Red-letter Day, White-letter Hairstreak.

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Warton Crag

Another collection of photos from several local walks. The weather, at this point, was very mixed and there were several days when I didn’t take any photos at all.

A visit to Woodwell yielded lots more photos of newts, although the light was poor and the photos are all decidedly murky.

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A pale newt.

This newt seemed much paler than any of the others. I also thought it looked bloated – a female with eggs to lay?

It certainly was of great interest to other newts. I watched some of them follow it around the pond. Eventually three gathered around it and all of them seemed to be nudging its belly. Just after I took this photo…

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…there was some sort of excitement and the newts all seemed to thrash about and then disperse rapidly.

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Here’s another newt which looks very swollen in its midriff, as does the lefthand one of this pair…

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Small Skipper
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Dryad’s Saddle.
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Comma.
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Mottled Grasshopper – I think.
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Enchanter’s Nightshade.
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Enchanter’s Nightshade Leaves
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Soldier Beetles – making love not war.
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Musk Mallow.
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A Mallow? Perhaps a garden escapee?

Mallows are often quite big plants, but this was low growing and I can’t find anything which comes even close to matching it in ‘The Wildflower Key’.

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Wild Thyme.
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Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars.
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Honey Bee on Rosebay Willowherb.
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Red Clover
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Coniston Fells from Jack Scout.
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The Limestone Seat at Jack Scout.

My obsessive compulsive photography of butterflies, even common and rather dull species like Meadow Browns, sometimes pays dividends. This brown butterfly…

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White-letter Hairstreak.

…turned out to be a kind I had never seen before. That’s not entirely surprising since hairstreak species generally live up in the treetops. I wonder if it’s significant that the photograph of this species in the little pamphlet guide to the butterflies of this area also depicts a White-letter Hairstreak feeding on Ragwort?

This Ragwort was in the shade and although the butterfly stayed fairly still and I was able to take lots of photos, I was struggling to get a sharp shot.

Two walkers approached, I assumed, from their respective ages, a father and son. The Dad observed my antics with an arched eyebrow and observed:

“It’s not going to open its wings is it? Not to worry, there’s another one behind you, and it does have its wings on show.”

I turned around to see…

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Small Skipper.

…a Small Skipper. Lovely, but not the once in a blue moon opportunity I had been enjoying. I did find the hairstreak again. It even moved into the sunshine, but then insisted on perching in awkward spots where I couldn’t get a clear view…

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White-letter Hairstreak.
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Traveller’s Joy.
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Toadstools.
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Water Lily.
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Brown-lipped Snail.
Red-letter Day, White-letter Hairstreak.

A Weekend with Friends

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Eyebright

Our friends from Herefordshire needed to drop their son back at Lancaster Uni and suggested meeting up for a walk, but the weekend they were travelling coincided with the government relaxing their rules on having guests in your house, so we invited them to stay instead.

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Wild Thyme.

It was so great to see them and enjoy something approaching normality after the strange experience of lockdown.

The weather on the Saturday was atrocious, but we made do with copious cups of tea, catching up and played some board games.

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Cinnabar caterpillars on Ragwort.

The Sunday was much nicer, even sunny for a while, so we compensated for the Saturday by going out twice, before and after lunch.

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A spring at Gait Barrows – the water rises but then disappears again..
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Creeping Cinquefoil.
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First up was a wander around Gait Barrows, specifically to see the extensive lowland limestone pavements there.

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Exploring the limestone pavements at Gait Barrows.

They really are amazing and visiting them with friends who hadn’t seen them before was liking seeing them afresh.

THB and B decided that it was appropriate to lie down and ‘sunbathe’ although they were both still wearing coats.

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Cinnabar Moth.

By the afternoon, it had clouded up quite a bit. I remember that it was very windy too.

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TBF at Jenny Brown’s Point.

But it was still nice enough for us to enjoy a stroll to Jenny Brown’s Point, Jack Scout and Woodwell, where the newts didn’t disappoint and put in an appearance for our guests.

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Jack Scout.

As often seems to be the case now, I was too busy nattering to take many photos, which is perhaps how it should be, but is a bit frustrating in retrospect.

Still, a brilliant weekend, but not one we shall be repeating any time soon, in light of today’s retightening of the rules. Of course, if we registered as a B’n’B, they could probably pay to visit – the virus doesn’t infect paying customers as we all know.

A Weekend with Friends

Thistles and Caterpillars

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Hoverfly – Episyrphus Balteatus.

