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.

Seal 

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

Aldingham, Roa Island and Piel Island

We’ve spent our last couple of Whit weeks visiting with our good friends down in Herefordshire, so it seemed only right to invite them for a reciprocal visit. It was a much anticipated staycation for us: having been treated to a wide variety of days-out in their neck of the woods, we were excited to share the delights on our own doorstep and there had been long-running debates about which of our favourite outings we would choose.

High in the children’s top five was a trip to Mega Zone in Morecambe: essentially, running around in a dark room shooting each other with ‘lasers’. For some reason they seemed to think that, in particular, our friend Andy would be thrilled with the prospect of playing at soldiers. It was almost as if they think he’s a big kid at heart*.

Anyway, we’d been a couple of times this year already and I think our kids were hoping for a rainy day as an excuse to go again. They were duly rewarded on the first day of the visit (wet Wednesdays being something of a tradition for these ‘exchange’ weeks). All was going well until Little S ran around a corner into his sister’s ‘laser’ and split his lip rather badly. The cut crossed his vermillion border (the edge of his lip – something I learned from the whole sorry episode) which meant plastic surgery in Preston for Little S on the Thursday. I went with him and it was a very long day, but – they did do a terrific job and you have to look to find the scar now.

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All of which meant that, for me, it felt like the holiday only really got started in earnest on the Friday. It was another rather gloomy day, but a bit of a cracker none the less. We went to Aldingham first. I’ve since found a list of Cumbria’s Top Ten Beaches, in which Aldingham comes in at Number 8. Mind you, Arnside is number 5 and Grange Over Sands is number 9, and neither of those places has any discernable beach. You can see that Cumbria is hardly blessed with miles of golden strands. The picture gives a reasonable impression of what Aldingham beach is like: a strip of pebbles and then miles of Morecambe Bay mud, with a distant view of Heysham Nuclear Power Station. We enjoyed it even so: building towers with the larger pebbles, having a brew and a picnic and making several feeble attempts to start a fire with driftwood and dried seaweed.

Next stop was Roa island, to catch the small ferry across the channel to Piel Island.

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TBF is caught looking at the camera….

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…but everyone else seems to be practising their Synchronised Looking-Away.

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But the Dangerous Brothers** can be relied upon for a thumbs up!

We walked around the island. It doesn’t take long. There were eider ducks just off the shore and oystercatchers picking around in the pebbles.

There was a grim tide line of bleached crab shells and limbs…

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We wondered for a while about the cause of this phenomenon, but decided in the end that, rather than some mass extinction event, this was the result of the sheer numbers of crabs in the sea hereabouts and the lightness of the hollow remains which would all float up to mark the limit of the highest recent tide.

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I’m always impressed by plants I haven’t seen before. I thought these very large leaved cabbagey  clumps might be sea kale, because they look a bit like kale and they’re growing in a shingle beach. Having consulted the ‘Wildflower Key’, I’m pretty confident that I was right.

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In ‘Food for Free’, Richard Mabey suggests eating young shoots, or stems which have been growing underground (they will push up through three feet of shingle apparently). He suggests cooking the stems for 20 minutes, which perhaps explains why I found Kale so unappetising when I tried it a while back, since I didn’t cook it for anything like that long, and it was as tough as old boots – or, actually, a great deal tougher than your average modern hiking boot. (Whinge, moan etc etc…) (To be fair my current pair are still doing well, although some of the stitching is looking a bit tatty. I’m told that I have very wide feet and that’s why I destroy boots.)

Piel Island is a bit of a miniature classic. It’s tiny, but it has a pub, you can camp there, and there’s a castle:

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That bit of handrail visible on the Keep is a tease since it hints that it might be possible to get up there, but the stairs are locked and barred. There are many more photos of the castle (and some of its history) from our last visit here.

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On the return journey, the boys win the ‘Looking Away’ competition. The Junior Sherpa makes a silent prayer for safe passage.

