Hornby, Windy Bank and Melling Circuit

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River Wenning and Hornby Castle.

A post-work walk, with, for once during this non-event of a summer, some sunshine.

I’d noticed Windy Bank, the high ground which rises between the valleys of the Lune and the Wenning, when I walked from Claughton this time last year, and thought that it would make a pleasant evening walk.

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Windy Bank from the bank of the Wenning.

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River Wenning.

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Confluence of the Lune and the Wenning.

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River Lune.

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The far bank of the Lune, pock-marked with holes which look prefect for Sand Martins to nest. There weren’t any in evidence, but I should probably go back to check my hunch.

I followed the Wenning down to where it meets the Lune and then turned to follow the Lune upstream.

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Lapwing again. There were Little Egrets and Oystercatchers about too.

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A broken egg.

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Orange-tip butterfly.

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The Lune.

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Loyn Bridge.

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Loyn Bridge – ancient, but of unknown date.

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Melling, with Ingleborough behind.

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My summer evening walks in and around the Lune always seem to bring at least one encounter with a Hare.  Usually, they’re so still and so well disguised that I’m almost on top of them before I spot them and then the Hare will disappear so quickly that any thought of getting a photograph is superfluous almost as soon as I have had it. This Hare, by contrast, was wandering along the path towards me, seemingly quite relaxed and unconcerned, and then, having spotted me, by choosing to squeeze through the wire fence, had to stop for a moment so that I did get a few photos.

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I saw another Hare shortly afterwards, but that was a standard fleeting affair.

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Last summer, I was convinced that I’d mastered the difference between Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, but clearly I was wrong. I think that this is one of those, and I’m leaning towards the latter, but I’m really not sure.

The route comes from Mary Welsh’s Cicerone Guide ‘Walking in Lancashire’. She lists it as 7 miles, but by the time I’d finished that evening, I’d walked over 11, which was really more than I’d intended to do. The reason being that the path became very unclear as it approached Melling. I should never have been close to this railway bridge over the Lune.  (If you examine the map below, you’ll see that I did a lot of faffing about).

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I was also trying to avoid a large herd of bullocks who seemed very agitated by my presence. In the end, I had no option but to walk right through the middle of the cattle, where they were tightly confined between a hedge and a body of water. They surrounded me and were very skittish, with the ones behind me making little feints and charges, which was a bit unnerving.

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Melling.

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Barley (?) on Windy Bank.

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Gragareth and Ingleborough from Windy Bank.

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Hornby, Windy Bank and Melling Circuit

Harter Fell and Birks Bridge.

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On the Saturday of our Easter weekend I stayed at home with TBH, who, unfortunately, was suffering from her worst bout yet of labyrinthitis. Most of the rest of the party went for a swim in the Kent at Levens. It really was that warm, which is hard to believe now that it’s late May and the wind is howling outside beneath grey skies.

Easter Sunday was B’s birthday. How to entertain a teenager on their birthday? Fortunately, B was happy to fall in with our plans for a shortish walk up Harter Fell, followed by a swim in the River Duddon. TBH was feeling much better, but not well enough to want to join us.

This…

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…is Birks Bridge, where we planned to have a dip after our walk.

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You can see that the water is crystal clear. Deceptively deep too, it was possible, we later found, to jump from these rocks into the water without hitting the bottom.

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River Duddon.

First of all though, we had a hill to climb. The initial ascent was very steep and it was unseasonably hot. Here we are…

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…resting after the first steep pull.

This rocky tor…

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…is Maiden Castle. It’s very imposing and we’d picked it out from the car park as somewhere worth visiting. Actually, around the far side it can be easily scaled via a grassy ramp. That’s be sat on the top.

From this point on, not only did the angle ease, but there were lots more rocky knolls, so that a variety of different entertaining options for scrambling to the top were available. Andy and the DBs were in their element. I followed on more slowly, picking my route and avoiding some of the steeper sections they sort-out.

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At the top itself, there were plenty of sheltered spots for some lunch and a sunbathe…

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But also lots more rocky knolls to enjoy…

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B tells me that this photo…

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…gives a misleading impression about the route he is climbing, which, apparently, was “much steeper than that!”

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A and B have been up here once before, although I’m not sure how well they remember that visit , it was a long time ago after all.

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Hazy view of the hills around Upper Eskdale.

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Bird’s-eye view of Hardknott Roman Fort.

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We chose the simple option of retracing our steps down to the valley. By this time, the haze had begun to clear and the views were improving.

The others were setting a cracking pace, no doubt eager for the swim to come, but I was distracted by the great number of Peacock and Orange-tip butterflies which were flying.

