Boat Trip from Bowness

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Before our encounter with the Sparrowhawk, we’d had a visit from our friend J, who had won in a raffle a ’24 hour freedom of the lake’ family-ticket for the steamers on Windermere. Would we like to use it? We certainly would. We were a bit tardy getting out however, and by the time we’d found somewhere to park in Bowness, only really had time for a trip up to Ambleside and back.

B was adamant that he wanted to sit in the open seats on the top of the boat, despite the November cold, and I volunteered to join him because the rest of the family went for warm and dry inside.

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I love the fresh perspective you get with a view of the hills from a boat.

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And as we progressed, the sun shone, the forecast showers held off, and the higher hills at the northern end of the lake got steadily closer.

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The hills around Langdale.

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The Fairfield Horseshoe.

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Waterhead, Ambleside.

On the way back, the hills were mostly behind, so the views weren’t so dramatic, dark clouds shrouded the sun, and I really regretted choosing to wear shorts. Still, we had a nice pub meal in Bowness to round off the trip.

 

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Boat Trip from Bowness

How Do I Get Down?

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We were at Fellfoot park with a bunch of friends from the village, for the annual church picnic. To us the park has become Fell-ten-foot Park because of Little S’s unfortunate experience here: our family has track record with tree-climbing accidents. I spotted A high in the tree and decided to take a photo. She managed a smile, as you can see, but was hissing at me, not wanting to attract the attention of our friends, but wanting a private word with me:

“I don’t think I can get down.”

After taking this ideal opportunity to lecture a captive audience on the inadvisability of climbing anything you aren’t absolutely sure you can definitely climb back down, I relented and helped her find the good footholds on the knobbly trunk which she was having difficulty picking out from above.

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The weather was very changeable and would eventually have us abandoning our idea of a barbecue in the park. However, this didn’t deter The Tower Captain from taking his Mirror Dinghy for a row…

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…or the boys and their friend E from swimming to the far bank. This was some feat, because, after rain, this bottom end of Windermere has quite a strong current.

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A and I also took one of our inflatable canoes out, which she described as ‘extremely relaxing’; presumably much more enjoyable than being stuck up a tree.

I chatted to a National Trust volunteer about photographs of camping pods which were on display and she told me that the plan is for the Park to become a campsite, or perhaps, in part a campsite. Apparently it has been one in the past. The Trust’s campsite at Low Wray, at the far end of the lake, was fully booked for the entirety of August when I tried to make a booking, so more capacity for camping on the lake shore seems like a sensible plan.

How Do I Get Down?

A Paddle to Wildcat Island.

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The day after our exertions on Scafell Pike and the forecast had changed considerably, with the weather now expected to stay fine for most of the day. We packed the inflatable canoes into the car and set off early, hoping to get one of the parking spaces at Low Peel Near on the minor road which runs up the eastern shore of Coniston Water. I think that we were the fourth car there, although it transpires that far more cars can squeeze in there than I ever would have expected.

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We’ve had previous messing-about-on-the-water trips to Coniston Water, but have always parked at Brown Howe on the opposite shore.

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We’d switched the venue because I’d done a bit of googling the night before and discovered that Peel Island, in the lake, is considered to be one of the inspirations for Wildcat Island in the Swallows and Amazons books and was also used as a location for the recent film. It’s close to the shore and not far from the launch spot at Low Peel Near, so ideal for the focal point of a canoeing trip.

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After we’d rocked up and inflated the boats we had a short trip out then paused for our lakeside picnic and brew.

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I really enjoyed the canoeing. The splashes of the steady rhythm of the paddles in the water were very relaxing, and the views across the lake to the Coniston Fells were stunning.

This is Wildcat Island…

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Whilst we circumnavigated the isle, I handed the camera to Little S, since he wasn’t paddling at the time. I was surprised to discover later that he is even more prone than I am to get his horizons off-kilter, often wildly, sea-sickeningly so.

He was adamant that this house and boathouse…

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…were also used in the film.

Eventually, we landed on the island itself. We were far from being the only visitors, but that didn’t seem to detract from the experience.

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We explored the Island, it’s only small, and whilst I enjoyed the views the kids were climbing trees, clambering over rocks, and then…

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…venturing into the lake for a swim, at which point I decided to join the fun.

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Whilst we were on the island, the wind picked up and paddling back against it proved to be a bit of a battle.

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Here we are at the end of the afternoon, just be for we began to pack all of our kit back into the car.

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A Paddle to Wildcat Island.

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

Barrow Dock Museum

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We’ve been intending to check out the Dock Museum in Barrow for quite some time and, last week, finally got around to it.

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It’s a small museum, but it has model boats, which are pretty irresistible,

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…and The Furness Hoard, found locally in 2011 and including Viking, Saxon and Arab coins plus fragments of arm-rings and bracelets, not dissimilar in fact from The Silverdale Hoard.

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Having examined the area’s Viking treasures, you may want to dress the part…

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There are also axe-heads and arrowheads of Langdale stone which were apparently brought to the Barrow area for finishing and polishing.

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A big surprise for me, and a great discovery, was this furniture by the late Tim Stead.

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I’ve not been aware of his work before, but shall be looking out for it in the future. He was one of the artists who built the Millennium Clock, now housed by the National Museum of Scotland, and definitely added to my ‘too see’ list.

Whilst the boys hared around the playground in the museum grounds, I took a quick look at the docks themselves.

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Our trip to the museum was intended to be a precursor to a trip to the Wildlife Trust reserve at the southern end of Walney Island, somewhere I’ve long wanted to visit, much like Foulney Island in fact. But, having had my sutures removed early that morning, I now discovered that everything was not quite going to plan, and we spent the next three hours, or thereabouts, sitting around in A&E at Barrow Infirmary waiting to see what was to be done. Not much, it eventually transpired. Patience is the order of the day apparently. Ho-hum.