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The Beach Funsters return on a separate sailing, no doubt discussing the optimum number of fleeces to pack for our seaside camp in July. Thirty-seven.

We returned to Aldingham for a barbecue on the beach and then yoyoed back to Roa Island for low tide, because the rock-pooling at Roa Island on a sufficiently low tide is second to none.

If Andy wasn’t in his element at Mega Zone, he certainly was now. To some people ‘Crabman’ is a character in the hit US comedy ‘My Name Is Earl’, but for me, it’s an ideal alternative nickname for The Shandy Sherpa.

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If there are crabs to be found on a beach, Andy will find them, catch them, play with their pincers in an all too cavalier fashion and stockpile them in a bucket. On Roa Island, you don’t turn over rocks wondering whether there will be a crab underneath, but how many there will be. And the answer is always: ‘Lots’.

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An edible crab. I think that this is the, apparently docile, crab which, when placed in a container with numerous shore crabs, proceeded to crush and splinter their carapaces with its claws. Oops.

There were hundreds of shore crabs. Also this gorgeous butterfish….

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….starfish and brittle stars….

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It had finally begun to brighten up a little.

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Piel Island.

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A hermit crab bathed in a late evening glow.

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The ferry.

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I think that this is a three-bearded rockling, because it was ‘pinkish orange’ and its head has three barbels as you can see in the picture, and just as the field guide specifies. If I’m right, we were lucky to find it as it is ‘Mostly sub-littoral but sometimes found in pools on lower shore.’ It can grow to 50cm in length, but this was much smaller than that.

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We’ll just turn over one more rock – who knows what we might find?’

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We’ve already planned our next visit to Roa Island. And it’s not at all unlikely that we’ll be back at Piel Island and/or Aldingham again this summer.

Pictures from our last rock-pooling visit to Roa Island here.

*A Big Kid

He is. So am I. Is there any other way to be? Mega Zone was fantastic. Was, sadly, since it has subsequently had a large fire.

Slideshow here, courtesy of The Lancaster Guardian, of fire-fighters tackling the blaze.

**The Dangerous Brothers

This is Andy’s sobriquet for our boys, but, alarmingly, they have begun to refer to themselves this way too.

Aldingham, Roa Island and Piel Island

The Caldbeck Fells

Carrock Pike

The approach to the foot of the mountain resembled the approaches to the feet of most other mountains. The cultivation gradually ceased, the trees grew gradually rare, the road became gradually rougher, and the sides of the mountain looked gradually more and more lofty, and more and more difficult to get up.

from The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices

That’s from 1857, but it’s still a pretty fair description of my drive to the foot of Carrock Fell. When I climbed out of the car I was surprised by the cold slap of the wind. My ascent would take a rising line under the right-hand corner of those broken crags and then into and up a grassy gulley to the skyline, where the gradient eases. But first, I paused a while to watch a buzzard’s slow trawl along the top edge of the crag and then a a kestrel poised above a lone tree silhouetted against the sky.

One way and another, my scramble to bag the Birketts has stumbled this year. First my damaged ankle kept me off the hills and since then I’ve climbed hills on the edge of the Pennines, in the Forest of Bowland and in North Wales, but the only times I’ve been out in the Lakes I either haven’t climbed any hills or I’ve re-ascended tops which I’ve already ticked off. So for this away-day I’d chosen something to give the whole thing a bit of a kick-start: unfamiliar territory with nine relatively easy ‘summits’ to be bagged.

Of course, nothing’s ever easy: although my parking spot near Stone Ends Farm gave me a pleasingly high start, the first part of the climb was fairly steep. In the event, despite the need for windscreen-wipers on my eyes as perspiration gushed down my forehead, I found a nice steady rhythm and enjoyed the challenge.

