Buckbarrow and Seatallan

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The first day of our annual Mayday camping weekend in Wasdale and the party had split.  Well, some had not yet arrived, having opted to stay in Harrogate to watch the Tour de Yorkshire whizz by. Others, including most of the kids, had decided upon a trip to the Sellafield Visitor Centre. It closed years ago, but TBH had read on the internet that it had been reopened by Brian Cox and that he had described it as ‘awesome’. However, when they arrived at Sellafield they were greeted by high fences and stern security guards. It turned out that Professor Cox had been at the opening of a display at the Beacon Centre in Whitehaven, of which he had actually said: “The new exhibition is absolutely wonderful.” So they went to have a gander at St. Bees instead, having already visited the excellent ice-cream parlour in Seascale which the kids now regard as an essential part of the weekend. The photo above shows the rest of the party, just off the top of Buckbarrow enjoying a leisurely lunch-stop and snooze out of the cold wind. Well, not quite all of the rest of the party…

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…B didn’t fancy Sellafield. He didn’t really want to go for a walk either, truth be told, but had found some scrambling near the top of Buckbarrow and had really enjoyed himself. He didn’t think much to our lackadaisical approach and was racing around looking for more bits of crag to scamper up whilst we lazed around.

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Yewbarrows and the Scafells.

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Wasdale Screes.

From Buckbarrow the walk over Glede How and up Seatallan was a long steady pull.

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B on Seatallan – the black shadow on the horizon is the Isle of Mann.

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Great Gable, Yewbarrow and the Scafells from Seatallan.

By contrast, the descent from Seatallan to Greendale tarn was very steep. Old Father Sheffield, who seemed to be on a mission to climb every hill in the area, took the logical route from there over Middle Fell, while the rest of us took the lazier option down by the beck, meeting OFS again for the walk over the fields and back to Nether Wasdale.

A fine walk – you might even say ‘awesome’.

Buckbarrow and Seatallan

Place Fell

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Looking into Deepdale.

The last day of our Easter holiday (apart, that is for TBH who still had the rest of the week to look forward to). We had arranged a walk with our friends Dr R and her daughter E. Dr R is ticking off the Wainwrights and we needed a route which took in something new, but also gave the potential for meeting some none walking members of the party for tea and cake. I hit upon the idea of climbing Place Fell from Glenridding, descending to Howtown and returning on a Lake Steamer to Glenridding.

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Place Fell summit.

And a very fine walk it was, although it was very cold for our second lunch stop on the summit.

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I was pretty confident that this would be an enjoyable walk; it’s one I’ve done many times before, in particular, when we used to have family get-togethers at Easter in the Youth Hostel down below in Patterdale.

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Skimming Stones.

I’m pretty sure (and I will get around to looking it up eventually) that Place Fell has a fair smattering of Birketts, but I wasn’t too bothered about that today. I did however divert up High Dodd simply because it looked very inviting.

I was pleased I did because the view of Ullswater was excellent from there.

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Scalehow Beck from Low Dodd.

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Cascade on Scalehow Beck.

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This waterfall on Scalehow Beck looks like it is probably very dramatic, but it’s difficult to get a decent view of it from the path: the photo only shows the top of the fall.

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I was surprised to see that this tree, an oak, had come into leaf, because I’ve been watching for that to happen at home, but I was sure that it hadn’t.

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The walk around the shore from Sandwick to Howtown through Hallinhag Wood is delightful. And was enlivened for me by the appearance of a pair of Treecreepers, not a bird I see very often.

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Here in the woods, most of the trees were still bare, so this tree, in full leaf…

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…and a cheerful bright green – I think a Sycamore – really stood out.

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Arthur’s Pike and Bonscale Pike.

We arrived in Howtown with only a few minutes to spare before the 5 o’clock sailing of the Steamer and no time for the planned tea and cake interval there.

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But I think we all enjoyed the pleasure cruise. I know that I did!

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I’ve almost reneged on my promise of some ee cummings before the end of April, but after a trip to Howtown I can’t resist this:

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

Place Fell

Helvellyn

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Place Fell.

The children were, somewhat to my surprise, remarkably tolerant of my plan to have another ‘birthday hill-walk’ the day after our ascent of Pen-y-ghent. They were quite keen to tackle Whernside, but having looked at the forecast, it seemed that heading north to the Lakes would be a better bet for us. They were also adamant that the best part of our day on Pen-y-ghent, was the rocky south ridge, where they had strayed from the path looking for scrambling challenges. (They’d humoured my obsession with Purple Saxifrage without completely sharing it!)

