Trowbarrow Views

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The forecast promised that the weather was going to improve. I set out on trust, although there were still a few spots of rain in the fairly strong wind.

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The hay has since been cut – they were collecting it in today – but then the grasses were long and swaying in the breeze. The dominant, red-tinged grass here is, I think, Yorkshire Fog, but I’m really not sure about the patch of pale grass standing out amongst the red. Cocksfoot?

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Yorkshire Fog.

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Bittersweet.

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Leighton Moss.

Fortunately, by the time I reached Leighton Moss, the view to the west was finally looking promising…

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The reeds along the boardwalk were looking tatty and half-eaten. It didn’t take much sleuthing to discover the reason why.

Alongside the reeds, there were lots of these large Dock leaves. (We have several Docks – I have no idea which these are).

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Many of them were infected with a fungus causing red blotches on the upper sides of the leaves…

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And crusty white rings on the undersides…

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I’ve done my lazy research, and I think that it’s a rust fungus called Puccinia Phragmitis.

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Common Spotted-orchid and Quaking Grass.

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Red Wall.

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Bee Orchid.

I was looking for the Fly Orchid which apparently flowers here. I didn’t find it, but more of the Bee Orchids had come into flower. Also, while I was poking about, I found a narrow path which I assume is the climbers’ descent route from the top of the main crag. I’ve never been up to the top before, but the views were excellent…

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Humphrey Head.

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Leighton Moss from Trowbarrow.

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Common Spotted-orchid and Quaking Grass again.

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And another (but quite different) Common Spotted-orchid.

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Hedge Woundwort.

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The clouds were back.

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Six for gold.

Towards the end of the walk I came across a couple of bumblebees once again apparently asleep on flowers. It was very windy and when I grabbed one of the flowers to try to hold it still for a photo the bee waved one leg in a half-hearted fashion, like a person might if you tried to rouse them from deep sleep.

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Trowbarrow Views

The Twiss and the Doe.

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Juvenile Dipper.

“That’s a pretty full set of experiences for an evening walk. Flowers, birds, deer, caves, gorges, rivers.”

“Yes – I may continue this theme of exploring tributaries of the Lune – a walk which starts low in the Lune valley and then climbs up into the hills gives a tremendous variety of scenery, flora, fauna etc.”

“I think your suggested tributary project is a good idea.”

This exchange, between Andy, Conrad and myself, from the comments on a previous post, really set me to thinking. The idea of exploring the tributaries of the Lune, which started life as no more than an off-the-cuff remark, now seemed really quite enticing. I found a list of tributaries on Wikipedia; even a cursory glance at a map revealed that list to be far from comprehensive, but there’s intrigue and poetry in some of the names: Peggymarsh Pool, Whitespout Gutter, Sweet Beck, Traitor’s Gill, Aygill, Wrestle Gill. There are some familiar names which surprised me a little: the waterfalls on the River Rawthey which drains Baugh Fell and Widboar Fell and the Mare’s Tail on Whernside both ultimately feed into the Lune, as does Fell Beck which tumbles into the yawning chasm of Gaping Gill and resurges from Ingleborough Cave. On the other hand, there are many more unfamiliar areas: Birk Beck up near Shap, the many becks and gills which run down the northern valleys of the Howgills into the infant Lune, the River Wenning and it’s valley.

I’ve begun to pore over maps even more than I usually do; tracing wriggling blue lines back up away from the Lune through steepening contours. Of course, not even obsession is original: while looking for a map of the Lune watershed I came across ‘The Land of the Lune’ by John Self. I’ve a strong feeling that I’ve seen this book before, made a mental note that I ought to buy it in future, and then promptly forgotten. Fortunately for me, the second addition is available free online. I suspect I shall be consulting it a lot in the coming months.

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Swilla Glen.

Anyway, after two days of heavy rain, when the opportunity of an after work walk presented itself, something with waterfalls seemed appropriate. I opted for the Rivers Twiss and Doe, which join to form the River Greta and then flow into the Lune. Of course, this is better known as the Ingleton Waterfalls walk, and has appeared on this blog once before. According to the leaflet I was handed when I paid my fee for parking and for the walk, the route is roughly 4½ miles and should take between 2½ and 4 hours. I had already decided that, having paid for the privilege, I was going to do the leisurely version and get value for money. (I had thought about parking elsewhere in the village and walking the route in reverse, thus circumventing the charge, but…£6 well spent I thought, you can judge for yourself at the end of the post!)