At the top edge of the crags, I paused again as three ravens repeatedly sailed past, gurgling their lovely catarrhal croaks. I didn’t get much further up the path before my progress was halted again: a grouse stood proud on the hillside just ahead. I expected that it would whirr noisily away, but instead it just ducked down behind some heather so that only it’s head was showing…

Solitary grouse 

I waited with my camera, hoping that it would show itself more fully. A kestrel swooped by; maybe it was the kestrel I had seen from below. If it was a kestrel: it was surprisingly pale, but the right sort of size and shape.

Eventually, my patience paid off: the grouse trundled across the heather onto a prominent perch on a rock and then a second popped-up from a hiding place…

Two grouse 

…and then a third…

Three grouse 

…and a fourth. The three ravens made a reappearance and all five grouse launched themselves onto the wind. Even when they took off, they were eerily quiet, none loosed that abrupt rattling ‘here I am, shoot me’ call. I wondered whether they were a family group. None had the red wattle which distinguishes the male.

Up and up and up again, till a ridge is reached and the outer edge of the mist on the summit of Carrock is darkly and drizzingly near. Is this the top? No, nothing like the top. It is an aggravating peculiarity of all mountains, that, although they have only one top when they are seen (as they ought always to be seen) from below, they turn out to have a perfect eruption of false tops whenever the traveller is sufficiently ill-advised to go out of his way for the purpose of ascending them. Carrock is but a trumpery little mountain of fifteen hundred feet, and it presumes to have false tops, and even precipices, as if it were Mont Blanc. No matter; Goodchild enjoys it, and will go on: and Idle, who is afraid of being left behind by himself, must follow.

from The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices

In fact, Carrock Fell is not a serious offender in this regard, at least not from the direction from which I climbed it, and I was soon on the top. What’s more, unlike the maniacally energetic Goodchild and the indolent Thomas Idle, I had a view, even if it was “like a feeble water-colour drawing half sponged out”. Goodchild and Idle are the alter-egos of the close friends Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. They took a tour of Cumberland together and then satirised themselves in Dickens’ Household Words.

I must confess that I’d never heard of their tour, or their report of it, until I bought this book…

A real find

…from the Oxfam bookshop in Lancaster this week. It’s from 1954 and looks like marvellous stuff, starting with early travellers like William Camden, Daniel Defoe and Celia Fiennes, taking in the writers of Tour Guides like Pennant and West, the Romantic Poets (Wordsworth fits both of the last two categories), and finishing with more recent Lakeland luminaries like Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, Cannon Rawnsley, W.G.Collingwood, Walpole and W. Heaton Cooper, who also provides illustrations and the jacket painting.

Only now, as I flick through it again, have I discovered a neat, typed name and address label, dated “Aug ‘75”,  which shows that a previous owner of the book lived in a house just across the road from home.

Anyway, back to my walk: Dickens makes no mention of the remains of an iron-age hill-fort on the summit of Carrock Fell. After the grandeur of Tre’r Ceiri earlier this summer, I found it distinctly underwhelming by comparison.

Carrock Fell hill-fort 

My next target would be High Pike, seen here on the right…

Carrock Fell cairn and onward route 

…although there were a couple of minor bumps on the soggy ridge inbetween which I would slalom to incorporate, because of their Birkett status.

At first I mistook this huge fly, mesembrina meridiana, for a substantial bumble bee, purely because of its size.

Huge mesembrina meridiana 

Diverting to Round Knott at least took me wide of the most egregious bog.

Carrock Fell 

Looking back to Carrock Fell.

Round Knott cairn. Blencathra and Skiddaw behind. 

Round Knott Cairn. Blencathra and Skiddaw behind.

High Pike 

High Pike

So far I’d had the hills to myself. On the boggy ridge I saw a walker with a collie heading the other way, but we didn’t meet since I’d left the main path to take in Round Knott. Now as I approached the final climb to High Pike I met another single walker, with two collies. Neither were on leads. Both were very friendly. One much too friendly. After it had put its paws on my chest, sniffed my privates and nestled it’s snout in my bum, I pushed it away with a trekking pole, on which I then skewered it’s owner, explaining, as he breathed his last, that not everyone likes dogs and that if he’d been a little more considerate he could have avoided being  kebabed.

