Am I really going to start yet another post with a photo of Winter Aconites? Well yes. Lots of photos actually. But this is the last one, I promise. At least until next year.
Now that our visitors had left, the sun came out, of course. Sod’s law. I walked around the coast and then climbed the Knott, of course.
As you can see, I dropped down to the ‘sands’, but they were still covered by a shallow layer of water. I’ve seem to have waited for months this year for dry and firm sand and an opportunity to have a proper wander in the bay.
Although the weather had started fine, it was rapidly clouding-up from the south.
By the time TBH and I drove to Morecambe, for the inaugural Baylight Festival, it was drizzling.
Neither my phone or my camera coped well with the combination of darkness and bright lights.
I think there were seventeen installations. Some were superb, some a bit underwhelming. I really enjoyed myself. It was great to see so many families out enjoying themselves on a cold, damp February night.
And to top it all off, we finished the evening with chips on the prom from our favourite chippie in the West End of Morecambe.
This was by far and away my favourite. It changed colours and obviously had a very long and complex sequence of movements and light changes. The video has the added bonus of a child’s lightsaber toy bobbing in and out of view!
I’m really hoping that the festival, which is apparently ‘reinventing illuminations’, will be back bigger and even brighter next year.
The expectation I might have created in yesterday’s post, of another walk around the coast and an ascent of Arnside Knott featuring in this post, was slightly inaccurate. I was misremembering. In fact, whilst I did climb the Knott, the walk around the coast I was thinking of took place the following weekend.
On this occasion, when I passed Hollins Farm and entered the National Trust land at Heathwaite, I noticed a path bisecting the two routes I usually choose between, one of which follows the edge of the field towards Saul’s Road and the Knott, whilst the other follows the other boundary, eventually reaching the large open area at the western end of Heathwaite.
Intrigued, I took the middle path.
To find that it took a direct, steep route to the bench which has a very fine view southwards along the coast. There’s a second bench, in a sheltered spot surrounded by Gorse bushes. Has that always been there, or is it a recent addition? It’s odd, but not surprising, that I can’t remember.
From there, I continued to the toposcope which I think of as the ‘top’ of the Knott, although it isn’t quite. The views were more extensive than they had been the day before. It was clear that the previous day’s showers had fallen as snow on the mountains of the Eastern Lakes.
I took a direct route back past Arnside Tower and through Eaves Wood.
Later, I hitched a lift with B, who dropped me at the junction of Storrs Lane and Thrang Brow Lane. From there, I walked home via Yealand Allotment, the meadows of Gait Barrows, Moss Lane and Eaves Wood.
The view from Thrang Brow is excellent, but never seems to lend itself to photographs.
I thought I might get a clear view of the sunset from there, but the intervening ‘high’ ground, presumably Heald Brow, was blocking the view.
Of course, if the sun sets when you are still a few miles from home, then you will be finishing your walk in gathering darkness, so there are no more photos.
Mid-January. It’s a whole fortnight (and two posts) since I walked around the coast to Arnside and back over the Knott. Better do it again! What’s-more, I was back to it the following day. You have been warned!
Looking back, the first photo I took that day, from almost outside my own front door, had me puzzled for a moment. Then I remembered – it shows a thin strip of blue along the northern skyline – the weather had suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly improved, and the photo was an aide memoire to remind me of that happy change. To the south the skies were still black. Later, I took a picture of a dark, shadowed Arnside Knott with completely blue skies behind it.
Fortunately, rents began to appear in the massed clouds, giving some prospect of sunshine to go with the blue…
I like to drop down on to the sands at this point, if not before, but the tide had clearly been high and it looked far too wet to take that option. Which was a shame, because the cliff path itself was extremely muddy and puddled.
I’m no trainspotter, but a train crossing this, or any viaduct, always has me scrabbling for my phone to take pictures. I can’t explain my disproportionate excitement. Having said that, I also love crossing the viaduct on the train, but I think that’s mostly to do with the views it affords. I really hope the proposed footbridge along the viaduct becomes a reality, but I don’t know how likely that is.
The Lakeland Fells were mostly missing in the views, hidden in cloud, and it was clear that there were plenty of showers about, and the occasional attendant rainbows. I never tire of watching the play of light and shadows across the landscape on showery days like this one. It helps if the showers are falling elsewhere, on someone else!