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There were still quite a few other people embarking on the route even though it was quite late, but they’d soon left me behind because I spent so long taking numerous blurred photos of the juvenile Dipper and the parent who was in attendance. The interactions between the adult bird and the youngster were momentary and purposeful and often involved the fledgling moving before receiving its snack, so that the only photo I managed to get of them together involves a lot of moving feathers and smudged wings.

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Taking my time like this, I was pleasantly surprised by how rocky and steep-sided the Swilla Glen is. I also don’t recall ever noticing this cave before.

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Grey Wagtail.

When I finally left behind the distraction of the Dippers, I found I moved into the territories of several Grey Wagtails. I took a lot more photos, and some of them even came out reasonably sharp.

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Early Bumblebee on Water Avens.

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Pecca Falls.

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Thornton Force.

Near Thornton Force I sat on a bench to eat a snack and watched a group of hard-hatted, hammer-toting geology students, the latest in a series of such encounters along the Glen.

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Pied Wagtail.

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Above the Force, it was the turn of a Pied Wagtail to pose for many photos.

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Another male Reed Bunting.

I tried, in vain, to get photos of the Sand Martins which were streaming along above the river.

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A Meadow Pipit (perhaps).

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Looking towards the Forest of Bowland.

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Ingleborough.

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Beezley Falls.

There are many waterfalls on both the Twiss and the Doe and I haven’t included photos of them all. This may be one of the smallest…

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…but look for the little speck of white on the mossy rock on the far bank. It’s another…

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Dipper.

It was preening itself. I was standing with my back to the trunk of the tree on the left of the photo below and the Dipper didn’t seem to be aware of my presence. I was able to take lots of photos, but unfortunately most of them are blurred.

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Baxenghyll Gorge,

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Throughout almost all of the walk, I could hear woodland birds on all sides, but generally couldn’t see them. Towards the end of the outing I heard Woodpeckers on more than one occasion. Eventually I managed to pick out one of them in the canopy above…

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Great-spotted Woodpecker.

I do realise that not all of the Lune’s tributaries are this spectacular; still, this has hardly dampened my enthusiasm for the scheme!

The Twiss and the Doe.

Up with the Warblers, Herons, Harriers…

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I had set my alarm for an early start, or to put it another way, I left the curtains open, which never fails. A quick cuppa and then I was out, the early sun lighting the clouds in the eastern sky from below, but not yet visible above the horizon. (At this latitude, and this time of year, that does require a bit of a sacrifice of potential sleeping hours.)

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Everything was freighted with pearls of dew and down towards Hawes Water a cloud of mist hung over the trees. I climbed up into Eaves Wood, hoping that the extra height would give me a good view over the low cloud.

With the trees in the wood now fully clad with leaves, the views weren’t as clear as they were after my last early start, but the mist was glowing pink with the early light, so churlish really to complain.

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The mist from Eaves Wood – Ingleborough on the right.

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Cobweb, Sixteen Buoys field.

The mist was more dense than last time. A pale white disc appeared though the murk and then gradually brightened, suffusing the fog with colour as it simultaneously burned it off.

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In the wildflower meadow beyond the lake, the grass was strung with gossamer, which was in turn bedecked with dewdrops.

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I suppose this mass of spider’s webs must always be here, at least at this time of year, but usually goes unnoticed without the coat of sunlit drops to illuminate it.

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It looked likely that anyone who had opted to watch the sunrise from Arnside Knott would also have been treated to a temperature inversion. I don’t suppose that Brocken spectres are a common sight from the Knott.

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In the trees on Yealand Allotment, I had more cheering, but slightly frustrating encounters with families of Marsh Tits and Great Tits; I have lots of photographs showing birds partially obscured by leaves. I did eventually locate a tree-top Chiff-chaff, which was singing it’s name as ever. I also saw a couple of Fallow Deer again, although they too were too veiled by leaves for me to get a very clear photo.

This big, old Horse Chestnut by a gate into Leighton Moss is a favourite of mine.

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We drive past it every weekday morning and I was alarmed to notice, last week, that its large limbs have all been lopped off. I hope that isn’t a precursor to chopping the whole tree down.

This tiny Sedge Warbler, probably weighing about 10g…

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…was singing with great gusto and astonishing volume.

