Winter Flowers and Morecambe Baylight Festival

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Winter Aconites again.

Am I really going to start yet another post with a photo of Winter Aconites? Well yes. Lots of photos actually. But this is the last one, I promise. At least until next year.

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And again. Is that a honeybee?
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Yes, I think it is.
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And a Drone Fly a Honeybee imitator.
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And a close-up of an Aconite flower.
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By this point, the Snowdrops were out too.
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Snowdrops.
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The daffs would be joining them soon.

Now that our visitors had left, the sun came out, of course. Sod’s law. I walked around the coast and then climbed the Knott, of course.

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On the coast, looking south to Know Point and Clougha Pike.
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Shelducks and Crows.
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Grange-over-Sands and Hampsfell.
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Cartmell Fell and Meathop Fell.

As you can see, I dropped down to the ‘sands’, but they were still covered by a shallow layer of water. I’ve seem to have waited for months this year for dry and firm sand and an opportunity to have a proper wander in the bay.

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Panorama of the Kent Estuary and the Lake District Fells. Click on the photo to see a larger image on Flickr.

Although the weather had started fine, it was rapidly clouding-up from the south.

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Ingleborough and Silverdale Moss.
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Arnside Tower, Warton Crag and Bowland Fells.

By the time TBH and I drove to Morecambe, for the inaugural Baylight Festival, it was drizzling.

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Lights and mirrors.

Neither my phone or my camera coped well with the combination of darkness and bright lights.

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TBH enjoying the light show.

I think there were seventeen installations. Some were superb, some a bit underwhelming. I really enjoyed myself. It was great to see so many families out enjoying themselves on a cold, damp February night.

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Don’t often see Polar Bears on Morecambe beach.

And to top it all off, we finished the evening with chips on the prom from our favourite chippie in the West End of Morecambe.

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Laser lights – pretty spectacular. I’d seen them the night before from Silverdale, which had confused me a bit.
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My favourite of the art installations. This is a video. Click on it to watch on Flickr.

This was by far and away my favourite. It changed colours and obviously had a very long and complex sequence of movements and light changes. The video has the added bonus of a child’s lightsaber toy bobbing in and out of view!

I’m really hoping that the festival, which is apparently ‘reinventing illuminations’, will be back bigger and even brighter next year.

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Winter Flowers and Morecambe Baylight Festival

Deja Three?

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The Winter Aconites have opened.

Jump forward a week to the penultimate weekend in January. We were in the middle of a cold snap. We had a minor leak in a pipe on an outside wall of our house and, over several days, a huge stalagmite of ice had formed on the wall.

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Round the coast yet again.

I can’t remember what excuse I’d invented for myself as to why I didn’t go a little further and climb a hill. I do know that I didn’t leave the house until almost lunchtime, so maybe I was busy that morning.

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Looking back along the coast.

Anyway, with blue skies and glorious sunshine, a local walk was not a hardship at all.

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Grange-over-Sands and Hampsfell.
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Hampsfell, Gummer How and Meathop Fell across the salt-marsh at White Creek.

Given that it was a relatively lengthy walk, for one of my local wanders, a little over thirteen miles, I didn’t take all that many photographs, partly, I think, because there was a lot of ice about and I was concentrating on not falling on my a**e.

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Frozen salt-marsh at White Creek.
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A lone fisherman near New Barns.
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Whitbarrow and the Kent Viaduct.
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A slippery path into Arnside.

In Arnside, I bought a sausage roll and a cup of tea from the Old Bakery and sat on the jetty to enjoy the sunshine and the view. It was a windless day and surprisingly comfortable for sitting out.

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Are you leaving that?

I had the company of a Black-headed Gull and a Pigeon for at least as long as my sausage roll lasted.

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The Kent Viaduct from the jetty.

From Arnside I followed the route of the old railway track along the Estuary shore to Storth and then to Sandside. It was in the shade and coated in a thick layer of ice most of the way to Storth. I shuffled along it very slowly, feeling certain that I would slip and tumble. I did have a handful of dicey moments, but somehow managed to stay upright.

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Whitbarrow Scar from near Sandside.
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Looking along the Kent, Scout Scar and Heversham Head on the skyline.

I took the path which skirts the edge of the huge quarry at Sandside. It’s not a right-of-way, but I met several couples coming down the path, so it is clearly fairly well-known and well-used.

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Sandside Quarry.

By the time I reached Beetham Fell…

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The Fairy Steps, Beetham Fell.

…the sun was already rapidly dropping towards the horizon…

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Arnside Knott and the Kent from Beetham Fell.
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The sun dropping behind Arnside Knott.

The path which heads from the Fairy steps down towards Hazelslack Farm is usually very wet, with water flowing over the surface, but on this occasion all of the water was frozen into a deep layer of ice.