So, where to take them next?

Helvellyn and Striding Edge seemed like the obvious choice. It had been lurking at the back of mind as one possibility for this Easter break, I think.

We were parked in Glenridding quite early, although we’d stopped en route to do a bit of shopping – the most urgent need being new boots for B, who it transpired had been wearing size 3 boots on his size 6 feet the day before.

I first took them up to Lanty’s Tarn, because one Easter, long ago, I saw it swarming with frogs. None in evidence on this occasion, but not to worry, from Lanty’s Tarn there’s a very quiet path up onto Birkhouse Moor which is less of a slog than the path from Grizedale or the Little Cove path, in my opinion at least.

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Just after meeting the Little Cove path we found a good, sheltered spot out of the cold wind for a bite to eat. The boys had learned from the previous days experience and had brought more food with them.

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Apparently, Lancashire is not the only county to have gone for an odd Easter holiday of the fortnight running up to the Easter weekend. However, whilst there were quite a few people about, Striding Edge was still a good deal quieter than I had anticipated…

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The children really relished the experience, taking the ‘ethical line’ as close to the crest as they could. As for me, doing this with my kids gave me a whole new perspective on Striding Edge – I’m sure it was never this narrow or exposed in the past!

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I’d warned them about the little down-climb at the end of the ridge before we got there. After we’d done it they asked if my prior knowledge was because I’d read up on the ridge in advance of our walk. So I explained that I’d been this way many times before, and was surprised at the resulting indignance: “Well, you’ve never brought us before!”

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I found the last little steep haul up to the top a bit wearisome. For the first time that day, the kids were leaving me behind and Little S, bless him, had to keep telling the other two to pause to wait for me.

It was a bit blowy on the summit…

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Near the coll between Swirral Edge and Catstye Cam we stopped again to guzzle tea and eat more lunch. I’d originally intended to Include Catstye Cam on the walk, but decided now that we would leave that for another time. I have a strong feeling that this is one walk the kids will want to repeat.

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We descended by Red Tarn Beck.

“Which one is your Birthday walk then Dad? Pen-y-ghent or Helvellyn?”

“Which would you choose?”

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They were unanimous, all plumping for Helvellyn. I can’t decide – can I have them both? It would set an excellent precedent.

Helvellyn

Grand Designs – An Igloo on Wansfell

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A superb forecast for the weekend had me thinking about getting out to The Lakes for a walk. TBH had already planned her own walk with a couple of friends, part of an ongoing scheme to keep in touch by walking together once a month. I thought I might initiate a similar programme and asked the Tower Captain how he was fixed. Having both recently escaped for an entire weekend, it fell to us to take responsibility for the ankle-biters. And the Tower Captain’s dogs.

Somehow, independently of each other, both groups lighted on Troutbeck as their choice of destination. And so it was, somewhat comically, that we were all parked next to each other, by Church Bridge heading for Troutbeck Tongue and Wansfell respectively.

We hadn’t set off particularly early, and Little S was immediately pestering me about stopping for lunch, which we duly did, not far above the village on Nanny Lane.

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It was surprisingly hot for late March. Further up the lane we spotted a Peacock butterfly, my first butterfly of the year. There was still some snow on the higher fells, however…

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Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke.

And when we came across a couple of isolated patches of snow, the boys were picking up lumps of it to suck on and rub on their foreheads and arms in order to cool down. (It wasn’t as hot as that suggests!)

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Red Screes, Stony Cove Pike and part of High Street.

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When we reached the highest point, some of us decided to sit down and drink in the view…

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Whilst the boys immediately started to build snowmen…

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Well, not just the boys…

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The Tower Captain suggested that there was sufficient snow for them to build an igloo. Some children might have spotted this for the sarcastic comment that it was no doubt intended to be, but B, typically, took it as a personal challenge.

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The Tower Captain tried to resist…

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…whilst B enlisted the other children’s help…

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…but soon he was embroiled in the construction project too…

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I supervised from a supine position. It’s possible that my eyes may have closed for a while, so that I could concentrate on the logistics of the situation, obviously.

Soon, B deemed that the igloo was complete and it was time to try it out. Plenty of room for Little S…

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…a bit tighter for B…

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Oh…

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I neglected to mention that B had incorporated a window into his design.

