Wren Gill

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A bit of an odd one this because these photos were almost all taken in a brief flurry at the end of our little outing, shortly before we set-off to return to our car, and those that weren’t were taken in another short burst roughly three hours before. It’s easy to distinguish between the two sets, because soon after the first ones were taken, when the kids were eating their lunch and I was making a brew…

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…the cloud finally broke and the sun shone for much of the rest of the afternoon.

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Carabus problematicus.

This beetle was on the patch of rock where I set up my stove. It scampered away rather shyly and when I fetched it out from under a boulder, I noticed a rather unpleasant smell – I’m not sure if this was a defence mechanism from the beetle or the scent of something else concealed by the boulder. The beetle looks very like the one in my previous post, but I think that the obvious striations on its back mean that it is of a related, but different, species.

Anyway, between the two sets of photos, we were playing in the stream. It was a week after our visit to Tongue Pot; B was really keen to go back there, but I persuaded him that there were opportunities for swimming closer to home. We drove to Sadgill, in Longsleddale, and then walked up the valley until we reached the access land and a convenient gate in the wall. The track, which heads towards the Gatescarth Pass, was busy, not with walkers, there was just one other party of adults and toddlers, heading for the stream like us, but with four-wheel drives and trials bikes. I’ll let you fume on my behalf.

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I’ve called the post Wren Gill and higher upstream that’s how it begins. But down the valley it’s the River Sprint and, to add to the confusion, the OS map has Cleft Ghyll too, although that’s written in black rather than blue, so may refer to the narrow deep-sided ravine the stream briefly flows through.

We followed the stream bed from just beyond the boundary of the access land up to where the stream poured over a waterfall out of Cleft Ghyll. Then we walked down to where we’d started and did it all again.

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The first time we tried to keep reasonably dry and kept out of the deeper water, which gave us a chance to have a bit of a reccy first and also meant that nobody got too cold too quickly. The second time we took the opposite approach and swam wherever we could.

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We found a couple places where we could jump in, much to B’s delight, and also a powerful cascade which made a brilliant waterslide, although I was a bit disappointed that the kids all seemed to be able to get down without getting dunked in the pool at the bottom, a feat which I failed to replicate.

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After a few days without rain, the water was much warmer than it had been in the River Esk a week before. The weather helped too. It would be interesting to go back after a longer dry spell to have a go at the Cleft Ghyll section and beyond. Anyway, the kids are definitely sold on the idea of messing about in streams.

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Wren Gill

Skelwith Bridge and Little Langdale Stroll

Skelwith Bridge – Skelwith Force – Elter Water – Elterwater – Little Langdale – Slater Bridge – Stang End – High Park – Colwith Force – Skelwith Bridge.

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The Langdale Pikes seen across Elter Water. 

How appropriate, after a post about favourite walks, that in my next bit of catching up from the summer hols, I’m recounting a walk which, in slight variations, I’ve walked many times, in all seasons, in all weathers, alone on occasions but often with big groups of friends and which definitely qualifies at least as one of my favourites, particularly for when time is short, or the forecast is a bit iffy.

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Skelwith Force.

A dodgy forecast was partly responsible for us choosing this route. We were going out with our friends Beaver B and G and their family again; the original plan had been to get the boats out on one of the lakes, but with showers, possibly prolonged, expected, we decided that a low level walk was a better option. We’d actually run through a number of alternatives the night before and it was eventually G who suggested something in this area.

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Black and Yellow Longhorn Beetle (Leptura quadrifasciata).

This was spotted by Little B pretty much at the top of the track between Langdale and Little Langdale and it led us both a merry dance as we tried to photograph it in damp and gloomy conditions. It’s led me on another merry dance as I’ve tried to identify it – I was struck by it’s superficial resemblance to the Sexton beetle which I photographed recently, which wasn’t helpful because this is not even a closely related species.

We’d had drizzle, then a bright spell as we lunched by Elter Water, then rain as we climbed up and over into Little Langdale. Now it began to brighten up.

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Little Langdale Tarn.

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Slater Bridge.

Over Slater’s bridge and heading along Little Langdale we paused a while to watch cyclists riding their bikes through a ford on the infant River Brathay and then, a little further along, spotted a Roe deer down by the stream.

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Little Langdale. Blake Rigg on Pike O’Blisco and Busk Pike on Lingmoor behind.

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Stang End.

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The barn at Stang End with it’s impressive tiers of stacked fire wood.

Our perseverance through the rain was paying off now with some beautiful warm, sunny weather. The garden at Stang End was busy with Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies sunning themselves.

