In Praise of Limestone

Castlebarrow – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Gait Barrows – Silverdale Moss – Hazelslack – Beetham Fell – Beetham – Dallam Deer Park – Milnthorpe – River Bela – Sandside Cutting – Kent Estuary – Arnside – Arnside Knott – Heathwaite – Holgates

This could have been ‘A Snowdrop Walk’ but I think I’ve already had at least one of those in the last nine hundred posts (the last one was number 900, I now realise). It might also have been ‘The Ruined Cottages Walk’ since I passed three ramshackle buildings, generally not too far from where the snowdrops were.

P1090465

Before I departed, I’d already been for a wander to the Co-op to pick up croissants, rolls and eggs for everybody else’s breakfast. After a second, leisurely cup of tea, I set-off at around ten and was soon at the edge of Eaves Wood, by a substantial patch of snowdrops, donning a coat as it began to first rain and then hail.

P1090464

It had been sunny only moments before and I decided to head up to Castlebarrow – not part of my original plan – to get a higher viewpoint. Just short of the top, I disturbed a Buzzard which flapped lazily out of a tall standard left in an area which had otherwise been cleared of trees.

When I reached Castlebarrow and the Pepperpot…

P1090468

…it had stopped raining, but it looked like Lancaster was probably getting a hammering.

P1090471

The weather seemed idyllic again when I reached Hawes Water.

P1090473

Another pair of Buzzards were circling overhead, but by the time I had dug my camera out of my rucksack, they had disappeared behind the trees. I would hear the plaintive kew of Buzzards several more times during the walk, but this was the last time I saw any. Nor did I see the Sparrow-hawk which I saw here last week and forgot to mention in the appropriate post.

Having stopped to look though, I now realised that atop one of the trees down by the reed fringed shore of the lake…

P1090479

…perched a Cormorant. I’ve seen them here before and they’re hardly uncommon on the Bay, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised (and delighted) to find one here.

In the woods there was a Nuthatch and a Treecreeper, both too elusive for me and my camera. And of course…

P1090489

…more snowdrops.

P1090490

Looking back across Hawes Water to Challan Hall. (The Cormorant was still on its high perch).

By the bench on the boardwalks near the lake another walker had stopped for a breather. He had company…

P1090498

Although I was heading for Beetham Fell, I didn’t feel any need for urgency and took a detour across the meadow, by the hedge…

P1090503

…wondering about the very tall cloud above the Gait Barrows woods, and whether it might be an ill omen, weatherwise…

P1090505

P1090507

I was heading for the Gait Barrows limestone pavements…

P1090508

P1090510

P1090511

P1090512

P1090516

It’s not all that far from there to Silverdale moss, but you can see that in the meantime, the weather had taken another turn for the worse…

P1090517

The Cloven Ash.

It was pretty gloomy, but I could pick out a few Greylag, one of them clearly sitting on a nest, also a distant white bird, probably a Little Egret, and what I could identify, with the aid of the camera, as a male Golden Eye.

P1090523

I turned to take some photos of these King Alfred’s Cakes on some logs left from the demise of the Cloven Ash and, as I did, it began to hail, soon quite ferociously.

P1090530

I pulled my coat back on again, and then turned back to the Moss, because the nesting Greylag was clearly upset about something and was honking vociferously. A Marsh Harrier was quartering the reeds, at one point dropping and spiralling down to a spot very close to the excited goose.

P1090533

It was gloomy and chucking it down, so none of my photos came out brilliantly, but it was fantastic to watch.

P1090537

Fortunately, the rotten weather didn’t last too long, and soon I was shedding layers for the long climb from Hazelslack to the top of Beetham Fell.

P1090542

Arnside Knott, Kent Estuary and Hampsfell from Beetham Fell.

Last Easter, when A and I came through this way on our walk to Keswick, we noticed a huge area of Snowdrop leaves, though the flowers had long since finished. I decided then that I would be back this February to take another look.