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Verglass on the path from Beetham Fell to Hazelslack.
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The last of the light.

My route back alongside Silverdale Moss and through Challan Hall Allotment to Gait Barrows was completed in gathering gloom, with the final section through Eaves Wood in near darkness.

And that’s January’s walks logged. I’ll be up to date before you know it!

Deja Three?

New Year, Same Old Song.

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Humphrey Head and Grange from the coastal path to Arnside.

Taking advantage of some much improved weather, and the fact that my covid-inflicted fatigue seemed to be wearing-off, I got out for a longish local wander, around 11 miles, on the second of January. These days, I’m increasingly drawn to the route around the coast to Arnside with a return over the Knott.

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And again.

There are lots of other great walks in the area, but the appeals of this one are hard to match.

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Looking out into the Bay.
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Looking back towards Silverdale.

Just in case the sunshine is making you think it might have been a warm, balmy day, this is the first sight that greeted me when I left the house…

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Car bonnet frost flowers.
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A car roof frost spiral.

On the way to the coast at Far Arnside I indulged myself with some old favourite obsessions, which perhaps haven’t appeared on the blog as often recently as they once did…

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Robin.
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Back-lit leaves.
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Back-lit leaf.
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Almost seasonal holly berries.
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Back-lit Bramble leaves.
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Back-lit Oak leaves.

Leaves, berries and Robins and the like.

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Grange and Hampsfell.
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Turning in to the Kent Estuary.

At the far end of the White Creek shingle beach there must have been rich pickings in an area of rough grass just above the high-tide line; several Chaffinches, a couple of Robins, and a Blackbird were darting to and fro from the low trees nearby to the turf.

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Chaffinch.

In amongst the others was a bird I didn’t recognise, and I got overly excited thinking that it was something exotic. In my defence, I did assume that it was a bunting of some kind. It is: a Reed Bunting, which I’ve seen in lots of places locally, but never down on the coast before.

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Reed Bunting.
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The River Kent and Grange.
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Across the Kent to Meathop Fell.
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Along the Kent to the Howgills.
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River Kent pano.
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Arnside Knott from New Barns.
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The river, the viaduct and the Howgills from New Barns.
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Complex channels at New Barns.
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Looking back to New Barns.
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Close to Arnside – it was busy.
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Whitbarrow Scar and the viaduct.
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Clouds reflected in the Kent.
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Another Robin.
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Fungi.

I’ve joined a Facebook group, Fungi of the World, and the weird and wonderful photos which are posted there have inspired me to pay more attention to the varied forms of fungi in our local woods. On my way up on to the Knott, I took a circuitous route, including a wander around Redhill Woods to have a gander at the fungi there.

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Tiny, tiny fungi – Ear Fungus fruiting bodies just appearing?
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Shiny, black bracket fungus.
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More fungus.
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Even more fungus.

I found many kinds, but not all of them are here as some of the photos came out a little blurred.

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Warty excrescences on a Birch log.

I don’t think these are fungi, but I think that it might be the case that the trees produces these odd growths in response to the promptings of a fungi.

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Ingleborough and Silverdale Moss from Arnside Knott.
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Arnside Tower, Arnside Tower Farm, Middlebarrow, Warton Crag and the Forest of Bowland Fells from Arnside Knott.
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The Howgill Fells and Middleton Fells from Arnside Knott.
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Rain in the Lake District pano.

As I often seem to do, I looked at the clouds obscuring the Cumbrian fells and felt vindicated in choosing a wander straight from my door rather than going further afield, but usually this weather based justification is superfluous – in reality I’m looking for excuses for doing just what I wanted to do anyway.

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Starting to clear pano.
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Very short, faint rainbow over Yewbarrow and Whitbarrow.
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Clougha Pike from Heathwaite.
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Ingleborough from Heathwaite.
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Male Kestrel.

Near Far Arnside I spotted this male Kestrel perched on a telegraph pole.

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Male Kestrel in flight.

It didn’t seem too happy with my attention and flew from pole to pole, with me following and taking lots of pictures. Of course, after all that effort, it was the first two that I took which came out best. A great way to finish a really terrific start to the new year.

New Year, Same Old Song.

The Trouble with Lichen*.

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On the coast path: the Kent Estuary and Meathop Fell.

The final day of October half-term, and for reasons I can’t remember, I only set-off for my favourite stroll around the coast to Arnside and back over the Knott at around three in the afternoon.

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The foreshore at White Creek.

When I moved to the area, around thirty years ago, there was no salt-marsh at White Creek and none at Grange either, but you could walk on the grass from Knowe Point to Far Arnside. Now the situation is reversed, testament to the way the river channel changes and so keeps the Bay in constant flux.

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Little Egret.