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Orange-tips are one of those species of butterfly which rarely seem to land, at least when I have my camera handy. Fortunately, there were other distractions…

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…I love the way the almost lime green new Beech leaves complement the layer of old orange leaves which always blanket the ground beneath Beeches.

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They look pretty good against a blue sky too.

Eventually, a couple of Orange-tips decided to oblige and pose for photos…

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All that and a swim still to come!

Andy has photos of us swimming (as well as lots more pictures of the DBs scrambling). The water was refreshing of course, but not as cold, frankly, as I thought it might be. My theory is that the rivers are a good bet after prolonged dry spells, which is exactly what we’d just had. Once you were immersed, it wasn’t bad at all, and even Little S, who has no padding whatsoever and often suffers with the cold, managed a good long swim.

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Little S and I both like to climb a hill on our Birthdays if possible. I think this might be a first for B, but the combination of sunshine, old friends, some scrambling, and a swim is surely a hard act to follow.

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Harter Fell and Birks Bridge.

Simple Curiosity (or Another Easter Miscellany)

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“It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple.”

Rabindranath Tagore

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Heald Brow primroses.

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Heald Brow Cows. (Belted Galloway?)

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“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

–Ellen Parr

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I think this might be the caterpillar of the Lesser Yellow Underwing Moth. It was in our garden. I’m not aware that I’ve ever seen an adult moth of that species in our garden, I shall have to keep my eyes peeled.

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This is the Green Hairstreak butterfly in Eaves Wood which I mentioned in my recent post about Whitbarrow.

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A high tide at The Cove. Grange has almost disappeared in the haze – it was warming up again.

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On a visit to Lambert’s Meadow I saw loads of Peacock butterflies. Last summer, I was a bit concerned about how few of them visited our garden, so I was doubly delighted to see so many.

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There were Brimstones about too, but they wouldn’t settle for a photo.

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Cuckooflowers.

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Pheasant.

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At Myer’s Allotment there were several piles of felled logs. They all seemed to have attracted vast numbers of flies…

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…I think they might be Lesser House flies.

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Violets.

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I was rather taken by these tiny flowers, growing on an Ant mound at Myer’s Allotment. It’s taken me a while to identify them, but I’m pretty sure that this is Rue Leaved Saxifrage.

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The small three-lobed leaves and striking red stems seem quite distinctive.

When I took this shot…

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…I wasn’t actually after the Violets, but rather this bumblebee…

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…which toured a large patch of Violets whilst I struggled to get a photo. Mostly, when I did have it in frame, I ended up with shots of it hanging upside down below the flowers  to feed…

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It’s colours suggest that it’s probably an Early Bumblebee.

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Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.

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Cowslips.

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Hoverfly.

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Vespula vulgaris – the common wasp. A whopper. Apparently only queens fly in spring, seeking a site for a nest, so perhaps this was a queen on just such a quest.

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New oak leaves.

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Long purples – Early Purple Orchids.

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I noticed several wild rose plants with new buds and leaves affected by some sort of orange growth – I assume that this is a ‘rust’, but have to confess that I’m decidedly clueless about precisely what rusts are.

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Blackbird with worms on the fringes of Bank Well.

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Bank Well.

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Marsh Marigolds.

In amongst the reeds at Bank Well there was a Moorhen nest. Moorhens are very attractive birds, in my opinion, but their chicks are much less handsome. I took a few photos, but my camera struggled to focus on the birds because of the intervening reeds.

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One final Peacock butterfly.

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More new oak leaves, with flowers.

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

– Mary Oliver

Simple Curiosity (or Another Easter Miscellany)

Easter Miscellany

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I’ve decided to combine a hotchpotch of images from a sequence of local walks into one ragbag, catch-all post. These first few photos come from a very short outing, a circular route, but essentially to Lambert’s Meadow and back.

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Once at the meadow, I was mesmerised by the abundance of flies on the flowers along the edge of the field, beside a drystone wall. I was particularly surprised and delighted by the ubiquity of Bee Flies, a species I didn’t know about until relatively recently, but which I now realise are, at least in early spring, extremely common.

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There were lots of hoverflies about too. I keep promising myself a field guide and will surely get around to ordering one soon. Probably.

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Comma butterfly.

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Ash flower.

Later, I was out for a slightly extended version of my standard wander to the Cove and across the Lots. I was too early to catch the sunset from the Lots, but it was setting as I turned for home near Hagg Wood…

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The next day, I took B, some of his closest friends and Little S down to Preston for an early birthday treat for B – some indoor go-karting. I hadn’t intended to take part in the racing myself, but one of the friends had to drop out at the last moment, so I ended up taking part by default. Sadly, all of the boys were faster than me with the exception of Little S, who was in an underpowered ‘junior’ cart.

