As Much Stopping As Walking

On Sunday afternoon my Dad and I managed to get out for an hour for a wander through Pointer Wood, Clark’s Lot, Burton Well Wood and Lambert’s Meadow. Like the walk that Rob commented on from a recent post, this walk was ‘as much stopping as walking’. Dad was a very patient companion and helped me find likely subjects, then waited whilst I crawled around looking for the right angles.

Part of the reason for heading this way was that I expected to find cowslips. They were flowering, but they were diminutive.

Still, worth seeking out.

What I hadn’t anticipated was the fact that the early purple orchids would be flowering too.

In Pointer Wood a wide gryke on the edge of the limestone pavement was spectacularly full of primroses.

In amongst them my dad spotted this…

…which is a primula seeded from a garden, or a natural variation?

I noticed this tall slim tree a few weeks ago when I visited with baby S.

It seemed to me that it might be a gean, or wild cherry, but at the time the only clue I had was the bark…

I made a mental note to come back and see it flowering to confirm my suspicions. It seems to me that it’s very tall for a cherry, but it is now flowering. In fact behind it there is a second cherry, equally tall, also flowering. Because of their height most of the flowers were high above us…

…but there were some closer to hand…

From Burton Well a tiny stream flows into Lambert’s meadow. Where a bridge crosses the stream it widens slightly into a small pool…

In and around the pool marsh marigolds…

…were flowering…

We spotted several of these emerging from the pool…

Any suggestions as to what it is?

The surface of the pond was busy with pond-skaters, which were tracked by interesting light-rimmed shadows on the pond floor a few inches beneath.

I have a vague idea that this has something to do with the way that water effects light, but I’m afraid that I don’t really grasp the science. I was once gain reminded of the dark blobs and brightly coloured complex boundaries of the standard depiction of the Mandelbrot set. The pond floor was also covered in a criss-cross web of tracks left by a little community of pond snails, which being roughly the same colour as the mud were hard to see and even harder to photograph.

The rest of the meadow was liberally dotted with cuckoo flowers…

…which look small and white even from near by, but have a rather splendid pink pattern on close acquaintance.

On Bottoms Lane, these tall weeds flourish, which I haven’t got round to identifying yet…

The flowers are hardly spectacular; I prefer the downy unopened flower buds…

Finally, in Hagg Wood, one of those scenes in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. For once, I’m reasonably happy with the photograph…

The path through the flower strewn woods leading towards the afternoon sun. What this picture doesn’t quite show is that amongst the abundant wood anemones are bluebells, and that some of the white anemones, having more recently opened, are still attractively tinged with pink…

As Much Stopping As Walking

Meandering

My idiosyncratic progress up the Kent got off to a contrary start on New Year’s Day when we walked downstream rather than up. On our second visit, we recommenced from a point slightly further up river than our previous highest point, leaving out a short section between New Barns and just short of Arnside Coast Guard station. Today we further sabotaged the integrity of the project by walking from Levens Bridge…

…thus neglecting a substantial section of the river from Arnside Promenade. The thing is, we hadn’t originally intended to walk by the river at all. We were headed for Scout Scar, but when I realised how cold the wind was, and with stronger winds forecast, I made a snap decision to stop short and stay lower down. As it transpires, last night’s BBC forecast was very accurate – it was chucking it down at six when S woke up. By the time it was light the rain had stopped and the sky was clearing and when we started our walk the sun was beaming down from a clear blue sky.

On Monday the Kent flooded and there was plenty of evidence of that inundation here – a tide line of leaves, grass and rubbish running through a field perhaps 100 yards from the usual course of the river and a similar draping of detritus on all trees and fences close to the river. You can see some of that debris on this tree trunk – whether it was itself left by the river I don’t know.

Inevitably, we had to stop for a while to throw stones into the swiftly flowing Kent…

I watched jackdaws in the tall trees nearby and then the tiniest notion of red in a tree top drew my attention to a woodpecker – my first of the year.

This was to be a retread of a walk that the boys and I did last May and having discussed that walk, we were all on the look out for the goats and deer that reside here in Levens Park. All that we encountered however was a convention of Barbour jacket wearers who were out shooting pheasant. Once upon a time, this might have got my goat, but since I’m happy to eat pheasant I can’t really object anymore.

