New Year Floral Survey

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – The Row – Burtonwell Wood – The Clifftop – Heald Brow – Quaker’s Stang – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – Gibraltar Farm – Woodwell – Emesgate Lane.

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Quince Flowers.

After a string of grey, overcast, foggy, damp days, New Year’s Day was a corker: bright, sunny and, out of the wind, even quite warm at times. TBH was wiped out by a rotten cold, but the rest of us had been out on New Year’s Eve and the children, lightweights to a man, weren’t up very early. Eventually, Little S emerged into the light and I told him I was heading out to take advantage of the sunshine and asked him to ring me when the others got up, chiefly because the day before we’d got halfway through a game of Pandemic, a board game my brother sent us for Christmas, and I’d promised to finish it with the kids when they were ready.

The first surprise, apart from the glorious sunshine, was the thicket of Quince on the  corner of Elmslack Lane which was studded with bright red baubles. I suppose it must have been flowering when I walked past it earlier that week, but it took some brighter conditions to draw my attention to that fact. When I spotted a Marigold (I think?), which must have self-seeded where it sat at the end of a gravel drive….

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…I was reminded again, as I often am, of Richards Adams marvellous ‘A Nature Diary’ in which the author, most famous for Watership Down, explores the lanes, hills and coasts around his home on the Isle of Man. His winter entries often gleefully list the flowers he has found unexpectedly in bloom. I wondered how I might fare with a similar scheme on New Year’s Day. Almost immediately, I spotted Snowdrops and a single Celandine. Also…

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…quite a bit of Winter Jasmine in gardens. All of those might reasonably be expected, but I was a bit more surprised by the extent to which the brambles were flowering wherever I saw them in the woods…

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The Jubilee Monument on Castlebarrow.

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In Eaves Wood.

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In Burtonwell Wood.

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I think that this might be Yellow Jelly Fungus, also known as Witches Butter, but I’m not sufficiently confident about that, or hungry enough, to try adding this allegedly edible fungi to my diet.

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Heald Brow.

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Meadow Ant Mounds on Heald Brow.

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Evidence of Badger predation of Meadow Ants? Apparently Badgers are partial to ants.

It was a good morning for birds, if not for bird photographs: I heard and saw Nuthatches, a Buzzard, various tits, several Great Spotted Woodpeckers and one Green Woodpecker.

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Ragwort.

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Dandelion.

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Gorse.

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Daisy.

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Quaker’s Stang and Warton Crag.

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Sea Beet.

It wasn’t just the flowers which caught my attention; Sea Beet is the wild ancestor of Beetroot, Sugar Beet and Perennial Spinach, grows all year by the coast, is packed full of vitamins and is reputedly delicious. Spring is apparently the best time to eat it, so, seeing it growing on the edge of the salt-marsh, I made a mental note to come back this way, later in the year, with some sort of receptacle in which to carry away some forage.

There were quite a few people enjoying a New Year’s Day constitutional down by the salt-marsh, but I felt like I might be the only one who spotted the completely unexpected flight of a Speckled Wood butterfly and, moments later, a Painted Lady…

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Butterflies can only fly when the temperature is high enough, so the fact that they were here at all was testament to the genuine warmth by this sheltered, south-facing bank. It’s still a bit of a puzzle however, since Speckled Wood butterflies are unique in that they can overwinter as either a caterpillar or a chrysalis, but I don’t think they generally hibernate, as some other species do. And Painted Ladies famously migrate northwards from North Africa over several generations during a summer and then return in the autumn. Perhaps this one was a straggler.

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The large tree behind the old chimney had a couple of clumps of…

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…exquisitely ochre fungi.

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Jenny Brown’s Cottages.

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This looks like a Hawk’s-beard, although I’m not remotely confident about that. Maybe Rough Hawk’s-beard, but that’s supposed to flower in June and July, so if it is, it’s a confused specimen.

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Jack Scout.

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I’ve previously reported that the berries on Flowering Nutmeg, here growing close to Woodwell, reputedly taste chocolaty. In the interest of accuracy, I tried a berry and can now correct my error – it didn’t taste at all like chocolate. It was bitter and not at all pleasant. Oh well – you live and learn.

