple by the trig pillar on Knoutberry Haw. I was so surprised to meet other people that I marched right past without taking a photo of the trig.

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The vast expanse of West Baugh Fell.
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Looking back up towards Knoutberry Haw.

You can see that there is a faint path, but it was surprisingly easy to lose.

Incidentally, although the sun was still shining, by now I had donned all of my clothing, including hat, gloves and cag to keep out the biting wind. The idea that I had been swimming a few hours earlier seemed preposterous.

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Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell from West Baugh Fell.

Wild Boar Fell dominated the view all day. It’s far too long since I’ve been up there.

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West Baugh Fell.

West Baugh Fell was very firm and stony, I can’t imagine that this gets boggy. I was revelling in the space and the light and the emptiness.

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The Middleton Fells on the left, Morecambe Bay in the distance.
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The Howgills from West Baugh Fell. Cautley Spout in the centre.
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Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell again, from near West Baugh Fell Tarn.
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Wandale Hill and Harter Fell from my descent route.

I elected to descend directly toward the car, down the shoulder named Raven Thorn on the map. Not my best decision. It was hard going – wet and tussocky. After rain I suspect it would be purgatorial. Eventually, I gave it up as a bad lot and dropped back down to the track I had started the day on.

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Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell one last time.

Right near the end of my walk I met three trails bikers. I was all ready to be disapprovingly cross, when the lead rider popped up his visor, beamed at me and asked me how I was and where I’d been – it was one of B’s rugby team, who lives nearby. It was then that I realised that I don’t know whether to pronounce Baugh as ‘bore’ or ‘bow’ or quite possibly in some other way.

Thirteen miles and a little over 500m of ascent according to MapMyWalk. I once had the bright idea of attempting this walk in an evening after work. I’m glad I didn’t!

As you can see, lots of blue lines draining away from Baugh Fell, and all of them eventually feed into the Lune, so loads of scope for return visits.

Uldale Force, Rawthey Gill, Baugh Fell

Loopy

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Eaves Wood

The first of May, the Saturday of the Bank Holiday weekend. The weather was obviously a bit changeable with some sunshine, but some very dark clouds and showers about too. I managed to eke out 5 miles by walking small loops, returning to the house each time; one through Eaves Wood, one via the Cove and the Lots, and finally which took me to Woodwell.

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Morecambe Bay from the Cove
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Green-winged Orchid on the Lots.
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I think this might be an Acer, but I’m not good at garden plants. I liked the cheerful colours though.
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Coralroot.

I’m always happy to spot the mauve flowers of Coralroot. I knew that it probably wasn’t native to this area, but didn’t realise just how rare it is in the UK.

Coralroot distribution map. Blue dots show native populations.
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Bottoms Wood, decked out with Wild Garlic.
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New Beech leaves
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Ominous clouds and the distant Howgill Fells.

This last photo was the last of several failed attempts to catch the drama of these dark clouds with one tiny cloud on the right really catching the sun and shining quite brightly. It was quite a sight.

I would be heading out in the direction of the Howgills the following day.

Loopy

An Early Purple, Atomic Eggs and Morecambe Skies

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Early Purple Orchid, The Lots.

A post to round of the final week of April. The orchid is from and a short Sunday afternoon stroll across The Lots. Earlier in the day I’d had a walk along the Lune with The Tower Captain, whilst our respective lads were training at Underley Park, home of Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC.

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River Lune near Kirkby Lonsdale.
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Pipe Bridge over the Lune…
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Carrying water from Haweswater to Heaton Park reservoir in Manchester.
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Harmony Hall and Laburnum House in Milnthorpe.
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These last two photos from a lazy evening stroll whilst A was dancing.

The next time she has a lesson, I was more ambitious and drove to park by Leven’s Bridge for a walk by the River Kent.

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Force Falls, River Kent.

This circular route was a firm favourite when the kids were younger. It’s around three miles – not too taxing for little legs. Not bad for an evening stroll either.

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Solomon’s Seal by the Kent.
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River Kent.

