Foulshaw Moss Again

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Figwort.

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Wasp on Figwort.

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Green-veined White on Tufted Vetch.

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Green-veined White on Bramble.

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Large Skipper on Tufted Vetch.

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Large Skipper on Thistle.

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Large Skipper on Bramble.

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Common Carder Bumblebee (I think) on Thistle.

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Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars on Ragwort.

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Foulshaw Moss, with Arnside Knott and Meathop Fell on the skyline.

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Foulshaw Moss, with Whitbarrow Scar behind.

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Great Spotted Woodpecker, adult, female I think.

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Great Spotted Woodpecker, juvenile.

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Black Darter, female.

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Foulshaw Moss.

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Common Lizard.

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A web-tent. I couldn’t see any caterpillars within.

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Scots Pines.

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Reed Bunting, male.

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Marbled Orb Weaver Spider (perhaps).

These photos were taken just over a month ago on an evening visit to Foulshaw Moss whilst A was at her weekly dancing lessons. Since they were taken, we’ve been away for three weeks, camping in Wales and then France, and this little outing feels like a distant memory.

I have enjoyed looking through them, however, and trying to put names to things I recorded. Not here are the many small birds which tumbled about in the trees, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Linnets and Chaffinches. Also missing are the crickets and/or grasshoppers which I saw, but failed to photograph and the Ospreys, Adders and Large Heath Butterflies which I hope to see when I visit, but which have always eluded me so far.

The Black Darter, Britain’s smallest species of Dragonfly, is new to me, so that should probably be the highlight, but it was the adult Great Spotted Woodpecker, which I heard first and then picked out in flight, flying, unusually, towards me rather than away and landing at the top of a dead Birch relatively nearby, which will stick in my mind. Also, the hordes of Wasps feeding on Figwort flowers, reminding me of my observation last year that the flowers and the Wasps seem to have coevolved so that a Wasp’s head is a perfect fit for a Figwort flower.

 

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Foulshaw Moss Again

Returns Policy

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“I try not to repeat previous routes.”

Fellow blogger, and almost neighbour Conrad, is of an adventurous bent, a novelty seeker, a risk taker. I only know Conrad online, so I shouldn’t really presume to know, but I imagine that his ‘never go back’ approach is driven by the impulse which once made him a climber and which has seen him set-out on some truly mammoth walks (of which I am very jealous).

I understand this school of thought: there are so many places to visit, even locally, and so little time in which to visit them all: why repeat yourself? But, at the same time, I love the comfort of the familiar: places I’ve visited time and again, in every season, every hour of the day and every kind of weather.

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As Conrad pointed out, in a comment on a recent post, there are advantages to this repetitious beating of the bounds – knowledge accumulates and you begin to know what there is to see, and when and where it can be seen. For example, when I started this blog, just over 10 years ago, I don’t think I’d ever encountered Cinnabar Moth caterpillars; now I expect to find them every summer. Last week they were out in numbers, seemingly stripping every available Ragwort plant in Redhill Pastures on Arnside Knott.

I was there to help again with the Limestone Grassland monitoring project I signed up for last year. The pasture was absolutely parched and it was very difficult to identify the herbs we were looking for. As is my wont, I was crawling around on hands and knees looking for some of the tiny flowers which are important indicator species, when I discovered that both of my forearms were covered in minute specks of pollen. Except the ‘pollen’ was moving. It wasn’t pollen; they were ticks. Hundreds of the them. Since we live in an area where deer are quite common, I’m used to finding the odd tick, but I’ve never seen them in this kind of profusion. It was a bit disconcerting, and I had to excuse myself to go home for a shower.

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This final photo was taken the day before my tick-infestation and is off an altogether happier occasion and another slight return – we went back to High Dam for a swim. This time all five of us went and the sun shone and there were no midges. We were there for a couple of hours and it was very refreshing.

Who knows – we may be back there soon? We’ll certainly return at some point – we like to go back.

Returns Policy

Skiddaw Bivvy

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Keswick and Derwentwater – it was quite a bit darker than this photo suggests.