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More flowers. These were staked, clearly a garden plant, but Stinking Hellebore is actually native to the British Isles. This plant is very early to flower and would be one of the few you might expect to see at this time of year.

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Emerging Cuckoo Pint leaves: spring is on the way!

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Hydrangea. In retrospect these are not actually flowers at all I don’t think, but the remains of the large bracts which once surrounded the actual flowers.

We never did finish that game of Pandemic. I eventually rang Little S, when it seemed too late in the day for the rest of the family to still be in bed. It transpired that they were watching a film instead, so I was free to continue my New Year’s Day ramble without feeling guilty about having abandoned them all. We have played several times since.

The following day our old friend X-Ray visited and he and I and B played another new game, sent by my brother, Queen Domino. It’s a companion to, and can be combined with, King Domino, which we’ve enjoyed enormously since we got it last Christmas. Although I won, I didn’t really feel that I’d grasped the strategy for Queen Domino; I think that might take numerous games.

After our game, X-Ray and I went for a rather late wander down to Jack Scout and managed to miss what was, apparently, quite a spectacular sunset.

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Next time will have to do.

A pretty good start to 2019. I hope you’ve enjoyed the same.

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New Year Floral Survey

Leaves Online

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Having dropped Little S off for his climbing session, I was hoping to get out for another short wander and, to that end, had been poring over maps the night before, looking for a likely route. Blessed with paths, as we are near home, it always comes as a bit of a surprise when I’m looking for routes elsewhere and find that options are limited or nonexistent.

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It’s quite hard to see much in the way of possibilities for walks directly from the University campus, but my eye was drawn to an area on the map with several largish splodges of blue and I eventually settled on a short circuit from Scorton Picnic site.

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What it lacked in length it made up for with charm.

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The River Wyre.

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I shall guess that this small area of water, and the many others close to the motorway nearby, is a former gravelpit and probably dates back to the building of this stretch of the M6.

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I went a little off-piste at the far end of the walk, in order to get a photo to show just how close to the M6 this little scrap of woodland is.

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TBH has sometimes described my blog, to the uninitiated, as “photos of leaves and stuff”. Whilst I was selecting photos for this post, it occurred to me that I could rebrand my blog as ‘Leaves Online’.

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I don’t know what kind of tree these very large, yellow leaves came from, but they were a real tonic. So much so that I picked one up and waved it around, like a flag.

Better yet, as I neared the end of my walk I spotted a butterfly in a sun-warmed clearing. I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo sadly, but I was quite impressed to have seen one at all at the tail-end of November.

I’ve been enjoying thinking about matching tunes to posts, however tenuously, so….

I’m not sure how big the audience is for the juxtaposition of photos of leaves and the sounds of the Wu-Tang Clan? Perhaps a bit of a niche market, do you think?

Leaves Online

Comfortable Silences

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Speckled Wood Butterfly.

A mid-October Sunday and another day which brightened up into a cracker after a most unpromising start. B must have been playing at home and I’d been for a wander along the Lune from Underley Park under dark skies and beside a river which, if not quite in spate, was swollen, fast flowing and looking as if it would present a stern challenge to canoeists.

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In the afternoon, I walked around the coast as far as White Creek and from there up to Heathwaite without, unusually, ever going up to the top of the Knott.

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I enjoyed watching this flock of birds heading north rather faster than I was. I suspect that they were Oystercatchers, but it was hard to tell.

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I was interested to see, now that we were definitely into Autumn, what I could still find flowering. Some things weren’t particularly unexpected….

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Devil’s-bit Scabious.

I was pleased to see some butterflies too: quite a few Speckled Woods, a large White and this…

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Small Copper Butterfly.

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Betony is another late-flowering plant, so not out of place in October. But…

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…this Burnett Rose was a bit unexpected.

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Oystercatchers – unmistakably this time.

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The view from Park Point.

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Holly is normally a spring flowering plant, so these flowers go down as surprise of the day.

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This is one of the two short tunnels of White Creek Mine. The colour of the rock here suggests that this is another haematite mine – an iron oxide ore mainly used in the manufacture of paint apparently.

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Two views south along the coast from Heathwaite.

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It was a fairly clear day – was that Blackpool Tower I could make out down the coast?

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Yep!

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The (becoming) obligatory Ingleborough zoom.