Later in the walk, I encountered both the Bagot Goats and the Bagot Fallow Deer, both unique to the Levens Deer Park. I took photos of the goats, but it was too dark by then. (This post, from the early days of the blog, has photos of both, and of the boys when they were cute and not towering teenagers)

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Midland Hotel Morecambe, from the Battery. It’s here that, hopefully, the Eden Project North will be built.
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Lake District Fells from Morecambe Prom.
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Midland Hotel again. Arnside Knott behind and right of the small building on the Stone Jetty.

TBH and I had a half-hour stroll along Morecambe Promenade, prior to picking up B from meeting his friends in Heysham.

An Early Purple, Atomic Eggs and Morecambe Skies

A Walk from Bowland Bridge

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Across the Winster Valley to Whitbarrow Scar.

A hot Saturday afternoon, towards the end of April. TBH and I escaped for a short stroll around the Winster valley.

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Eastern Fells from Raven’s Barrow.

Raven’s Barrow isn’t really a summit, just a bump on the edge of sprawling Cartmel Fell, but it has a huge cairn (with a seat built into it) and superb, panoramic views. We found a place to get out of the wind and sat for quite some time. With a brew, of course.

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Whitbarrow from Raven’s Barrow.
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Looking South from Raven’s Barrow.
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With annotations – what do you think?
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Hmmmm – not sure that I agree.

I like the idea of footpath signs with a quote. I always like to know where quotes originate, but couldn’t track this one down. I did find this…

“I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.”

…which seems to be often wrongly attributed to Emerson, but is actually the work of Muriel Strode, ‘the female Walt Whitman’, who I think may repay further investigation.

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St. Anthony’s Church.
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Whitbarrow Scar again.
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River Winster – looking South.
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River Winster – looking north.
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Raven’s Barrow from the edge of Colehowe Wood.
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Cowclose Wood.
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Cowclose Wood bluebells.
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Nearing the top of Cowclose Wood.

The bluebells in Cowclose Wood were fantastic. I’m afraid, as usual, my photos don’t begin to do them justice.

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Pool Bank.

Pool Bank is a tiny hamlet, full of charming old buildings.

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Fox’s Pulpit Pool Bank – another place where the Quaker founder preached in the open.
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Descending towards Coppy Beck accompanied by Blackthorn blossom.
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Cowmire Hall and the northern end of Whitbarrow Scar.
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The Hare and Hounds – back in Bowland Bridge.

I think the battery on my phone died at Pool Bank. From there we followed the path through Broomer Dale to near Lobby Bridge, then another path to Scale Hill, then back along the minor lane we had started on.

A Walk from Bowland Bridge

Three Evening Outings

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I didn’t get out half as much this summer for after walk wanders as I usually do. I made excuses about the being too busy with driving A to and from dancing lessons, but these three evening walks from the same week in the tail end of April give the lie to that – so, obviously, I just didn’t make enough effort as the summer went on.

But anyway – back to the week when I was still trying. On the Monday evening, I dropped A off in Milnthorpe and drove the short distance to park in Heversham and climb Heversham Head. Bizarrely, in nearly thirty years of living nearby I’ve never climbed it before. In my defence, on the OS map there’s no path shown – I think it was Conrad who alerted me to the fact that there is actually access to the top. I followed the route in this leaflet (I think the field boundaries shown might be slightly misleading). Very good it was too, but it’s a shame I hadn’t set off earlier since the very flat light rather spoiled the extensive views.

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I shall have to come this way again, although I’m slightly put off by the many pinch-stiles, some of which are very tight for the more portly gentleman, and one of which had me thinking I was irretrievably stuck and contemplating having to wait there, like Winnie the Pooh in Rabbit’s burrow, until I had lost some weight.

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Dallam Hall

The following night was brighter, and I was out earlier. This time I walked from where A has her lessons, down through Milnthorpe, through the grounds of Dallam Hall, beside the River Bela, and out to where the Bela flows into the Kent estuary.

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River Bela – Heversham Head prominent on the right-hand side in the background.
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River Bela and Milnthorpe Bridge.
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River Bela and Milnthorpe.
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Harmony Hall.
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It’s always very sobering to be confronted with evidence of sleepy little Milnthorpe’s past as a slaving port.