Barrow Dock Museum

Toxoplasma Gondii – a mystery solved?

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“Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in more than one billion people worldwide, has been shown to inspire neurotic, self-destructive behaviour in rats. The protozoa’s reproductive cycle depends on infecting cats, which it does by getting them to eat rats and mice in whose brains the parasite commonly resides. When the parasite infects a rat or mouse, it increases dopamine levels in its host, inspiring it to wander around recklessly in a way more likely to attract the attention of cats; the mice and rats also become attracted to the small of cat urine an odor that, under normal circumstances, causes them to flee or freeze. “Fatal feline attraction” is the name for this phenomenon. In people, the presence of toxoplasma gondii has been linked to schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, poor attention and reaction times, and greater likelihood of car accidents.”

From ‘Cooked’ by Michael Pollan

All of which might explain the behaviour of this vole, which TBH and I encountered back in June, and which had us puzzled and enchanted in equal measure because of its apparent lack of fear of our presence.

The quote might seem like an odd paragraph to find in a book ostensibly about food, but it’s from a footnote and is backing up the assertion that it’s possible that the microbiota in our bodies might influence our moods and even our mental health. The book is absolutely fascinating and I heartily recommend it anyone with an interest in food (i.e. everyone,surely?) – bit late for your Christmas lists I know.

Toxoplasma Gondii – a mystery solved?

Blakeney Point Boat Trip

The North Norfolk Coast Path

I’ve been at this blogging malarkey for quite some time now, and though I get frustrated sometimes when it seems that I’ll never catch up with myself, I must enjoy it, or I wouldn’t still be at it, six and a half years and six hundred and seventy posts down the line. I’ve written before about the benefits of keeping a record and of being aware that you intend to do so. Then there’s the Social Media side of things, although I’m only too aware that I often fall down badly on that front. There have been a few freebies along the way too – bits of gear, a few books and, most notably, a trip to Jersey. But here’s a new and totally unexpected development: an old school friend tracked me down via this blog and invited me to a reunion of our A-level maths class.

A mallow - common mallow? 

A mallow. Common mallow, possibly.

The weekend get-together took place in Norwich at the beginning of July. Norwich is a bit of a long way from just about anywhere, but it’s a particularly long way from Silverdale. Having abandoned my original, deranged plan of driving down on the Friday evening (it’s a good job I did, the M62 was shut at Junction 25 and I spent an hour or two queuing through Huddersfield), I arranged to meet the others on the coast on the Saturday Morning. I’d left my half-way stopover in Blyth, just off the A1, very early, and arrived with some time to spare and so had a little wander along the North Norfolk Coast Path.

Woolly thistle 

Very nice it was too, despite the grim weather. I’ve subsequently done a bit of lazy internet research and I have to say, this looks like a very attractive path. This section, at Morston, was resplendent with unfamiliar flowers.

Woolly thistle flower 

I think that this (and the photo above) is woolly thistle.

The others arrived in plenty of time for the boat trip we’d booked. Boats go out from Morston Creek and round to Blakeney Point.

Blakeney Point

Here we are on the boat…..

On the boat 

…well, not me, I was taking the photo. Needless to say, they haven’t changed in the thirty years since we left school. Well not much. None of us live in Leicestershire anymore, but I’m not sure what that tells us. Although it’s certainly not thirty years since we last met, it could easily be twenty, at least for me, and so we had a lot of catching-up to do. But what’s germane to this blog is the boat trip itself:

Black skies over Morston Creek 

Morston Creek

Sandwich Terns 

The beaches, and the skies above them, were busy with terns. These are sandwich terns, and juveniles (note the black beaks and legs and the tufted hairdos).

Sandwich Terns II 

And again. All of the photos were taken from a moving boat, which didn’t help with the quality. That’s my excuse anyway. The out-of-focus bird in the air had a fish in its beak.

Common Terns 

I think that these are common terns, with yellow beaks and legs.

Common terns and little terns? 

The two smaller birds here are little terns. You can’t see it without zooming in, but the little tern has a distinguishing black eye-stripe which is the telling detail.

Common Seals

The other highlight was the seals.

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Common seals pup in the summer, so the opinion offered was that the seals on the beach were common seals, and the seals in the water would be grey seals, which give birth in the winter. I’m not sure it was that simple however.

Seal II 

And, whilst it’s meant to be easy to tell the difference, I’m not confident, so I shan’t venture an opinion.

Seals on the beach 

We had a bit of a walk on the spit of land which forms the point, visiting the old coastguard station….

The old lifeboat station Blakeney Point 

There were also a couple of old lifeboats moored in the channel. I was intrigued by the fact that they apparently had a wooden shed constructed on the deck.

Old lifeboat 

Not sure if that’s part of the original design or a more recent attempt to emulate the Skylark.

 

After the excellent boat trip we drove a little down the coast to Cley.

Cley Windmill 

Unfortunately, the windmill was closed. Fortunately, the pub wasn’t.

Nice George and the Dragon Window - oh and DP supping a beer 

Long-suffering readers will now that I’m quite partial to a stained-glass window. Especially if it depicts St. George dispensing with the poor old dragon. Not sure why D is looking so guilty and/or furtive about his beer.

D and J

I shan’t attempt to summarise the remainder of the weekend, except to say that it was thoroughly enjoyable.

I will however, mention the campsite where I stayed, at Whitlingham Broad. It’s a cracker. Quiet, well-organised, cheap. If you need or want to stay in Norwich I can heartily recommend it. (Yes, everybody else stayed in hotels, but I like camping. And I’m a  skinflint)

Blakeney Point Boat Trip