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This is our glamorous post-race lunch: sandwiches out of the car boot in the car-park on an industrial estate.

That evening, I managed to get out for an ascent of Arnside Knott.

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I love the fact that the powerful zoom on my camera brings Ingleborough so close…

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…and the light and shade which it revealed.

This tree…

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…which must have fallen a long time ago, but which has continued to grow despite that set-back, has featured on the blog before. It’s very close to the trig pillar on the Knott and the boys used to like climbing on its branches.

It’s a beech and on this occasion was liberally festooned with buds which looked like they would imminently burst forth with fresh green leaves.

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Nearby Sycamores were slightly ahead in that game…

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By the toposcope, I stopped for a brew, something I don’t do nearly as often as I should.

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A couple of days after that, a Sunday, and I was in Garstang with B for a rugby match. Whilst both teams were warming up I had a short wander by the River Wyre and looked at some sculptures in a small community park there.

We were impressed by our hosts score board…

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…and by the final score in what had been a very close match.

That evening, I was back on Arnside Knott.

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Willow catkins.

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Birch buds again. Possibly the same ones.

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Roe deer buck.

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Kent Estuary.

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Larch flowers and…

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…cones.

 

Easter Miscellany

Fine WX on Whitbarrow

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Green Hairstreak.

My first Green Hairstreak and, therefore, very exciting for me, I can tell you. In fact, my first Hairstreak of any description. As is the way of these thing, I saw a few more that day and then another closer to home in Eaves Wood a couple of days later. Just before we saw this, we also saw a butterfly or a moth which, unfortunately, I didn’t get a decent photo of. It looked, in terms of the general shape, like a butterfly; had brown forewings with a little dash of white and orange hindwings with a chocolate brown crescent on each. The latter is very characteristic of the many yellow underwing moth species, but I can’t find one that fits otherwise, and, like I say, it really looked more like a butterfly. I think it’s destined to remain a mystery.

The occasion was an ascent of Whitbarrow with our friend BB and three of his kids. Here he is…

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…on the excellent path which climbs the southern end of the escarpment.

When we reached the higher ground we settled in this sheltered spot which also has excellent views.

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BB had brought his portable radio kit with him and wanted to get on the airwaves and play with that. Equally, I’d brought my Bushbuddy stove and wanted to play with that…

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I don’t use it all that often and was reminded of one reason why that is, as it took an age to bring a small kettle of water to the boil for a brew.

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The view along the edge towards Gummer How.

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Ingleborough and Farleton Fell seen over a broad meander in the Kent.

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Whitbarrow is a limestone plateau and it’s a fair walk to the top at Lord’s Seat.

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It was lovely walking, but windy, and we soon had to put several layers back on. The contrast in the temperature compared to our sheltered lunch spot was amazing.

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Lord’s Seat.

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Scout Scar with the Howgills in the background.

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The Kent, Morecambe Bay and Arnside Knott.

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Arnside Knott again.

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Green Tiger Beetle.

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All the routes down the western side of Whitbarrow are steep, the route we took being no exception.

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Gummer How.

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The edges from near Witherslack Hall.

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Whitbarrow has appeared on the blog many times now. It seems to have become my go-to choice for a walk with friends. Perhaps because I feel like it deserves to be better known. On this occasion, it was actually BB’s suggestion. He has fond memories of climbing it when he was a boy.

Oh, WX, by the way, is amateur radio shorthand for weather.

And that’s 73 from me. (I’ll let you look that one up).

 

Fine WX on Whitbarrow

Burning with Optimism’s Flames

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My Birthday, back at the start of April. I’d decided to defer my usual ‘Birthday Hill’ day out, because the boys had ju-jitsu training, but there must have been a bit of miscommunication: it turned out that they were both up for a walk instead. We decided to fall back on an old favourite: around the coast to Arnside for lunch and home over the Knott.

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Grange-Over-Sands. The tide was well in and still rising.

“She claims she’s found a way to make her own light
All you do is smile, you banish the night”

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The moment you turn the corner to look down the Kent estuary. Cartmel Fell, Gummer How and Meathop Fell (with a higher lakeland fell squeezed in between, although very tiny in the photo).

“Now you see I’m smiling
Back to juvenile’ing
I learnt her lesson
In like flint and styling
All the world is neatly curled around my littlest finger”

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Whitbarrow Scar and the Kent Viaduct.

We had lunch in the refurbished and renamed ‘Wagtail’ cafe on the promenade. (It used to be the ‘Ramblers’.) The food was delicious, and the cafe has instantly become our new favourite in Arnside.