“…exuberant song, full of mimicry, seldom repeating itself, suddenly halting, then tearing off again, always sounding vaguely irritated.”

from The Complete Book of British Birds

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Yellow Iris.

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On this occasion, I had Lower Hide all to myself. Aside from the Greylag Geese and a lone Moorhen, there didn’t seem to be much to see. But with a couple of windows open I could hear warblers on every side. I kept getting brief, occasional views in amongst the reeds, but it didn’t seem likely that I would get a better view than that, until, just as I was thinking of moving on, a pair of birds landed in the reeds right in front of the hide…

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They were Reed Warblers. Like other warblers, migrants from warmer climes. Paler than their close cousin the Sedge Warbler and less yellow than a Chiff-Chaff.

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They shuffled between the reed tops, the nearby bush…

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…and down deeper among the reeds…

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They would fly off for a while, or disappear into the reeds, but eventually they would reappear. Maybe they were building a nest?

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As I reached the Causeway path and looked out into the fields towards Grisedale Farm, I was lucky enough to spot these deer.

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My immediate thought was that they must be Red Deer, because they seemed relatively large, but then I began to doubt myself; if they were Red Deer, why weren’t they in a large group, which is how I’ve usually encountered them locally? Maybe they were Roe Deer and I was mistaken about their size? After the fact, I’ve realised that I should have had the courage of my convictions. Roe Deer bucks have mature antlers at present, whereas Red Deer stags have new antlers, covered in velvet.

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Dog Rose

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Another warbler

Where the causeway crosses a small bridge I always pause to take a look around.

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And to peer into the water…

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Common Backswimmer (I think)

I was astonished by these tiny red mites…

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…so small that I wondered at first if they were inanimate particles undergoing some sort of Brownian motion. But they have little legs, so clearly not.

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From the Public Hide, I took no end of photos of this Heron…

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…which was feeling very chilled, in no hurry at all, and quite happy to pose. Perhaps predictably, it’s the very first photo I took which I prefer from the entire selection.

Although it was probably still what most people would consider to be indecently early to even be up on a Saturday morning, there were quite a few people about now. Birdwatchers are an ascetic bunch; up with the lark and all that. A chap and his daughter (I assumed) had spotted this warbler…

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…which was singing from the reeds. He asked me if I knew what it was. At first I demurred from offering an opinion. Then said that it was a warbler, probably a Reed or Sedge Warbler. I don’t know why I’m so reticent in these sort of circumstances; I’m usually not short of an opinion, or shy about sharing my views. It’s a Reed Warbler. (And even now I’m fighting the temptation to hedge my bets with a ‘probably’ or ‘I think’). Not only does it look like a Reed Warbler, but it sang like a Reed Warbler. Reed and Sedge Warbler’s have similar songs, and it comes as something of a surprise to me to realise that I could tell the difference, at least on that Saturday morning, having already heard both species singing when I could see them clearly as they sang.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a huge variety of wildlife as I have this spring, but then I know I’ve never before made such an effort to get outside to have the opportunity to have encounters. Reed Buntings are a good case in point: I’ve seen far more this year then I’ve previously seen in total.

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Male Red Bunting.

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Yellow Iris with Tree Bumblebee (?)

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Marsh Harrier.

There’s more water to peer in to at the pond-dipping area.

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Pond-Skaters

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View from the Skytower.

This bumblebee…

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…was stock-still, apparently frozen in position.

Whilst I was taking the photo, several of her sister Early Bumblebees arrived to forage…

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But she stayed completely motionless.

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My theory is that, on cold nights, like many we’ve had of late, bumble-bees get benighted, too cold to continue, so they have no option but to stay where they are, effectively asleep until at least the following day, when the sun warms them sufficiently to get them mobile again..

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Ragged Robin in Lambert’s Meadow

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Early Bumblebees again (I think).

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Female Broad-bodied Chaser

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Episyrphus alteatus (?).

All that and still back in time for a latish breakfast. It had been slowish progress however: roughly four hours for a route which I know I can complete in two and a half. Sometimes, taking your own sweet time really pays off.

Up with the Warblers, Herons, Harriers…

A Corvid Walk

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Later in the day, after my walk from Brockhole, with the weather now much improved, I was out for another stroll, a standard Hagg Wood, Silverdale Green, Stankelt Lane and across the Lots to the Cove wander.