Likewise, thirty years ago, I wouldn’t have expected to see any Little Egrets in the area, but now they are relatively common, and Great Egrets are also beginning to establish themselves.

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The Kent Estuary and Meathop Fell again from a little further around the coast.
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Spindle berries.
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Spindle berries.
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Xanthoria parientina. Possibly.

If I’ve identified this lichen correctly, and it is Xanthoria parientina, then it’s a common lichen which produces a yellow chemical, xanthorin “thought to be produced as a defence against UV radiation” (source), when the lichen is shaded it doesn’t produce the chemical and is then green.

Lichens are famously a symbiosis between a fungi and a photosynthesising partner, either an algae or a cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). I’ve been reading ‘Entangled Life’ by Merlin Sheldrake, which TBH bought me for Christmas, and apparently many lichens are now known to be multi-species symbiosis, that is, to have three or more species living in partnership.

I didn’t study Biology at school, even to O-level standard, but with hindsight that seems like a crazy decision; the more I learn the more unlikely and astonishing almost every aspect of life seems to be. For example, also gleaned from “Entangled Life’, did you know that are own mitochondrial cells might have started life, in evolutionary terms, as independent bacterial cells? I think I’ve got that right, although, as I said, I’m no biologist!

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Andy Goldsworthy leaf sculpture. Or the tideline.
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More fungi.
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Waxcaps. Possibly Orange Waxcap.
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Distant view of the viaduct and the sun catching Heversham Head.
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Looking back along the Kent Estuary.
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The viaduct, Whitbarrow Scar and a couple of boats.
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Little Egret in the Kent at Arnside.

There were four Little Egrets stalking the shallows just off the promenade in Arnside. They fish by stirring up the riverbed with their feet, and look pretty comical doing it, a sort of avian ‘Ministry of Funny Walks’.

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And another – note the characteristic yellow foot.
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Black-headed Gulls on the Kent.

I know: they don’t have black heads, but their name is a bit misleading, because that’s breeding plumage, which, by autumn, they’d just about lost.

If you are reading in the UK, and haven’t got around to watching ‘Wild Isles’ yet, and, to be honest, I’ve only just started myself, there’s some amazing footage in the first episode of Black-headed Gulls trying to steal Sand Eels from Puffins.

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Sunset from the Knott.

One advantage of a late start!

*If you were expecting at least a passing reference to the John Wyndham novel, my apologies**. I like his novels, this one included, but haven’t read it, or any of his others, for a very long time. Fifteen years in to blogging, when most of your posts consist of photos of leaves and butterflies, and the same three walks repeated ad infinitum, it’s sometimes hard to come up with titles you haven’t used before. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

**Although, now, of course, you’ve had it. What are you complaining about?

The Trouble with Lichen*.

Yellow Berries

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Looking south along the coast from Heathwaite.

October half-term. Some very mixed weather, if I remember right. I stuck to local walks. Actually, the weather was sometimes better than expected, and then I felt a bit cheated, because I could have gone further afield, but in truth we were probably getting better weather here on the coast than I would have experienced in the hills, so local walks weren’t a bad choice after all.

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A lot of weather out in the Bay.

These photos are from a short outing up Arnside Knott. An ascent of the Knott, or a walk around the coast to Arnside, or some combination of the two are my go to walks these days, especially when there’s some drama in the skies.

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Crow.
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Gummer How and Whitbarrow from Arnside Knott. No sign of the Lakeland Fells beyond.
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Fungi.

I’ve joined a few Faceache groups, a butterflies and moths one, obviously, a plant ID one, and a fungi of the world one. I think the latter made me more conscious of the huge amount and diversity of fungi on display locally last autumn.

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More fungi.

I took loads of photos on this walk, and through the week generally. The ones I took on this day mostly weren’t very sharp. Maybe it was a gloomy day, although there were definitely some periods of blue sky…

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Autumnal-leaved Silver Birch.
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Yellow-berried Holly.

Finally, I was surprised to find this holly bush, which was liberally festooned with yellow berries. I wondered if it might be a cultivar, a garden escapee, but I’ve since read that yellow or orange berries are just a rare variation of our native holly.

Yellow Berries

Party Boat on the Saranac Lakes.

Adirondacks Day 7

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Our home for the day.

For our relatives a summer trip to the Adirondacks is as regular a summer fixture as our own visits to the Llyn Peninsula are for us. One tradition they’ve established is to rent a Pontoon, or Party, Boat and to spend a day on the Saranac Lakes.

Saranac Lakes Map.

This map gives some idea of the complexity of the Saranac chain of lakes. I liked this hand drawn one, because it picks out the Saranac 6. Incidentally, the body of water south of Ampersand Mountain is Ampersand Lake, which allegedly resembles an ampersand sign and hence gives its name to all of the many ‘ampersand’ features in the area.