A short walk from home on a dull, overcast day, but somehow I still managed to take over two hundred photographs. I was in what my family and friends have started to refer to as ‘Butterfly Mode’ although, on this occasion, there weren’t many butterflies amongst that legion of pictures.

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Cinnabar Moth caterpillar.

The first pit-stop, where walking turned to gawking, was occasioned by a long stand of Ragwort on the verge of Elmslack.

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As is so often the case, many of the plants were occupied by numerous Cinnabar caterpillars.

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Given how striking they are, it’s surprisingly easy to breeze past and miss them.

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Why is the ant piggybacking the caterpillar?
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Ragwort on Elmslack.

A few days later, somebody removed all of this Ragwort which ignited a heated debate online, part of an ongoing argument between those who favour neatly trimmed roadside verges and the wildflower enthusiasts who would prefer wild plants to be fostered to aid our pollinators and other wildlife.

Unwisely, I plunged into said debate, but soon wished I hadn’t. The crux here is that Ragwort is poisonous to Horses and Cattle and the field next to Elmslack has horses on it. Having said that, the British Horse Society doesn’t recommend ‘the blanket removal of Ragwort’, due to its contribution to biodiversity so….I’ll leave that one to wiser heads.

From Elmslack I took the path along the bottom edge of Eaves Wood, then along The Row. A path loops off The Row and visits Dogslack Well, where there’s still an old hand-pump in situ. There was more Ragwort there, and because I was looking to find more Cinnabar caterpillars, I spotted this…

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Ruby Tiger Moth caterpillar – possibly.
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Orange stripe and hair in tufts – I’m fairly sure this is a Ruby Tiger.
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Common Sorel seeds – I think.
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Spear Thistle.

In my quest to identify the local flora, I’ve largely ignored thistles, because, well…thistles are thistles: prickly and uninteresting and frankly a bit of a nuisance where they grow across paths..

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A hairy flowerhead with yellow-tipped spines.

I’ve been revising my opinion of late. This spring, the Marsh Thistles on Lambert’s Meadow and their popularity with insects, have prompted a defrosting in relations. The UK has numerous species of thistles. And when you start to look properly, they’re quite endearing…

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Each lobe on the leaves very sharp and also yellow-tipped.
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Well, I think so at least.

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Tutsan

The path deposited me back on The Row, by Bank Well, from where another path drops steeply down to Lambert’s Meadow.

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Self-heal.
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Episyrphus Balteatus again, on Marsh Thistle – very different from the spear thistle flowers.
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Lambert’s Meadow.
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Common Spotted-orchid
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Another Common Spotted-orchid.
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Tree Bumblebee on Marsh Thistle.
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More Self-heal.
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Common Spotted-orchid with unidentified green insect.

There always seems to be something to see at Lambert’s Meadow. On this occasion it was a tiny drama I spotted when I was looking at orchids…

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Comb-footed Spider (?) and Scorpion Fly.
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It was hard to see exactly what was going on and, as you can see, my camera struggled to focus where I wanted it to, but I think the spider had bitten off more than it could chew.

Certainly, the fly eventually emerged alone…

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The escaped fly, on Fen Bedstraw, I think.

From Lambert’s Meadow I took a circuit around Burtonwell Wood, then along Bottom’s Lane to Hagg Wood and across the fields home.

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Seven-spot Ladybird.
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There seemed to be lots of ladybirds about.

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Glowering skies
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The dog walker in the field is a neighbour who I often say hello to on my walks. She was with her grandson and they’d been looking at the ladybirds on the thistle in the foreground of this shot. She spotted me photographing the same ladybirds and since then our conversations have been enlivened by a shared interest in entomology. She tells me that she and her grandson keep caterpillars and watch them go through their various metamorphoses. Marvellous.

Incidentally, the thistle had done well to survive – mostly where they’d emerged in the fields around home they had been very aggressively treated with weedkiller, so that in some cases the grass around the thistle was also killed off over quite a large radius.

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White Stonecrop.
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I’ve spotted White Stonecrop in a few places around the village this summer, growing on walls. Apparently, it’s native to the Southwest, but introduced elsewhere.

Speaking of introduced plants: a host of plants have appeared on a patch of disturbed ground by the track which runs past our house. I wondered whether somebody had scattered a packet of wildflower seeds there?

