February Heatwave.

Castlebarrow – Arnside Tower – Arnside Knott – Arnside Moss – Hazelslack – Beetham Fell – Hazelslack – Silverdale Moss – Hawes Water – Eaves Wood.

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Lesser Celandines performing their salute to the sun.

Obviously, the words ‘February’ and ‘heatwave’ simply don’t belong together, at least, not in Britain. But this year we really did have a few days of genuinely warm weather at the end of that month.

My brother and his kids had flown home to Switzerland on the Saturday. We’d booked a family trip to the escape room in Lancaster to end our half-term on a high note. Since I’m in training, I wanted to squeeze in as many miles and as much ascent as I could in the limited time available.

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The forecast seemed to have brought out the crowds and the Pepper Pot was about as busy as I’ve seen it. Later, on Arnside Knot there were numerous groups sitting in the sun, apparently enjoying picnics or just sunbathing and enjoying the slightly hazy views.

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Arnside Tower.

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Arnside Tower Farm and Arnside Knott.

There were quite a lot of butterflies about.

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Red Admiral.

I didn’t want to hang about chasing them with my camera too much, but couldn’t resist this Red Admiral which was sunning itself by the trig pillar on Arnside Knott.

I’ve read that last summer’s long hot spell benefited some species of butterfly, but I can’t imagine that this spring, which continues to have alternate periods of unseasonably warm weather, followed by some very cold snaps, can have done our butterflies much good.

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There were lots of Crocuses in flower on the driveway of Arnside Tower Farm, but I was surprised to find them at the base of a sapling near the top of the Knott. Crocuses are not a native species, so either these have self-seeded here, or somebody has planted bulbs, but that seems like an odd thing to do. Either way, they looked fantastic.

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Arnside Moss.

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Hazelslack Farm and Tower.

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A path runs along the lefthand (west side) of these fields. It’s not one I walk all that often, but I used it on this occasion so that I could make a circular loop taking in Beetham Fell.

After this, it began to cloud up and by the time I was walking alongside Silverdale Moss towards home there was a nip in the air. It began to feel like February again.

Mapmywalk tells me that I had walked a little over 10 miles, with considerably over 1100 feet of ascent in a little under 4 hours. I was chuffed with this, since it’s the sort of pace I’ll need for the 10in10 challenge. Admittedly, that will involve a great deal more climbing, but this was a start at least.

At the escape rooms, I found myself handcuffed and apparently accused of murder. Fortunately, we were able to locate the key to the cuffs, escape from the police cell and even identify the actual culprit. I can’t say it was really my cup-of-tea, but it was an interesting experience and I think the rest of the family were much more impressed than I was.


In the summer, I shall be attempting to complete the annual 10 in 10 challenge. Briefly, the idea is to walk a route over 10 Wainwrights in 10 hours or less.  You can find out more here.

The event is a fundraiser and I’m hoping to get some sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. My Just Giving page is here. All donations, however small, will be most welcome. I should add that the sponsorship is not a condition of my entry and that I’ve already paid a fee to enter which covers all costs, so all sponsor money would go directly to charity.

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February Heatwave.

Little and Often: In Training

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A three walk Sunday, all part of my Little and Often campaign. First, a familiar wander to the Cove and across the Lots. The sun was shining and the light was lovely.

Then I dropped S off at his climbing lesson and drove up onto the edge of the Forest of Bowland hills, walking a brisk out and back route to Grizedale Dock Reservoir…

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…via Holme Wood…

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When I have more time to spare, there are definitely some good walks to be had in that area, so I shall be looking to go back, probably one summer evening. The weather had deteriorated and there were flecks of rain blowing in the wind, but it was good to be out.

Later still, I was out again, past Arnside Tower…

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…hoping to catch the sunset from the Knott. Sadly, although the weather had improved again, a bank of cloud over the Irish Sea smothered that idea. I’ve made similar mistakes since, leaving it a little too late to get out on a sunny afternoon and thereby missing the sunshine altogether. I shall make a mental note not to be so tardy in future.

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Humphrey Head and last signs of the departed sun.


 

In the summer, I shall be attempting to complete the annual 10 in 10 challenge. Briefly, the idea is to walk a route over 10 Wainwrights in 10 hours or less. This year the route starts at the Swinside hotel, goes over some of the Northwestern Fells, down to Buttermere and then back over Dale Head and High Spy, among others. You can find out more here.