The photo doesn’t really do it justice, but the river here was highly agitated, with waves apparently surging in opposing directions, upstream and down. Maybe the tide was on the turn?
There are lots of paths up the Knott, but I’ve definitely found a favourite, the path which climbs up from Redhill Woods to the bench on the south side of the summit, on which I don’t think I’ve ever met another walker.
I had company, however, on this occasion – two pairs of Roe Deer which I could see on the slopes below me, but which then darted across the path ahead of me, making their way into the trees towards the trig pillar. Although we often have deer in the garden – there are two there now – I still enjoy seeing them whilst out walking. It’s a bit harder to get good photos in the woods though!
I wonder how long ago this tree fell into its current position? Before I moved to the area, so quite a while ago. It’s sent up a thicket of branches, each like a separate trunk. Is it the resilience of fallen trees which live on like this which I admire?
I’ve recently finished reading ‘Wild Fell’ by Lee Schofield about the RSPB management of two farms in the Lake District at Haweswater and Swindale, and which I can thoroughly recommend. One astonishing fact I gleaned from it is that there’s a single Aspen in Utah, called Pando for some reason, which occupies over a hundred acres, has 40,000 trunks, is estimated to weigh 6,000 tons and is thought to be several thousand years old. Aspen spread by sending up suckers, so all of the trunks are genetically identical and are thought to share a vast root system. It is, of course, under threat, probably due to overgrazing.
I was heading home via Far Arnside and Holgates Caravan Park – using the same paths I had set out along. In stark contrast to earlier, Arnside Knott was now brightly illumined by the sun, but the skies behind were heavily clouded and rather ominous. I could see that a shower was coming, could I beat it home?
No! Still, a brief drenching seems a small price to pay for what preceded it.
Taking advantage of some much improved weather, and the fact that my covid-inflicted fatigue seemed to be wearing-off, I got out for a longish local wander, around 11 miles, on the second of January. These days, I’m increasingly drawn to the route around the coast to Arnside with a return over the Knott.
There are lots of other great walks in the area, but the appeals of this one are hard to match.
Just in case the sunshine is making you think it might have been a warm, balmy day, this is the first sight that greeted me when I left the house…
On the way to the coast at Far Arnside I indulged myself with some old favourite obsessions, which perhaps haven’t appeared on the blog as often recently as they once did…
Leaves, berries and Robins and the like.
At the far end of the White Creek shingle beach there must have been rich pickings in an area of rough grass just above the high-tide line; several Chaffinches, a couple of Robins, and a Blackbird were darting to and fro from the low trees nearby to the turf.
In amongst the others was a bird I didn’t recognise, and I got overly excited thinking that it was something exotic. In my defence, I did assume that it was a bunting of some kind. It is: a Reed Bunting, which I’ve seen in lots of places locally, but never down on the coast before.
I’ve joined a Facebook group, Fungi of the World, and the weird and wonderful photos which are posted there have inspired me to pay more attention to the varied forms of fungi in our local woods. On my way up on to the Knott, I took a circuitous route, including a wander around Redhill Woods to have a gander at the fungi there.
I found many kinds, but not all of them are here as some of the photos came out a little blurred.
I don’t think these are fungi, but I think that it might be the case that the trees produces these odd growths in response to the promptings of a fungi.
As I often seem to do, I looked at the clouds obscuring the Cumbrian fells and felt vindicated in choosing a wander straight from my door rather than going further afield, but usually this weather based justification is superfluous – in reality I’m looking for excuses for doing just what I wanted to do anyway.
Near Far Arnside I spotted this male Kestrel perched on a telegraph pole.
It didn’t seem too happy with my attention and flew from pole to pole, with me following and taking lots of pictures. Of course, after all that effort, it was the first two that I took which came out best. A great way to finish a really terrific start to the new year.
The final day of October half-term, and for reasons I can’t remember, I only set-off for my favourite stroll around the coast to Arnside and back over the Knott at around three in the afternoon.
When I moved to the area, around thirty years ago, there was no salt-marsh at White Creek and none at Grange either, but you could walk on the grass from Knowe Point to Far Arnside. Now the situation is reversed, testament to the way the river channel changes and so keeps the Bay in constant flux.