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High Park.

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Colwith Force.

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Peacock butterfly.

We interrupted this large beetle, here already scuttling for cover, as it was preying on the earthworm seen in the top left of the picture.

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Here is the predator after I’d fetched him (or her) out of hiding…

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I’m reasonably sure that this is a Violet Ground Beetle, Carabus violaceus, although there are several very similar species of large, black beetles which also have that violet tint.

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I haven’t featured a Robin in the blog for an unusually long time. This one looks a bit tatty,  but juvenile Robins have speckled feathers, which are moulted at around two to three months, so could this be a juvenile, born in May or June, which has almost changed into adult plumage?

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Almost back, crossing the footbridge near Skelwith Bridge.

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We were quite late finishing, having not set-off particularly early, and had wondered whether the promised tea and cake at Chesters By The River would be thwarted, but the new take-away section (well, new since I was last there) was still serving, so a mutiny by the kids was averted. I had the beluga lentil dish, seen near the front of the counter above, as an alternative to cake, and very nice it was too. Chesters, both cafe and shop, had been very busy when we had passed earlier and their success seems well deserved. If only they would reinstate the missing apostrophe in their name, I could thoroughly recommend a visit.

Skelwith Bridge and Little Langdale Stroll

Walking the Lanes above Brockhole.

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Little S was invited to a party at the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole. Looks like another job for taxi-Dad! Once I’d dropped him off with our friends, I had around three hours to wait until the party would finish. The forecast hadn’t been great, but not diabolical either, so – just for a change – I thought I’d get out for a walk!

I started on Mirk Lane which took me up to Newclose Wood where I found another Woodpecker nest. The adult was back and forth to the nest, but it was very difficult to get a clear view for a photograph.

The path, seen above, brought me out to a minor road on the outskirts of a hamlet seemingly composed entirely of fairly new houses. This set the tone for much of the walk, taking me past many large expensive looking properties, most of them with great views across Windermere to the Langdale Pikes. Many of the gardens, and hedges, were full of Rhododendrons which were flowering and looking splendid.

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Wansfell above was lost in cloud, but the weather generally held, bar a few occasional drops of rain. The whole route was resplendent with wildflowers, changing subtly as I climbed the hill and came back down again.

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Foxgloves.

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Meadow Crane’s-Bill, probably.

One short section of roadside verge had three different Crane’s-Bills.

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French Crane’s-Bill, I think. A species introduced from the Pyrenees.

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Wood Crane’s-Bill (I think).

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Windermere.

Skelghyll Lane took me past more grand properties. At one point, I was pleased to see a smaller, more rustic looking building with a traditional round Cumbrian chimney, but then realised that it was actually a garden folly.

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Holbeck Ghyll.

I passed a hedge absolutely cloaked with tent moth caterpillars…

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Water Avens seedhead.

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Low Skelghyll.

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Hol Beck.

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Early Bumblebee on Marsh Thistle (I think, in both cases).

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Marsh Lousewort.

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Lousewort.

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Robin Lane.

Robin Lane, which is part of the old route from Ambleside to Troutbeck, is a favourite of ours and very familiar, but it was really interesting to approach it via the lanes from Brockholes which I’ve never walked before.

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Windermere.

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Cantharis Rustica (Soldier Beetle).

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Mouse-ear-hawkweed.

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Lady’s Mantle.

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Wain Lane, by which I returned to Brockhole, has handsome stone barns all along its length.

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Ribwort Plantain.

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Garden Chafers.

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Roe Deer.

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White-lipped Snail.

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Silver-ground Carpet Moth.

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Honeysuckle.

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Another Wain Lane Barn.

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Another Roe Deer.

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Middlerigg Tarn.

I’ve never been to Middlerigg Tarn before. It’s difficult to get a proper view of the tarn, it being bordered by trees and a high wall, but there are one or two gaps. It’s not in the Nuttall’s Guide to the tarns of the Lake District, or in Heaton-Cooper’s, but it is a very peaceful spot.

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Yellow Irises.

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White Clover.

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Comfrey.

As I was almost back to Brockhole, I was looking over into a field on my right at pony dressed in a Zebra-skin print coat. I noticed a buzzard, relatively close by, sitting on the ground…

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Sadly, it took off just as I was taking a photo.

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White Stonecrop.

