Watch Me Now

Far Arnside – Park Point – White Creek – Blackstone Point – New Barns – Arnside – Arnside Moss – Black Dyke – Far Waterslack – Waterslack – The Row – Hagg Wood

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House Sparrow

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Newly-laid hedge by Townsfield.

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Primroses on the bank on Cove Road.

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Hazel Catkins.

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Marsh Tit.

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Daffodils in the woods near Far Arnside.

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Green hellebore in amongst the daffs.

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Grange and Hampsfell.

The tide was well out, the mud unusually firm, so I did something I don’t often do and walked away from the shore on a beeline for Hampsfell on the far side of the Kent, only turning inland again as the sand started to drop towards the river channel.

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Park Point.

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Redshank.

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Arnside Knott from New Barns.

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I had what I am now beginning to think of as my Birding Camera with me and wasn’t using my phone for once. Along the estuary I had some fun photographing a Cormorant which was fishing, a number of Redshanks, a Corvid, probably a Crow, which was tussling with what looked like a plastic bag half-embedded in the far bank of the river, and nearby another Crow vigorously bathing in the shallow margin of the river.

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I know that birds bathe, we have a birdbath sited just beyond the window I’m currently sat beside and I’ve often watched Blackbirds dipping into it, but this seemed a little more out of the ordinary.

The camera helped me to identify a pair of Goosanders which were fishing in the channel…

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Here, the male, on the right, has caught a small flatfish.

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Whitbarrow Scar, the Kent, the viaduct.

On the wall of a small, abandoned quarry close to Arnside I noticed some heather flowering…

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It’s the wrong time of year for our native heathers, but the heathers in our garden are flowering too so I guess this is an interloper.

I’m still feeling the after-affects of the virus which laid me low last week, so I chose to follow the Kent for a while beyond Arnside, and then by cutting back across Arnside Moss and following the field path beside Black Dyke managed to almost completely avoid the need to struggle uphill.

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In the woods near Middlebarrow Quarry a pigeon-sized bird ghosted past my shoulder, swooped low and then banked steeply to land noiselessly on a branch ahead of me. This was no wood pigeon however, a bird incapable of doing anything silently.

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I think that this is another female Sparrowhawk, although, as ever, I stand ready to be corrected.

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Silverdale Moss.

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Trees near Hagg Wood.

This photo…

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…was taken several days before any of the others in this post. We’ve had Roe Deer in the garden again a few times recently. On this occasion there were, briefly, four of them, despite the fact that Roe Der are often reported to be solitary creatures. All males I think. I wanted to include the picture because it shows how furry this buck’s new antlers are. It looks as if he had spotted me. Certainly, just after I took this photo, he bounded over the hedge into our neighbour’s garden.

I’m reading ‘I Put A Spell On You’ by John Burnside at the moment. It’s a very unusual book, which I think I bought solely because of the title and it’s reference to the Screaming Jay Hawkins song, which I’m more familiar with in the versions by Nina Simone and especially Creedence Clearwater Revival. I don’t know, in honesty, quite what to make of the book, but I couldn’t help but mentally underline this passage…

“…it comes to me that, at moments like this, yes, but also in some far off place at the back of my head, I am, in some modest and ineffable way, supremely happy. Or perhaps not happy so much as given to fleeting moments of good fortune, the god-in-the-details sense of being obliged and permitted to inhabit a persistently surprising and mysterious world.”

So perhaps this post’s title should have come from that passage, but instead, having contrived to find a walk almost without any contours, I chose the purloin the title from The Contours big hit.

“Do you love me?
(I can really move)
Do you love me?
(I’m in the groove)
Ah, do you love?
(Do you love me)
Now that I can dance
(Dance)

Watch me now, oh….”

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Watch Me Now

Such A Night

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The much reported snow and ice barely made it to this part of the West Coast, although when it did arrive it was oddly localised and, for example, Silverdale got quite a bit more snow than nearby Lancaster. These photos are from a quick walk on the Wednesday. We’d had one very heavy flurry of snow on the Tuesday evening and some more lighter falls thereafter and by Wednesday morning we had quite an accumulation. Not sufficient to keep us at home, sadly. The sun shone for much of the day and although it was cold, much of the snow had thawed by the time I got out for a late circuit around The Cove and The Lots.