Likewise, thirty years ago, I wouldn’t have expected to see any Little Egrets in the area, but now they are relatively common, and Great Egrets are also beginning to establish themselves.
If I’ve identified this lichen correctly, and it is Xanthoria parientina, then it’s a common lichen which produces a yellow chemical, xanthorin “thought to be produced as a defence against UV radiation” (source), when the lichen is shaded it doesn’t produce the chemical and is then green.
Lichens are famously a symbiosis between a fungi and a photosynthesising partner, either an algae or a cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). I’ve been reading ‘Entangled Life’ by Merlin Sheldrake, which TBH bought me for Christmas, and apparently many lichens are now known to be multi-species symbiosis, that is, to have three or more species living in partnership.
I didn’t study Biology at school, even to O-level standard, but with hindsight that seems like a crazy decision; the more I learn the more unlikely and astonishing almost every aspect of life seems to be. For example, also gleaned from “Entangled Life’, did you know that are own mitochondrial cells might have started life, in evolutionary terms, as independent bacterial cells? I think I’ve got that right, although, as I said, I’m no biologist!
There were four Little Egrets stalking the shallows just off the promenade in Arnside. They fish by stirring up the riverbed with their feet, and look pretty comical doing it, a sort of avian ‘Ministry of Funny Walks’.
I know: they don’t have black heads, but their name is a bit misleading, because that’s breeding plumage, which, by autumn, they’d just about lost.
If you are reading in the UK, and haven’t got around to watching ‘Wild Isles’ yet, and, to be honest, I’ve only just started myself, there’s some amazing footage in the first episode of Black-headed Gulls trying to steal Sand Eels from Puffins.
One advantage of a late start!
*If you were expecting at least a passing reference to the John Wyndham novel, my apologies**. I like his novels, this one included, but haven’t read it, or any of his others, for a very long time. Fifteen years in to blogging, when most of your posts consist of photos of leaves and butterflies, and the same three walks repeated ad infinitum, it’s sometimes hard to come up with titles you haven’t used before. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.
**Although, now, of course, you’ve had it. What are you complaining about?
October half-term. Some very mixed weather, if I remember right. I stuck to local walks. Actually, the weather was sometimes better than expected, and then I felt a bit cheated, because I could have gone further afield, but in truth we were probably getting better weather here on the coast than I would have experienced in the hills, so local walks weren’t a bad choice after all.
These photos are from a short outing up Arnside Knott. An ascent of the Knott, or a walk around the coast to Arnside, or some combination of the two are my go to walks these days, especially when there’s some drama in the skies.
I’ve joined a few Faceache groups, a butterflies and moths one, obviously, a plant ID one, and a fungi of the world one. I think the latter made me more conscious of the huge amount and diversity of fungi on display locally last autumn.
I took loads of photos on this walk, and through the week generally. The ones I took on this day mostly weren’t very sharp. Maybe it was a gloomy day, although there were definitely some periods of blue sky…
Finally, I was surprised to find this holly bush, which was liberally festooned with yellow berries. I wondered if it might be a cultivar, a garden escapee, but I’ve since read that yellow or orange berries are just a rare variation of our native holly.
On the actual day, the forecast was pretty ropey. Never-the-less, we managed to persuade the boys to join us for a walk to Arnside over the Knott. Possibly the promise of a pie in Arnside had some influence on their decision.
In Far Arnside, we sheltered behind a tall hedge for the duration of a short, sharp hail shower. It was pretty fierce, but also wind-driven so that in the lea of the hedge it came over our heads and we didn’t do too badly.
Fortunately, it was another short-lived shower. And the pies and sausage-rolls at the Old Bakehouse went a long-way as compensation for the changeable weather.
As I said – a very changeable day.
A had been working on my birthday and so wanted to go for a walk the following day. The weather was similar to the day before and although we had originally planned to go to Arnside for pies again, A eventually decided that a short Eaves Wood stroll would have to suffice.
It’s very handy having some little hills on the doorstep to climb when the weather isn’t conducive to a longer expedition!