P1090543

I think that this was the largest single patch, but the Snowdrops extend over quite a large area.

P1090549

The climb from the outskirts of Beetham uphill to Dallam Deer Park was hard work because the ground was super-saturated, a bit like your average Highland hillside. I think it was mainly due to the extent that the ground had been trampled by the sheep in the field, because once I crossed the ha-ha wall into the Park the going got much firmer.

P1090552

Dallam Deer Park, the River Bela and Milnthorpe.

P1090554

Farleton Fell.

P1090560

The Deer.

P1090561

This unusual building…

P1090564

…is a shelter for the deer.

From Milnthorpe I turned to follow the Bela, first across the park and then out to where it meets the Kent on the latter’s estuary.

In the park, a single Canada Goose joined a flotilla of ducks, mostly mallards but with a group of four diving ducks amongst them, the males black and white, the females a dull brown: tufted ducks.

P1090567

River Bela and Whitbarrow Scar.

P1090566

Greylag Goose.

P1090582

A little further along, on the Kent, a group of six small fluffy diving ducks gave me pause. Even with the powerful zoom of the camera I struggled to get decent photos, but I think that these are Dabchicks: Little Grebes.

P1090586

I was a little torn here: I had wanted to climb Haverbrack, but I also wanted to include Arnside Knott and didn’t think I had time for both. In the end, I decided to walk along the embankment (an old railway line, a Beeching casualty) which follows the Kent Estuary. The walk was delightful, but a low blanket of cloud was flattening the light so I didn’t take any pictures for a while.

P1090587

Silverdale Moss from Arnside Knott. A snow dusted Ingleborough in the background.

P1090589

In Praise of Limestone

Montserrat

P1080569

One final post (this really is the last) about our summer trip to Spain.

P1080570

We’d bought Montserrat tickets which included our underground travel to and from the mainline station, a return train journey, cable car rides, two funicular trains and entrance to a small audio-visual museum. (A luxurious novelty to experience an integrated transport system). All this to get us to the spectacular…

P1080571

Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey.

Apparently the Monastery was founded in the 10th Century, although many of the current buildings are deceptively modern.

P1080579

P1080582

P1080584

P1080586

The Basilica…

P1080588

..outside, and…

P1080590

…in.

P1080591

The Basilica houses a famous Black Madonna, la Moreneta ‘the little dark one’, but there was a very long queue to visit her in her position at the back of the Basilica, and we were keen to explore further afield.

P1080598

We visited the audio-visual museum, where we watched a couple of short films: it seemed mainly to be an advert for the choral school which is based here. We could have bought a more expensive ticket which would have included lunch and entrance to another museum, but we were happy with our usual packed lunches and in the end didn’t really have time to fit in the other museum anyway.

P1080599

I was very struck by this statue. The face, despite appearances to the contrary, is concave rather than convex – a sort of three dimensional negative image.

P1080600

The situation of the monastery is amazing, nestling amongst the crags of Montserrat (serrated mountain). Incidentally – if you were thinking that Montserrat is an island in the Caribbean, then you were right – it was named, by Columbus, in honour of the Monastery and la Moreneta.

P1080596

What looks like a waterfall in the back of the photo above is actually one of the two funicular railways at Montserrat.

This…

P1080605

…is a view from near the station at the top of the line.

Several paths leave the station, including one to Sant Jeroni, the highest point on the mountain.

P1080607

We opted for a shorter route which wound its way around the hillside and back to the monastery.

We were entertained on our walk by grasshoppers, lizards and butterflies.

P1080621

P1080610

I’ve seen grasshoppers like these before in France. Although ostensibly brown, when they leap they open their wings to briefly reveal a startlingly flash of aquamarine.

P1080609

P1080616

The views were extensive.

And there were rocky knolls just off the wide track to tempt intrepid explorers…

P1080630

P1080640

P1080632

P1080636

P1080647

P1080651

P1080655

A wayside chapel.