It’s not the sort of thing I would usually do, but I shall be joining my old school friend John and frankly I’m relishing the challenge. Whether I will still feel that way on the day remains to be seen. It’s more than a little Quixotic for me to imagine that I can tackle all of the ascent involved in the time allowed, but I shall give it a go.

The event is a fundraiser and I’m hoping to get some sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. My Just Giving page is here. All donations, however small, will be most welcome. I should add that the sponsorship is not a condition of my entry and that I’ve already paid a fee to enter which covers all costs, so all sponsor money would go directly to charity.

Plug over, for now at least, although I will probably add links to forthcoming posts too.

 

Little and Often: In Training

A Windhover and Toadstools on the Knott

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Arnside Tower Farm, Middlewood, Warton Crag, the Bowland Fells and Morecambe Bay looking south from Arnside Knott.

A Sunday afternoon, back from B’s weekend rugby fix, and I’m off to climb the Knott again. This has become something of a habit and whilst there are lots of other options locally, I often find it difficult to see past an ascent of the Knott which has so much to offer when time is short.

When I lived in Arnside, I used to like to tell my classes that there are twenty routes to the top of the Knott and the same twenty possibilities on the way down and ask them how many different combinations I could choose between in my post-work up and down leg-stretcher. It tickled me that there were more than enough options to give a different choice for every day of the year. They were often, quite rightly, sceptical about my assertion that there were twenty different paths to the top, but in truth, whilst it’s hard to count them, because the paths frequently bifurcate and intertwine, more like a web than a simple radiating spoke pattern, I suspect there may be more than twenty.

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Recently, I’ve discovered a couple of paths which are new to me. On this particular afternoon, I found a well-worn path which initially skirted the bottom edge of the steep scree slope on the south side of the hill before curling up and around the edge of the loose ground in the trees which bordered it’s eastern edge.

Whilst admiring the view from the top of the slope, my attention was caught by unfamiliar bird calls. Descending again slightly, I spotted a Kestrel in the trees below…

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Sadly, Kestrels, which used to be commonplace, are becoming much rarer than they were and I was very glad to have this opportunity to photograph one. Even this blurred shot…

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…of the bird in flight shows details on the tail which I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

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I think I’d been spotted!

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Opportunities like this don’t come along very often. The only other half decent shots of a Kestrel I can recall posting are here, of a female bird, high in a tree near Hawes Water. This bird, with its grey head and tail and spots rather than bars, is unmistakably male.

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The Kent viaduct and the hills of the Lake District.

As I’ve mentioned before, it seems to have been a bumper year for toadstools, and I whiled away a happy hour seeking them out on the Knott and taking photos of a wide variety of sizes, colours and forms, some of which are below…

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I think that this…

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…is a Flesh-fly, Sarcophaga carnaria or one of its many, apparently virtually indistinguishable, relatives. I took the photo because I was  bit non-plussed by just how large the fly was. Perhaps it’s related the Jeff Goldblum.

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This is a Hawkbit. Possibly Rough Hawkbit, but you need to examine the hairs on the leaves with a hand lens to be sure, and I don’t have a hand lens, so I’m not confident. I like them anyway, whatever they’re called.

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Robin’s Pincushion Gall.

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Speckled Wood Butterfly.

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Arnside Tower.

 

A Windhover and Toadstools on the Knott

Another Orchid Hunt

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Cartmell Fell, the Kent and Whitbarrow Scar from Arnside Knott.

An unexpected window for an evening stroll. I set out intending to walk around the Knott, rather than up it, but, as you can see from the photo above, I did eventually climb to the top. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Some more photos from the garden first…

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As if to prove my point about fledglings lacking caution, this little ball of fluff, a juvenile blue tit, sat in the Sumach in our garden and didn’t move or flinch as I approached with my camera despite noisy entreaties from a parent bird.

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For once, I didn’t start from home, but gave the walk a kick-start by parking in a lay-by on the south side of the Knott. From there the view of Arnside Tower…

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…makes it seem to still be in a good state of repair, rather than the semi-ruin which the view from the far side, which I more usually post, suggests.

I took the gradually ascending path which has become something of a favourite, but then cut back down into the fields of Heathwaite…

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There were lots of Common Spotted-orchids, here seen with Quaking Grass – they often seem to be companions. I’d also been tipped off, by Craig who looks after the local National Trust properties and was one of the attendees of the Grass course I did, that there were some less common orchids growing there.