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I thought this pair of crows looked like old friends, comfortable with each others silence…

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‘Did you…..?’

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‘Oh, no? Okay. Think I’ll grab a snooze.’

 

Comfortable Silences

Thermophilous

Hagg Wood – The Row – Jubilee Wood – Waterslack Wood – Middlebarrow Quarry – Black Dyke – Red Hills Wood – Arnside Knott – Heathwaite – Far Arnside.

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A Red Admiral. The ivy was thronged with other insects too – particularly wasps, but bees and hoverflies and several Red Admirals to boot.

A sunny Sunday in September and a walk which just about encapsulates the obsessions which fuel this blog: butterflies, fungi, and robins; an ascent of Arnside Knott; views of the bay, the Cumbrian Fells and of Ingleborough; some detective work to identify a plant; clouds; some backlit leaves; and a novel botanical term thrown in for good measure.

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Once again there was lots of fungi to see that day – this photo will stand in for the many I took.

I managed to get out for numerous walks that day; B had played rugby against Vale of Lune that morning, a team which features many of his school friends, and whilst they were warming up, and again when they were changing and eating, I squeezed in a couple of little wanders on what was a very bright, but initially quite chilly, morning.

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This bridge on the edge of Middlebarrow Wood is looking decidedly worst for wear.

Later, I was out again on a glorious autumn afternoon and, as has become my habit, I headed for the Knott.

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Arnside Knott.

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Middlebarrow Wood and a distant Arnside Tower.

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The Kent viaduct and the Eastern Fells. It was a clear day – you can just about pick out Skiddaw in the northern lakes if you know what you are looking for.

I’m pretty sure that this was the day when I exchanged pleasantries with a chap near the top of the Knott. We admired the view and he told me that he recognised me from numerous Silverdale Coffee mornings and then advised me to lose some weight. Naturally, I told him, in no uncertain terms, to mind his own business, before eviscerating him with a rusty spoon.

No I didn’t. But I was tempted.

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The Kent and the Coniston Fells.

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You’re never far from a bench on a walk in this area, particularly on the Knott.

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Looking south, the Bowland Fells and the bay.

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Bramble leaves.

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Bracken.

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Another view south, taken by another bench.

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Ingleborough, taken at the full extent of the zoom.

From Heathwaite I took a path which I thought would curl around to Hollins Farm, but instead it took me to a gate and then steeply downhill to meet the coast path near the caravan park at Far Arnside. Another new path for me – it seems amazing that there could be still paths so close to home which I don’t know, given how I’ve criss-crossed the area so obsessively over many years. This one is a delight and opens up new possibilities for walks taking in the Knott. I’ve been back already.

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Robin in full song.

There’s a time, at the tail end of summer, when the birds stop singing. It’s always cheering to hear their voices return to the local woods.

Some Buddleia bushes at Far Arnside were even busier with Red Admirals than the ivy had been close to the start of the walk.

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With the Red Admirals was a close cousin of theirs…

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…a Painted Lady.

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Far Arnside coast.

The plant growing abundantly here is Rock Samphire, which is apparently “thermophilous, growing well and increasing in numbers with warmer summers”. (Source.) Knowing that, and given the summer we had, it’s not surprising to see so much of it growing here.

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These purplish globes are the seed pods.

Rock Samphire was once a popular vegetable, more popular in fact than the unrelated, and now very trendy, Marsh Samphire. I’ve tried it and found it a bit strong, but maybe I should give it another go, steamed and served with lashings of butter perhaps? Or, maybe without quite so much butter?

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From Far Arnside I walked back on the mud of the bay. The sun disappeared behind a cloud; I didn’t much appreciate the shade, but I was very taken by the light.

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Another Robin.

Currently, there’s a gale howling beyond the window and it’s been raining most of the day. Looking back at these photos of a sunny day has been a real tonic. Perhaps that’s what I should have told the old gent on the Knott: “Leave me alone, it’s not my fault: I’m thermophilous, I thrive and grow well in warm summers”. It would have been a new excuse at least.

Thermophilous

Lacy’s Caves and Long Meg

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A Saturday afternoon and we decided to dragoon the boys into coming out for a walk with us. In honesty, I can’t remember how we arrived at the decision to repeat a walk along the River Eden, taking in Little Salkeld Watermill, Lacy’s Caves and the Long Meg and her Daughters stone circle, but it was a good choice.

