Whitchurch

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A sunny Sunday at the start of April. The Colts were playing a cup semi-final against Whitchurch in Shropshire. That’s a fair old drive from Kirkby Lonsdale.

Before the match I had time for a brief stroll around the town.

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I thought the place looked pretty picturesque and was quite surprised how quiet it was. Most places were shut, it’s obviously off the tourist routes.

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I wouldn’t mind coming back for another, more leisurely, look.

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I don’t seem to have taken any photos of the rugby, but the boys won. Roll on the final!

(In honesty, it’s already happened, but will have to wait here on the blog!)

Whitchurch

Lune Bridges

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Forest of Bowland across Quicksand Pool

We’ve reached October in the world of my blog now. I’ll soon be caught up!(?)

The photos here are from a day with two walks. In the morning, it was the usual wander around Jenny Brown’s Point. It looks like the weather was good, so I’m surprised that I hardly took any photos.

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A feast of fungi?

Later, B was kick-boxing, I think his first time back after an extended lay-off following his knee surgery and a long course of physio to deal with pain and stiffness after the opp and the muscle imbalances which probably gave rise to the problem to begin with.

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River Lune

Whilst he was sparring, I had a wander along the Lune. This…

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Lune West Bridge

…is the newish bridge built to facilitate the new junction 34 on the M6. I was surprised, when the bridge was built, both by the huge size of the prefabricated metal spans and by the fact that they were already rusted, assuming that is rust?

This is the older M6 bridge…

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Lune Bridge.

…built with parallel spans of concrete. There’s a fair bit of graffiti on those supporting walls above the arches. Whenever I see graffiti in inaccessible places like that I wonder about who gets up there to do it? And how? And why?

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Just a little way upriver from the motorway, some houses in Halton have fabulous looking gardens sloping gently down to the river. I was particularly taken by this fetching boathouse…

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…which looks like it might be a family home too.

Finally, the following photo, taken on the Friday evening after these two walks, is the only one I took during the Lancaster Music Festival.

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The Balkanics at The White Cross.

I should have taken more, it was a fantastic event. By this point I’d already seen, and heard, a couple of other acts, having stayed in Lancaster after work. A met me in the White Cross, and we met X-Ray somewhere after that. Later in the evening, the Herefordshire Hoofers arrived to catch the Uptown Monotones at the Storey Institute (my highlight of the weekend). We caught lots of other acts the following day. After being confined to barracks for so long, it was great to get back to socialising and seeing bands and having a few beers. Having said that, a week later I had Covid. None of the rest of our party did, however, so it’s equally possible that I caught it at work. I’ll never know. What I do know is that the dates for this year’s festival are the 13th to the 16th of October and that I shall be in attendance once again. Any takers?

Lune Bridges

Cark to Grange with X-Ray

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Cark Hall.

TBH had missed out on our walk from Cark to Grange via Cartmel and I thought she would enjoy it. X-Ray was keen to meet us for a walk, and perhaps a bite to eat, and I was pretty sure he would enjoy it too. Actually, as I recall, I presented X-Ray with a number of options and this was the one which most appealed. He hopped onto the Northern Fail service at Lancaster and we joined him at Silverdale for the short journey around the bay.

Cark has a pub and a cafe and I made a mental note that an evening repeat of this walk could start with a meal at one or the other. Cark also has Cark Hall, an imposing building which is now three dwellings. It dates from 1580 with a Seventeenth Century wing and alterations. Three hundred year old home improvements! The doorway looked really imposing, from what we could see of it, but good old-fashioned English reticence prevented me from wandering in to the garden to have a proper gander. (Historic England listing)

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Hampsfell from just beyond Cark.
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TBH and X-Ray sat on the fish tables (apparently) outside the Priory Gatehouse in Cartmel.

We bumped into a couple of old-friends and former neighbours in Cartmel who had won (in a raffle?) a meal at L’Enclume, Cartmel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. When we spoke to them later in the week they were highly impressed. Might have to check it out, if I win a booking in a raffle. Or rob a a bank.

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Cartmel Priory
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Cartmel Priory interior.
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Inside the church there was an exhibition of painted masks. They’d been there on my previous visit, but I paid a bit more attention this time. Collectively, they were very striking.