Friday evening. S has a class on the climbing wall in the Sports Centre at Lancaster University. It had been a busy week: S had been the Artful Dodger in his school’s production of Oliver (which was brilliant, although I may be a little biased). I’d also had a late evening at work, so hadn’t managed my usual evening walk(s). What’s-more, the nights had been hot and sticky, at least by local standards, and I’d been finding it hard to sleep. Driving home with S I had an inspiration – a way to get out for a walk and get a cooler night. Back at home I hurriedly grabbed something to eat, threw some things into my rucksack and set-off for Keswick.

I parked in the high car-park behind Latrigg, which was quite full. There were several occupied campervans which I guessed were staying the night, but numerous cars also. A couple approached me and asked about potential wild-camping spots. They’d ended up here by default after having problems with closed roads. It occurred to me afterwards that they may have been heading for the end of Haweswater, because when we were there a few weeks ago, somebody had been larking about with road-closed signs and diversion signs even though there was actually little or no work going on. Anyway, I wasn’t much use to them; I haven’t camped in this part of the Lakes before and haven’t climbed Skiddaw in an absolute age. They decided to try Latrigg, but soon overtook me on the broad path up Skiddaw, looking for a spot on Jenkin Hill, where I saw them again with their tent just about pitched.

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The moon rising over the Dodds.

It was already after sunset when I started my walk and I was surprised by the freshness of the breeze, so much so that I hastily stuffed an extra jumper into my bag which I happened to have in the boot of the car. TBH and I had noticed that the moon was full when we went out for a short stroll after Little S’s theatric triumph, so I was anticipating a light night and that’s how it turned out – I only used my headtorch close to the top of Skiddaw when the ground was rocky and I wanted to avoid a trip.

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I arrived on the top at around half twelve. Even then the sky to the north still held a good deal of light. There were a few people about – I suppose that this is a traditional weekend for fell-runners completing the Bob Graham Round.

I was after something much more modest – a place to kip-down for a few hours. I’d remembered that the highest parts of Skiddaw are very rocky – like a slag heap, one friend has subsequently described it – but felt confident that I would find somewhere. Ironically, given my enthusiasm for wild-flowers, it was the sight of tiny white stars of the flowers of a bedstraw – there are many species – which stood out in the darkness and led me to a spot with at least a thin covering of soil. It’s wasn’t a spot I could recommend – sloping, uneven, hard, stony and not entirely out of the, by now, pretty fierce wind, but, somewhat to my surprise, I not only slept, but slept quite well. It was cold though – I discovered that when needs must I can get right down inside my sleeping bag and close it over my head. Between my sleeping bag, the thin pertex bivvy bag I have and the extra jumper I’d brought I just about stayed on the right side of comfortable.

I woke at around three, momentarily panicking a little because it was so light that I was worried that I’d missed the sunrise, despite the fact that I’d set an alarm for 4.20am, precisely to avoid that eventuality. I should have taken a photograph at three – the colours in the northern sky were superb, but I’m afraid my head was soon down again for a little more shut-eye.

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In the event, I didn’t need the alarm: two groups of people walked past my little hollow about 10 minutes before it was due to go off, timing their arrival on the top just about perfectly for the sunrise.

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It’s a while since I’ve watched a sunrise from a mountain. Perhaps I won’t wait so long this time to repeat the experience.

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There was evidently a layer of cloud hanging low over the Solway Firth to the north and the Eden Valley to the east and odd wisps of mist closer to hand.

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Bassenthwaite Lake.

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An early party on the summit.

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Derwentwater and the surrounding hills.

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Derwentwater and the Fells pano.

For reasons which now escape me, I climbed Skiddaw Little Man in the dark on the Friday night, but I’d stuck to the main path which omits the top of Jenkin Hill, and avoids Lonscale Fell and Lonscale Pike altogether, so on my way back to the car I diverted slightly to take them all in.

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Jenkin Hill, Lonscale Fell and Blencathra behind.

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Looking back to Skiddaw Little Man and Skiddaw. 