The trees were absolutely full of small birds, but whilst they were very easy to hear, they were much less easy to see. The Oak above had a family of Blue Tits, which tantalised me by briefly showing themselves then hopping about in the branches, mostly obscured by leaves.

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The Sycamore helicopters which only recently appeared have changed colour already and are now tinged with red.

I watched these two Crows for a while.

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Shortly after I took this first photo, the Crow at the front leant a little too far forward, over-balanced and did an involuntary forward-roll, then sprang back-up and comically continued as if nothing had happened.

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Of course, I’m anthropomorphising, but it’s almost impossible, I suspect, not to project human emotions on to animals when you watch them going about their daily business.

Jackdaws can regularly be found in certain places in the area: Trowbarrow, Arnside Tower, the quarry on Warton Crag. I’ve realised recently that Stankelt Road is another such venue. These chimney pots had four birds perched on them…

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But when all four had flown away, perhaps unnerved by my attention, I could still hear the sounds of Jackdaws from that direction…

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There were more birds in the chimney pots! I think that these are juvenile birds sitting in nests. Some hopped out for a look around…

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…and a bit of an explore…

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When I lived around the corner on Emesgate Lane, I used to get a lot of squawking and detritus down my own chimney, most memorably an abundance of cherry seeds one summer. I suppose that may well have been Jackdaws too.

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A Corvid Walk

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.

Helicopters

Hagg Wood – Clifftop Path – Wolf House – Jack Scout – Lindeth Road

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Bank Holiday Monday, as is so often the case, was a bit of a wash-out, weather-wise at least. What better way, then, to spend a wet day in May than chatting and playing daft games with old friends?

The Shandy Sherpa and The Beach Funster and I did escape for a shopping trip, incorporating a wander to The Cove and across The Lots.

These photos are from the day after, when the weather improved somewhat.

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These Sycamore keys – ‘helicopters’ when I was a nipper – have appeared on the Mystery Tree, or perhaps I should say Former Mystery Tree, which is by Hagg Wood.

I’ve been mulling over an idea on recent walks about why I prefer Spring to Summer, or at least one reason why I do. In Spring there’s an orderly progression of events: Snowdrops appear in the lanes and then in the woods by Hawes Water; then I expect to see Daffodils, Toothwort and Green Hellebore in short order; swallows will arrive around my birthday, Beech leaves shortly after. I know what to expect, roughly when to expect it and where I might find things. The changes are familiar, and reassuring, and limited in number.

But when summer comes around, I can’t keep up. There are new flowers everywhere, in profusion and a myriad of forms, many of which I can’t identify. One moment the new oaks leaves are yellow and wrinkly, the next they’re lush and green and obscuring the birds in the trees. Changes seem to happen at a bewildering rate. It’s not that I don’t like Summer, it’s just that I wish it would take its time a little more.

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Gibraltar Farm.

Anyway, this is now sounding like a moan, which wasn’t really my intention and which doesn’t fit at all with these photos from what was really a very pleasant stroll down to Jack Scout to watch the sunset.

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Swallows by Gibraltar Farm.

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Blackbird.

Except I missed the sunset: by the time I’d walked around the landward side of the field and reached the clifftop at the southern end of the site, the sun had already disappeared. The after show was pretty good though.

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In among all of the Foxgloves, which seem to have crept up on me and arrived tall and all-grown-up without warning, there was a single specimen with white flowers…

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Less whinging in the next post, I promise.

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Helicopters

Haverbrack, Beetham Fell, Lunch at the Bull’s Head

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Sunday, fortunately, brought more settled weather and some sunshine. The title of the post should really be ‘Heron Corn Mill, Lunch at the Bull’s Head, Haverbrack and Beetham Fell’ but that’s a bit long, and this present one mirrors that of an earlier post.

The photo above shows the Heron Corn Mill, on the left, and the modern paper mill on the right, with, in between, the mill pond on the Bela backed up behind this weir…

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The corn mill seems to have had a new lease of life in recent years and, although it doesn’t take long to look around, it’s worth a visit, especially since it’s free, with a handy car-park which has an honesty box with a request for a £2 donation for all-day parking.