Ironically, the forecast was much better for this walk than it had been a few weeks before. On that occasion, the showers held-off. This time, sod’s-law was in operation and it rained quite a bit as we climbed Hampsfell. On the top we were shrouded in clouds and it was very cold for August.

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There’s a small hearth in the Hospice and somebody had laid a fire, it was very tempting to light it while we sheltered inside and made a brew.

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On our descent, at least the cloud lifted a little and we saw fleeting patches of sunlight on the Bay. It was actually quite striking, but sadly the photo doesn’t begin to do it justice.
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We came a slightly different way down in to Grange.

We were hoping to enjoy some lunch in a cafe near to the station which we used to bring the kids to when they were small, but were disappointed to find that they had nothing vegan on the menu for TBH. With a train imminent, and a long wait for the next one, we reluctantly had to abandon our late lunch plans. Maybe next time.

Cark to Grange with X-Ray

Birds, birds, birds…and Primroses

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Early April, when the branches are mostly bare and the birds are busy mating and nesting is a great time to spot and take photos of birds. This Bullfinch photo is a bit of a cheat, since it wasn’t taken on a walk, but through our window, by where I was sitting on a Thursday evening.

On the Friday, when I got home from work, having finished for the Easter break, I headed out for a wander round Heald Brow, to the south of the village.

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View of The Howgills.
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Forsythia catching the sun.
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Hazelwood Hall.

I think someone had been doing some major pruning, because a better view of Hazelwood Hall had opened up from the adjoining Hollins Lane. My interest in the hall is due to the gardens, which I believed to be designed by Lancaster architect Thomas Mawson, although the current Wikipedia entry is slightly confusing on that score and seems to imply, in one section, that in fact Mawson’s son Prentice was responsible, only, later on, to state that it was Mawson himself who designed the garden working with another son Edward.

Hazelwood Hall 1926

Certainly the tiered terraces, the loggia and the use of stone pergolas are very similar to other Mawson gardens I’ve visited.

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On Heald Brow, I noticed a Great-spotted Woodpecker in a very distant tree. I’ve included the photo, rubbish though it is, just to remind myself that I saw it, because, quite frankly, I was chuffed that I could pick it out in the tree-tops.

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Likewise this Bullfinch. I know that it’s the second of this post, but I don’t seem to have seen many this year.

The Saturday was a glorious day, a great start to our holidays, so I set-off for Gait Barrows in search of birds and butterflies.

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Violets

I did take no end of photos of butterflies and other insects and even more of birds, but above all else I took pictures of Primroses which seem to have proliferated all around the reserve.

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Primroses with Bee-fly.
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Blue moor grass – typical of limestone grassland.
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Hazel catkins catching the sun
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All that’s left of one of the former hedgerows. Still need to have a proper look at what’s grown back.
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A Drone Fly, I think, but it’s the texture of the wood which I really like.

There were Drone flies everywhere and I took lots of, I suppose, quite pointless photographs of them, but then occasionally what I took to be another Drone Fly would instead transpire to be something more interesting, like this Bee-fly…

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I was quite surprised to see this machinery in the woods by Hawes Water, but the path from Challan Hall around to Moss Lane, which is supposed to be wheelchair friendly, had been getting increasingly muddy and Natural England were having it widened and resurfaced, so bully for them.

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Cherry blossom?
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I can’t really identify lichens and, I think because I can’t, I don’t always pay them the attention they merit. I think this is Ramalina farinacea, but I wouldn’t take my word for it, and, looking again, I think there are probably at least three different lichens in the photo above.

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Honeysuckle leaves, some of the earliest to appear, catching the light.
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Although it was months ago, I remember my encounter with this Comma butterfly very vividly. It was sunning itself on some limestone, as you can see, and I slowly edged toward it, taking a new photo after each stride. Eventually, I upset it and it moved, finally settling on a nearby tree-trunk, at which point I started edging forward again.

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What struck me was that, if I hadn’t seen the Comma land, I don’t think I would have picked it out. Whilst the underside of its wings are drab in comparison to the patterned orange of the upper wings, the underwings are beautifully adapted to conceal the butterfly in a superb imitation of a tatty dead leaf.

