Burning with Optimism’s Flames

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My Birthday, back at the start of April. I’d decided to defer my usual ‘Birthday Hill’ day out, because the boys had ju-jitsu training, but there must have been a bit of miscommunication: it turned out that they were both up for a walk instead. We decided to fall back on an old favourite: around the coast to Arnside for lunch and home over the Knott.

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Grange-Over-Sands. The tide was well in and still rising.

“She claims she’s found a way to make her own light
All you do is smile, you banish the night”

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The moment you turn the corner to look down the Kent estuary. Cartmel Fell, Gummer How and Meathop Fell (with a higher lakeland fell squeezed in between, although very tiny in the photo).

“Now you see I’m smiling
Back to juvenile’ing
I learnt her lesson
In like flint and styling
All the world is neatly curled around my littlest finger”

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Whitbarrow Scar and the Kent Viaduct.

We had lunch in the refurbished and renamed ‘Wagtail’ cafe on the promenade. (It used to be the ‘Ramblers’.) The food was delicious, and the cafe has instantly become our new favourite in Arnside.

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Peacock Butterfly.

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TBH admiring the view from the Knott.

“I can’t stop this grinning
So assume I’m winning”

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TBH, Little S and A on the Knott.

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Red Admiral.

“Now every bird and bee just fuel the fire for me”

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The King(s) of the Castle.

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Arnside Tower Farm Chicken.

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Arnside Tower.

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Looking back to Arnside Knott.

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Violets.

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Song Thrush.

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Lesser Celandines.

“She says she’s burning with optimism’s flames, away away
She says she’s burning up all her guilts and shames, away away”

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These very common flowers, which open wide when the sun shines, make great mats of colour in hedgebottoms early in the year. Always really cheering.

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Quince Flowers – still going strong having started flowering as early as New Year’s Day.

So, what do you buy a man for his birthday, if he’s obsessed with walking?….

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Little S, B and TBH had all independently gone out and bought me socks! Marvellous – the old ones were all getting a bit threadbare.

And finally – the cryptic quotes are all from ‘Burning Optimism’s Flames’ by XTC. Andy Partridge has a knack for writing tunes about being happy – ‘Yacht Dance’, ‘Wrapped in Grey’ and ‘Stupidly Happy’ spring instantly to mind, from various stages of their career. There are probably others too. ‘Burning Optimism’s Flames’ is from the wonderful ‘Black Sea’, the first album of theirs which I bought and still one of my favourites. (XTC fans seem to love debating which of their albums are best – frankly I can’t even agree with myself on this one, I change my mind so often).

Burning with Optimism’s Flames

Uitwaaien.

Eaves Wood – Arnside Tower – Arnside Knott – Arnside – Sandside – Beetham Fell – Hazelslack – Silverdale Moss – Coldwell Meadows – Gait Barrows – Hawes Water – Sixteen Buoys Field – Eaves Wood.

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Arnside Knott and the Kent estuary from Beetham Fell.

Uitwaaien (v) (from Dutch) To take a break to clear one’s head; lit. “to walk in the wind”.

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Silverdale Moss, Middlebarrow and Arnside Tower.

A long walk, on the last day in March. I needed to uitwaaien. I didn’t take my camera and, to begin with at least, didn’t take many photos with my phone.

Eventually, of course, I would regret the lack of a camera with a zoom: in the photo above you can see a small white speck which is a Great Egret. I have seen them before locally, but this one glided in and landed quite close by. It was interesting to watch it fishing and see just how similar to a Heron they are in all but looks and how unlike a Little Egret. I really would have liked to get a good photo though.

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In this photo the tiny specks which look like there might have been dust on the camera lens are actually hirundines, my first of the year and much earlier than I expect to see them. I suspect that they were Martins of some sort, but can’t be sure. I do know that they lifted my spirits considerably.

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Primroses.

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Hawes Water.

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I was worried that all of the tree-felling at Hawes Water would put an end to my annual pilgrimage to see the Toothwort which flowers there, but the although the trees which host the Toothwort have been felled, the flowers have reappeared. I think that, like the Martins, this was the earliest I have ever seen them. I did take some photos, but they didn’t come out too well. There are, of course, numerous photos from previous years of the rather odd looking flowers dotted about this blog.

When I got home it was to find that the kids had made tea, not entirely unexpected, since it was Mother’s Day, but welcome none the less. B’s pork, leek and apple stew was delicious. Rather better than when I make it, I thought. I’ve told him he’s delegated to make it regularly, but he doesn’t seem too keen.

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This last photo is from a midweek wander across the Lots, a couple of days after the walk which garnered the rest of the pics.

Uitwaaien.

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.

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