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From the Corn Mill a footbridge takes you across the river and then the path winds around the paper mill, beside the River Bela…

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We crossed the busy A6, hoping to get some lunch at the cafe at Beetham Garden Centre. This wasn’t the original plan. We had been hoping to revisit The Ship at Sandside. Naively, I had been expecting that we could just rock-up when we pleased and order Sunday lunch. Andy pointed out that, on a Bank Holiday Sunday, a popular pub might be busy, and that an advance booking might be advisable. I made a phone call and discovered that he was quite right: a booking was advisable, or would have been, if I’d rung a couple of weeks earlier. So it was that we were a party in search of somewhere to buy lunch and were travelling more in hope than in expectation.

The cafe at the Garden Centre looked excellent. And full.

There were surprisingly few rumblings of discontent as we continued. If anybody was angry about my lack of organisation, they kept it to themselves. Unlike this pair of female Chaffinches…

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…which were brawling in the road.

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I’ve seen birds fighting before, but not fighting birds with such complete disregard for what was going on around them, as these two were. I have lots of other photos, but they are mostly blurred shots, showing the moments when one or both birds briefly disengaged and flew a little into the air before diving back into the fray, in a bid to gain the upper-hand.

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A male Chaffinch kept making appearances over the adjacent hedge. Whether he was an anxious or disinterested spectator will remain as mysterious as the cause of the ruckus in the first place.

When the fight either finished or possibly moved on to another venue, we retraced our steps to the corn mill.

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Small White. Or Green-viened White. White anyway. The unopened and partially opened buds are Oxeye Daisies – I’m amazed that I haven’t noticed that very striking, bold pattern before.

We crossed Dallam Deer park, the deer obligingly, if somewhat distantly, makng an appearance for our guests.

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Outside the Bull’s Head in Milnthorpe we hesitated. I’ve never heard any opinions about it, good or bad. I think I might have had a pint here and watched part of a football match, many moons ago. Which is not much to go on.

TBH asked a girl, who was smoking a fag in the doorway, what the food was like, and she assured us that it was excellent. Later, I noticed that the same girl was collecting glasses in the pub and wondered whether she was an employee. But if we were gently duped, we didn’t lose out in any way. The food was very good, with an amazingly wide variety on offer, but everything apparently cooked from scratch. I’m very surprised that nobody has recommended it to me before. Judging by the prices on the menu, it was good value too, although we didn’t have to worry about that, since Andy very generously picked up the tab.

At this point, our boys gleefully revealed their own agenda: since we were in Milnthorpe and the sun was shining, they insisted on visiting the play area and trying out the new equipment there. It was only a brief stop and it gave me a chance to watch the many bumblebees on the flowering shrubs in the border there. They seemed mainly to be of two species: Early Bumblebees, with two yellow stripes and an orange tail and Tree Bumblebees…

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…which, now that I know how to identify them, seem to be everywhere I go.

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Dallam Hall and the Bela.

We continued our walk along the Bela, following it out to its confluence with the Kent…

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Whitbarrow Scar across the Bela and the Kent.

At the Orchid Triangle, there were…

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…orchids! I think that this is Common Spotted Orchid. And this…

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…is Common Twayblade…

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….which according to my orchid field guide is ‘a close companion of nearly all our most beautiful and rare orchids’. (Of which, more in a forthcoming post.)

From the Orchid Triangle, it’s a short, but very rewarding, climb up Haverbrack.

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Red Admiral.

From Haverbrack we crossed Cockshot Lane, walked through Longtail Wood to Beetham Fell and The Fairy Steps…

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Here’s Andy negotiating the steps without touching the sides, so that the fairies will grant him a wish…

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Sort of.

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Rock Rose.

Dropping down through the woods back towards Beetham we stumbled across a Roe Deer. We watched in hushed silence for a moment, until A broke the spell with, “It’s only a deer, I can see those in the garden at home.”

I think our kids do appreciate what they have, living here, but maybe they’ll have to move away before they really appreciate it properly?

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I mooted the idea that some of us might walk home from Beetham, but when the initial enthusiasm evaporated I was secretly relieved – we were out of water and I was gasping for a cup of tea.

Later, the Shandy Sherpa and TBF joined me for a wander around Eaves Wood in the gloaming. We spent quite a while watching the juvenile Woodpecker featured in a recent post, and as long again sitting by the Pepper Pot absorbing the peace and quiet. A marvellous day.

Haverbrack, Beetham Fell, Lunch at the Bull’s Head