This…

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…is a warbler. I don’t think it’s a Chiff-chaff, they have a very distinctive song which I can actually recognise, so I can recall getting excited because this had a different song. Sadly, I can’t remember the song at all, and can’t identify which warbler this is without that additional clue.

No such confusion here…

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…this is a make Kestrel. I wish I’d managed to capture it in flight when it’s colours looked stunning.

And I suspect that this is a Chiff-chaff…

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Though I couldn’t swear to it.

Another mystery here…

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…with a bone suspended in a Blackthorn bush. I know that Shrikes impale their prey on the thorns of this tree, but Shrikes are quite small and I think that this bone is probably a bit too big for that. Also, Shrikes are very rare in the UK these days and are not generally seen this far West (although I know that they have occasionally been spotted at Leighton Moss).

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Ash flowers beginning to emerge.
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More Hazel catkins.
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And again!
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White violets.

I was back at Gait Barrows the following day, but the skies were dull and I didn’t take many photos. On the Monday, I had another local wander, including a visit to The Cove…

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The Tuesday was a bit special, so I shall save that for my next post…

Birds, birds, birds…and Primroses

Littledale and Ward’s Stone

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Udale Beck

Proper Fell walks have been few and far between for me, since the various lockdown restrictions began. This walk, from back in September, was a notable exception. To be honest, I don’t remember what the rules were at the time, and I was probably a bit vague about them even then, since the rules have always lacked clarity. I didn’t see any other walkers all day, just two mountain bikers in the afternoon, which makes me think that I must, at the very least, have been pushing the envelope a bit.

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Footbridge over Udale Beck

Anyway, it was a windy, overcast day. Cool with a few flecks of rain in the wind from time to time. But despite that, I enjoyed myself enormously.

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Gregareth, Whernside and Ingleborough.
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Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent.

I’d been perusing the map for quite some time the night before, always a dangerous occupation, and had hit upon the idea of combining two cherished ambitions – one was too explore the valley of Artle Beck and the other to have a walk along Hornby Road, a Roman Road which traverses the Bowland Hills

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Foxdale Beck

The first part of the walk took me firmly into the territory of my ‘Lune Catchment’ project. Sweet Beck, Udale Beck, Foxdale Beck, Artle Beck, Ragill Beck, Closegill Beck (streams tautologically named both gill and beck seem to be a speciality of the area), Bladder Stone Beck, Mallow Gill, the River Roeburn and Salter Clough Beck (again – aren’t clough and beck synonyms?) were all ticked off on my nominal list of tributaries of the River Lune.

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Littledale Hall.

I was quite surprised by Littledale Hall. It’s a Grade II listed building, dating to 1849 and possibly designed by Lancaster architects Paley and Austin. These days, it’s a residential centre for the treatment of addiction. I guess that it’s remote location makes it ideal for that purpose. It looked to me like a Victorian railway station marooned without a railway line.

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Artle Beck
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Looking down towards the confluence of Ragill Beck and Closegill Beck.
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Not sure what these are, but they were by the stile adjacent to Bladder Stone Beck.
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Haylot Farm.
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Melling Wood.
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A fallen tree in Melling Wood, on a slope much steeper than the photo suggests, was quite awkward to navigate. It seems odd that nothing has been done about it, given how much care has been taken with the path nearby…

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Mallow Gill.
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Either the River Roeburn, or Salter Clough Beck.
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High Salter.
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Hornby Road.

Given that I’d set off with fairly ambitious plans, I hadn’t started very early. I think I dropped off one or other of the boys, somewhere or other, before starting the walk. Anyway, I soon realised that I was quite short of time. I’d originally intended to stick with Hornby Road until I could take the path onto Wolfhole Crag, partly because I don’t think I’ve ever been up there. But that will have to wait for another day, since I decided instead to take the track from Alderstone Bank down to the River Roeburn and then back up via Mallowdale Fell. You can see the track on the photo below…

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Roeburndale
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River Roeburn.
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Looking toward the three peaks again.
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Shooting Cabin on Mallowdale Fell.
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Three Peaks and the hills above Kirkby Lonsdale.
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Ward’s Stone.

