September

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Big skies over Eaves Wood.

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Autumn Lady’s Tresses on the Lots.

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Swallows, gathering to leave.

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Sunset, rivers Kent and Bela, Whitbarrow Scar.

The last photo is from a standard, short circuit I walk, when it’s light, after I’ve dropped A off for a ballet lesson in Milnthorpe. The others from Sunday afternoon walks after following on from morning Rugby duties. On one of those Sundays, B had played for Carlisle against three other teams, including his own, because Carlisle had arrived for the mini tournament short of players after a bug had decimated their ranks. He enjoyed it enormously, because the Carlisle players were so friendly and welcoming. Aside from that, I can’t tell you much about those walks, because I don’t remember.

Maybe I’m in the September of my years?

I find the more familiar versions of this Weil-Anderson standard a bit pedestrian. Trust Mr Brown to pep it up.

September

Locked Out: Riems and Koos

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Perhaps I should simply draw a veil over this day, our last in Northern Germany, since it wasn’t a huge success. Our maybe I should post a write up to serve as an object lesson for all cartophiles – incidentally, my spellchecker doesn’t think that’s a word, but I’m very gratified to find that the internet most assuredly disagrees – anyway, a cautionary tale with the moral: you can’t always plan a day out entirely on the basis of a road map.

The problem was that the house we’d booked, lovely though it was, didn’t have wifi, and, I confess, my research prior to our trip had been a bit slipshod and primarily centred around images of the white cliffs of Jasmund. Beyond that I hadn’t thought too far. But the map showed two small islands just down the coast from our holiday home, both joined to the mainland by a causeway, one of which was shown on the map as a nature reserve. What could go wrong?

So, we drove to Riems to find the island surrounded by tall security fences, locked gates and signs which made it clear that visitors weren’t welcome. It seemed as those the island was occupied by some sort of large factory complex.

Hence the rather shoddy, side-of-the-road picnic shown in the first photo. I seem to remember we were still pretty cheerful – we had the nature reserve still to come and we were entertained by the largest flock of Cormorants I have ever seen:

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It wasn’t far to our second non-event of the day, but the roads were narrow and a bit confusing and by the time we reached the tiny car park at the edge of reserve I think tempers may have been a bit frayed.

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As you can see, the quaint information board showed a path across the reserve to the island of Koos.

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I think that this is Cornflower, not something I’ve seen at home in Lancashire.

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A tern. Not sure which type.

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It was a fairly bleak landscape, but the island was clearly wooded and would surely prove to be charming?

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Riems. What a shame we couldn’t get in.

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We eventually reached the narrow strait separating Koos from the mainland. There were lots of hirundines nesting on the underside of the wooden bridge.

And the channel was teeming with fish…

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And a Moon Jellyfish – the same kind which the boys and I had swum with a couple of days before.

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They don’t sting humans apparently, although when I swam in the Baltic as a kid I was convinced I’d been stung, so it isn’t just B who has a vivid imagination. Jellyfish have no blood or brain or heart apparently. People never boast about swimming with jellyfish do they? Dolphins, definitely. Maybe seals? Jellyfish no. Speciesist.

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Anyway, just beyond the bridge – high fences and a padlocked gate. Insert your own expletives. We could at least see why this was a nature reserve, there were huge numbers of Greylag Geese, Swans and Cormorants about.

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And, I think, three Great White Egrets, judging by their size relative to the Grey Heron nearby.

It was a long trudge back to the car.

The next day we had a lengthy drive ahead, with a considerable detour to my Aunt’s house to collect the many possessions our kids had managed to leave behind. But we weren’t heading home yet…

Locked Out: Riems and Koos

A Weekend in Lincolnshire

We’re just back from three weeks away, but I’m still not quite up to date with what we were doing before our holidays; so….