To be honest, I’m a bit sketchy about our itinerary for the day, but I think we started at the marina on Lower Saranac Lake, travelled through First and Second Ponds and the lock on the Saranac River into Oseetah Lake, briefly into Lake Flower, retracing our route then into Middle Saranac Lake, via another lock, for lunch at Ampersand Beach. I’m not sure whether we ventured into Upper Saranac Lake or not. I do know that we stopped off at several islands for a bit of swimming and leaping into the water.

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Captain A at the helm.

Don’t let the blue skies fool you, there was a strong wind blowing and for the first time on our trip it was really quite cool.

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B takes the wheel.

It was great fun steering the boat and I think we all took a turn. It was safest when I was driving, not due to any nautical prowess on my part, but because that meant I wasn’t blundering about elsewhere on the boat. A couple of times I stood too close to the front, which over-balanced the boat, plunging the front under the water and leaving us all ankle deep. The boat seemed to handle that indignity with ease, but it was a bit alarming.

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‘Little’ S takes charge.

I didn’t take any photos of the locks sadly, each of which we had to go through twice, partly because I was steering on some of those occasions and partly because it was ‘all-hands-on-deck’ when we went through to ensure we didn’t bang into the locks, the lock walls or any other boats.

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W steering.

Given that the boat was essentially a very well-appointed raft, it was surprisingly nippy, although not when I was steering.

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Bluff Island (on the right).

The boys had been hearing all about Bluff Island, and potential feats of derring-do, ever since we booked our flights, but initially we took a look and promised them that we would come back later.

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Mist rising off the water – en route to First Pond.

Mist was rising off the Saranac River in a very atmospheric way, my photos don’t really do it justice.

A Bald Eagle flew along the channel ahead of us. It is in the photo below, but it’s so tiny you can’t really see it.

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Bald Eagle – honest!
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In a channel.
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Mind those buoys.

All of the channels, and some parts of the lakes too, are marked out with regular buoys to show where the water is deep enough. Never-the-less, some sections were very shallow, and that, combined with submerged rocks in places, meant some real caution was required at times.

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A view to Ampersand Mountain?

The boat had a fishing sonar and we had rods with us but I can’t recall anyone actually catching any fish at any point. Fishing was a regular activity during our trip. The boys did occasionally catch something, but not often. Their success rate was probably roughly on a par with Whitehouse and Mortimer, who seem to catch a solitary fish every episode.

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Lakeside Properties.

There were lots of amazing lakeside properties and speculating on how much they might cost became a keen topic of our conversation.

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Living on an island – oh boy we’re having fun.

Some of the properties were on their won private islands. In the photo above what you can see is the boathouse, the house itself is behind in the trees. The people sat outside in the sun on the patio looked very relaxed.

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Captain A’s dream home?

I remember that my brother-in-law was very taken with this rather trim looking island property.

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Lake views.
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Benches – very comfortable unless Mischief decided to share.

The boat was very comfortable. In the early part of the day lying down on a bench meant you were out of the wind, a definite bonus.

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More islands.

After we’d had lunch we came back to this island. There were people picnicking there so we anchored next to one of the adjacent islands and me and the boys swam to have an explore. The island had a couple of campgrounds – they seem to be dotted all over the area. They each have a fire-pit and a toilet and can be rented out.

The picnickers moved on, so we then swam to the rocky little island and I think the boys found some spots for jumping in.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, before we did all that, we landed at Ampersand Beach for lunch. The water is very shallow there and Captain A kicked the DBs overboard to tow the boat ashore…he may have been a pirate Captain in a previous existence.

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Towing the boat through the shallows to Ampersand beach.
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Ampersand beach and Ampersand Mountain?

In some ways this photo is one of several which neatly encapsulate our visit to the Adirondacks: stunning scenery, beautiful beach, nobody about.

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Beached.
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More Lake Views.
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And more.

We’d promised the boys a trip to Bluff Island and we made good on our promise, despite some misgivings. The next two photos are actually videos, if you click on them you’ll be able to watch them on flickr.

First, W and M jumping from a great height…

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The mega leap.

And then the DBs leaping from far too high…

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The mega-mega leap.

This seems to be a very well known spot, but not a challenge many take on. The DBs gathered a bit of an audience of other boatloads when they jumped.

After doing this jump a couple of times each, the DBs declared themselves satisfied. We motored a short distance to a spot with some rather more sedate opportunities for jumping in, tame enough that even I gave it a go.

We had a deadline for returning the boat, and all the other rentals must have been working to the same timings because as we headed into the marina there was a bit of a race to get in and secure a berth.

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Heading back to the marina.

An absolutely fantastic day which will live long in the memory.

Party Boat on the Saranac Lakes.