Very nearly the exact same route as the walk in my last but one post, but with better company. I didn’t take many photos, I was probably whittering too much. We only had a brief window, as the Jones clan needed to drop off the Prof and get home; I suggested this route over any others because I knew the daffs at Far Arnside would still be worth seeing. The view from the Knott takes some beating too.
The day after my outing on Sheffield Pike. More sunshine. A local walk for a change.
At Arnside Tower Farm I waited ages for the traffic to clear – the herd were being fetched in for milking and I waited until they’d all passed before crossing the track they were using. A couple of the farms collies joined me as I walked away from the farm. I’ve never owned a dog and have no intention of getting one, but if I ever changed my mind I would want a collie – they seem like such intelligent dogs. I thought this pair would turn back when we passed the Tower, but they didn’t. Maybe they would eventually head back to the farm if I continued down the lane toward the campsite? No.
In the end, I turned back myself and they followed me all the way back to the farmyard, at which point I apparently lost my magnetism and they trotted off to investigate something else.
Not sure what happened during the first half of February. Rain probably; by the bucketload. The most significant thing to happen over half-term is that my parents came to visit, which was terrific – it had been a long while since we had seen them.
I think we had some mixed weather that week, but I managed to get out for several local walks and even saw some blue skies and sunshine.
I wondered whether all the tree-felling by Hawes Water would affect the Snowdrops there, but fortunately it doesn’t seem to have had any impact.
I know this second photo looks much the same as the first, but there’s an insect on one of the flowers in the centre of the photo. Perhaps a drone fly. I thought it was pretty unusual to see a fly outside in the middle of February.
This is Jelly Ear Fungus or Wood Fungus. It’s allegedly edible – I have eaten it, in a restaurant years ago and I can’t say I was impressed.
These black cords, called rhizomorphs, are how Honey, or Bootlace, fungus spreads. They grow beneath the bark of an infected tree, but can also spread beneath the soil to reach new trees. Honey fungus will kill its host tree. I think it’s quite common in this area.
Honey Fungus mushrooms are bioluminescent (the gills glow in the dark), although their ghostly greenish light emissions are usually far too weak to be visible to the human eye in a normal woodland environment, even on a moonless night. To see this effect it is necessary to sit close to some of the mushrooms in total darkness (in a windowless room) until your eyes have become accustomed to the dark and your pupils are fully dilated.
A rash of fungus appears along Inman’s Road, the path along the bottom edge of Eaves Wood, every autumn. I think it’s Honey Fungus. It’s never occurred to me before to bring some home to test the bioluminescence, but I think this year I will.
I think that this might be Lumpy Bracket fungus, partly because in the same way that Jelly Ear fungus usually grows on Elder, this fungus typically grows on Beech, especially stumps, which is exactly what was happening here. Where a large number of Beeches have been (controversially) felled by Hawes Water, many of the stumps now host this fungus.
I thought, obviously mistakenly, that Hawes Villa had stopped keeping pigs. Happily, I’m wrong.
Walking along Bottoms Lane I was struck by the abundance and diversity of the mosses and lichens living in the hedge.
Because there were cold winds blowing all week, my Dad, who really suffers with the cold, was understandably reluctant to venture out. TBH had the bright idea that the gardens at Sizergh Castle might be relatively sheltered. She was right.
A is in a wheelchair – lent to us by the National Trust for our visit – because she had broken a bone in her ankle whilst dancing. Little S (you can see here how diminutive he is!) delighted in pushing her around at great speed and alarming her with his ‘driving’ skills.
Four fields between Holgates and Far Arnside had been seeded with what looks to me like Ribwort Plantain. A bit of lazy internet research reveals that it can be used as fodder. Certainly, when we’ve been back to the fields, after stock have been introduced, the leaves have been pretty thoroughly stripped off. I read that growing plantain can improve soil structure. And also, more surprisingly, that its seeds are used as a thickening agent in ice-cream and cosmetics.
The weather le me down a bit here. I walked around the coast in glorious sunshine, but by the time I’d climbed the Knott from White Creek, not the longest of ascents, it had completely clouded over.
And finally, on a very damp final day of the break, the flocks of Starlings which roost at Leighton Moss briefly gathered above the field behind our house, so that we had a grandstand view from our garden.