These…

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…which have been protected from grazing rabbits…

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…are Fragrant Orchids, which I’ve previously seen at Tarn Sike nature reserve last summer. There were also some growing outside the netting, rather bedraggled specimens, but I was able to confirm for myself the strong carnation like scent which gives them their name.

Nearby another netted area held…

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…Lesser Butterfly-orchids, another flower which I was seeing for only the second time, having unexpectedly come across one in a tiny churchyard, also last summer.

There were a few Northern Marsh-orchids nearby too, but they were in the shade and my photos came out even less sharply than the ones above, so I’ve omitted them.

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Dropwort.

I was also hoping to find the Spiked Speedwell which I’d seen flowering here last summer, another first last year, but couldn’t find any, which was not entirely a surprise since Craig had told me that the long spell of hot, dry weather was adversely affecting the speedwell.

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Looking south along the coast.

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A poser. The shape and colour suggests Northern Marsh-orchid, but the markings on the flower look like Common Spotted-orchid. They do hybridise, so that’s probably the explanation.

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By now the light was glorious.

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But the sun was beginning to sink.

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I had one more spot to check out. Craig had perfectly described a patch of bracken, by the path in Redhill Pasture, where there were more Lesser Butterfly-orchids…

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The path continues to skirt the hill from here, but was in the shade, so I decided to climb so that I could keep the light for longer.

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A thrush’s anvil.

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A thrush.

I made an unfortunate choice, following a different path than the one I usually take, which petered out leaving me stranded in very tall bracken, which might not have been so bad were there not brambles and blackthorn growing concealed by the bracken.

Still, the views were worth it…

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And there were wild strawberries to accompany the views – small but very tasty.

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Across Silverdale Moss to the Pennines.

Another Orchid Hunt

A Walk after York

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Honesty.

We arrived back from York late in the afternoon, but the sun was still shining, so I was quickly out again to take advantage of that fact.

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Wood Anemones.

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Primroses.

This was one of my little annual pilgrimages – this time to see the Green Hellebores which grow around the margins of the Caravan Park.

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Green Hellebore.

The plants look to be in rude health, but at first I couldn’t find any flowers and wondered if I’d left it too late. This is any early flowering plant – apparently in the south of England it can sometimes be found in bloom as early as New Year’s Day.

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Fortunately, I hadn’t missed it entirely.

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The flowers are unusual rather than spectacular, but I’m always pleased to see them.

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Blackbird.

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Arnside Tower.

Goldfinches seem to be almost ubiquitous these days. I thought I could see a pair hopping about near the top of the walls of the tower.

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Goldfinches.

The camera’s zoom helped to confirm my suspicions.

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Silverdale Moss from Arnside Tower.

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Middlebarrrow Wood.

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Honesty on The Row.

I continued around the bottom edge of Middlebarrow wood to the quarry and then home via Waterslack and The Row. This hedgerow had an impressive display of Honesty. A splendid ginger bee (some sort of Carder Bee perhaps?) led me a merry dance amongst the flowers. It’s colour was perfect against the purple of the Honesty, but every time I took a photo, it moved, so that I have photos without a bee, or at best a blurred bee.

A Walk after York

With Heraclitus to Arnside

Post Office – The Lots – The Cove – Far Arnside – Park Point – White Creek – Blackstone Point – New Barns – Arnside – Gado Gado – Dobshall Wood – Arnside Knott – Arnside Tower – Eaves Wood

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“δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης.”

This is an oft-quoted statement from the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus which has been variously translated, but the consensus suggests something like:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice”

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It seems apposite here because, hard on the heels of my recent walk around the coast to Arnside, here I was repeating yet again one of my favourite walks in the area.

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Showers track across the Kent Estuary.

This was a very different walk however. Firstly, we began by walking in the wrong direction, posting a birthday card in the village and then looping back across the Lots. Secondly, I had company: Little S and I were off school together for a week. This wasn’t our only walk, we’d been out foraging for Ramson leaves to make soup, something Little S has always been keen to do. (There’s a recipe here in a previous post). And we’d also taken a small ball for a wander around The Lots – Little S is very keen to improve his catching and throwing at the moment – he takes his rugby coaches’ advice very seriously.

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Whitbarrow Scar catching some sunshine amongst the cloud.

The tide too was much further in and we had more difficulty crossing some of the little wet channels around the edges of the river than I had previously.

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Kent Viaduct.

And the weather was a complete contrast: although we had sunshine, we could see dark clouds and obvious showers tracking across the Kent ahead of us.

