Clougha Pike and Grit Fell.

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A hazy view toward Morecambe Bay from Clougha Pike.

Okay, the weather has been a bit ropey so far this summer, but there have been some pleasant days too. This was another evening outing, this time taking advantage of the proximity of the western edge of the Bowland Fells to Lancaster, where I work.

I parked in the Rigg Lane car park and from there took an almost out and back route, via Clougha Pike, except that I diverted off the ‘ridge’ path to visit the Andy Goldsworthy sculpture and then followed the track from there which looped around back to the main path east of Grit Fell, from where I turned back for the car via Grit Fell and Clougha Pike again.

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The Bowland Hills are moorland, but occasional, scattered rocky knolls add some character.

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The Andy Goldsworthy sculpture, Caton Moor wind farm beyond.

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Near to the sculptures, this neat curved structure…

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..is intriguing.

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It occurred to me that it might be a Grouse Butt, although it’s quite large for that and also very poorly camouflaged.

Seen from Lancaster or Morecambe, Clougha Pike looks very imposing, but on the map it barely seems to be a summit in its own right, looking more like an edge on the flanks of Grit Fell. Approached from Grit Fell however, it does have a clear independent identity…

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I found a party of four enjoying a picnic on the summit, so dropped down the edge a little way before stopping for my own snack and brew. Whilst I sat, I had a superb view of a male Kestrel flying very close by parallel to the edge. I’d seen a male Kestrel, possibly the same on, as I first reached the edge during my ascent. There had been Meadow Pipits too, many Red Grouse, and some Curlews, loudly demonstrating their objections to my presence.

As seems to be obligatory this year, this hill walk included several encounters with hairy caterpillars…

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I saw three of these hirsute fellows…

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All making no attempt what so ever to hide in any way – apparently their hairs make them unpalatable to many birds who might otherwise eat them. Unusually, I recognised this species: they are Oak Eggar Moth caterpillars. I’ve seen them before, several times, on Carn Fadryn and Yr Eifl on the Llyn Peninsula, on Haystacks and, most recently, on Skiddaw last summer.

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Clougha Scar.

A very pleasant outing, and I was still home in time to vote in the European elections.


This weekend, 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.

A huge thank you to those who have donated already. Since the event is almost upon us, I shall soon stop pasting this onto the end of posts, I promise. Preparations have gone reasonably well and I’m beginning to think that it’s at least possible that I will get close(ish) to the ten hour target time, all things being equal. Either way, you’ll eventually hear all about it…

 

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Clougha Pike and Grit Fell.

Hornby, Windy Bank and Melling Circuit

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River Wenning and Hornby Castle.

A post-work walk, with, for once during this non-event of a summer, some sunshine.

I’d noticed Windy Bank, the high ground which rises between the valleys of the Lune and the Wenning, when I walked from Claughton this time last year, and thought that it would make a pleasant evening walk.

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Windy Bank from the bank of the Wenning.

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River Wenning.

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Confluence of the Lune and the Wenning.

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River Lune.

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The far bank of the Lune, pock-marked with holes which look prefect for Sand Martins to nest. There weren’t any in evidence, but I should probably go back to check my hunch.

I followed the Wenning down to where it meets the Lune and then turned to follow the Lune upstream.

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Lapwing again. There were Little Egrets and Oystercatchers about too.

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A broken egg.

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Orange-tip butterfly.

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The Lune.

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Loyn Bridge.

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Loyn Bridge – ancient, but of unknown date.

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Melling, with Ingleborough behind.

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My summer evening walks in and around the Lune always seem to bring at least one encounter with a Hare.  Usually, they’re so still and so well disguised that I’m almost on top of them before I spot them and then the Hare will disappear so quickly that any thought of getting a photograph is superfluous almost as soon as I have had it. This Hare, by contrast, was wandering along the path towards me, seemingly quite relaxed and unconcerned, and then, having spotted me, by choosing to squeeze through the wire fence, had to stop for a moment so that I did get a few photos.

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I saw another Hare shortly afterwards, but that was a standard fleeting affair.

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Last summer, I was convinced that I’d mastered the difference between Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, but clearly I was wrong. I think that this is one of those, and I’m leaning towards the latter, but I’m really not sure.

The route comes from Mary Welsh’s Cicerone Guide ‘Walking in Lancashire’. She lists it as 7 miles, but by the time I’d finished that evening, I’d walked over 11, which was really more than I’d intended to do. The reason being that the path became very unclear as it approached Melling. I should never have been close to this railway bridge over the Lune.  (If you examine the map below, you’ll see that I did a lot of faffing about).

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I was also trying to avoid a large herd of bullocks who seemed very agitated by my presence. In the end, I had no option but to walk right through the middle of the cattle, where they were tightly confined between a hedge and a body of water. They surrounded me and were very skittish, with the ones behind me making little feints and charges, which was a bit unnerving.

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Melling.

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Barley (?) on Windy Bank.

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Gragareth and Ingleborough from Windy Bank.