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Redshanks.

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Inevitable Cove sunset.

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Ashmeadow House.

Later, I took A to Arnside for a piano lesson and had time for a short, and very chilly, stroll along the promenade and beside the River Kent.

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I should probably explain the convoluted way in which I arrived at the post’s inappropriate title: for the previous post which eventually ended up accompanied by ‘True Love Travels on a Gravel Road’, I also considered ‘Walk On Guilded Splinters’ and although I eventually rejected that choice, I then found myself listening to a few other Dr John songs, including, eventually, ‘Such A Night’….

Such A Night

True Love Travels…

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Shingle beach at Far Arnside.

Suddenly, I’m a behind again. This images are from a fortnight ago; one of those BWOOs (Brief Window of Opportunity) where I found myself with a couple of hours to spare on a sunny Saturday afternoon. At this remove, the images look quite spring-like, and there were plenty of primroses on the bank on Cove Road where they always seem to appear earlier than anywhere else…

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But in truth, the wind was stiff and Siberian, a herald of the snows which would arrive later in the week.

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Buzzard.

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Meathop Fell seen across the Kent Estuary.

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Bullfinch.

I opted for a slight variation on an old favourite – following the coast past Far Anrside and White Creek to New Barns, near to Arnside, but then climbing over the Knott and home again.

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Arnside Knott panoramas (click on photos for larger versions)

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I’m always tempted to photograph the pale shingle at Far Arnside, and this time I did…

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…which set me thinking about the various surfaces I would traverse on my walk.

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Wet sand.

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…with or without shells…

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Harder, drier, ridged sand.

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Leaves and twigs in the woods.

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Mud on the Knott.

This…

…seemed like a suitable musical accompaniment. Apparently, the song was first popularised by Elvis and Percy Sledge also had a hit with it, but it’s this version by Nick Lowe which I know.

I could, and should, have extended the walk but rushed back to watch the Calcutta Cup on the gogglebox. For England Rugby fans true love certainly travels by a gravel road.

 

True Love Travels…

Henry’s Pebble Art

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The day after our Garburn Pass outing. I had to wait in for a plumber (who embarrassingly, when he eventually turned up, spent about two minutes tightening a nut, or tightening something anyway, barely long enough to drink his cup of tea). But I digress: as I said, I had to be in for the plumber in the early afternoon. In the morning, it rained, but I steeled myself and went for a wander anyway, just around the local lanes. It wasn’t particularly pleasant; one of our friends even took pity on me and stopped his car to offer me a lift, but I enjoyed being out, cocooned in my waterproofs. Eventually, it even slacked off, and then dried up altogether.

Close to the Wolfhouse Gallery, I spotted a Tree-creeper, the first I’ve seen for a while. I even tried to take a photo, but with just the camera phone and the gloomy conditions and a very shy bird, that was always doomed to failure.

These Cyclamen…

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…flowering on the verge on Lindeth Road were a little more obliging.

By the time our boiler’s leak was fixed, the weather had changed dramatically. I still had time for a turn around Eaves Wood…

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Silverdale from Castlebarrow. Note the snow on the Bowland Fells.

Before heading down to the Cove, for once, timing it right to arrive shortly before the sunset.

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Recently, there always seem to have been much the same birds evident on the muddy beaches by the Cove. A group of Shelduck, as many as forty sometimes, but just a couple on this occasion. A large flock of Oystercatchers, sitting in a tight group, in the same spot each time, out along the stream which flows away from the Cove. And some small waders closer in shore, I assume Redshanks.

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This pebble art was on one of the benches on the cliff path above the Cove.

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I haven’t posted it to FB, because I’ve always hoped that my posts there are private and only accessible to my friends. So I’ve posted it here instead, where perhaps it won’t get the exposure which the obviously talented Henry deserves, but maybe, somehow or other, the images will find their way back to Henry. Feel free to pass them on in any way which you feel is appropriate.