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Pineapple Weed

Pineapple Weed is not a native plant, but is throughly naturalised. Walk through it, where it has colonised a muddy gateway, and the distinctive aroma of pineapples it emits will reveal the reason for the seemingly incongruous name.

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Sun Spurge.
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Poppy
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Unidentified but rather lovely moth.

Putting together this post has taken longer than the walk it records, but since I’m stuck at home and it’s raining, that’s a good thing!

Thistles and Caterpillars

Clougha Pike with a Wriggle On.

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Bog Asphodel.

An exciting day for A, her first lesson back in school. It was literally one lesson, although lasting for a couple of hours. Given the proscription against the use of public transport, I wanted to drive her there and back, but if I’d returned home in between I wouldn’t have been home for long before I needed to set off to pick her up again.

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Caton Moor and Ingleborough from Clougha.

So, I decided to have an up and back wander on Clougha Pike from the Rigg Lane car park.

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Morecambe Bay from Clougha.

It was hot and sticky. I really didn’t expect to reach the top before the time I’d decided was my cut-off point, but I did. Once there, I even thought I had time for a brief drink-and-sandwich stop, and I was probably right, but then four old friends arrived on the summit who I hadn’t seen for a while – quite a coincidence since we were the only people up there. It seemed rude to rush off, but I kept my catching-up chatter to a minimum, much as I would have liked to have chewed the fat for a while longer.

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Emperor Moth caterpillar. A very striking caterpillar – the adults too look stunning, at least in the photographs I’ve seen. Maybe an early evening ascent of Clougha is called for at the appropriate time of year.

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Looking back up to the edge.

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I was a little late picking-up A, but I think she forgave me. She certainly wasn’t surprised!

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Later, at the Cove for the sunset.

Clougha Pike with a Wriggle On.

Elderflower Foraging

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Eaves Wood

Well – that answers one question: the hay was yet to be cut. TBH had been making elderflower cordial, but wanted to try a new recipe (spoiler alert – it’s very nice) and asked if I could bring back 40 heads of elderflower. No problem, I said, there’s loads at Gait Barrows.

I took a circuitous route to Gait Barrows – calling in first at Lambert’s Meadow, Myer’s Allotment and Trowbarrow Quarry.

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I can’t identify this tiny fly, but I was quite taken by its orange speckled wings.

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Volucella pellucens – a striking hoverfly, the larvae of which live in wasps nests as scavengers. Even wasps get pestered in their homes: a comforting thought somehow.

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I’ve been thinking that I really must make more of an effort with grasses and the like, but now I’m looking at a page of sedges which look, to my untutored eye, practically identical. This is one of them, I think, maybe Glaucous Sedge? This is the female spike – pretty striking I thought.

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Another sedge perhaps, maybe one of the many yellow sedges?

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Azure damselfly.

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Another hoverfly.

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I thought taking photos of our wild roses might likewise encourage me to begin trying to distinguish between them, but I clearly need to make notes about the leaves and the thorns and the colour of the stems and I’m probably too lazy to do that. Having said that, since Dog Roses are usually pink, I shall assume that this is a Field Rose.

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A cowslip which has gone to seed.

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Oedemera lurida – the larger green insect on the right.

The flower here is one of those yellow daisies over which I have so much difficulty. I’ve been reading, and enjoying, ‘Chasing The Ghost’ by Peter Marren. It’s subtitled ‘My search for all the wild flowers of Britain’. Except, it turns out that actually it’s his search for the last fifty species he hasn’t seen. Excluding all of the ‘casuals’ – non-native plants which have self-seeded from a garden, or from bird-food or somesuch. And he isn’t going to try to see the many sub-species of dog-rose or whitebeam because they are too numerous and too troublesome to tell apart. Likewise the hawkweeds, of which, apparently, 415 subspecies have been identified. So far. Peter Marren is a Proper Botanist, and he needs expert help. Another comforting thought.

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Yellow Rattle – gone to seed and now showing the ‘rattles’ – the pods in which the seeds literally do rattle. 

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Common Blue butterfly.

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Oedemera lurida again, this time on Mouse-ear-hawkweed, a yellow daisy which has the decency to be easy to identify.

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Unidentified (solitary?) bee on unidentified flower.

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The view from the bench at Myer’s Allotment over the meres of Leighton Moss. 

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Tutsan. 

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Tutsan, from the French toute-saine meaning all healthy. Herbalists laid the leaves over wounds and apparently it does have antiseptic properties. Tutsan has a reputation for inducing chastity: allegedly, men should drink infusions made from the plant, and women should spread twigs below their beds.