It had been a long time since we had seen my mum and dad. A was busy (A seems to nearly always be busy these days), TBH stayed at home to look after A, but the boys were both very keen to visit their grandparents. On the Saturday, we popped into Lincoln, because the boys both needed new trainers, but in the afternoon I had time to have another wander around the nature reserve close to where my parents live.

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I was struck by the abundance and variety of the wildflowers on display.

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And even more so by the profusion of bees, hoverflies, moths and butterflies; particularly the latter. I didn’t have my camera with me, so instead experimented with the zoom function on my newish phone – it’s up to x8, presumably a digital zoom – spending a very happy hour taking hundreds of photos. All of which are a bit rubbish. Oh well, lesson learned.

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The following day we all went for a wander around the Far Ings reserve which is on the banks of the Humber, not far from the Humber Bridge…

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Despite the cloudy skies it was really very warm that day.

I always enjoy a trip to where I can see unfamiliar plants which I don’t see growing close to home. This, I think, is Weld…

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…or Dyer’s Rocket, a native British plant which was once very important for the yellow dye produced from it. Apparently, it took 3-6 pounds of Weld to dye one pound of wool.

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This is Viper’s-bugloss, once thought to be a remedy for snake-bites. I have seen this growing in the car-park at Leighton Moss, but not elsewhere, so I assume that it was introduced.

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I think I’ve seen Common Mallow growing here in Lancashire too, but it’s much more common down in Lincolnshire. It was popular as both a food and a medicine in Roman times, with one use being as a cure for hangovers.

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This creeping plant is White Bryony. The unrelated Black Bryony is quite common around home. Both plants are poisonous. The ‘black’ and ‘white’ refer to the colour of the roots. Apparently, the roots of White Bryony were passed off by the unscrupulous as Mandrake roots which reputedly had magical properties, had to be imported from the Eastern Mediterranean, and so were expensive.

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More Dyer’s Rocket.

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Borage.

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The Humber and the Bridge again.

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After our pleasant stroll we retired to a local cafe for lunch. In the porch of the cafe, Swallows were nesting…

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So, here’s an idea of how my phone’s zoom performs. The first photo is without zoom, and this…

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…is with x8. You can see that the nestlings have very striking, Adam Ant style face stripes, which is how I know that they are Swallows and not Martins, so the zoom can be helpful, even if it doesn’t produce the sharpest images.

A Weekend in Lincolnshire

One Summer Evening

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There were lots of climbers enjoying the evening sunshine at Trowbarrow. Sadly, down in the base of the quarry it was already shady. I had come in search of Bee Orchids…

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And found that there were lots flowering, more than last year I think.

Almost as an afterthought, on the way home I called in at Leighton Moss to take in the view from the skytower…

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I thought I might see some Red Deer out amongst the reeds and meres, and sure enough, there they were…

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What I hadn’t anticipated was the commotion caused by a Marsh Harrier making regular raids on a group of nesting Black-headed Gulls.

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The photos didn’t come out very well, but watching the acrobatics of the harrier and the organised and vociferous defence of the gulls was breathtaking.

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When the harrier stayed away for a while, some of the gulls turned their attentions to the deer and attempted to drive them away too. The deer looked more bemused than worried.

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The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver

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One Summer Evening

Back to Foulshaw.

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Monday evenings mean dance lessons for A and, in the past, has often meant a small window of opportunity for me to get some fresh air, sometimes with a visit to Foulshaw Moss.

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Somehow, this year it hasn’t quite worked out that way on very many occasions, but I did make a second visit to the vast expanses of the moss back in early June.

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Whitbarrow Scar.

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I noticed quite a few of these large pink flowers on bushes well away from the boardwalks – I assume that these are Rhododendrons.

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Marsh Cinquefoil.

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Tree Bumblebee on Marsh Cinquefoil.

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Male Lesser Redpoll.

Goldfinch and female Lesser Redpoll.

Back to Foulshaw.

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…

 

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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Hornby, Windy Bank and Melling Circuit