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Derwentwater and the Fells from Jenkin Hill.

From Lonscale Pike, I found a slight path, which followed the wall down close to the edge of Lonscale Crags. Part way down, I realised that the weather had already warmed up considerably and decided to sit down to admire the view with a bit of porridge and a cup of tea.

Nearby, I spotted this large caterpillar…

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…which I think is of the Hairy Oak Eggar Moth. B and I saw some similar caterpillars on Haystacks two summers ago.

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Foxglove.

As I got close to the car park again, and was down amongst the bracken covered hillsides, there were numerous moths and some Small Heath butterflies and a host of small birds about. Sadly none of my photos turned out very well.

Back at the car, I dumped my rucksack and set-out to tick-off Latrigg, it being so close by and the weather so favourable. Incidentally, the car park was already full, at 9 in the morning, breaking the usually reliable rule that car-parks in the Lakes are almost empty before 10, I presume because people were seeking an early start to escape the heat of the day. There’s a direct path to the top, not shown on OS maps, but also a more circuitous one, which I chose, partly because I wasn’t in a hurry and partly because I thought it would give better views.

Latrigg was busy with walkers, runners and Skylarks.

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I watched this Skylark in flight and then, after it had landed on a small mound, walked slowly toward it, taking photos as I approached.

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This Skylark…

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…didn’t require the same effort. It landed quite close to the path and then flew just a short distance further on, before having a ‘dust bath’ on the path. Although it was much closer than the first bird, it wouldn’t pose and look at the camera in such an obliging way.

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Keswick from Latrigg.

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Keswick from Latrigg pano.

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Skiddaw massif from Latrigg.

Highly enjoyable, although it did leave me a bit wiped out for the rest of the weekend. Hopefully, I’ll try another summit bivvy, if the opportunity arises – without a tent I can manage with my small rucksack, which wasn’t too heavy, aside from the two litres of water I was carrying.

Skiddaw Bivvy

Kirklands Kent’s Bank

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This tower, on Kirklands, by Kent’s Bank, which is a sort of suburb of Grange-over-Sands, was built as a folly, but nobody seems to know when or by whom. Allegedly, it’s on the site of a much earlier church and apparently open-air services are still held here sometimes in the summer. I was here as a continuation of the grassland monitoring, with Morecambe Bay Partnerships, which I helped with last year. We had a very short refresher course in the Victoria Hall in Grange and then came out here for some in-the-field revision. There’s no official public access to this area: we had permission, but judging by the well-walked paths in the area, the locals probably have a sort of de facto right-to-roam anyway. One of the volunteers in the party also volunteers on archeological digs and has worked here on three caves which revealed evidence of human habitation going back to just over ten thousand years ago. Also, even older remains of horses, elk and lynx.

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The hillside behind the folly, dipping into the cloud, is Hampsfell (not featured on this blog for far too long). The fact that lowly Hampsfell was in the cloud gives an indication of the weather – after several days which, even when cloudy, were still quite hot – the weather had turned overcast and a bit chilly.

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The hill seen across the Kent Estuary here is Arnside Knott – this spot is really not far from home, although it takes quite a while to drive because of a lack of a road bridge over the lower reaches of the Kent. One day, hopefully, a pedestrian bridge alongside the rail bridge will connect Arnside and Grange. On this occasion, I risked Northern Rails dodgy service and caught the train.

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Here’s the ‘team’ heading downhill. The low, wooded hill in the distance is Humphrey Head, another place I haven’t been to for quite some time.

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Botanising.

It was good to be out with like-minded people, not necessarily for a tutorial as such, but just to get back into the routine of how to carry out the surveys and the very close observation which is required in order to pick out some of the very tiny species which can be good indicators of healthy limestone grassland.

I did often get distracted by other things however. There was a Kestrel hovering overhead which I photographed several times, but on such a gloomy day none of the pictures came out very well.

Also…

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…this very dark and hairy insect which I thought would be distinctive enough to easily identify from a field guide. But sadly not: it looks to me like a mining bee, an Andrena speciesbut I’m not confident that it is one of those, and not at all sure which particular species.