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The leaves, when dried, are reputed to smell like ambergris and so it is also called Sweet Amber. Ambergris, known in China as ‘dragon’s spittle fragrance’, is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of and regurgitated or excreted by sperm whales. I remember a dog-walker found some on Morecambe beach year or two ago and sold it for thousands; tens-of-thousands even. It must be true, I read it in a tabloid.

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We have quite a bit of it in our garden. Tutsan that is, not ambergris. It’s a weed I suppose, but a beautiful plant which is interesting year round; the berries go from yellow through red to black. It seems that hoverflies like it just as much as I do!

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The Trough.

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Trowbarrow quarry – there were quite a few people climbing.

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Maybe I should have asked them to fetch me down some elderflowers?

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I couldn’t resist another visit to the Bee Orchids…

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…to try to catch them whilst the sun was shining on them…

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A Gait Barrows view.

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An unusually tall and prolifically flowered Elder. Most of the flowers would have been out of reach, but I didn’t even try, so confident was I that I knew of a plentiful supply of Elder up on the limestone pavement.

There were plenty of other distractions in the grykes up on the pavement. For instance, now that it has just about finished flowering, I spotted several more patches of Angular Solomon’s-seal…

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Tutsan grows in the grykes too, but the red leaves are a sign that it is not exactly flourishing, presumably with little soil or water to thrive on.

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Bloody crane’s-bill.

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Eye bright.

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Field Rose?

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Female Large Skipper. (Large compared to a Small Skipper, but still quite diminutive).

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I watched this bird circling far overhead. Everything about it – size, shape, the way it flew – convinced me that it was a raptor, but if it was I now can’t pin it down to any particular species. I thought it might be another Peregrine, but I can’t see any sign of the moustaches a grey, male Peregrine might show in any of my, admittedly rather poor, photos.

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When I arrived at the spot where I was convinced I would find an abundance of elderflower, I found two stunted shrubs growing from grykes – each with a handful of unopened  flowers, neither use nor ornament for making cordial I assumed.

I eventually found another area of pavement, with a handful of small specimens, which did have almost enough flowers for our purposes.

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With those stowed away in my rucksack, I headed home via Hawes Water. On the disturbed ground there, after last year’s work, there were several tall Mullein plants growing…

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I had to have a closer look because the leaves often have interesting residents. This isn’t what I was expecting however…

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A pair of mating Green Shield Bugs!

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Green Shield Bugs live on the sap of a variety of plants. I didn’t realise that they used to be confined to the south of the country, but have been progressing steadily northward with climate change.

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Best not to pick up Shield Bugs since they can release a noxious smelly liquid, giving them their alternative name of ‘Stink Bugs’.

Incidentally, I picked up my copy of ‘Bugs Britannica’ to see what it had to say about Shield Bugs and discovered that it was co-written by Richard Mabey and Peter Marren. I think mainly by Peter Marren, because I believe that was when Richard Mabey was suffering from the depression which he would go on to write about in ‘Nature Cure’.

Mr Marren is, it seems, a pan-lister, a phenomena which he discusses in ‘Chasing the Ghost’: pan-listers are spotters who are like twitchers on steroids – they have tick-lists for all living things larger than bacteria apparently – fungi, plants, insects, birds, slime-moulds, lichens, etc. Even in the UK that’s tens of thousands of species.

It occurred to me that I might fit into that bracket, except I’m much too lazy. I don’t keep lists and I only very rarely travel to see something in particular. Although, I’ve always enjoyed myself on the few occasions that I have done that – I’m thinking of the saxifrage on Pen-y-Ghent or the gentians in Teesdale.

Anyway, what I was actually on the look-out for were caterpillars of the Mullein Moth…

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Once you get close, they are quite hard to miss!

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Years ago, when we lived on The Row, some Mullein appeared in our garden and, although I suppose they are weeds, they’re large and quite striking, so we left them to flower. Then the voracious caterpillars appeared and completely stripped the plants of leaves and flowers.

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Bird’s-eye Primrose.

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When I reached the meadows near Challan Hall, I realised that there were perhaps a dozen Elder trees here, all of them plastered with blossom.

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I didn’t need much more, but I cam back a day or two later to discover that the trees were mostly on steep banks, leaving most of the flowers out of reach, and even where they weren’t, the trees were well protected by an understorey of brambles and nettles.

The cordial is well worth it though.