From Ward’s Stone the walk was on more familiar territory – over Grit Fell, past the Andy Goldsworthy sculptures and back to the Littledale Road, where my car was parked, via a stalker’s path and back to Sweet Beck.

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Morecambe Bay from Ward’s Stone.
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Looking towards home from Ward’s Stone.

I even had some occasional moments of sunshine, and the light out over Morecambe Bay was absolutely superb. My photos don’t really do it justice, but it was lovely to keep getting views of it as I descended.

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Looking back to Ward’s Stone.
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The River Lune and the Bay from Grit Fell.
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Spoil heaps on Grit Fell.
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Andy Goldsworthy sculptures on Grit Fell.
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Arriving back at the car park with not too much daylight left.

The route was around 17 miles, with a fair bit of up and down. I wish I could provide a map, but although MapMyWalk worked on the day, it subsequently lost the data. I’ve since uninstalled and reinstalled the app, which, touch wood, seems to have had the desired affect.

A great leg-stretcher, on a mostly gloomy day, which has left me with a number of ideas for further routes.

Littledale and Ward’s Stone

Much Wenlock

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Back in July, when we were still allowed to travel, stay overnight, and meet friends, and the sun still remembered how to shine, we had a wander into the very quaint Shropshire village of Much Wenlock.

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I’d never been there before, but felt like it was a place I’d been waiting to visit for some time, although I’ve no idea why – I certainly didn’t know it would be this lovely.

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The grave of Dr William Penny Brooks – founder of the Wenlockian Olympic Games – a forerunner of our modern olympics.
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Wenlock’s Priory was closed due to COVID restrictions; from what little we could see, it looked well worth a visit. We shall have to go back – which is just dandy as far as I’m concerned.

Much Wenlock

Research Flat Earth

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The first weekend of February half-term. Pretty mixed weather to say the least. I was out several times none-the-less, first of all on my annual pilgrimage to see the display of Snowdrops near Hawes Water.

Later I was out in the garden and was astonished to see that a Brimstone butterfly had emerged from hibernation. Not something you expect to see on a cold, wet and windy day in mid-February.

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(The orange cables are fibre-optic, for a new broadband supply. Might be a while before they get dug in)

With all the rain we were having, the two big seasonal springs had appeared at the Cove:

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Between squalls it briefly brightened up…

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On the Sunday afternoon, I took B to a kick-boxing class in Lancaster, It’s a bit longer than some of the other classes he attends, so time for me to get in a slightly longer walk.

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I followed the Lancaster Canal, as far as the aqueduct…

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…where the canal had been drained whilst some work was underway.

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River Lune from the aqueduct.

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Carrs Billington plant catching the late afternoon light.

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Unnamed (on the OS map anyway) Lune Tributary.

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On the far side of the aqueduct I joined a slightly submerged riverside path.

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I found it quite exhilarating to walk alongside the river as it ran so high.

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Skerton Bridge.

The building catching the light here is new. We’ve christened it the ‘Shreddies’ building, which tells you more about the daft conversations we have in the car on the way into Lancaster in the mornings than it does about the building itself. (There’s another building nearby which looks like a Weetabix. No really, there is.)

 

Research Flat Earth

Rusland Pool and the River Leven

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A grey day in November. Loyal readers may recognise this view, as I opened a post with it once before. It’s taken from a footbridge over Rusland Pool. On that occasion the view was obscured by mist, I was heading up onto the hill on the right, and I would later get a proper drubbing in an absolute downpour. The best that can be said for the weather this day is that at least it was better than it had been for that previous visit. In fact, although it looked ready to rain all day, I only had to endure a little drizzle.

By the time I’d taken the photo above, I’d already come up and over the wooded ridge between the Rusland Valley and Newby Bridge, where I was parked.

When does a stream become a river? I followed the Rusland downstream, eventually reaching it’s confluence with the River Leven. Rusland Pool is so small it seems appropriate to call it a stream, but on the other hand it does drain an entire valley.

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The confluence of Rusland Pool and the River Leven.

This used to be a favourite spot of mine, it’s so quiet and peaceful. It’s odd that I haven’t visited for many years.

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This was a quiet walk, though I did meet other walkers from time to time. I also had to put up with the continual popping of shotguns from the ‘sportsmen’ who were hunting alarmingly close to where I was walking.