Incidentally, I’m a huge fan of both Cicerone Press, these days based in Kendal, and of Mr Unsworth.

On the Friday evening, with no driving duties to undertake, I drove straight from work to the Rigg Lane carpark, for an evening ascent of Clougha Pike.

On my way up, I was tempted away from my usual route by a path which leading up into Windy Clough. A thin path took me onto slopes of shattered stones and boulders on the left side of the valley. The path seemed to split frequently, each bifurcation leading to difficult choices between two increasingly marginal options. Eventually, there was no discernible path, so I struck uphill, finding a thin trod following the wall along the high ground. When this hit a cross-wall I followed it down into the valley bottom, where there was a gate and, once again, a path. This lead me into surprisingly tall and scratchy vegetation, but also, eventually, onto a lovely path which gradually ascended up towards the edge on Clougha Pike.

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Looking towards Caton Moor, having escaped Windy Clough.
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Looking up the edge.
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There were loads of Red Grouse about. The males were strutting their stuff and very easy to photograph, so I took lots of pictures. The females were far more discrete and only showed themselves very briefly. They’re endearing birds, if somewhat loud. It’s a shame that they’re essentially there to be shot by ‘sportsmen’.

I found a comfortable spot on a huge boulder and sat down for a brew and a rest and to contemplate the view. It was warm, but very windy, so I was surprised to see this tiny Green Hairstreak clinging to the rock.

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Because I’ve previously seen these butterflies in woodland I’d incorrectly assumed that they are woodland creatures, but apparently they are well adapted to a number of habitats, including moorland.

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Another male Grouse.
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Along the edge.
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Who you looking at?
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Meadow Pipit (I think).
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The top!
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Looking over to Hawthornthwaite Fell.
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Morecambe Bay.
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Hunkered down for another brew and a ‘meal deal’ tea.
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Looking along the edge.

After my earlier misadventure, I wasn’t dissuaded from taking another new route – I’d spotted a thin path traversing the ground just below the edge and decided that would give an interesting new perspective.

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It proved to be a very pleasant alternative to retracing the edge path, although I suspect that in winter it may well be very boggy.

Three Evening Outings

Whinfell Common and the ‘Other’ Borrowdale

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Tebay Gorge.

As travel restrictions were relaxed, Britain’s new found fervour for getting into the outdoors wasn’t abating at all. Old certainties regarding parking could no longer be relied upon. In the past, car parks would generally have spaces before about 10 and remote and less popular spots would never fill up anyway. On this occasion, we were meeting at the small parking space just off the A685, close to Low Borrow Bridge in the Tebay Gorge. At 9 it was already full, but I managed to squeeze in by parking behind a couple of friends cars, blocking them in.

Between Little Coum and Great Coum on Grayrigg Pike, a few bends in the contours hint at the possibility of a pleasant ridge route to the top. I’ve become a bit obsessed recently about finding these off-piste routes. I knew this one was good because I’ve been this way before. And I’m not the only one to have noticed it, since there’s actually a faint trod following the ridge all the way to the summit cairn.

All along that path, and, in fact, generally along the subsequent ridge route, we saw regular grey curls of…

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Fox scat.

Full of tiny bones and hair and often situated on a prominent rock or small mound by the path. I was confident at the time that this was Fox scat and I’m even surer now that I’ve had a chance to do a little research. For some reason the EWO took exception to my identification. I don’t know why he chose to argue, it’s not like I ever disagree when he’s pontificating about his chosen area of expertise, the weather. Oh wait – I always disagree when he’s opining about the weather. Fair enough.

Actually, I realise, that’s what the EWO have always done when we’re out for a walk together, hashing over the latest news in politics, or conservation efforts, or the measures around COVID19, or the most recent stupid fads in education, or whether the midfield can accommodate both Gerard and Lampard (we’ve been doing this for a long time!). I think it’s only by adopting a contrary position whilst gently arguing with the EWO or UF on a walk, that I know what I actually think about an issue.

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Grayrigg Pike – the first of many tea stops.

It was my dad’s birthday, so I video-called from Grayrigg Pike and chatted with him and my mum and shared the somewhat hazy views whilst enjoying a cup of almond tea.