I’d been worried about arriving late for the end of the party, but actually arrived with half-an-hour to spare, so was able to get some soup and a pot of tea in the cafe there. Then when I picked up S, he declared his intention to stay a little longer to play on the adventure playground. The weather had improved considerably so that I was able to sit in the sun and read the book I’d brought for just such an eventuality – ‘Counting Sheep’ by Philip Walling.

I’d seen a lot of sheep of many different kinds during my walk. Apparently the UK had more breeds of sheep than any other country. Here are a few examples from my walk…

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This looks some of the very dark Scottish sheep, like Hebridean or Soay, but I’m not sure that it is either of those.

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I’m pretty sure that this is a Swaledale.

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I think that this is a Blue-faced Leicester, but as ever, stand ready to be corrected.

 

 

Walking the Lanes above Brockhole.

Butterflies, Birds, Bees, Beetles and Buffoonery

Eaves Wood – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – The Row – Hagg Wood

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A Brimstone on Bluebells in Eaves Wood.

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Robin on fence post, 16 buoys field.

I’d been a disappointed with the quality of my photos of the Eiders I’d seen at Jenny Brown’s Point, but put it down to low light. Now that I was out again, a couple of evenings later, I noticed that my photos were still grainy and lacking definition. Realisation dawned that camera muppetry was once again to blame, or perhaps I should say photographer muppetry: somehow I’d inadvertently changed the ISO setting. Again. This time to 1600. Resetting the ISO is paradoxically one of those things which is really easy to do accidentally, when you don’t want to, but nigh on impossible to achieve when that is your actual intention. I wasn’t reduced to tears, but there may have been a slight elevation in my blood pressure and a good deal of bad-tempered muttering.

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Goldfinches seem to be everywhere at the moment, which is no bad thing. Especially when your camera is finally working properly again and you need something to take your mind off the infuriation caused by a misbehaving inanimate object.

A section of garden by Challan Hall Mews is completely over-run with Campion. My kind of gardening: I can’t imagine much effort is required and it looks fantastic.

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On the open ground by Hawes Water I turned over a rotting log, beneath which I once found a Common Lizard. This time I found a large ground beetle, agile, fast moving and therefore rather difficult to either photograph or identify…

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In size and shape very like a Violet Ground Beetle. But not very violet.

This damselfly, by the Hawes Water boardwalks, was much more obliging…

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I think that this might be a female Common Blue Damselfly. However, I find it very difficult to identify male damselflies, and females are even more hard to distinguish.

I’ve seen quite a few Orange-tips whilst I’ve been out and about this spring. But the rule with Orange-tips, and in fact most ‘whites’, is that they never sit still long enough to be photographed. Well, not usually anyway…

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This was the second I’d managed to photograph that day.

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I think that this is a solitary bee.

“Most people are familiar with honey bees and bumblebees, but look closely and there are smaller furry bees moving from flower to flower. There are around 20,000 described bee species worldwide. Most of these bees are known as solitary bees with only 250 bumblebee species, 9 honey bee species and a number of social stingless bees worldwide. In Britain we have around 270 species of bee, just under 250 of which are solitary bees. These bees can be amazingly effective pollinators and as the name suggests tend not to live in colonies like bumblebees and honey bees.”

This from the Wildlife Trusts website.

Some of our cuckoo bee species have a yellow collar like this, but they generally also have a paler tail and are much bigger than this bee was. As to which of the 250 species this is from – I have no idea.

This…

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…also had me confused. At first I suspected that it was some sort of hoverfly doing a really good impression of a Honey Bee, but now I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s actually a Honey Bee doing a really good impression of a hoverfly doing a really good impression of a Honey Bee. Perhaps. If it is a Honey Bee, it’s a good deal paler then those I’m used to seeing, but then I think Honey Bees are quite varied.

Is there anybody out there wants to lend me a hand, with my one man b….entomological identification?

Oh no, now I’m misquoting Leo Sayer. Shoot me now!

Butterflies, Birds, Bees, Beetles and Buffoonery

Pond Life

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Most of the time the sea in the Bay is pretty placid. But once in a while we do get some waves. Here’s some evidence from one of our local walks with our American cousins.

On another local walk we visited Burtonwell Wood rift cave…

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The passage runs parallel to the cliff-face, and part way along there’s a spot where it’s possible to climb up to a ‘window’…

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From the cave we walked to Woodwell. We often visit, but this time we came prepared with nets and plastic tubs…

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The kids caught quite a variety of pond life. I think that this…

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…is probably a Three-Spined Stickleback. (But, as always, I stand ready to be corrected.)

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Pond Skaters.