Exploring Stony Creek Pond

Adirondacks Day 2

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Green Frog

This handsome frog was sheltering under the paddle boards by the shore of the pond the next morning. I thought it might be an American Bullfrog, but they’re huge, up to 8 inches I’ve read. I think this is the very similar, but smaller, Green Frog. The dorsolateral ridges running from the head down the sides of the torso are a distinguishing feature apparently.

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Green Frog.

I think that this is a male, because the ear – the tympanic membrane – is larger than the gorgeous golden eye.

TBH and I needed another shortish outing because of our plans for the afternoon.

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B and M share a paddle board.

So we took to the water again.

Here’s the pond…

Stony Creek Pond.

We were staying on the north side of the southern most bulb – we canoed northwards, past a beaver lodge, under the bridge, which required a bit of care, up beyond the little island almost to the northern extremity of the pond.

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Little S taking it easy.
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Prof A.
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Our destination – a tiny beach.

We were heading for this little beach. The lake bed here was firm and sandy – perfect for swimming. By the boathouse the lake has a deep layer of very soft silt, which makes getting out for a swim a bit awkward, without a paddle board.

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W arriving.

The trees to W’s right are growing on the small island, where there was a Bald Eagle nest. Prof A challenged us to swim to the island and, I think, was a bit surprised when B and I accepted the challenge. It wasn’t all that far, maybe a 500m round trip, at a guess. The island is private, so we didn’t quite go the whole way. We didn’t see any eagles, but we had a good view of the nest.

Once back, I had a bit of a wander. Close by there was a picnic table and a fire-pit – I think this was one of the campgrounds which seem to be scattered around the area – they can be rented at relatively low cost I believe.

There were dragonflies and damselflies of various sizes and colours about. I took numerous blurred photos of a mating pair of damselflies, the male was a lovely combination of royal blue and mauve. I failed too with an orange dragonfly and an electric blue damselfly similar to those I see close to home.

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Calico Pennant Dragonfly.

I chased this dragonfly along the edge of the lake, but at least I got some relatively sharp shots. I’m reasonably confident with my identification, although online descriptions say that the markings on the body are ‘orange triangles’, whereas to me they look like red hearts.

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Calico Pennant Dragonfly.

Which reminds me of a blogger I once knew who found heart-shapes everywhere.

I was fascinated too by the plants and fungi under the trees. Although they were all unfamiliar, I was trying to figure out their place in the ecosystem by analogy with the things I see around home. For example…

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Berry.

This plant with its single layer of large leaves and what must have been a single central flower put me in mind of our own Herb Paris.

Time was marching on, and I turned to go back along the fringe of the lake to the boats when I was startled by this monster…

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A Fishing Spider.

In retrospect, it perhaps wasn’t quite as big as it seemed, but it was still, by some distance, the biggest spider I’ve seen in the wild. Feisty too: it kept waving two of its legs at me in a very aggressive fashion, or, at least, it seemed that way.

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A nursery net spider. Notice all of the ghostly baby spiders in the nest.

I think it’s a Striped Fishing Spider, Dolomedes Scriptus. There’s a very similar species, the Dark Fishing Spider, Dolomedes Tenebrosus, but although this spider looks dark, I think that may be more to do with the fact that it was in the shade.

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A beady eye.

Fishing Spiders don’t use a nest for hunting, but the female carries her eggs around in a silken sac before building a nest for her brood when they hatch. That probably explains the aggression. This nest was pretty big. They are also one of the species of spider which practice sexual cannibalism, with the female devouring the male after mating.

I gather that, as the name suggests, Fishing Spiders can hunt in or under the water, eating tadpoles, small fish and insects which live in the water or on the surface. They also hunt in the woods surrounding the lake however.

Talking of hunting…

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A damselfly becomes a meal.

…this damselfly has fallen prey to this fly, which is not too dissimilar from the one in my previous post. During the damselfly’s death throes the pair of them landed on my hat.

The reason we needed a short outing, was that TBH and I had a long drive in prospect. Our daughter A was also in the States, working as a Camp Counsellor at a Summer Camp in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts. A was keen to see her uncle, aunt and cousins whilst she was stateside. She could get a 24 hour pass and somehow TBH had convinced herself that West Stockbridge was about an hour-and-half’s drive from where we were staying. When we looked it up again, our app was giving three-and-a-half hours. Each way. And that was before the many wrong turns we took. It was a long day.

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West Stockbridge Shaker Mill.

This was the only photo I took in West Stockbridge. The following day, when we had to repeat the long journey to take A back, TBH and I had a wander around the wonderful Turnpark sculpture park, which was closed, but not locked-up. It was fantastic and I really should have taken lots of photos. Next time!

Whilst we were shouting at the satnav, Prof A took the boys bouldering. Or perhaps that was the next day, maybe they were shopping for a new toy. Or playing with that toy?