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The igloo was altogether more ‘cosy’ for the Junior Tower Captain…

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..and A…

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And when the Tower Captain tried to squeeze his not inconsiderable frame into the igloo…

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…the inevitable happened…

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…and much hilarity ensued. A captured the whole thing on video, and very funny it is too. Maybe she’ll get round to posting it on her own blog one of these days.

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Fairfield and its ridges.

We followed the ridge to Wansfell Pike, which is a better viewpoint than the actual summit, and more popular with visitors.

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We had intended to drop down to Ambleside and then come back round to Troutbeck via Jenkin Crag and Skelghyll Wood, but we were running short of time, so took a direct route back down onto Nanny Lane instead.

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The amazing display of daffodils in the churchyard of Jesus Church in Troutbeck.

Apparently, the walk on Troutbeck Tongue was very pleasant, but I can’t imagine it was as much fun as our outing.

Grand Designs – An Igloo on Wansfell

Tarns and Birketts above Grasmere

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Helm Crag and Seat Sandal above Grasmere.

Early December, I have a Monday off work; the school is closed, a one day holiday. Ordinarily, I would prefer not to have an extra day off in December, when daylight is short and the weather is likely to be ropey, but it seems that I am in a very tiny minority amongst my colleagues who voted to continue our recent practice of having a long weekend in December.

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But, as luck would have it, when the day came around, the forecast was pretty fair and I was glad to have a day to myself with no Dad’s Taxi duties to perform. So it was that I had parked up in the long lay-by on the A591 just outside Grasmere (thus avoiding exorbitant parking fees) and was climbing out of the village toward Silver How.

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Grasmere.

It was a frosty morning, with a few wisps of mist still clinging to the valleys.

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Langdale Pikes. The rocky hummock in the middle distance is Lang How.

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A sundog or parhelion.

I’ve posted photos of this phenomena before. I’ve even been told that they are a common occurrence, but I don’t feel that I see them all that often.

Parhelion: a bright spot in the sky appearing on either side of the sun, formed by refraction of sunlight through ice crystals high in the atmosphere.

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Langdale Fells from Silver How.

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Helvellyn and Fairfield from Silver How.

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Grasmere and Rydal Water.

The broad ridge which runs along the northern edge of Langdale abounds in knolls and small tarns. The latter seem mostly to be choked with plants and on their way to drying out. My aim was to climb the knolls, well – the ones which qualify as Birketts at least – and to visit all of the tarns.

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Silver How Tarn.

For the names of the various tarns I’m following the lead of John and Anne Nuttall in their ‘The Tarns of Lakeland’ guides (two volumes, well worth having).

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Brigstone Tarn and Lang How.

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The Nuttalls don’t give a name for the small tarn in the foreground, the one behind is Youdell Tarn.

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Youdell Tarn with the Langdale Peaks behind.

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I’ve included this photo because it was taken from Lang How and it shows Swinescar Pike (the grassy hummock on the left) and Castle How (the broad grassy lump on the right).

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Looking back along the ridge from Little Castle How. Windermere in the distance.

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Great Castle How has two summits: on the OS map, one is named and the other has a spot height. The photo above shows the top with a spot height (left of centre of the photo) and was taken from the other top…

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This is the named top…

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…from the one with the spot height.

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Easedale Tarn.

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Castle How Tarns with Blea Rigg behind.

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One of the (three) Castle How Tarns.

Blea Rigg is another Birkett and I had originally half-intended to include it on the route, but it’s probably best that I didn’t: I descended by Easedale Tarn and arrived back in Grasmere with little daylight to spare. Still I hadn’t done too badly: four Birketts, eight tarns and one Wainwright (Silver How), all crammed into one relatively short walk.

I enjoyed my excursion into tarn bagging. I believe there’s a tradition of bagging the tarns by swimming in them. I opted not to do that; I would have had to break the ice to do so, and I suspect that many of the tarns, choked with reeds as they are, are rather shallow to swim in. From the photographer’s point of view, it probably makes at least as much sense to visit tarns as it does to climb to summits. Some tarns are well off the beaten track too, which is another bonus. I think you can expect more tarn-bagging walks as and when I can find the time – I think I may have another stray Monday off next December…

 

 

Tarns and Birketts above Grasmere

Sale Fell

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Skiddaw, Carl Side, Dodd, Bassenthwaite Lake, distant Derwent Water.

Cub camp for Little S; he and two friends needed dropping in Seathwaite at the bottom end of Borrowdale at eight o’clock on a Friday night (the day after my walk on Hollow Moor). Of course, I volunteered for the job! It was a glorious evening and driving down Borrowdale I was struck by how crag girt the fellsides are and my mind was busy with the various options open to me for a late stroll.

