Clougha Pike and Grit Fell.

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A hazy view toward Morecambe Bay from Clougha Pike.

Okay, the weather has been a bit ropey so far this summer, but there have been some pleasant days too. This was another evening outing, this time taking advantage of the proximity of the western edge of the Bowland Fells to Lancaster, where I work.

I parked in the Rigg Lane car park and from there took an almost out and back route, via Clougha Pike, except that I diverted off the ‘ridge’ path to visit the Andy Goldsworthy sculpture and then followed the track from there which looped around back to the main path east of Grit Fell, from where I turned back for the car via Grit Fell and Clougha Pike again.

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The Bowland Hills are moorland, but occasional, scattered rocky knolls add some character.

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The Andy Goldsworthy sculpture, Caton Moor wind farm beyond.

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Near to the sculptures, this neat curved structure…

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..is intriguing.

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It occurred to me that it might be a Grouse Butt, although it’s quite large for that and also very poorly camouflaged.

Seen from Lancaster or Morecambe, Clougha Pike looks very imposing, but on the map it barely seems to be a summit in its own right, looking more like an edge on the flanks of Grit Fell. Approached from Grit Fell however, it does have a clear independent identity…

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I found a party of four enjoying a picnic on the summit, so dropped down the edge a little way before stopping for my own snack and brew. Whilst I sat, I had a superb view of a male Kestrel flying very close by parallel to the edge. I’d seen a male Kestrel, possibly the same on, as I first reached the edge during my ascent. There had been Meadow Pipits too, many Red Grouse, and some Curlews, loudly demonstrating their objections to my presence.

As seems to be obligatory this year, this hill walk included several encounters with hairy caterpillars…

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I saw three of these hirsute fellows…

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All making no attempt what so ever to hide in any way – apparently their hairs make them unpalatable to many birds who might otherwise eat them. Unusually, I recognised this species: they are Oak Eggar Moth caterpillars. I’ve seen them before, several times, on Carn Fadryn and Yr Eifl on the Llyn Peninsula, on Haystacks and, most recently, on Skiddaw last summer.

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Clougha Scar.

A very pleasant outing, and I was still home in time to vote in the European elections.


This weekend, 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.

A huge thank you to those who have donated already. Since the event is almost upon us, I shall soon stop pasting this onto the end of posts, I promise. Preparations have gone reasonably well and I’m beginning to think that it’s at least possible that I will get close(ish) to the ten hour target time, all things being equal. Either way, you’ll eventually hear all about it…

 

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Clougha Pike and Grit Fell.

Three Nights in Wasdale

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Great Gable.

Our annual Bank Holiday camping trip to Nether Wasdale. This year it was a bit brass monkeys. Actually, it’s often very cold. And it wasn’t as cold as the forecasters had predicted. And we didn’t have the tent-destroying gales that we’ve experienced more than once in the past. And it mostly stayed dry. And the company was excellent, as ever. And the Herdwick burgers sold in the campsite shop and made from their own lamb from the farm were delicious, even if I did burn them somewhat on the barbecue.

A was once again involved in DofE practice and then wanted to stay at home because of forthcoming exams. TBH volunteered to stay at home to look after A (You might almost conclude that TBH doesn’t like camping when its chilly!). So it was just me and the DBs from our clan. Fortunately, we had lots of old friends to meet at the campsite to keep us company.

On the first day of our stay, we decided to repeat the route we walked last year, climbing Lingmell by the path alongside Piers Gill. I didn’t take so many pictures this time around. I didn’t even capture group shots at all of our many rest stops…

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…of which I think this was the first.

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And this…

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…was probably about the fourth.

We stopped again on the top, obviously…

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…but it was snowing at the time, so not the warmest spot. Easter weekend – river swimming; Spring Bank Holiday weekend – snow. Of course – that’s British weather for you: predictably unpredictable.

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Wastwater and the Irish Sea, plus snow showers heading our way.

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Scafell Pike and Scafell and approximately a million hikers.

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Looking down Lingmell’s shattered cliffs towards Piers Gill.

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Little S couldn’t resist this pinnacle. My heart was in my mouth when he nonchalantly scampered up and down, but, of course, he was fine.

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Lingmell, Piers Gill and one of Piers Gill’s tributaries, seen from the Corridor Route.

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Great Gable, Green Gable and Uncle Fester.