Exploring Stony Creek Pond

Around Threshthwaite Cove.

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Hartsop Dodd. My route followed the wall up to the ridge and then the skyline to the top.

A couple of weeks after my last outing, so mid-June, and I was out relatively early and parked in the small, free car-park in the hamlet of Hartsop. The car-park was already filling up despite the early hour. The earlyish start and my choice of route – short and not too far from home – were due to my plans for the afternoon.

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Colourful Lichen. Possibly Red Crest (or British Soldier) Lichen.
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Looking along Patterdale to Ullswater.
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Grey Crag (on the right).
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The long wooded ridge of Hartsop above How and Brothers Water.

After a very grey start, the clouds began to break-up and the sun could poke through, making for some glorious views.

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Pano. Ullswater, Place Fell, Brock Crags, Rest Dodd, Grey Crag, Hartsop Dodd.
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The hills around Dovedale: High Hartsop Dodd, Little Hart Crag, Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Fairfield, Cofa Pike, Dollywaggon Pike, and Hartsop above How.
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Patterdale Pano.

Once the sun appeared I started to see a number of what I thought were day-flying moths. In flight, they looked quite dark, and I thought they might be Chimney Sweeper moths, or at least something similar. But then I noticed one land and open it’s wings…

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Mountain Ringlet.

They were Mountain Ringlets! Not the most pre-possessing butterfly, I’ll admit, but very exciting none-the-less. In England, they are only found in the Lake District and are quite elusive. In many years of walking in the Lakes, I’ve never seen them before. Actually, this wasn’t the first one I saw, or attempted to photograph that morning. Despite the fact that the grass was very short, when they dropped down into it they seemed to disappear, and if I approached, hoping to spot them and get a photo, they were shy and would fly-off.

I was lucky with the change in the weather:

“The adults are highly active only in bright sunshine but can be disturbed from the ground even in quite dull weather. They keep low to the ground in short flights, pausing regularly to bask amongst grass tussocks or feed on the flowers of Tormentil or┬áHeath Bedstraw.”

Source

There was lots of Bedstraw flowering, but my efforts to photograph the tiny white flowers weren’t very successful. I assumed that I would continue to see Mountain Ringlets during the rest of the walk, but I didn’t – they were prolific around the summit of Hartsop Dodd, but after that, no more.

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Caudale Head, Caudale Quarry and Red Screes.

Caudale Moor, John Bell’s Banner, Stony Cove Pike – are there any other hills in the Lakes which glory in three different titles? I always think of it as Stony Cove Pike whereas Wainwright goes with Caudale Moor. Although I’ve climbed it many times over the years, it has often been from the Kirkstone Pass, when time has been short. I’ve never had a poke around Caudale Quarry, or climbed any of the ridges which rise on the Troutbeck side, so plenty of scope for further exploration.

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Looking back to Hartsop Dodd.

I was supposed to be in a hurry, but the long steady climb to Stony Cove Pike followed a ramshackle drystone wall, perfect territory for Wheatears. I took lots of photos, all of females oddly, of which this was my favourite…

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Wheatear, female.

The sun had disappeared behind a cloud again, so the light wasn’t ideal, but by now I was in full ‘birding’ mode. There were Crows, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks about too to try to capture, although generally not as close at hand as the Wheatears.

Wheatears, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks will all sing in flight. I think that this songster was a Skylark…

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Skylark.
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Skylark.

This was definitely a Skylark, the crest is the giveaway, unusually singing from a perch.

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From Stoney Cove Pike: High Street and Thornthwaite Crag.

The sun was shining again, so I sat on the summit to enjoy the views and eat my lunch.

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From Stoney Cove Pike: Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke.
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Thornthwaite Crag.
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Thornthwaite Crag pano.
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Threshthwaite Mouth and Threshthwaite Crag on Caudale Moor.

I had half-planned to include Thornthwaite Crag on my circuit, but the dawdling I been doing, photographing butterflies and birds, did not fit well with my plans so I took the lazy option, a small path which climbed very easily onto the ridge for Grey Crag.

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I’d run out of water, but found a tiny rivulet crossing the slopes here and refilled my bottle. For my birthday, TBH had bought me a water bottle which includes a filter….

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…the chunky white cylinder you can see inside the bottle. To be fair, I’ve been drinking water from Lake District streams with no ill effects for years, but the filter does give some added peace of mind.

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Threshthwaite Mouth, Threshthwaite Crag, Caudale Moor.
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Rest Dodd, The Knott, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike.
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Along the ridge to Grey Crag.

The wind had really picked-up, and I had to stop to shove on an extra layer.

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Threshthwaite Cove.

Some hike stats: around 6 miles and 700m of climbing according to MapMyWalk.

Three Wainwrights: Hartsop Dodd, Caudale Moor, Grey Crag.