When we arrived at the campsite however, it was clear that the boys needed some help erecting their tent, a triple hoop tunnel affair with which they had no previous experience. We were hampered somewhat by the maddening distraction of a cloud of midges which were feasting on every square inch of exposed flesh. By the time the tent was shipshape and just lacking an odd peg or two, all I wanted to do was get in the car and get away from the ravening hoards. I set off with the intention of driving straight home, but I hadn’t driven far before I began to reconsider my options. It was now quite late to be starting a walk, I needed something not too ambitious, and I hit upon the idea of a smash-and-grab raid on Sale Fell.

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Lothwaite Panorama.

This modest little fell boasts three Birkett summits, Lothwaite, Rivings and Sale Fell itself. From a inspection of the map this seems excessive, but the photos above show the late evening view from Lothwaite across Bassenthwaite Lake to the bulk of Skiddaw. It’s a fabulous panorama and it would be a great shame to miss it by only heading for the higher summit of Sale Fell.

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Sale Fell from Lothwaite.

The paths across the fells are broad and well used; I’ve never ventured this way before, but clearly these are well loved hills, perhaps with the local walkers who have them on their doorstep. Certainly, despite the late hour, I met several other people that evening.

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Sale Fell from Rivings, two other walkers just about visible on the top.

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Sale Fell

Hollow Moor, Cocklaw Fell and Skeggles Water

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Another post walk escape, on a beautiful summer evening. I parked by the village rooms in Kentmere despite the signs warning me that, it being polling day, the parking was needed – it was very quiet and it didn’t seem likely that hoards of people would be arriving to register late votes. I’d cast my own vote before work and so could head into the hills and leave all thoughts of the neverendum behind. (I wish it were as easy to do that now!)

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Almost from the off, the path climbing out of the village gave great views. I was also very busy trying, and failing, to photograph the many and varied butterflies which were in evidence.

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I didn’t have to climb far before the butterflies I had been seeing were supplanted by…

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…Small Heath butterflies, which I would continue to see for much of the walk, until the sun began to sink and the temperature had dropped too low for butterflies.

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Bird’s-eye Primrose.

I thought that this…

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…looked quite like Lousewort. Turns out that it is Lousewort, and the plant which I have been wrongly identifying as Lousewort is actually Marsh Lousewort. So now I know.

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A first view of Skeggles Water.

On the slopes of Green Quarter Fell I got rather over-excited about a large orangey-brown butterfly I saw. For no sound reason at all, I decided that it must be a Large Heath, which are rare and confined, in the UK, to a few northern locations. When it finally settled I managed to get some photos and…it wasn’t a Large Heath, but a tatty, faded Painted Lady. I haven’t posted any photos because they were very poor. I also saw Red Admirals again, but they were completely uncooperative on this occasion, and refused to pose for photos.

Birkett comments on the fine view of Upper Kentmere which the summit of Hollow Moor affords and he has a very good point…

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I was thinking that in the winter, with the sun low in the southern sky this would be a prime spot from which to take a photo of the Kentmere horseshoe.

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I’d been expecting to find a fair deal of wet and boggy going underfoot, but had been pleasantly surprised. As I dropped towards the top of Shaw Beck however, I encountered ground so suspiciously mobile that I wondered whether I could get across it. There was no actual water visible but a strip about two yards wide ran down the hillside with completely different vegetation than the surrounding grassy heath. There was Bog Bean flowering (my photo didn’t come out too well, which is a shame because its quite a striking plant) and also this…

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…unusual purplish flower, which I recognised  as Marsh Cinquefoil, although I’m not sure how I knew because I’m pretty certain that I’ve never seen it before.

I followed the wet ground ‘downstream’ until it became an actual beck and therefore much easier to cross.

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Cocklaw Fell, in all honesty, turned out to be a bit of an non-event, but it was another Birkett ticked-off I suppose and it did bring me to a wall, busy with meadow pipits, which lead me down to Skeggles Water.

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I felt some apprehension about my plan to walk around the far shore of Skeggles Water, there being no path marked on the map and the ground looking from a distance to be very flat and so probably liable to be boggy and impassable.

In the event, the going was rough and pathless, but the only significant obstacle…

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…is surmounted by a sturdy bridge.

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The walk from Skeggles Water back to the car took me past two lonely ruins. This…

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…is the larger of the two.

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Heading back down into Kentmere.

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Hollow Moor, Cocklaw Fell and Skeggles Water