 

Henry’s Pebble Art

Sunday Triptych: an Early Outing.

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Saturday was another grey and damp day. I was taken in by the hype and watched the Six Nations opener, Scotland versus Wales, expecting a close match. Then was out for a late walk in the rain and the gloom and eventually dark.

When I woke up early on the Sunday and looked out to see completely clear skies, it was too good to resist and set off for a circuit of Hawes Water before the usual Underley Rugby trip.

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When I set off the moon was still high in the sky, although it wasn’t as dark as this photo suggests, since I’d switched the camera to black and white mode and dialled the exposure down to minimum, which seems to give best results.

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From Eaves Wood I could see mist rising off the land and the sky lightening in the East.

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Near Hawes Water, out of the trees, there had clearly been a sharp frost.

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Roe Deer Buck.

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Cormorants.

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This ruin in the trees by the lake has long been surrounded by a high fence and Rhododendrons. Both have now been removed, although to what end I don’t know.

I was aware that the sun had come up, although I couldn’t see it, or feel its warmth, because it was painting the trees on the slope above me in a golden light.

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Hawes Water.

Back to the house, quick cup of tea, off to rugby.

 

Sunday Triptych: an Early Outing.

Listed Lancaster: Town Hall

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On Thursday I had a parents’ evening, so had a couple of hours between finishing teaching and starting work again. I was eating my tea in the staffroom (very nice if I do say so myself: coronation chicken and a couple of salads) when I noticed that the light coming through the windows was glorious. I rushed up to Castle Hill but was too late for the sunset.

Castle Hill has a good view across Morecambe to the bay and the hills of the Lake District beyond, but it also has a fine view across the town.

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Here’s the view again, but this time from Friday lunchtime.

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You can make out three prominent tall buildings: the Ashton Memorial almost hidden by the branches of the tree, the tall spire of the Cathedral and the clock tower of the Town Hall. All of those are listed buildings as are pretty much all of the houses in the area around the Castle.

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Because time was short, I cut my usual route short, leaving out the canal, which gave me a chance to visit the Town Hall, where the low light was challenging for photography. The next day, I went back, but now the very bright sun was behind the building, which didn’t help much either.

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Pretty grand isn’t it? Quite nice inside too. It was built in the early part of the Twentieth Century and was designed by Edward Mountford, who also designed the Old Bailey. Apparently this is in the Edwardian Baroque style which he was noted for. That’s Edward VII in the middle of the carved figures. His mum is commemorated in the statue in Dalton Square in front of the town hall…

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The statue is from 1906 and is also listed, but there’s a lot of detail here to photograph, so I’ll come back another time.

That’s it for last week’s Lancaster strolls, except for the fact that I almost forgot the best moment: on Thursday lunchtime, when the sun was shining, I’d just joined the canal towpath when an unmistakable metallic green sheen, not dissimilar to the verdigris on Queen Vic only shinier, alerted me to a Kingfisher flying low over the water. First one I’ve seen in a couple of years. Marvellous.

Listed Lancaster: Town Hall

Towards the Waking

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – Ring O’Beeches – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Thrang Brow – Yealand Allotment – Yealand Storrs – Leighton Hall – Summer House Hill – Warton Crag – Crag Foot – Quaker’s Stang – Heald Brow – Woodwell – The Green

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The forecast for last weekend wasn’t dreadful, but it didn’t create much gleeful anticipation either – it was for dry weather, but cloudy and dull. Actually, on the Saturday morning (when I was busy) there was a bit of sunshine, but when I got out for a walk in the afternoon it was so gloomy that I didn’t bother to take any photos at all.

On the Sunday morning, neither of the boys were playing rugby and I had contemplated setting off early and heading out for a walk in the hills, but, given the forecast, decided to walk from home instead. I was still out quite early, in time to catch the sunrise from Castlebarrow, by the Pepper Pot, or so I thought, but perhaps due to the cloud low in the eastern sky, the sun didn’t actually appear until I was heading through the woods towards the Ring O’Beeches.