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Screenshot 2019-06-15 at 20.34.11

 

 

Hornby, Windy Bank and Melling Circuit

Lapwings at Leighton Moss

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On the Tuesday evening after our weekend away in Wasdale, A and B had, as they usually do, Explorer Scouts over at Silverhelme Scout Camp on The Row. TBH was on taxi duty and she suggested that she could drop me off so that I could walk home. That seemed like a first rate idea, and so it was that I found myself on Storrs Lane at the point where the path which skirts around the back of Leighton Moss leaves the road. I popped into Lower Hide and ended up staying much longer than I had intended to, which often happens.

Although there were plenty of other birds about, it was some Lapwings right under the hide windows which kept me entertained.

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This adult male had chosen a prominent position in order to keep a watchful eye on the area. It looks like he’s on the remnants of some sort of nest. Not a Lapwing nest, I don’t think. Maybe something like a Coot.

When this first bird moved on, a second came stalking through the reeds…

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To take over the same position. At first, I assumed that the birds must be a pair, but this is another male. You can tell because the black patch extends all the way down his throat and further down his breast than it would on a female. Also, those striking plumes on his head are longer than those sported by a female.

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This, is a female…

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She looks a bit chubby, but that’s because tucked away under her skirts she’s hiding her entire brood…

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I watched as the chicks repeatedly made forays to explore the shallow margins of the mere…

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There were five chicks in all, but two was the most I managed to catch on camera at once…

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Her’s the matriarch without any chicks sheltering beneath her apron…

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You can just about see that she has some slight mottling in the black plumage on her throat, which is absent in males.

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The chicks seemed quite adventurous and would disperse over a fairly large area. This one came right up under the windows of the hide…

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But then the chicks, presumably acting on the some signal from an alert parent, would all turn and head back to the protection of their mother…

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And disappear into her feathery shelter…

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This chick…

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…seemed to be more independent than its siblings and was much less hasty when returning…

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Lapwings at Leighton Moss

More Bad Birdwatching

Or: The Walk that Wasn’t.

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A Monday evening. I’d dropped A and her friend off in Milnthorpe for their dance lesson, then driven to Foulshaw Moss for a bit of a walk. This was my first visit of the year and I didn’t get very far before I discovered that Cumbria Wildlife Trust have been busy and built a hide near to the car park, with several bird-feeders just beyond it. I settled down, just for a quick look I thought, before I continued, but then was so happy watching the birds on the feeders that I didn’t move again until the need to go back to pick up the dancers at the end of their lesson was so pressing that I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

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The ‘bad’ birdwatching of the title refers to my misidentification of these birds on previous visits to Foulshaw. I thought that they were Linnets. Now, I’m almost equally convinced that they are Lesser Redpoll. Lesser because Common Redpoll are winter visitors and paler, but I’m more than ready to be corrected. When I’ve seen them before it’s been groups flitting about, usually high in the tree-tops. These feeders gave me a much better opportunity to observe them close-up.

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Male.

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Female.

They are finches, but much smaller than the Goldfinches and Chaffinches which were also visiting the feeders.

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Goldfinch.

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Female Blackbird.

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Male (I think) Great-spotted Woodpecker.

There were plenty of other birds about to keep me entertained, including a Jay in the trees behind the feeders and a male Reed-bunting hopping about below the feeders, tantalising me by never quite being fully in view.

More Bad Birdwatching

Simple Curiosity (or Another Easter Miscellany)

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“It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple.”

Rabindranath Tagore

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Heald Brow primroses.

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Heald Brow Cows. (Belted Galloway?)

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“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

–Ellen Parr

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I think this might be the caterpillar of the Lesser Yellow Underwing Moth. It was in our garden. I’m not aware that I’ve ever seen an adult moth of that species in our garden, I shall have to keep my eyes peeled.

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This is the Green Hairstreak butterfly in Eaves Wood which I mentioned in my recent post about Whitbarrow.

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A high tide at The Cove. Grange has almost disappeared in the haze – it was warming up again.

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On a visit to Lambert’s Meadow I saw loads of Peacock butterflies. Last summer, I was a bit concerned about how few of them visited our garden, so I was doubly delighted to see so many.

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There were Brimstones about too, but they wouldn’t settle for a photo.

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Cuckooflowers.

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Pheasant.

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At Myer’s Allotment there were several piles of felled logs. They all seemed to have attracted vast numbers of flies…

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…I think they might be Lesser House flies.

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Violets.

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I was rather taken by these tiny flowers, growing on an Ant mound at Myer’s Allotment. It’s taken me a while to identify them, but I’m pretty sure that this is Rue Leaved Saxifrage.

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The small three-lobed leaves and striking red stems seem quite distinctive.

When I took this shot…

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…I wasn’t actually after the Violets, but rather this bumblebee…

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…which toured a large patch of Violets whilst I struggled to get a photo. Mostly, when I did have it in frame, I ended up with shots of it hanging upside down below the flowers  to feed…

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It’s colours suggest that it’s probably an Early Bumblebee.

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Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.

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Cowslips.

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Hoverfly.