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Peacock Butterfly.

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TBH admiring the view from the Knott.

“I can’t stop this grinning
So assume I’m winning”

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TBH, Little S and A on the Knott.

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Red Admiral.

“Now every bird and bee just fuel the fire for me”

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The King(s) of the Castle.

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Arnside Tower Farm Chicken.

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Arnside Tower.

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Looking back to Arnside Knott.

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Violets.

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Song Thrush.

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Lesser Celandines.

“She says she’s burning with optimism’s flames, away away
She says she’s burning up all her guilts and shames, away away”

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These very common flowers, which open wide when the sun shines, make great mats of colour in hedgebottoms early in the year. Always really cheering.

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Quince Flowers – still going strong having started flowering as early as New Year’s Day.

So, what do you buy a man for his birthday, if he’s obsessed with walking?….

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Little S, B and TBH had all independently gone out and bought me socks! Marvellous – the old ones were all getting a bit threadbare.

And finally – the cryptic quotes are all from ‘Burning Optimism’s Flames’ by XTC. Andy Partridge has a knack for writing tunes about being happy – ‘Yacht Dance’, ‘Wrapped in Grey’ and ‘Stupidly Happy’ spring instantly to mind, from various stages of their career. There are probably others too. ‘Burning Optimism’s Flames’ is from the wonderful ‘Black Sea’, the first album of theirs which I bought and still one of my favourites. (XTC fans seem to love debating which of their albums are best – frankly I can’t even agree with myself on this one, I change my mind so often).

Burning with Optimism’s Flames

February Heatwave.

Castlebarrow – Arnside Tower – Arnside Knott – Arnside Moss – Hazelslack – Beetham Fell – Hazelslack – Silverdale Moss – Hawes Water – Eaves Wood.

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Lesser Celandines performing their salute to the sun.

Obviously, the words ‘February’ and ‘heatwave’ simply don’t belong together, at least, not in Britain. But this year we really did have a few days of genuinely warm weather at the end of that month.

My brother and his kids had flown home to Switzerland on the Saturday. We’d booked a family trip to the escape room in Lancaster to end our half-term on a high note. Since I’m in training, I wanted to squeeze in as many miles and as much ascent as I could in the limited time available.

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The forecast seemed to have brought out the crowds and the Pepper Pot was about as busy as I’ve seen it. Later, on Arnside Knot there were numerous groups sitting in the sun, apparently enjoying picnics or just sunbathing and enjoying the slightly hazy views.

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Arnside Tower.

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Arnside Tower Farm and Arnside Knott.

There were quite a lot of butterflies about.

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Red Admiral.

I didn’t want to hang about chasing them with my camera too much, but couldn’t resist this Red Admiral which was sunning itself by the trig pillar on Arnside Knott.

I’ve read that last summer’s long hot spell benefited some species of butterfly, but I can’t imagine that this spring, which continues to have alternate periods of unseasonably warm weather, followed by some very cold snaps, can have done our butterflies much good.

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There were lots of Crocuses in flower on the driveway of Arnside Tower Farm, but I was surprised to find them at the base of a sapling near the top of the Knott. Crocuses are not a native species, so either these have self-seeded here, or somebody has planted bulbs, but that seems like an odd thing to do. Either way, they looked fantastic.

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Arnside Moss.

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Hazelslack Farm and Tower.

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A path runs along the lefthand (west side) of these fields. It’s not one I walk all that often, but I used it on this occasion so that I could make a circular loop taking in Beetham Fell.

After this, it began to cloud up and by the time I was walking alongside Silverdale Moss towards home there was a nip in the air. It began to feel like February again.

Mapmywalk tells me that I had walked a little over 10 miles, with considerably over 1100 feet of ascent in a little under 4 hours. I was chuffed with this, since it’s the sort of pace I’ll need for the 10in10 challenge. Admittedly, that will involve a great deal more climbing, but this was a start at least.

At the escape rooms, I found myself handcuffed and apparently accused of murder. Fortunately, we were able to locate the key to the cuffs, escape from the police cell and even identify the actual culprit. I can’t say it was really my cup-of-tea, but it was an interesting experience and I think the rest of the family were much more impressed than I was.


In the summer, I shall be attempting to complete the annual 10 in 10 challenge. Briefly, the idea is to walk a route over 10 Wainwrights in 10 hours or less.  You can find out more here.

The event is a fundraiser and I’m hoping to get some sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. My Just Giving page is here. All donations, however small, will be most welcome. I should add that the sponsorship is not a condition of my entry and that I’ve already paid a fee to enter which covers all costs, so all sponsor money would go directly to charity.

February Heatwave.