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The verge of the railway line had a fine display of Oxeye Daisies.

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This should have been my first stop for elderflowers – a small elder growing behind our garage.

Elderflower Foraging

Lockdown Birthday

Townsfield – Holgates – Hollins Farm – Arnside Knott – Redhill Woods – Black Dyke – Middlebarrow Quarry – Eaves Wood.

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April is not the time for garden tiger caterpillars, which this at least resembles, so I’m not sure what it is.

On my birthday, I climb a hill. I’m not sure when this became a routine, but probably in my twenties, when I usually spent Easter in the Highlands with friends, my birthday conveniently often falling into the Easter break. I can remember climbing Liathach on my 27th, half a lifetime ago, and by then it was definitely already a confirmed idea. I’m not precious about it; sometimes it’s the day before, sometimes a few days after, but at some point I climb a hill to celebrate another passing year. It’s as good an excuse as any other.

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There have been some cracking excursions in recent years, shared with the family, and it has become as much a fixed idea with the kids as it has with me: dad, predictable in every way, wants to climb a hill on his birthday. They fall in with this ritual, so when it came to this year’s big day, we didn’t need a three line whip, as I had feared; everyone knew that we would be going for a walk and nobody complained. They may even have enjoyed themselves.

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Options, obviously, were a bit limited. Should we go back to Coniston Old Man? Helvellyn? Pen-y-ghent? Or should we move on, try pastures new?

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Another Old Post Box, opposite Hollins Farm

Unsurprisingly, we eventually settled on Arnside Knott.

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Common lizard. Well, the tail of a common lizard. Apparently, it was sunning itself on the path and, according to B, I almost stood on it, poor thing.

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Crow with nesting material.

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Arnside Knott view. A bit hazy, but still pretty special.

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Chiff-chaff.

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Wood ants nest.

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Marsh tit on ash flowers.

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‘Little’ S on the trig pillar.

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Blackbird with lunch!

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Herb Paris.

I’ve know for years that herb paris grows in this area, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I actually saw any. I didn’t know whether to be pleased or dismayed by my poor of powers of observation, when I spotted this large patch of it, growing right alongside the main path which climbs the Knott from Silverdale Road in Arnside, and which I must have walked past hundreds of times.

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It’s an odd plant with four broad leaves symmetrically spaced at the top of a single stem. The flower is also odd, but none of them were flowering, so you’ll have to wait for that pleasure. Since then, I’ve found it in several more places, including right by the principal path into Gait Barrows and by Inman’s Road in Eaves Wood. There’s undoubtedly a moral to this story, but I’m not sure that I can see what it is yet!

We dropped down the path which runs along the boundary of Hagg Wood (this is a different Hagg Wood to the one I often refer to, which is beside Bottoms Lane in Silverdale).

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As we started along Black Dyke, we saw lots of butterflies, chiefly small tortoiseshell, and our first swallows of the year. Later, I saw that Cumbria Wildlife Trust were reporting the first sightings of Swallows, in Cumbria, this year, on that day. I’m not sure why I was chuffed to be amongst the first to see the returning swallows, but I was. Maybe it’s my competitive streak.

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Small tortoiseshells.

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Willow catkins at Middlebarrow Quarry again.

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Honesty on the Coronation Path. Still flowering in April, even though the first flowers appeared at Christmas.

Most of my presents didn’t arrive until later in the week, so I won’t mention them for now, but I did get several pairs of socks, a newish custom of which I thoroughly approve.

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It being my birthday, I’m going for two tunes. Firstly, for obvious reasons:

And then, my all time favourite tune, of all time, which, for some reason, I don’t think I’ve posted before:

Hercules by Aaron Neville, written by the amazing Allen Toussaint.

Actually, I’m going to be greedy. Here’s a third video. Same song, same singer, but this time live on Daryl’s House. Daryl being Daryl Hall, of Hall and Oates fame. If you haven’t watched Live from Daryl’s House, I strongly recommend it.

Lockdown Birthday

Hell’s Mouth and Mynydd Cilan

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Serious surfers. 

Hell’s Mouth, or Porth Neigwl, is a huge beach in the south-western corner of the peninsula. Unlike Porth Towyn, where we spend much of our time on these trips, Hell’s Mouth is exposed to the prevailing westerlies and has Proper Surf and is therefore patronised by Proper Surfers. We were there for a walk, on a very windy day. At the sight of the large rollers, B’s eyes lit-up. Next time we visit, we’ll have to come back and let him play in the waves. To be fair, he’s not the only one who will enjoy it.