P1080659

P1080667

P1080670

This is the other funicular…

P1080575

It descends below the monastery. Only one path leads away from the lower station, skirting around the base of impressive crags.

P1080674

P1080676

The Cable Car!

P1080682

Past numerous religious sculptures.

P1080683

P1080684

P1080686

P1080687

P1080689

P1080692

P1080698

P1080702

To another tiny chapel perched on the hillside.

P1080705

P1080707

From there we had to rush somewhat in order to catch the funicular back to the monastery, then the cable car and our train back to Barcelona. We’d packed a lot in without by any means managing to see everything –  the ‘other museum’, for instance, is reputedly stuffed with art treasures and is almost certainly worth a look. And I’m sure the long round trip to Sant Jeroni would be spectacular (it’s apparently something of a right of passage for the youth of Catalonia to climb it at night). Next time!

Montserrat

Barcelona – More Buildings

P1080514

Fundación Antoni Tapies.

Continuing our casual architectural tour of Barcelona.  First this crazy building, which houses the foundation set-up by Antoni Tapies as a home for his own artwork.

P1080515

Just around the corner from there…

P1080516

Casa Batllo, another Gaudi designed building. With a massive queue outside.

P1080517

P1080519

Right next door to Casa Batllo…

P1080520

Casa Amatller. Apparently this block (the block of discord) is renowned for its modernist buildings.

P1080521

P1080523

I was very struck by this one. It even had its own George and Dragon.

P1080524

And you could pay to take a tour (should you so wish) without the huge queues (or price I suspect) next door at Casa Batllo.

P1080533

We contented ourselves with a sneaky look in the entrance hall.

P1080528

P1080529

P1080530

P1080532

The third famous building in the block (though I didn’t know it at the time) is Casa Lleo Morera…

P1080545

P1080535

P1080539

P1080542

A little bit of lazy internet research suggests that the interior is stunning, although I’m not sure that it’s open to the public. I would have particularly liked to get up onto the roof to have a look at this….

P1080544

…folly?

Tempietto apparently, at least according to wikipedia.

P1080543

P1080546

P1080550

We used water fountains a great deal whilst we were in Barcelona, none more elaborate than this one.

P1080551

Our wander had brought us to Placa de Catalunya which has become quite familiar. This was handy because we wanted to get some tickets from the Tourist Information offices below the square.

P1080553

Then we’re off again to find one final Gaudi property…

P1080554

Casa Calvet.

P1080556

P1080557

A few blocks away from there…

P1080559

…the Palau de la Musica Catalana.

P1080560

The older part of the building looked amazing, but in the narrow streets quite difficult to get a clear view for a photo.

P1080561

P1080562

And that, finally, is the last of my Barcelona photos, though there are an awful lot more on my flickr account and one more post from our trip to Spain to come.

Barcelona – More Buildings

Barcelona – La Pedrera

P1080499

Another very striking building, and this time definitely designed by Gaudi and not just wrongly attributed to him by yours truly.

P1080498

You can look around inside, but it’s pretty pricey so we decided to enjoy it from across the street.

P1080504

P1080505

P1080496

I think that the rather splendid street lights near La Pedrera were also designed by Gaudi. Perhaps. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

P1080494

Barcelona – La Pedrera

Barcelona – Casa Comalat

P1080480

We were using a tourist’s street map to navigate our way between Gaudi buildings, but inevitably perhaps, we stumbled across other places of interest en route. On the tree lined Avinguda Diagonal it was difficult to get a clear view of this tall building.

P1080477

But these very rounded windows and balconies seemed to me reminiscent of Gaudi’s designs. Sadly I didn’t realise that the building has another, very colourful, facade on an adjacent street.

P1080476

Or that the interior is richly decorated in a very distinctive style. (Guided tour available here if you are interested).

I was particularly taken by the door…

P1080475

Is this Art Nouveau?

P1080478

Barcelona – Casa Comalat