My plans for the afternoon? To settle down in front of the googlebox and watch Leicester Tigers trounce Saracens in the Premiership Final. It was a bit tense for a while there, but the result came out right in the end.

Around Threshthwaite Cove.

Whit’s End III

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Hawes Water.

Into June. A slightly longer local walk this time, to Hawes Water and the limestone pavements of Gait Barrows.

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Peacock Butterfly on Bird’s-eye Primrose.
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Peacock Butterfly on Bird’s-eye Primrose.
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Bird’s-eye Primroses.
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Female Damselfly. I think one of the forms of Blue-tailed Damselfly, which come in several colours.
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And my best guess is that this is another form of the same, with its green thorax and lilac ninth segment of its abdomen. Even my field guide admits that female Blue-tailed Damselflies are ‘confusing’.
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Bird’s-eye Primroses and a bug, possibly Oedemera lurida. But equally, probably not.
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Common Blue Damselfly, male.
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Blue-tailed Damselfly, male.
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A gaggle of geese.
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A holey leaf. Guelder Rose I think.

I took a lot of photos of partially devoured leaves this spring; I was amazed by the extent to which they could be eaten and not collapse, whilst still remaining recognisably leaves. I never saw any creatures which were evidently munching on the foliage. Maybe it happens at night.

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Scorpion Fly, male.
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Bird’s-eye Primrose again. With possibly Oedemera lurida again?
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Northern Marsh Orchid.
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Yellow Rattle.
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Germander Speedwell.
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Micro Moth on Yellow Rattle.

In the grassland at Gait Barrows these tiny moths hop about, making short flights around your feet, landing in the grass and apparently disappearing when they land. Close examination sometimes reveals that they have aligned their bodies with a blade of grass or a plant stem and are thus well-hidden. I was lucky, on this occasion, to get a better view.

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I think that this might be a sawfly, but I’m not even confident of that, let alone what kind of sawfly.
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Angular Solomon’s Seal.
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Angular Solomon’s Seal.
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Bloody Crane’s-bill growing in a gryke.
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Lily-of-the-valley.

I met a couple who were holidaying in the area, mainly to see butterflies, but they were looking for the Lady’s-slipper Orchids. I took them to the spot where, for a while, they grew abundantly, but there was nothing there to show them. Such a shame. At least I know that they are growing more successfully elsewhere in the region, but I don’t know where. I think the consensus is that the spot where they were planted on the limestone was too dry.

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Brown Silver-line Moth.
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Dark Red Helleborine, I think. Not yet flowering.
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Maidenhair Spleenwort.
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Lilies-of-the-valley.

The lack of Lady’s-slipper Orchids was in some way compensated by an abundance of Lily-of-the-valley. In my experience, although there are always lots of the spear-like leaves, flowers tend to be in short supply. This year there were lots. I must have timed my visit well.

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Tired Painted Lady.
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Painted Ladies: they have Union Jacks on their faces.

This is from a couple of days later from a neighbour’s garden. We had an afternoon buffet and an evening barbecue to celebrate the jubilee. Being a fervent monarchist, obviously, I was full of enthusiasm for a party. Especially since the weather was so warm and summery. Well…I’m all for extra Bank Holidays. And get togethers with the neighbours, particularly if I’m excused from decorating as a result!

Whit’s End III

Red Screes, Middle Dodd and Scandale

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Roundhill Farm and the start of the Red screes ridge, taken from above Stock Ghyll.

Easter Saturday. I’d been thinking that when I’ve climbed Red Screes in the past, I’ve almost always done it from the top of the Kirkstone Pass. What’s-more, I’d never climbed it via the long ridge which extends southwards towards Ambleside.

I’d dropped B off for a shift at Brockholes again, which meant quite a late start, and a reasonably early finish, so Ambleside, close to Brockholes, and with many parking options, seemed like a sensible place to begin my walk. The forecast had suggested low cloud initially, soon clearing, and I was quite surprised to see that the surrounding hills were still mostly enveloped.

There’s a track out of Ambleside which heads towards the Kirkstone and I took it as far as the farm house at Low Grove, where I dropped a little to cross Stock Ghyll and then through another farmyard at Roundhill Farm before walking a little way up the Kirkstone Road to find the path onto the ridge.

The ridge ahead was still cloaked in cloud, but at least there were views of Ambleside and Windermere opening up behind…

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Loughrigg, Rydal Water and Nab Scar.
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The path ahead.
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Wansfell Pike and Windermere.
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Flesh Crags.

It’s a long steady plod up the ridge, never very steep. Of course, it was another windy day, but nothing like as windy as many other days have been lately. The path skirted around to the left of the crags ahead and somewhere in amongst the crags I found a lovely sheltered spot for a drink, a snack and to admire the views.

