Winter Aconites

Winter Aconites, as promised.

After my two walk Saturday – a two walk Sunday. Every year, January always seems to find me at a peak of motivation to get outside, I’m not entirely sure why.


One reason to get out on Sunday morning was that I’d seen, on a local Facebook page, photos of these very cheery aconites. I believe this field, near the ‘new’ Cricket pitch, was donated to the National Trust, but the owners first planted this strip with spring bulbs.


I’ve cheated slightly – the photos of the aconites came from the second walk, when the light was better. I’d already seen them on the second of my Saturday walks, but it was virtually dark at that time so I hadn’t taken any photos. Since I knew that TBH would appreciate them, we diverged slightly from our usual Sunday morning routine and set-off that way and then crossed the still snowy Lots…

A bit of blue sky over Grange – a hint of what was to come.

Our Sunday morning walk, easily completed in an hour and a half, often took over two hours, and on this occasion, admittedly when we took a different, slightly longer, route, stretched to three hours. The reason for this variation being the many conversations we had with friends from the village we met whilst out and about. On this walk we bumped into our friend R, who was walking her dog, and she joined us for a socially-distanced chat. Then we met two groups of mutual friends and stopped both times for lengthy catch-ups. It was all very pleasant, if a little cold.


Because we were walking around Jenny Brown’s Point every Sunday, we were able to watch the rapid changes of the course of Quicksand Pool and the decay of the steep bank on the far side of the stream. We didn’t have to admire the view for long before we would witness large chunks tumble into the water.


Although we were now back on our usual route, we were walking widdershins, in the opposite direction to our habitual outing, and now decided to return via Heald Brow rather than up through Fleagarth Wood. I can’t remember why, probably because it’s more direct and and TBH was ready for some lunch, having been out for so long.

The white hills just peaking above the horizon in this photo are the Coniston Fells.

Conscious of how early it would get dark, I had other plans for my lunch, especially since it had suddenly brightened up. I thought a picnic lunch and another walk would be just the ticket; but I’ll save that for another post.

Winter Aconites

Arnside Tower and Arnside Knott

Arnside Tower

Arnside Tower

Now thoroughly behind with blogging due to pressures of work: here’s an overdue instalment of our Easter Adventures. The boys were off playing football (good for them) and A had a friend staying over. The sun was shining, so we decided to tick off another couple of locations on our list of 40 Places worth visiting locally.

On Saul's Drive 

It was cooler than it had been a couple of days before, but warmer than I had anticipated.

Approaching the trig pillar 

Approaching the trig point.

At the top 

There was a real haze and not much in the way of views from the Knott – a real contrast with my previous visit just a couple of weeks before.

What happened to the view? 

What with it being warmer, we most of us ended up carrying coats, gloves and hat rather than wearing them. I dropped my hat and had to leave the others to head home whilst I retraced our steps.

The 'lost' hat

Somebody had hung my hat from a prominent yew branch, presumably to make the place look neat and tidy.

More stuff to follow. Sometime.

Arnside Tower and Arnside Knott

Far Arnside, White Creek and The River Kent (41, 27, 20)

Two spaniels on the Far Arnside shingle 

A sociable walk this one, organised by a friend from the village. Perhaps she was thinking of the time we did this same walk together once before, which was, let me see….two years ago! I can hardly believe that it’s that long ago. This was a more modest affair with less human participants, but a superabundance of dogs, especially spaniels. Most of the children seemed to be assigned to a dog and given a lead to be dragged by. Initially, poor B didn’t have his own canine companion and was looking very glum. He didn’t have to wait long however before his turn came and I’ve rarely seen him grin so broadly. (He’s been offered the loan of a dog to take for a walk whenever he wants, before anybody starts lobbying on his behalf for me to drop my anti-mutt stance.)

It was a beautiful day, and almost warm, if you could get out of the biting easterly wind.


Far Arnside is a wonderful spot. It has excellent fossils in the rocks by the shore and, at this time of year, woods full of daffodils.

Whilst the rest of the party followed the shore, I took to the cliff path (this being a sociable walk and me being my usual sociable self). In my defence, I was the only adult male present, the kids were charging around after the dogs shouting and the mums were talking about…well, I don’t know what they were talking about obviously, as I was up on the cliff, but I’m willing to bet that they weren’t debating the likely outcome of the Manchester derby or trying to pick a winner for the Grand National, or mulling over what would make their personal top ten dub reggae tracks.