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I’d call that upside down insect a Water Boatman, my field guide tells me that it is a Common Backswimmer (also know as a Water Boatman). The rather splendidly red snail is a Great Ramshorn (I think).

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This must be a Water Beetle, but I’m really not sure which kind.

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Here, the Water Boatman has a silvery sheen due to a trapped air bubble which it uses to enable it to breath.

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We were all fascinated by the contents of our tubs.

Well…almost all…

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Later that day we wandered into Eaves Wood for a bit of tree-climbing. Professor A can never resist joining the kids…

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Once again, B’s busted arm proved to be a great hindrance…

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Here we all are by the Pepper Pot…

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Pond Life

Inevitably: Carn Fadryn

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Carn Fadryn towering over the campsite (thanks to the trickery of a telephoto lens)

No trip to the Llyn is complete without an ascent of Carn Fadryn.

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A view down to Hell’s Mouth.

We climb it every year and I can’t see how I shall ever tire of the experience. Lots of elements of the climb are familiarly unfamiliar, like the labyrinth spiders which festoon the gorse…

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…and seem very common here (and on the Llyn’s cliff-tops) but which I can’t recall ever having seen anywhere else.

Even the slight regret that we never branch out and divert to the summit of subsidiary bump Garn Bach has become an integral part of the day.

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The bilberries weren’t quite what was expected however: they were much better this year than they usually are. Often they’ve been just about finished when we climb the hill, but this year, presumably due to the sluggish (non-)arrival of summer, they were still in their prime, much to everyone’s delight.

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The wood sage and the heather which you can see in the bottom left corner of this photo are also part of the ever-present backdrop to our rambles on Carn Fadryn.

An encounter with a Dorbeetle…

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…is also de rigueur, and a hairy caterpillar on, or close to, the path is another essential component…

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We usually see a few choughs…

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…which we don’t have at home in Lancashire. Nor do we have Gatekeepers…

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…which are common on Carn Fadryn, when the sun shines, as it did at the end of this walk, but which, again, we don’t have in Lancashire which is beyond the northern limit of their range.

Inevitably: Carn Fadryn

A Hazy Day on Lord’s Seat

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A brief window of opportunity…how many times have I used that phrase on this blog? This is the internet age, the era of textspeak and limited attention spans, I ought to be using an acronym…BWOO! How’s that?

So, I had a BWOO because the boys had been invited to attend a cub-scouting event in Whinlatter Forest; they were scheduled to kill and gut a bullock before roasting it over a blazing 2CV. Possibly. Anyway, leaving them with their favourite paramilitary organisation, I parked at the Spout Gill car park and, with three hours before I needed to pick them up again, set-off in search of some Birketts to tick.

Mr Birkett suggests a circuit here which takes in 6 tops, but I knew I would never get around all of those. In fact, I wasn’t really sure, at my standard Almost Snail’s Pace (but not quite that speedy), that I would make any tops. In the end I managed to snaffle two: Broom Fell and Lord’s Seat.

It was a hazy day with very limited views, but there was a pleasantly distracting diversity of insect life about, seemingly enjoying the clammy conditions.

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Dor Beetle

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Looking back from the ascent on Broom Fell – the hill on the left is Whinlatter Top.

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Mother Shipton moth.

I had quite a game getting a sharp photo of this distinctive little chap (or chapess). It’s a Mother Shipton Moth apparently. Look at those dark profiles on the outer edges of each wing; apparently they resemble the famed Yorkshire witch. She was a prophetess. Predicted that the world would go to wrack-and-ruin, destroyed in a conflagration sparked by small boys and blazing 2CVs. Or maybe that’s a load of bullocks.

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The Cairn on Broom Fell.

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Looking back to Broom Fell from Lord’s Seat.

There’s an embarrassing postscript to this tale. I generally pride myself on my ability to cope with the simple tasks in life…tying shoe-laces, utilising a knife and fork efficiently, turning up at airports on the same day that my flight is booked, distinguishing correctly between left and right; that kind of thing. What possessed me then, on the way home, to turn left onto the M6 at Penrith and tootle blissfully along, Scotland-bound I shall never know. I might have got away with it: our boys were happily listening to a story and wouldn’t, I think, have twigged that I had made a preposterous error, but we were giving a friend of theirs a lift and he was soon wise to my buffoonery. Since then I’ve faced a certain amount of ribbing from the parents of the rest of the cub-scout troop. (Is troop the right collective noun? Band? Mob? Cell?)

Anyway, a grand (half) day out. Roll on the next BWOO.

A Hazy Day on Lord’s Seat