Great Gable really dominates the view for much of this walk. Our friend J pointed out to me last year that you can pick out Napes Needle relatively easily from the Corridor Route. Through the magic of my camera’s zoom, here it is…

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You can see three people in front of the Needle and, perhaps by clicking on the image to see a larger version on flickr, you can also see that two others are ‘threading the Needle’, a well known scramble which I’ve never done, and am not likely to do now, I don’t think.

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Looking towards Wasdale Head.

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Great Gable and Little S.

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This spring seems to have been a bumper one for spotting hairy caterpillars. This rather attractive specimen maybe destined to become a moth called The Drinker, because of the caterpillar’s penchant for supping dew. Then again, I could easily be wrong about that.

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Great Gable yet again. It’s become slightly irksome that I’ve revisited almost every peak in the area in recent years apart from Gable, and its neighbour…

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…Kirk Fell.

On the Sunday, we chose to repeat a route which, in a number of variations, we’ve walked many times before – a circuit taking in Irton Pike, the village of Santon Bridge and a wander back along the valley of the River Irt.

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I took even less photos than I had the day before.

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We had a leisurely stop on the summit of Irton Pike – I may even have dozed off for a while.

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Looking toward Wasdale Head from Irton Pike.

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Eskdale and Harter Fell from Irton Pike.

On the final day we needed to pack-up, faff about and mull over what we should do once we’d finished faffing about. The DBs had heard Andy’s tales of whopping great plates of waffles and ice-cream from the cafe in Seascale, so a visit there was very high on their agenda. Eventually, they were persuaded that we could manage that, but still also fit in an ascent of Buckbarrow, another favourite outing from our Wasdale trips.

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Scafell Pike, Scafell, Wastwater and the Screes from Buckbarrow.

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The Isle of Man is out there somewhere.

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The 2019 crew, having the obligatory brew/lunch stop.

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Buckbarrow.

And finally, if you were wondering about the awkward title: I manoeuvred “three nights” into the title, so that I could cram Three Dog Night into the post…

Three Nights in Wasdale

Ingleborough and Whernside from Ingleton

Ingleton – Fell Lane – Crina Bottom – Ingleborough – Park Fell – Colt Park – Sleights Pasture Rocks – Ivescar – Winterscales – Little Dale – Force Gill – Whernside – High Pike – Combe Scar – West Fell – Ewes Top – Twistleton Hall – River Doe – Ingleton.

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Milestone just outside Ingleton.

A long walk, by my standards at least. I wanted to test my fitness and how my preparation for the 10 in 10 challenge was coming along. The forecast wasn’t great, but the weather for the Dales looked like a much better bet than than the Lakes – hence my choice of route.

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I didn’t descend from Whernside in a perfectly straight line, as this map suggests. The battery on my phone ran down and the app has simply connected the final point at which I checked my distance travelled with the point at which I was able to recharge my phone, which was when I got back to the car. I now realise that my phone was constantly searching for a signal (I didn’t have one all day) and that was why the battery drained so quickly. Apparently, aeroplane mode is the way to go. (Andy subsequently explained this to me – he knows about new-fangled gadgets and stuff like phone batteries).

Anyway, mapmywalk gives this approximate route as roughly 20 miles and 3500′ of ascent. I suspect the actual figures are slightly higher, but probably not much.

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Ingleton from Fell Lane.

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Ingleborough from just above Crina Bottom.

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Approaching the final climb on to Ingleborough.

By the time I’d reached this point, the wind was really picking up and I’d added extra layers. The warmth of earlier in the week was not at all in evidence.

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Purple Saxifrage on the limestone crags just short of the top of Ingleborough.

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Looking back to Ingleborough from the path which skirts Simon Fell.

The large exposed summit plateau on Ingleborough was extremely windy. I couldn’t even find much respite in the shelter near the top, even though that has walls in a cross shape – you’d think at least one of the spaces created would be out of the wind, but none was very sheltered. Just off the top, I met two chaps who were crouched behind a large boulder, where there was a modicum of relief, one of whom was looking rather shaken. They warned me that the next section of ridge would be challenging, and they weren’t wrong. Fortunately, it was short lived, but it was so blowy on the first part of the descent that it was difficult not to stumble and stagger around.

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Looking back to Inglebrough from the col just before Park Fell.

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Handsome hairy caterpillar. I can’t identify which species.

In the vicinity of Sleights Pasture Rocks, I stopped for some lunch behind a curious section of drystone wall. It was very tall, but only about 20 yards long, connecting a couple of large boulders. I couldn’t see what purpose it could possibly serve, apart from to provide me with a lovely sun-trap for my lunch. Down here between the hills, it was actually beginning to feel quite warm. There were even a few butterflies about.