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I suppose it was the low trajectory of the winter sun which enabled me to apparently take several sunrise photos, each from a new vantage point, with probably about 50 yards between them.

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This was a bit of a surprise: pale blue sky and clear sight of the sun.

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From the boardwalk by Hawes Water, Challan Hall was catching the early light. Two Cormorants were interrupted by my presence and circled above the lake, before roosting in their usual spot in the dead tree on the far shore.

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Hawes Water and Challan Hall.

In the fields near Hawes Water, I was entertained by a pair of Buzzards, one of which eventually  flew across my view, tantalisingly close to my lens, but sadly the only photograph I was quick enough to take came out blurred beyond recognition.

I was a little concerned that the forecast had misled me into making a poor choice and thought that a short diversion to the minor hummock of Thrang Brow would give me a clearer idea. I haven’t been there for a while; it has a view of the Lakeland hills, although nothing to rival the view from Arnside Knott or Haverbrack. Or rather, sometimes it has a view of the Lakeland hills; on this occasion I couldn’t see anything much beyond Arnside Knott and even that was a bit lost in the haze.

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Arnside Knott from Thrang Brow.

I’m glad I went that way though, because then I remembered a small trod which wends it’s way through the woods and limestone pavements of Yealand Allotment and which I haven’t followed for quite some time.

My original plan, when I reached Yealand Storrs, had been to follow the road for a while and then climb into Cringlebarrow Woods, but for some reason I decided instead to cross the road and follow the path across the fields towards Leighton Hall. I hoped that the fields might have dried out a bit after a relatively rain-free week, but actually the going was very heavy. My hastily amended plan involved turning left at Leighton Hall Farm to cut up to Deepdale and so to Cringlebarrow Woods that way, but I could hear heavy machinery in operation and, thinking that there was some tree-felling underway, changed my mind again. Past the Hall and up Summer House Hill it was.

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Leighton Hall and Leighton Moss from Summer House Hill.

The view from Summer House Hill can be a cracker, but once again, anything at all distant was looking a little murky.

The field at the top of the hill had bluey-green, or greeny-blue….stuff…spread across the surface…

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This…

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…is the base of the former summer house which gives the hill its name. It had been very liberally…blued…

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Does anybody have any idea what this is?

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I’d just said hello to a couple who were walking with their dog, when I was surprised to see a Jay sitting calmly in a tree relatively close by. It’s not that I don’t see jays – I do – but that having seen them, I then usually almost immediately lose sight of them, because they are generally very shy and soon make themselves scarce. Since this one didn’t fly off, I thought I would play my customary cat-and-mouse game of edging forward with my camera and taking another photo every couple of strides. To my surprise, the Jay flew  toward me, down to the ground and then continued to hop in my direction before stopping to grub around in the leaf litter.

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It was a shame that the sun wasn’t still shining: Jays are so unlike their monotone Corvid cousins, with their pink and blue plumage and their striped head.

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Fortunately, the sun was soon shining again, if perhaps a little weakly in the haze.

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Peter Lane Lime Kiln.

Lime Kilns are a bit of a feature of the area and I often pass them on walks, but rarely remember to take photos of them.

The same could be said of sheep…

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…these few stood out because they are of an unusual breed for this area (I can’t work out which).

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Warton Crag’s Easter Island Heads.

There’s been a fair bit of tree-felling near the top of Warton Crag, which I think will take a little while to get used to. The view from the top was predictably limited…

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River Keer from Warton Crag.

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More Tree-felling.

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Quicksand Pool and Quaker’s Stang.

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Brown’s House and the ‘smelting’ chimney from Quaker’s Stang.

For the last part of my walk the sun came out again.

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Warton Crag and the salt-marsh from Heald Brow.

I like this time of year: it’s still winter, with the possibility of snow and ice, which is fine, but it also feels like we’re sliding inexorably toward spring.

When all sap lies quiet and does not climb,
When all seems dead, I cultivate
The wild garden rioting in my memory,
Count in advance the treasures which
The sleeping sap contains,

And winter runs from now toward
The waking of the sap and spring.

from Garland for the Winter Solstice  by Ruthven Todd.

Towards the Waking