After leaving the deer park the field paths stray a little way from the river, but then a minor lane, now a dead end, brings you to a path beside the river which passes beneath the dual carriageway of the A590 – the main road into the South Lakes. Under the bridge we marvelled at the loud hum of the speeding traffic and the rhythm of the thuds as tyres bumped over the expansion joints in the bridge. Music of road bridges anyone? (Perhaps best left to avant garde nutcases like Einsturzende Neubauten)

Just beyond the bridge, the lane passes Force Falls…

The river was still running very high and the falls were very impressive today. The white water on the left obscures a man made fish ladder, although the lowest step still stands out as very straight and concrete. On a couple of occasions I have seen salmon leaping here – mainly in the main stream and not the ladder.

This view is from the parking space of some cottages which are right by the falls.

‘How exciting for the people who live here’ was A’s view.

Beyond the falls, the Kent flows in a shallow ravine and there are more small falls. Very noisy and impressive, but difficult to photograph. A road bridge enabled us to cross the river and as we crossed a dipper flew past heading down into the roaring spume.

TBH was very impressed with this elegant iron railing alongside the lane. It seems a trifle grand for a stock fence…

…but the top of the tower that can just be made out in the background gives the game away. It’s part of Sedgwick House, presumably once the country residence of some landed pheasant shooter, but now I believe, divided into flats.

We recrossed the A590 – this time above it on a road bridge, before reentering the deer park.

From here the path follows an avenue of tall trees. The hollow tree which B clambered inside last time was eagerly anticipated, but when we got there we discovered that having grown since then he can no longer get in!

We had to settle for the nearby tree stump remnants of a former hollow tree, with a new tree growing Phoenix like in its centre.

We had just about given up on the idea of encountering the deer when…

B in particular was entranced and was desperate to get closer for a better view of antlers. TBH managed to partially placate him by finding sticks to use so that he could have his own antlers.

A meanwhile found this little limestone seat to take a rest…

I was fascinated by the bark on some of the trees, like this Green Man we passed:

 

A little hide and seek was in order…

Several of the trees have trunks which bristle with branches above a certain height like this – I have a feeling that it might be characteristic of lime trees, but I shall have to do some research to confirm that.

A enjoyed the odd bulges in this tree trunk, as I did last spring.

I have no idea about what causes them.

From the high bank here we watched a pair of dippers in and out of the shallow water which flowed over shingle near the far bank.

As we arrived back at Levens Bridge and the end of our walk, we finally sighted the Bagot goats…

Although the river is only a few miles from its source in the hills in the Lake District, and is very fast flowing, it does manage to squeeze in a few gentle meanders as it nears the sea…

Meandering

Transformational Magic

Managed to get out for brief forays in Eaves Wood on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day, which were both bright, sunny pleasant days, although Boxing Day was quite cold. Both walks began with my usual companion on foot rather than on my back:

He walks very quickly for a toddler, but does like to stop occasionally to examine a particularly fine patch of mud or to throw stones into puddles. And why not?

On Christmas Eve he climbed up the hill to the edge of the wood, but then tired and having retired to the carrier was soon asleep. Shortly after he dropped off, I noticed a beech leaf by the side of the path, held in an upright position by the other leaf litter, and catching the low-angled winter sun.

I was captivated…

…and snapped away…

Only a few weeks ago I was enjoying the woods made unfamiliar by fog, but here they were equally transformed by the magic of the light.

In strong light the bark of some trees really comes into its own, particularly Scots pine and birches, although these photos don’t manage to capture what it is that I see.

I was on the look out for more leaves catching the sun, and although I found them, none of them were quite so satisfying as the first. (But there are many experiences in life of which that is true!) The best that I found was an oak leaf…

However, whilst looking for backlit leaves, I noticed some fallen branches in a shady spot under a tree which seemed to be limned by flame. My first thought was that the dead branches still held some leaves and that they were catching the sunlight, but on closer inspection I found that it was papery bark peeling from the branches themselves.

We returned to the same spot on Christmas Day and, finding the same effect, it was only then that it occurred to me how lucky we were that in deep shade some light would filter through at just the right angle to create this spectacle.

 

For this walk S and I were joined by the rest of the clan.

And yes – one of our number was armed, armoured and in search of dragons to slay.

At three years old a wood can be a deeply magical place.

A can find her own way to the Pepper Pot and rushed on well ahead of the rest of us. ‘Are you lost?’ one party of walkers asked her.

Transformational Magic