No I didn’t. I smiled weakly and said something innocuous like, “Nice day for it.”

“I thought I’d got the hills all to myself,” with a grin.

A fellow misanthrope; I warmed to him. Maybe I won’t garrotte him on this occasion.

He strode away, unaware of his narrow escape.

Looking back to Carrock Fell 

Carrock Fell again.

The next walker I met also had a collie, or perhaps I should say that the next collie I met also had a walker in tow? I began to worry that I’d stumbled into some strange convention for lone walkers with collies, like something from Sherlock Holmes, but the next walkers I met were a couple with a boxer and something like a lurcher.

High Pike summit 

High pike has a fair accumulation of summit furniture: a trig pillar, an untidy, sprawling cairn and a stone bench. Squadrons of wasps flying in formation low to the turf were everywhere. They didn’t bother me whilst I ate some lunch, and I wondered what they were doing in such an apparently unpromising spot if they weren’t there to mug walkers and steal their sandwiches.

High Pike, and the Caldbeck Fells in general, are renowned for their mineral wealth and geological interest. I didn’t spot much, but I did pass a bright, white rock with an intricate crystalline structure embedded in the path…

High Pike geology 

Three more minor bumps to negotiate on route to Knott: Hare Stones, Great Lingy Hill and Little Lingy Hill. All three have cairns optimistically plonked close to where it’s almost possible to imagine that there might be a highest point. They give pleasant, rough, almost pathless walking.

Knott from Great Lingy Hill 

Wainwright says of Great Lingy Hill: “Acres of dense fragrant heather make this the most delectable top in Lakeland for a summer day’s siesta.” I thought it seemed a bit wet for that, but when the sun almost shone on Little Lingy Hill, I did spread my cag on the sward, stretch out and shut my eyes for a while.

Knott from Little Lingy Hill 

The crossing from Little Lingy Hill was wetter and rougher then anything I had yet encountered. That didn’t seem to perturb this….

Wary common lizard 

common lizard, which squirmed through the grass and disappeared before I could get a better picture.

Despite the fact that when I’d last seen them they’d been heading in the opposite direction, the misanthrope and his dogs had some how made it to the top of Knott before me. Maybe they’d made the unfortunate decision not to have a wee snooze. They strode away when they saw me coming to mar their splendid isolation.

The air had cleared a little and the hills across the Solway Firth had become more than the vague hint of landscape which they’d been up to that point. From my grandstand seat I watched showers tracking across the plains which flank the estuary.

A heavy shower 

Skiddaw seen over Great and Little Calva 

Skiddaw seen above Great and Little Calva.

Threatening clouds 

Threatening clouds.

High Pike and Carrock Fell from Knott 

High Pike and Carrock Fell from Knott.

Another boggy ridge took me Coomb Height, the final Birkett of the day. I descended by Grainsgill Beck and then followed the unfenced road by the River Caldew to Mosedale, where I was surprised to find a cafe operating in the local Friends Meeting House.

Mosedale Friends Meeting House 

The cakes looked nice and the tea was hot and wet and reasonably priced.

1702 

Next door, in the barn attached to the Meeting House, was an Aladdin’s cave come charity shop.

An unusual charity shop 

In the meeting house was a display of rubbings of dates and initials taken from local houses and associated with the Quaker community. This area is one of the birthplaces of Quakerism; George Fox is another of the early writers anthologised in Prose of Lakeland. Walking through Mosedale I noticed a couple of houses with initials and eighteenth century dates. This one…

A Quaker home 

…a large double fronted house with an air of shabby gentility and an unkempt garden looked particularly romantic and worthy of exploration.