(Incidentally, my inability to ‘do ‘ normal conversation is a great frustration to TBH. She’s given up asking how my old friends are after I’ve met up with them for a walk or a weekend, since she was rarely duped by my shrugged: “Umm, seemed OK?” standard answer. “You didn’t ask, did you? What did you talk about?” Which is a daft question surely: football, mountains, music, motorway service stations, A roads, anecdote bingo…..Anything unimportant really. Ask somebody how they are and they might actually tell you. In great detail. You might need to think of an appropriate response. Minefield!)

He and my father had entered into one of those close (the adjective is excessive) English friendships that begin by excluding confidences and very soon dispense with dialog.

from Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by J.L.Borges

The cliff path 

In the woods, out of that wind, despite the lack of leaves it felt (whisper it) almost spring-like.

In the trees 

Somewhere in the vicinity of Park Point I dropped down to the beach, which was intricately patterned with waders footprints….

Bird footprints 

The walk along the sands here from Park Point to Arnside Point must be the finest ⅓ of a mile in the district.

Grange and Hampsfell 

It’s possible to carry on across the sands to Blackstone Point, thus avoiding the muddy salt-marsh, but we were looking for a sheltered picnic spot and headed for the shingle beach at White Creek.

I was given a Bushbuddy stove several years ago and haven’t really got around to using it as much as I would have liked. But, for picnics with the kids it seems ideal, especially given that they have inherited their mum’s pyromania. (TBH is a Chemistry teacher, which is to say, a would be arsonist channelling their urges in socially acceptable lithium and Bunsen burner fireworks.) And for once, after the prolonged dry spell we’d been having, there ought to be plenty of suitable fuel around too.

Bushbuddy action 

In the event, it took an awful lot of matches and failed attempts before we got the thing going very successfully, but the tea and hot blackcurrant were highly appreciated when we finally had them ready.

On the bank of the Kent 

From Blackstone Point we followed the River Kent into Arnside. It’s a very pleasant walk, with lovely views.

On the bank of the Kent II 

At New Barns we had a momentary drama when we lost Pippin, one of the assembled crew of spaniels, but the kids finally found that she had diverted into Grubbins wood, presumably on the trail of an interesting scent.

When we reached Arnside Prom, the kids were clamouring for ice creams. Meanwhile the mums….

Window shopping

…were captivated. Captions on a postcard please.

We walked a little further, hoping to enjoy chips on the prom, only to find that we were too late (or too early) and the Big Chip Cafe was closed. Not to worry, we found an admirable substitute in the Heron Cafe next door.

By this point many of the kids had had enough. Phone calls were made, lifts arrived. Only B wanted to continue. He and I were joined, for a return walk along Black Dyke and through Eaves Wood by one of the other Dads, who had brought a car to give lifts and then found himself without a seat in the car for the return journey. We talked about vegetarianism, work, lacto-intolerance, keeping chickens, parenthood…dangerously close to a proper conversation in fact.

Far Arnside, White Creek and The River Kent (41, 27, 20)

Warton Crag and the Three Brothers (2 and 36)

Warton Crag Quarry Car park

Another cold and bright day, just over a week ago now. (I’m getting quite behind, which is good: it’s because we’re getting out together a lot.) We decided to head for Warton Crag. The boys and I had been here just a week before, but fortunately the hill is criss-crossed by paths and it was very easy to ring the changes. We followed a path out of the north side of the large quarry car park and then turned up the hill. I was struck by the profusion and variety of the lichen adorning the scrub here…

Lichen I 

Lichen III 

Lichen IV 

Lichen V 

Very quickly, views opened up to the North….

Coniston Fells from Warton Crag 

Coniston Fells from Warton Crag.

A little further up the slope we met a family indulging in the traditional Easter pastime of egg-rolling. It’s not something I’ve ever tried, but maybe next year…?

There’s been a great deal of moaning, and I’m as guilty as the next man, about our apparent perpetual winter, but I have to say that the snow on the surrounding hills really enhances the view. As well as the Lakeland Fells to the North, we had grandstand views of the Forest of Bowland to the South and in the East the distant sentinel of Ingleborough.

Distant Ingleborough from Warton Crag 

…which is distinctive from just about any direction….

Ingleborough (telephoto) 

As I say, there are numerous routes to the top of the crag, and all of them have some points of interest along the way, like a limestone crag to scale for instance….

A and S investigate a limestone crag 

Fortunately, there’s an easy way up just a few yards along the crag from here.

View from near the summit of Warton Crag 

Like all the local hills, Warton Crag is of very modest elevation and we were soon at the top.