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Ribblehead viaduct, Pen-y-ghent in the background.

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Little Dale Beck, just beyond Winterscales.

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Force Gill.

From Force Gill, I followed the path which climbs gradually towards Whernside. Just short of the ridge I met a couple who warned me that the wind on the ridge was ‘horrendous’ and that they had turned back because of it. I stopped to put on another layer, my coat, gloves and a balaclava. I needed them all. A small group passed me and I watched them staggering along the path. At this point, the path runs right along the rim of a steep edge. The wind was slamming full on to that face and then roaring up and over the edge. It was very tough going. I decided to hop over the fence and then through a gap in the wall which runs along the other side of the path.

At that point, I finally fell over, something which had been threatening to happen since I’d emerged into the full blast of the wind. On the ground, behind the wall, it was wonderfully sheltered and I lay there for a while to get my breath back. Walking on the far side of the wall and back from the edge proved to be much easier than walking on the path had been, although it was still very windy.

On the top, I chatted to a couple who were walking all of the Three Peaks and seemed to be having something of a torrid time. I suspect it was probably dark well before they finished.

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Fortunately, as I descended the wind abated steadily. Eventually, I even felt I could remove some of those extra layers again.

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Looking back to Whernside.

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Ingleborough.

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The OS map shows a standing stone on Ewes Top Moss which has been incorporated into a wall. I think this must be it.

By this point in the day, I was beginning to flag, and had emptied both of my water bottles. The walk down along the River Doe is lovely, but I’d forgotten how much up and down it entails and would frankly have preferred a more straightforward last lap.

In all though, a superb route and a great day, although much colder and windier than the photos suggest.


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.

Ingleborough and Whernside from Ingleton

Helm Crag.

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Sunrise from our patio.

The first of three Mondays in our Easter break. Having only climbed Arnside Knott on my birthday, our plan was to get out and bag a bigger hill, to take advantage of the glorious weather and to scratch my itch for a ‘proper’ fell on or near my birthday. In fact, I was hoping that we would get around the entire Greenburn Horseshoe, a pretty modest outing, but we needed to get back because B had rugby training in Kendal in the evening.

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Helm Crag.

We were away quite early, for us, and parked, for free, in the layby on the main road outside Grasmere. From Easedale we took a path through the grounds of the Lancrigg Hotel, which the owners have wisely opened to the public – it must bring in extra passing custom. I shall certainly be hoping to pop in for a drink after a walk one sunny summer day. The gardens are lovely – well worth a visit.

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In the gardens of the Lancrigg Hotel.

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A simple memorial to Dorothy Wordsworth.

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“Dorothy Wordsworth used to sit at this spot, writing down the poems that her brother dictated as he walked nearby.”

From the gardens we took a slightly wrong turn which brought us to what seemed to be a small disused quarry. It was a fortuitous mistake, because in a small tree at the base of a crag a Tawny Owl was perched, no doubt resting out the day in what it considered to be a quiet, out-of-the-way spot until we stumbled by. Much like the owl which we found on our window ledge a couple of summers ago.

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Back on the path we’d soon stopped again. It was ridiculously hot for early April and we wanted to take on some water. There were lots of butterflies about and I tried, without much success, to get some photos.

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Far Easedale.

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Seat Sandal and Fairfield.

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The boys enjoyed scrambling on the rocky tors near the top, particularly this one…

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…which is the actual summit.

After some lunch, we continued along the ridge…

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Last time we all came this way together, I carried Little S most of the way up and down Helm Crag. On this occasion he was moving under his own steam, but not with much enthusiasm. His walking boots were too small and his feet were feeling the pinch.

In those circumstances it would have been daft to continue with our planned itinerary. Here we are…

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…dropping down off the ridge toward Greenburn Bottom. Paths in the Lakes which are marked on the OS map as a green right-of-way and not as a black dotted line always make me very suspicious: sometimes they aren’t to be trusted, and turn out to not have any existence beyond the cartographers imagination. This one, however, was clearly of some vintage, having been carefully constructed in the dim and distant past and was a delight.

This caterpillar was using the same path…

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…I think it’s a Fox Moth caterpillar.

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Crossing Greenburn.

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Helm Crag.

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The path down the valley.

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Crossing the River Rothay.

Little S has some new footwear now – shoes rather than boots, which he’s much happier with. They’ll be getting lots of use because he’s going to be doing his Hiking Badge with the Scouts.

 

Helm Crag.

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.

 

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