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Hoverfly – possibly Helophilus Pendulus.

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Caterpillar of the Six-spot Burnett Moth.

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Bird’s-foot Trefoil (a food plant of the Six-spot Burnett Caterpillar).

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A Bedstraw. There are lots of different bedstraws and distinguishing between them is exceptionally difficult.

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Mouse-ear-hawkweed. There are lots of different Hawkweeds too, but this one, at least, is relatively easy to pick out.

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Lesser Trefoil (I think).

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Pig-nut. This plant has tiny tubers which taste, well, nutty. Pigs love them, and apparently they used to be very popular with country children too. Hard to try them now because it’s illegal to dig-up plants on somebody else’s land.

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Rock Rose (in profusion).

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Yellow Rattle, or Hay Rattle.

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Yellow Rattle seed capsules. They rattle, hence the name.

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Burnet Rose.

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Kidney Vetch.

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Heath Speedwell (that was the consensus opinion anyway).

Previous visit to Hampsfell here.

Previous visit to Humphrey Head here.

How to forage for pignuts.

Findings in Kent’s Bank Cave.

 

Kirklands Kent’s Bank

Aira Force

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Once we had discovered that our friends had never visited Aira Force before, that seemed like an obvious thing to do whilst we were in the area. The main car park was full and we were quite lucky to get two spaces in the additional Park Brow parking a little up the road toward Dockray. We dropped down to the visitor centre where the kids discovered a bit of a playground…

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I suppose there will eventually come a point when they feel that they are too mature and sophisticated for this kind of thing, but it hasn’t happened yet and I’m in no hurry for them to get there.

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Of course, a good tree to climb is even better than a manmade substitute, a fact which B reminded me of when he appeared, grinning rather cheekily, above the roof of the snack kiosk.

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When we eventually got going again, our friend Little B (there were really too many people on this trip with christian names beginning with B!) , spotted this striking caterpillar…

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Alder Moth caterpillar.

…determinedly making its way across a very busy path.

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On the bridge below Aira Force.

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Dipper.

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Our route was a simple one, we followed the paths up one side of the stream and then came back down on the other side.

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Little B is something of a kindred spirit; she loves nature and took lots of photographs. She will surely have a blog of her own in years to come. There were quite a few toadstools emerging in the woods and she was evidently fascinated. When we came across this enormous specimen…

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She stood by it to give me some scale.

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High Cascades.

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Ullswater.

Aira Force

Return to Crummack Dale

Austwick – Flascoe Bridge – Oxenber Wood – Wharfe Wood – Wharfe – Moughton Whetstone Hole – Moughton Scars – Beggar’s Stile – Crummack – Norber Sike – Austwick.

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Ingleborough and Moughton from Oxenber Wood.

A walk with our friends M and S (seniority has had to give way to propriety here). They live on the edge of the Lakes and haven’t explored the Dales much, I was anxious to take the rest of the family to see Crummack Dale, the forecast was good, so all-in-all, this walk seemed ideal.

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Heading down towards Higher Bark House (we would soon turn left). Moughton Scar and Pen-y-ghent beyond.

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Red Admiral.

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Waterfall on Wharfe Gill Sike (another Lune tributary).

The kids were chatting away, somewhat ahead of the adults – we were talking about Ash dieback, I’m not sure what was keeping them occupied – when I noticed that they’d all stopped and looked rather hesitant. Here’s why…

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….fortunately, he didn’t seem very bothered by our presence.

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Wharfe.

One reason for choosing to repeat a walk very similar to one I’d only recently done was my anticipation of plentiful Raspberries on the track out of Wharfe. Everyone tucked in, but nobody seemed to relish them quite as much as me, and I got left well behind.

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Bridge over Austwick Beck.

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A ford on the path. This small stream, between Studrigg and Hunterstye, unnamed on the OS map, is another Lune tributary.

After his foraging lesson in North Wales, Little S recognised the leaves of Sorrel on the path here and decided to educate the rest of the party.

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Knotgrass Caterpillar.