Date and initials

The Caldbeck Fells

50 things to do before you’re 11¾

45. Find your way with a map and compass

Orienteering at High Dam

A and B seem to have caught the orienteering bug. We’ve been a few times now. Just this month, B and I tried the National Trust’s new course on Sizergh Fell with his Beaver Scout unit. Then both A and B went for a training session in Eaves Wood with a friend who knows about these things. So when we discovered that there would be an event not too far away at High Dam, above Windermere, we were keen to have a go.

Well, three of us were. TBH was under the weather and elected to stop at home. S just wanted to watch the telly. He moaned on the drive there. He moaned on the long walk to the start. But, fortunately, once we began he loved it.

A wanted to have a go on her own, the boys were content to have me tag along, although I let B do the map reading. We all did the white course (a short easy course with all controls lying along a route connected by paths). Both A and B missed the fact that they should have gone through the gate in the photo above, rather then continuing to follow the path we had been on up to that point. By the time we bumped into her, however, A had realised that she had made a mistake and was heading back to this control to have another go.

It was a relatively big event, there was food available at Finsthwaite House where the cars were parked in an adjacent field, and some of the kids friends were also there, so we stayed for quite some time after we had finished the route.

We might then have gone to take a tour around the nearby Stott Park Bobbin Mill which I remember fondly from a visit many years ago, but it was shut. So we went around the end of the lake to Fell Foot park instead.

Windermere from Fellfoot Park

The kids climbed and swang and were temporarily pirates on the extensive playground there whilst I supervised them carefully from a recumbent position. It was warm. The sun shone. How odd.

I must have been in some sort of shock – I forked out for both ice-creams and for a half-an-hour rowing-boat hire.

Lazing on a sunny afternoon

On the coping stones edging the lakeside path B spotted this large critter…

A stonefly - probably an adult female Perlodes microcephala

I think that it’s a stonefly, an adult female Perlodes microcephala. Stoneflies breed in water, in this case in stony streams. There are 34 British species.

And the post title? Well, it’s more Fun With Lists: the National Trust have a campaign to encourage kids to get outside and do…well the sort of stuff which is fun to do outside. I don’t like the idea of ‘Bucket Lists’, but I must admit that this one is quite fun. A went through the list and declared that she has 5 still to do. She has plenty of time.

Here’s the list in full:

  1. Climb a tree
  2. Roll down a really big hill
  3. Camp out in the wild
  4. Build a den
  5. Skim a stone
  6. Run around in the rain
  7. Fly a kite
  8. Catch a fish with a net
  9. Eat an apple straight from a tree
  10. Play conkers
  11. Throw some snow
  12. Hunt for treasure on the beach
  13. Make a mud pie
  14. Dam a stream
  15. Go sledging
  16. Bury someone in the sand
  17. Set up a snail race
  18. Balance on a fallen tree
  19. Swing on a rope swing
  20. Make a mud slide
  21. Eat blackberries growing in the wild
  22. Take a look inside a tree
  23. Visit an island
  24. Feel like you’re flying in the wind
  25. Make a grass trumpet
  26. Hunt for fossils and bones
  27. Watch the sun wake up
  28. Climb a huge hill
  29. Get behind a waterfall
  30. Feed a bird from your hand
  31. Hunt for bugs
  32. Find some frogspawn
  33. Catch a butterfly in a net
  34. Track wild animals
  35. Discover what’s in a pond
  36. Call an owl
  37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
  38. Bring up a butterfly
  39. Catch a crab
  40. Go on a nature walk at night
  41. Plant it, grow it, eat it
  42. Go wild swimming
  43. Go rafting
  44. Light a fire without matches
  45. Find your way with a map and compass
  46. Try bouldering
  47. Cook on a campfire
  48. Try abseiling
  49. Find a geocache
  50. Canoe down a river

The National Trusts website dedicated to the list is here:

https://www.50things.org.uk/

But you have to sign up to access the entire list and then cope with the unedifying, but completely inevitable, hedging of bets as lots of unnecessary safety advice accompanies the list.

Not a bad list though. Any glaring omissions, do you think?

50 things to do before you’re 11¾