Another difference was that we had a destination for our walk – Gado Gado, a restaurant on the prom at Arnside. Little S enjoys spicy food, but since his brother doesn’t, he saw our week off together as an opportunity to indulge his tastes. We’d already had a vegetable curry, bread with jalapeño chillies in it with our Ramson soup, and I’d made a spicy roast vegetable dish and a rice and lentil pilaff.

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At Gado Gado we had Chicken Satay and Beef Rendang which were both delicious.

We were very fortunate with the showers, we managed to avoid them altogether, but just as we settled into our seats in the restaurant it began to rain outside.

Like Heraclitus, Little S is something of a philosopher and tends to fire out questions which are almost always off-the-wall, usually both amusing and thought-provoking and consistently undermine any ideas I might have about my status as parental-font-of-all-knowledge.

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I was feeling a little fitter than I have been and Little S was keen to return via the Knott. We took a circuitous route however, to take the sting out of the ascent.

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Arnside Knott view.

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S took advantage of my slow plod by climbing every tree that he could on route, including this one which seemed a bit flimsy and which shed twigs and small branches as he climbed it.

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The views from the Knott are always superb and more than repay the modicum of effort required to get to the top.

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Arnside Knott panorama. Click on the image, or any others, for larger versions on flickr.

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This tree, which is near to the trig pillar…

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…must have fallen over long ago, but has doggedly continued to grow, with all of its limbs  turning skyward and now it’s another great addition to Nature’s Playground.

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Silverdale Moss from Arnside Knott.

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Arnside Tower.

With Heraclitus to Arnside

Big.

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I wasn’t thinking of the Tom Hanks film. Nor of the outrageously good ‘Big Chief’ by New Orleans maestro Professor Longhair.

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Not even of big children, although they do insist on growing up despite my insistence that they should slow down a bit.

The phrase ‘big kid’ was on my mind a little…

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…usually it’s the children who have to be encouraged to leave the play ground in the caravan park so that we can get on.

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On this occasion, it was the children all piling onto the swing and making it uncomfortable which persuaded TBH that it was time to move.

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This is not a big castle…

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…although I suspect it was once quite an impressive Pele Tower. Nor was our walk particularly huge; we were only going to Arnside and even then, not around the coast, but over the Knott, because we were late setting off (as ever) and wanted to reach Arnside for a late lunch.

The flooding on Silverdale Moss was quite impressive…

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…but that’s not what I had in mind.

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Arnside Tower Farm.

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Panorama from the Knott.

Arnside Knott is certainly not a big hill, although it does boast expansive views.

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Incidentally, this is the boys new favourite tree – The Ladder Tree – which has at least partially supplanted the tree at the top of the post in the boys affections. B actually climbed much higher than this but this photo shows why they call it the ladder tree – because of the handy series of evenly spaced branches which have grown across between the twin trunks.

By the time we reached Arnside it was very late for lunch, but the cafes were all still heaving. We managed to get seats in The Old Bakery (the Pie Shop to us) only to find that they were out of both Sausage Rolls and vegan options. We decamped and ended up in The Big Chip Cafe, adjoining the Fish and Chip Shop. At this point I have to say that I am full of admiration for those people who have the forbearance to photograph their food before they eat it. By rights, there should be a highly appealing photo of a fish supper here, but I’d eaten it before it occurred to me to take a picture. You’ll have to imagine it. Very nice it was too. Ages since I’ve had fish and chips. I can heartily recommend the haddock and chips (and the small portion is quite big enough).

So: The Big Chip Cafe explains the post title. Except….

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…when we left the cafe it was evidently too late to fulfil my design to get a walk around the coast. We took a shorter route which sort of curled up and around the Knott. And the big, late-afternoon, winter skies…

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Were fantastic.

When we reached Eaves Wood, I couldn’t persuade the others to come back up to the Pepper Pot with me.

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Big mistake.

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Even though the sun had long since set, it was a perfect, still evening and the views were superb.

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Bit cold though. I eventually stumbled down through the dark woods and home to listen to the dub version of Black Uhuru’s ‘Right Stuff’, which, due to the curious workings of my grey matter, the Big Chip always puts me in mind of.

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So maybe it was the Big Chip, or perhaps the big skies, or possibly the Black Uhuru song, or probably some combination of them all. Who knows?

Now: Fish supper with – mushy peas, curry sauce, gravy, tartar sauce, ketchup or none of the above?

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Big.