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Vespula vulgaris – the common wasp. A whopper. Apparently only queens fly in spring, seeking a site for a nest, so perhaps this was a queen on just such a quest.

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New oak leaves.

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Long purples – Early Purple Orchids.

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I noticed several wild rose plants with new buds and leaves affected by some sort of orange growth – I assume that this is a ‘rust’, but have to confess that I’m decidedly clueless about precisely what rusts are.

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Blackbird with worms on the fringes of Bank Well.

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Bank Well.

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Marsh Marigolds.

In amongst the reeds at Bank Well there was a Moorhen nest. Moorhens are very attractive birds, in my opinion, but their chicks are much less handsome. I took a few photos, but my camera struggled to focus on the birds because of the intervening reeds.

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One final Peacock butterfly.

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More new oak leaves, with flowers.

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

– Mary Oliver

Simple Curiosity (or Another Easter Miscellany)

Stupidly Happy

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Two walks, the first, a longish one, taking in Castlebarrow, Eaves Wood, Hawes Water, Trowbarrow, Leighton Moss, Bank Well, Lambert’s Meadow, Burtonwell Wood and Hagg Wood, is represented by this sunrise photo, taken near the Ring of Beeches in Eaves Wood.

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Crepuscular rays shining on Morecambe Bay.

The second was a shorter affair, acros The Lots from The Cove, down to Woodwell and then back along the Clifftop via The Green.

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A Song Thrush on the Lots.

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During the long hot, dry spell last summer the pond at Woodwell dried out completely. I spent a while staring into the shallow pond hoping to work out how that had affected its various denizens. The most striking thing was that there are no minnows anymore. I chatted to a chap who reckoned that they would eventually return when eggs are carried in on the feet of a Heron, or other waterfowl. There was also no frogspawn, although that may just have been late this spring.

Other things seemed to be present. I spotted a Newt and a Diving Beetle.  And lots of these snails. I think this is a Great Ramshorn snail. There are several other species of Ramshorn snail in Britain, but most seem to be quite diminutive. Great Ramshorns are apparently often red, as you can just about see this one is, due to the presence of haemoglobin. Their shells are usually brown, apparently, possibly with a tinge of red, and not green as all of the snails at Woodwell seem to be, but I think the green may be due to a coating of algae or something similar.


 

Stupidly Happy

Helm Crag.

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Sunrise from our patio.

The first of three Mondays in our Easter break. Having only climbed Arnside Knott on my birthday, our plan was to get out and bag a bigger hill, to take advantage of the glorious weather and to scratch my itch for a ‘proper’ fell on or near my birthday. In fact, I was hoping that we would get around the entire Greenburn Horseshoe, a pretty modest outing, but we needed to get back because B had rugby training in Kendal in the evening.

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Helm Crag.

We were away quite early, for us, and parked, for free, in the layby on the main road outside Grasmere. From Easedale we took a path through the grounds of the Lancrigg Hotel, which the owners have wisely opened to the public – it must bring in extra passing custom. I shall certainly be hoping to pop in for a drink after a walk one sunny summer day. The gardens are lovely – well worth a visit.

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In the gardens of the Lancrigg Hotel.

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A simple memorial to Dorothy Wordsworth.

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“Dorothy Wordsworth used to sit at this spot, writing down the poems that her brother dictated as he walked nearby.”

From the gardens we took a slightly wrong turn which brought us to what seemed to be a small disused quarry. It was a fortuitous mistake, because in a small tree at the base of a crag a Tawny Owl was perched, no doubt resting out the day in what it considered to be a quiet, out-of-the-way spot until we stumbled by. Much like the owl which we found on our window ledge a couple of summers ago.

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Back on the path we’d soon stopped again. It was ridiculously hot for early April and we wanted to take on some water. There were lots of butterflies about and I tried, without much success, to get some photos.

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Far Easedale.

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Seat Sandal and Fairfield.

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The boys enjoyed scrambling on the rocky tors near the top, particularly this one…

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…which is the actual summit.

After some lunch, we continued along the ridge…

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Last time we all came this way together, I carried Little S most of the way up and down Helm Crag. On this occasion he was moving under his own steam, but not with much enthusiasm. His walking boots were too small and his feet were feeling the pinch.

In those circumstances it would have been daft to continue with our planned itinerary. Here we are…

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…dropping down off the ridge toward Greenburn Bottom. Paths in the Lakes which are marked on the OS map as a green right-of-way and not as a black dotted line always make me very suspicious: sometimes they aren’t to be trusted, and turn out to not have any existence beyond the cartographers imagination. This one, however, was clearly of some vintage, having been carefully constructed in the dim and distant past and was a delight.

This caterpillar was using the same path…

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…I think it’s a Fox Moth caterpillar.

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Crossing Greenburn.

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Helm Crag.

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The path down the valley.

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Crossing the River Rothay.

Little S has some new footwear now – shoes rather than boots, which he’s much happier with. They’ll be getting lots of use because he’s going to be doing his Hiking Badge with the Scouts.

 

Helm Crag.