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We began with lunch in the cafe at the mill, which was delicious, then set off towards the river. There was a paper notice tacked to the signpost indicating that some part of the footpath had been damaged by flooding and then closed, but the notice looked quite old, so we decided to ignore it.

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TBH and I have done this walk three times now, and each time we’ve seen lots of Buzzards in this first part of the walk. Closer to hand, there were flowers and insects to admire and a tree heavily laden with rather tart apples.

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Small White Butterfly on some sort of Hawk’s-beard, possibly Rough Hawk’s-beard.

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Tachina Fera.

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Forest Bug.

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More fungi.

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Earthballs.

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A weir on the Eden. Force Mill opposite.

We did eventually see some signs of flood damage, but that had nothing to do with what happened next. I’m not sure how, but I lost my footing and fell down the steep bank towards the river. Little S was first to react, grabbing hold of my ankle as I slid down the slope, which, frankly, could have ended badly for him,  but between us we managed to halt my fall. I was a bit bruised and grazed, my camera took a whack, and I think we were all  slightly shaken, but ultimately, no harm was done.

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The view of the River Eden from Lacy’s Caves.

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Lacy’s Caves.

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These are not natural caves, but were hewn from the rock by order of the local landowner Colonel Samuel Lacy. There are several connected ‘rooms’. One of them still has some planks in it and some metal brackets fastened to the wall, as if there had been a bench or a bed here. Apparently, Lacy may have paid someone to live in the caves as a ‘hermit’, which was a fashionable thing to do for a time. There are more pictures of the caves here, from our last family visit, made at a time when Little S genuinely was still little.

The boys may be practically grown up now, but they weren’t above a game of hide and seek in the caves, which, I’ll admit, was pretty hilarious.

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I remember these wooden posts from last time too. This is one from a series erected around the Eden Valley area and designed by artist Pip Hall. They’re textured so that rubbings can be taken.

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Mixed flock of Jackdaws and Rooks.

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More fungi.

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One of Long Meg’s daughters.

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More daughters with Cross Fell in the cloud and the radar station on Great Dun Fell behind.

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The uncountable daughters.

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The Long Meg stone circle is amazing and, on the evidence of three visits, almost guaranteed to be virtually deserted.

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Long Meg.

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And again.

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There’s some more detail and folklore regarding the stone circle in my previous post about a visit, here.

We first learned about this route from a leaflet published by Discover Eden. It was available as a PDF online, but these days you have to buy it. One word of warning – the leaflet gives a longer version of this walk, including a visit to Addingham Church, as 4½ miles, but my phone app gave 6 miles for our truncated version. No wonder our original round took us 6 hours when we had a toddler with us.

Lacy’s Caves and Long Meg

A Windhover and Toadstools on the Knott

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Arnside Tower Farm, Middlewood, Warton Crag, the Bowland Fells and Morecambe Bay looking south from Arnside Knott.

A Sunday afternoon, back from B’s weekend rugby fix, and I’m off to climb the Knott again. This has become something of a habit and whilst there are lots of other options locally, I often find it difficult to see past an ascent of the Knott which has so much to offer when time is short.

When I lived in Arnside, I used to like to tell my classes that there are twenty routes to the top of the Knott and the same twenty possibilities on the way down and ask them how many different combinations I could choose between in my post-work up and down leg-stretcher. It tickled me that there were more than enough options to give a different choice for every day of the year. They were often, quite rightly, sceptical about my assertion that there were twenty different paths to the top, but in truth, whilst it’s hard to count them, because the paths frequently bifurcate and intertwine, more like a web than a simple radiating spoke pattern, I suspect there may be more than twenty.

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Recently, I’ve discovered a couple of paths which are new to me. On this particular afternoon, I found a well-worn path which initially skirted the bottom edge of the steep scree slope on the south side of the hill before curling up and around the edge of the loose ground in the trees which bordered it’s eastern edge.

Whilst admiring the view from the top of the slope, my attention was caught by unfamiliar bird calls. Descending again slightly, I spotted a Kestrel in the trees below…

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Sadly, Kestrels, which used to be commonplace, are becoming much rarer than they were and I was very glad to have this opportunity to photograph one. Even this blurred shot…

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…of the bird in flight shows details on the tail which I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

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I think I’d been spotted!