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The onward route – Whinfell Common.

The weather wasn’t brilliant, but it wasn’t dreadful either, and with such good company and the ridge almost to ourselves it made for a very fine day.

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Whinfell Beacon
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Looking back to Grayrigg Forest.
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Looking back again, Grayrigg Forest on the left, Whinfell Beacon on the right.
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The way ahead, Castle Fell and a tree-covered Mabbin Crag behind.
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Stone shelter on Mabbin Crag.
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Around the cairn on Mabbin Crag.

It’s a lovely ridge walk this, not spectacular, but little walked. I was highly amused by the Prof, by far the youngest member of the party, who skirted around Whinfell whilst the rest of us went up, and then moaned in disbelieve each time he realised we had another ascent to deal with over Castle Fell, Mabbin Crag and Ashstead Fell (which has a number of knobbles to be ascended).

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On Ashstead Fell, Mabbin Crag behind.
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On Ashstead Fell, looking into the upper reaches of Borrowdale.
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Borrow Beck.

Aside from a pleasant leg-stretcher in good company, I’d been looking forward to this walk because Borrow Beck is a tributary of the Lune and therefore a part of my Lune Catchment project. I’ve never walked along the valley before and it didn’t disappoint. We even squeezed in one final brew stop on the banks of the beck.

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Rough Crag and Castle Fell.
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Wandering down Borrowdale.

All-in-all, a grand day out.

Andy’s account of the day, with somehow slightly less grey looking photos, and a map is here.

Andy reckons 11 miles and 2,500 foot of ascent. MapMyWalk gives 12 miles, but only around 1,800 feet. I’m not sure which to believe.

Whinfell Common and the ‘Other’ Borrowdale

A Market, A Fire-pit, Clouds and Sunsets

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Ruskin’s View

Mid-April. Most of these photos are from a single day, which started with rugby training for B in Kirkby Lonsdale. The measures around the pandemic almost entirely wiped-out B’s final season with his age group team, although knee surgery would have kept him on the sidelines anyway. Hopefully he’ll soon be fit to join his contemporaries in the Colts team.

While he was training, I took my usual stroll by the Lune and through Kirkby. It’s unusual to see the river so clear.

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St. Mary’s churchyard, full of daffs.
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The Manor House.
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The Lune.

In the afternoon, TBH and I were out completing a circuit of Jenny Brown’s Point for a change! The sunshine was still with us, but now there were very dark and brooding skies too, a combination I find irresistible.

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Hollins Lane.
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Warton Crag and a snow-dusted Ward’s Stone across the salt-marsh.
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Warton Crag.
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Quicksand Pool and the copper-smelting chimney.
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The Bowland Fells across Quicksand Pool.
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Jenny Brown’s pano (click for larger image).

The remaining photos are from odd days during the second half of our Easter Break.

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Cove sunset.
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Huge cloud.
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Post sunset from Jack Scout.

B often does his best to present himself as a bit of a Philistine, memorably dismissing a stunning cave in the C√©vennes, for example, as ‘just rocks and water’, but secretly he’s a bit of a romantic after all. He likes a good sunset and often watches them from Heysham Barrows with his school friends. I think this photo was taken on one of a couple of walks we took together in an attempt to catch the sunset from Jack Scout. We were a bit late on this occasion.

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Saturday market, Dalton Square, Lancaster.

I’m not entirely sure why I was in Lancaster, possibly due to the return of BJJ training on a Saturday morning. What I do remember was how shocked I was to see market stalls and shoppers. Although I’d been back at work for a while, Lancaster always seemed to stay resolutely quiet and traffic free.

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Washing-machine tub fire-pit.

This photos is a bit of a cheat, since it’s from March. Our washing-machine conked out, and, having replaced it, over a couple of Saturdays I dismantled the broken one and salvaged the drum to use as a fire-pit.

It wasn’t until April that we put it to use, toasting some marsh-mallows…

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TBH got a bit carried away…

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Flambéed marshmallow.

Actually, this is typical TBH cooking – she would call this ‘caramelised’.

A Market, A Fire-pit, Clouds and Sunsets