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River Leven.

This was mid-November, and there was actually quite a bit of autumn colour in the trees still, but in the gloom, it hasn’t come out well in photos. The berries have fared better…

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…I think that these are Spindle berries.

I’ve long wanted to have a proper gander at Roudsea Wood. The sign says that you need a permit. There’s a building on the reserve, and I could hear someone inside, so I knocked on the door to ask for a permit, but they didn’t respond. So I took that as tacit permission.

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In the background of this photo…

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…is the Ellerside Ridge, where I’d walked the autumn before.

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Haws.

This Holly seemed unusually endowed with berries…

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Bryony.

I’m always on the lookout for likely looking swimming spots; here on the banks of the Leven someone has constructed their own little diving board …

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There’s a small ladder leaning against a likely looking overhanging branch on the far bank too.

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This is the bridge at Low Wood. It’s a Grade II listed building:

“Bridge. C18 or early C19. Stone rubble. 3 elliptical arches with 2 round cutwaters to each side, which are roughcast, with caps. Parapet has plain coping. Probably associated with Low Wood ironworks, the site later taken over for gunpowder works, of which the Clock Tower works (q.v.) remain.”

from the Historic England website.

Low Wood is a sleepy little hamlet. I sat on a bench and dug out my stove to make a brew. It had warmed up a little, was rather pleasant in fact.

Then suddenly…

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…a host of kayakers appeared, lugging their kayaks back to their cars. I’ve paddled an inflatable canoe down part of the Leven from Windermere, but not the section downstream from Newby Bridge, which I strongly suspect would be a bit too exciting for an inflatable.

I think this…

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…must be the Clock Tower Works referred to above.

“Grade II* A mid-C19 saltpetre refinery associated with Lowwood Gunpowder Works and remains of an earlier C18 ironworks.”

from the Historic England website.

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Backbarrow.

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Another view of Backbarrow. Coniston Old Man, in the background, has a few patches of snow on it.

Back at Newby Bridge, I took some photos of the bridge…

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…hence fulfilling a promise I made here. This is another listed Grade II*:

Bridge over river Leven. Date uncertain, repaired in C17. Stone rubble with limestone coping. Long narrow bridge with 5 segmental arches stepped up to centre, triangular cutwaters between rise to form refuges to both sides.

from the Historic England website.

When I wrote about this bridge before, I said that it had been built in 1651, but Historic England’s ‘repaired in C17’ suggests that it may be even older than that.

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Before I drove home, I sat on a bench overlooking a weir on the Leven and made one final brew.

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A highly enjoyable stroll, despite the grey skies.

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And that, folks, will be my one and only post about last November. What did I do for the rest of the month? Search me!

Rusland Pool and the River Leven

Listed Lancaster: Storey Institute Back Entrance

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“Former frontispiece to Cawthorne House, which was built in the 1770s by Richard Gillow for John Fenton Cawthorne and stood on the site of the present Post Office in Market Street. Re-sited and reduced in height c1906. Sandstone ashlar. Roman Doric portico with 2 columns in antis under a triglyph frieze and cornice. Above this 3 courses of masonry with chamfered quoins and a small moulded cornice, then a single course surmounted by a pediment with dentils. (Originally there were 2 storeys between the portico and the pediment.) The openings of the portico are furnished with elegant wrought-iron gates and screens, also from Cawthorne House, which have elaborate scrolled cresting. The structure frames a rectangular opening in a single-storey building.”

from the Historic England  website.

I’ve wanted to get a photo of this marvellous gateway for a while, but there’s usually a vehicle parked in front of it. I didn’t realise that it had been moved here from somewhere else, but that does make sense since it does look somewhat out of place in its current position – even on Castle Park where listed Georgian buildings are the norm rather than the exception.

There’s a photo of the front of the Storey Institute in this post.

Listed Lancaster: Storey Institute Back Entrance

Haarlem

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With a little more time to spare, we decided to have a whistle-stop wander around Haarlem on our way to the ferry terminal.

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It was a brief visit, although we did find time for an ice-cream, but my initial impression is that with more time to see it properly, I would really like Haarlem.

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Then we were back on the ferry and bound for home.

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Haarlem