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Opportunities like this don’t come along very often. The only other half decent shots of a Kestrel I can recall posting are here, of a female bird, high in a tree near Hawes Water. This bird, with its grey head and tail and spots rather than bars, is unmistakably male.

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The Kent viaduct and the hills of the Lake District.

As I’ve mentioned before, it seems to have been a bumper year for toadstools, and I whiled away a happy hour seeking them out on the Knott and taking photos of a wide variety of sizes, colours and forms, some of which are below…

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I think that this…

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…is a Flesh-fly, Sarcophaga carnaria or one of its many, apparently virtually indistinguishable, relatives. I took the photo because I was  bit non-plussed by just how large the fly was. Perhaps it’s related the Jeff Goldblum.

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This is a Hawkbit. Possibly Rough Hawkbit, but you need to examine the hairs on the leaves with a hand lens to be sure, and I don’t have a hand lens, so I’m not confident. I like them anyway, whatever they’re called.

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Robin’s Pincushion Gall.

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Speckled Wood Butterfly.

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Arnside Tower.

 

A Windhover and Toadstools on the Knott

All Good Things

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All good things must come to an end, or so they say. And so: to the last weekend of our holiday. Actually, these photos were all taken on the Friday. The Saturday was rather damp. I still got out for a walk and took lots of photos of a hugely varied selection of fungi, but I must have only had my phone with me and the photos are all hopelessly blurred. On the Sunday, I was out so late that the few photos I took were almost completely dark, but for a thin line of light along the western horizon.

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Red Admiral.

On the Friday then, I was out in the garden, drawn out by the butterflies on the Buddleia. A subsequent walk took me past this old postbox on Cove Road…

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To The Cove itself…

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And thence onto The Lots where I hoped to find…

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Autumn Lady’s-tresses flowering.

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These are tiny plants, extremely easy to miss, but once you’ve spotted a couple your eye seems to tune in, and pretty soon you’re realising that there are loads dotted about. In ‘Wild Orchids of Great Britain and Ireland’ David Lang says that Autumn Lady’s-tresses are mainly distributed in the southern half of England, so we must be lucky to have them on The Lots and at Jack Scout.

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The Latin name is Spiranthes spiralis, the second part of which presumably refers to the way that the flowers spiral around the stem.

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Carline Thistle.

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Maybe not the most promising flower – a brown thistle, but I’m very fond of them.

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As you can probably tell.

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Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly.

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An Inman Oak.

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Rosehips.

Back in the garden, the seedheads on the Staghorn Sumach caught my eye…

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Apparently this can be used as a seasoning, and something similar is used in the Middle East – I haven’t plucked up the courage to try it yet.

Earlier in the summer we’d seen a lactating Roe Deer hind on our patio and I wondered if she had hidden a fawn, or fawns, nearby.

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Then we had a few visits from a hind, possibly the same one, with two fawns in tow. That’s the hind at the top of the post.

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The fawns’ white spots were beginning to disappear, but were still visible.

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They came right up under the kitchen windows. I was particularly pleased to catch the mother whilst she was in the sun, because that way you can see the wonderful colour of their summer coats.

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They’ve been back since, or at least a similar family have, but now have duller, winter fur and the fawns have completely lost their spots.

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I took this photo, as I often do, to remind me to go to the advertised talk. Which, a couple of weeks later, I duly did. Very good it was too.

I’ve seen Brian Yorke talk before. He’s very knowledgable and funny to boot. Unless you live locally, you might not have the chance to to catch up with one of his talks on flowers or ferns or bird migration, but he does have an excellent website where you can keep up with his latest finds and quirky drawings.

Anyway, back to the Friday: in the evening, we met with some friends for a beach bonfire, a chinwag and a few convivial drinks…

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I think that it was our good friend G who suggested the event.

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I hope it becomes a regular thing.

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B seemed to enjoy hunting for driftwood logs to sit on and/or burn.

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Sitting around a fire on a beach inevitably has me thinking back nostalgically to happy weekends on the Welsh coast a long time ago, with a different group of friends.

Finally, one last image of a Roe Deer, this time one of the young ones, as it passed through a sunny spot beneath our kitchen window…

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All Good Things