We weren’t the only one enjoying the Sorrel – almost inevitably it was B who spotted this colourful creepy-crawly.

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This stream flows from Moughton Whetstone Hole to join Austwick Beck and therefore is another source of the Lune. 

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Ingleborough from Moughton Scars.

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And again.

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Looking back along the scars, Pendle Hill in the distance.

Little S had bashed his leg against a bench by Austwick Beck and since then had been limping theatrically, whenever he remembered to, alternating legs from time to time. He loves hopping about on Limestone Pavements however and now underwent a remarkable recovery which enabled his foot-dragging pace to increase to a run.

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The view from just below Beggar’s Stile. Again, Pendle Hill on the horizon.

Although B is very adept at spotting wildlife, and his powers of observation are usually acute, they don’t always seem to function: when I pointed out Pendle Hill and asked him if he had noticed its bulk looming over the Scout Camp where he had spent the previous week he looked at me blankly.

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Roe Deer Buck – the sheep behind gives a good idea of their size: they aren’t very big.

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Heading back down to Austwick. The stream at the bottom is Norber Sike, you guessed it, another Lune Tributary! Obsessed? Who me?

Return to Crummack Dale

Mynydd Mawr and Mynydd Anelog

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With high-tide generally falling around the middle of the day and therefore not much beach on offer at that time, we did a tiny bit more exploring than we sometimes do when we are on the Llyn, which is to say: some. We have once before been down to the end of the peninsula, but that was 7 years ago, and at that time the Llyn coastal path hadn’t been opened, so today’s walk wouldn’t have been possible.

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Bardsey Island.

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Former Coastguard lookout station on Mynydd Mawr.

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The coastal heath on Mynydd Mawr, with its patchwork of purple heather and low-growing, yellow gorse looked wonderful, and the sea, a fairly mundane blue in my photos, was a scintillating, almost unreal seeming, glittering turquoise in the flesh.

It was also breathtakingly clear – this was the day, my kids have reminded me, when TJF correctly picked out the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland, whilst his Dad and I poured scorn on the idea, trying to persuade him that it was Anglesea he was looking at. In our defence, he had first tentatively suggested that those distant hills were in Pembrokeshire, which was patently ridiculous. So honours even then. Sort of.

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Two views of Mynydd Anelog.

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I suspect, but can’t recall, that this walk was Andy’s suggestion. Certainly he, and some of the others, have done it before, but for us it was a revelation. I took many, many pictures of the view along the coast and fell steadily further behind the group.

Then, with distractions closer to hand as well, the situation only got worse…

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Having been wrong about this before, I hesitate to offer a definitive opinion here, but I’m pretty sure that this is a male Linnet and not a Red-poll, the grey head and black tail-feathers being the deciding features.

I think that these gregarious black caterpillars are almost certainly destined one day, hopefully, to be Peacock butterflies.

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I’ve been a bit worried about Peacock butterflies. They are generally very common close to home and probably the most regular visitors to the Buddleia bushes in our garden. But until recently I’ve hardly seen any this year, and none in the garden. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so thorough when I pulled out all of the nettles I found in our flower beds a while back, since this is the caterpillars food-plant.

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As we dropped down into the gap between Mynydd Mawr and Mynydd Anelog we were sheltered from the wind and there were lots of butterflies about. This…

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…Wall Brown can stand in for them all. It’s not a species I see at home, although apparently it is present in the area.

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Common Fleabane.

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Looking back to Mynydd Mawr.

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Carn Fadryn see through intervening rain, the Rivals just about visible on the left.

We had a few spots of rain as we left the top of Mynydd Anelog (after our customary summit sit-down rest), but then the weather held off long enough for most of the party to have made it back to the cars, or near enough. Most of the party: TBH and Little S and I had been dawdling on the minor lane – I was introducing Little S to the delights of foraged Sorrel from the road verge – so that we were caught in the next fierce shower, which was first hail and then a really drenching rain. It wasn’t sufficient to put a dampener on a really excellent walk however.

Mynydd Mawr and Mynydd Anelog