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Brock Crags, Low Pike and High Pike on the Fairfield Horseshoe.

Whilst I sat there, the clouds continued to lift. At first the Coniston Fells appeared, then Crinkle Crags and Bowfell. Bizarrely, I could see the Scafells before the Langdale Pikes appeared. Closer to hand, most of the Fairfield Horseshoe had cleared, but it looked like Red Screes itself was stubbornly clinging on to a blanket of clouds.

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Coniston and Langdale Fells, Loughrigg and Rydal Water.
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Frogspawn.
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Red Screes. Taken from the vicinity of Snarker Pike (great name, I thought).
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Looking back to Snarker Pike.

Messers Wainwright and Birkett both decided to omit Snarker Pike from their (arbitrary) lists, but it is a Synge, with it’s magnificent six metres of prominence. Apparently there are 647 Synges in the Lake District. I think the Wainwrights and the Birketts are enough to keep me occupied for now, but I do like a list, so who knows?

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Looking down to the Kirkstone Inn.

I’d seen very few people on the ridge until I was almost at the top, when it suddenly seemed to get quite busy, with several groups heading down the way I had come up and also quite a few people arriving on the top from various directions at much the same time as I did.

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Middle Dodd. Patterdale beyond.

I’d decided to bag Middle Dodd whilst I was in the neighbourhood. Rude not to. It was a slightly strange way to do it, since I essentially descended to the top!

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Brothers Water and Place Fell from Middle Dodd.

There are some quite odd little hollows near to the top of Middle Dodd, where I was once again able to get out of the wind for more refreshments.

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Little Hart Crag and Dove Crag from Middle Dodd..
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Red Screes from Middle Dodd.

I’d felt pretty sure that there would be a path contouring around from Middle Dodd towards the top of the Scandale Pass, which did prove to be the case. It wasn’t a very major path, and there were odd sections of crag and bog to negotiate, but it was reasonable walking.

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Thack Bottom Edge, Scandale Head, Low Bakestones and Dove Crag. More great names.
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Little Hart Crag. Nearer to Dove Crag than to Hart Crag which has always seemed a bit odd to me.

Originally, I’d planned to walk down Scandale, because I’d been looking at it on the map and thinking that I’d never been that way before. But then, looking at the map again, it had occurred to me that I could ‘nip up’ Little Hart Crag, and then ‘nip up’ Dove Crag and come down via High Pike and Low Pike and thus turn a Two Wainwright Day (not bad) into a Six Wainwright Day (stellar). However, when I reached the top of the Scandale Pass the former option seemed much more attractive. It had turned quite grey again, the wind was howling through the pass and the thought of the substantial re-ascent onto Dove Crag was not appealing to me at all. In truth, I’m not sure that different conditions would have made any difference: my heart just wasn’t in it. And I wanted to walk down Scandale.

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Scandale.
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Looking back up Scandale to Little Hart Crag.
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And how was it? Well – the track took me too far from Scandale Beck for my liking. The map shows a path on the other side of the beck – I think I’ll give that a go the next time I come this way. I did enjoy the views though.

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Low Pike and High Pike.
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High Brock Crags and Low Brock Crags. I’m intrigued – I wonder how these parallel lines of crags were formed?
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High Pike again.
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Brock Crags, Low Pike, High Pike pano.
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High Sweden Bridge.

Around High Sweden Bridge there were loads of Primroses flowering. The sun began to break through. I took off a layer. What followed was definitely my favourite part of the day.

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Primroses.
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Wood Sorrel.
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Golden Saxifrage and Common Sorrel leaves.

Wood Sorrel and Common Sorrel are not related, or even in any way very similar, except their leaves both have a pleasant citrusy flavour. Since they were growing cheek by jowl in the woods here, I was able to compare – for my money, the Common Sorrel edges it, but both are very refreshing.

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As I came down the track, approaching the outskirts of Ambleside, a Jay dropped to the ground not far in front of me. I watched it for a while, then turned to take a photo of Loughrigg and Nab Scar again…

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When I turned back, the Jay was boldly displaying itself in a fallen tree. Normally such a shy bird, the Jay didn’t seem very bothered by my presence. Briefly, it was joined by a second Jay. It was very frustrating that I didn’t have my ‘birding’ camera with me. By using the digital zoom, I managed to get shots on my phone which are at least recognisably a Jay, even if they are very blurred. I was able to watch the Jay for quite some time before it eventually flew away.

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The fallen tree.
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Coming down into Ambleside.

It was a bit of a shock, on reaching Ambleside, to find that the usual crowds were there, tucking into ice-creams, which seemed incongruous on what had been another cold day in the hills.

MapMyWalk gives a little over 10 miles and almost exactly 800 metres of ascent (I would that think that 700m is nearer the mark).

Red Screes, Middle Dodd and Scandale