By the trig pillar 

Where alongside the trig pillar stands a replica beacon erected, I believe, in 1988 to commemorate the defeat (by the weather) of the Spanish Armada in 1588.


From the top we dived into the woods…

The way through the woods 

Heading for The Three Brothers….

Three Brothers 

…which were a big hit with the kids who saw them as an excellent opportunity to do a little bouldering.

The Three Brothers are a little off the beaten track and take a bit of seeking out. You’ll rarely encounter other walkers in this area. We did meet two groups of roe deer however, first a group of three and then, shortly after, another pair.

Roe deer bottoms

From that point on we were winding our way through the woods back towards the car. Passing a few more interesting features along the way….

Easter Island Heads 

…including a substantial area of gooseberry bushes which I have mentally noted as a destination for a foraging trip in the summer.

Descending through the trees

Warton Crag and the Three Brothers (2 and 36)

17 – Hawes Water

Early light on Oaks, Eaves Wood behind.

An early peek through the curtains revealed a pale blue sky and a hard frost. The rest of the house was quiet, everyone else asleep, so I crept out into the sun’s first rays for an early constitutional.

Oak tree silhouette 

Barring a low line of cloud in the east, the sky was completely clear. The frost was melting fast.

Hawes Water 

I took one of our most frequently repeated routes: across the fields to The Row, down Moss Lane to Hawes Water, around the lake and back through Eaves Wood.

With constant easterlies and unseasonably cold temperatures, it’s been hard at times to realise that spring is upon us. But in Eaves Wood the day before we had watched mixed flocks of tits (including long-tailed tits – my favourites) bouncing around in the treetops.

Now I found another reminder – two or three emerging spikes of toothwort flowers, tiny but unmistakable.


I stopped in the woods two watch two crows, sitting on branches cawing softly to each other. Something in their behaviour struck me as odd. Then a buzzard dropped from a branch where it had been perched unnoticed by me. The crows followed. They didn’t seem to be mobbing or harassing the bird of prey, as they sometimes do. They landed again close by, all in adjacent trees. I watched all three for some time, flitting back and forth through the trees. When they landed to perch, I often lost sight of the buzzard, but never the crows. There was no apparent aggression in the behaviour of any of the birds. It was like a patient game of cat and mouse. Odd.

Sunlight on Hawes Water 

When I emerged from the woods the weather was totally transformed. I could still see a fringe of blue out to the west, but the rest of the sky has filled with ominous dark clouds. It had become rather gloomy after the brightness of earlier. There were a few flakes of snow in the air.

Close to home my ear was attracted by a particular bird song. I’ve been making some effort to learn some birdsongs and have made a little progress. This song had some of the trill of a chaffinch and a rasp not unlike a greenfinch, but was not either of those birds I thought. Probably a finch though. I scanned the bushes in nearby gardens….


A goldfinch! I waltzed home for breakfast with a spring in my step.

“Where have you been so early?”

“Hawes Water.”

“It doesn’t count towards our list, you went without us!”

This might take a while.

17 – Hawes Water

7 – Middlebarrow / Eaves Wood


Good Friday. We’ve resolved to visit 40 note-worthy attractions in the AONB, so which one would the kids choose for the first day of our break? The one right on our doorstep.


Not to worry: Eaves Wood is fantastic. In fact the kids were quite keen to include several separate locations within the wood on our list: The Pepper Pot, the limestone Pavement on Middlebarrow, the ruined cottage, the ring o’beeches. And, of course, The Climbing Tree:


Where we all had a bit of a clamber.

On Castlebarrow, you’ll find the Queen Victoria Jubilee Monument, known affectionately as the Pepper Pot. You might also spot some blue moor grass….


Which isn’t blue.

The kids love to build dens, and also enjoy finding pre-fabs, built by someone else, which they can check out. This one…


…is pretty substantial, but not yet homely enough to tempt me to spend a night there.

There’s always something new to see in Eaves Wood. This Crooked Tree…


…has appeared here before, but the kids deny all previous knowledge of it, and were impressed with it’s potential for tree-climbing purposes.

By the ruined cottage, where an area has been cleared of trees, numerous clumps of pale yellow primroses have appeared – more than were here last year, I’m sure.



Gratuitous birch tree photo.

Trowbarrow Quarry and Ingleborough 

Super-zoom image of Ingleborough and the top of Trowbarrow Quarry.


The High Beam at the Ring O’Beeches.

7 – Middlebarrow / Eaves Wood