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Happy Hikers.

For today though, we were making a circuit on the breezy headland of Mynydd Cilan.

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Hell’s Mouth.

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A hardy Painted Lady – I’m not sure how butterflies cope with the winds.

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The hill on the far side of the bay is Mynydd Rhiw. One for a future trip.

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Carn Fadryn and Garn Bach on the right.

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At some point, we managed to get a little of the beaten path and found ourselves bashing through bracken and prickly low-growing gorse. Somebody, I think it was TBH, practically stepped on a snake. Sadly, I didn’t see it, so no photograph, I’m afraid.

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I may have missed the snake, but I did spot this little chap, hurrying across the sand as we were almost back to our charabancs. I think this is the caterpillar of the Fox Moth. I’ve seen them before in the hills – for example in Greenburn Bottom after climbing Helm Crag, or on Rolling End more than 10 years ago now. But apparently they are very widespread and coastal grasslands are another of their favoured habitats.

Hell’s Mouth and Mynydd Cilan

The Yorkshire Three Peaks with B

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Cloud clearing from Pen-y-ghent.

Last spring, B announced his desire to walk the Three Peaks. I wasn’t very confident about my ability to complete the walk last year, but stored away the idea, and this spring I asked B whether he still felt the same way. He did. So we planned to tackle the route during Whit week. In my head, the weather is always reliable at Whit, but obviously that’s just wishful thinking and this Whit was particularly unsettled and wet. A couple of weeks later though, and the Sunday forecast looked reasonable, so B and I set off early for Horton-in-Ribblesdale. As we drove over, it was raining and the hills were completely obscured by cloud, but as we climbed out of Horton the cloud was beginning to clear and we could see blue sky appearing behind from the direction of the Bay…

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When I was in my teens, my dad was hooked on challenge walks. I walked a few too, usually with him, often with his colleagues from work too, sometimes with my mum and sometimes with the local scout group. The first that I attempted was the Lyle Wake Walk, but I stopped after 20 miles, by which time the borrowed boots I was wearing had made a bit of a mess of my toes. After that we walked the Derwent Watershed, the Limey Way, the Welsh Three-thousanders, the Bullock Smithy hike, and the Three Peaks, which I think we did a couple of times.

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Approaching the last part of the climb onto Pen-y-ghent.

I remember those walks with a great deal of affection, and I’m sure that my dad does too; recently he’s been wearing a sweatshirt with his Bullock Smithy badge from 1983 sewn onto it.

Some years later, when I was in mid-twenties, I walked the Welsh 3’s again. I’d just spent 10 days or so alone in Lochaber, sleeping in bothies and bagging every Munro and Corbett in sight. Though I didn’t recognise the fact at the time, I was as fit as the proverbial butcher’s dog. None-the-less, by the time I’d finished the punishing route and was descending from the Carneddau towards Rowen Youth Hostel, where old friends M and J were volunteer wardens, my knees, ankles and feet were all very sore and I vowed not to get involved in anything so foolish ever again.

I haven’t done any challenge walks since.

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Pen-y-ghent summit.

But, with the commitment I’d made to join my old school pal JS on the charity 10in10 walk and the training I’d been doing for that, a Three Peaks walk seemed like a perfect opportunity to test my fitness. What’s more, taking on a challenge walk with my own son felt like an opportunity to complete the circle somehow, to pass on the torch.

I’d arbitrarily decided that we should aim to finish the walk inside 12 hours and had drawn up a schedule accordingly. I’d allowed an hour and half for our first ascent and was pleased that we arrived on the top with ten minutes to spare. As we did so, another group also reached the summit, celebrating the fact that they’d done it in an hour and ten. We’d be leap-frogging this group for most of the day: they walked faster than we did, but stopped more often and for longer. We did pause here in the shelter though, to eat the breakfast we’d deferred due to our early start.

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The onward path. Ingleborough behind.

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On the long walk to Whernside.

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The weather would improve through the day, but early on, despite the sunshine, it was still quite cold. Occasionally, we had a few odd spots of rain, but the threatened showers never actually materialised.

There’s a bit of road walking leading up to Ribblehead. The verges were overgrown with Sweet Cicely and I tucked into some lovely aniseed flavoured seeds. B not only declined my offer of some seeds, but seemed to think that I would poison myself by indiscriminately indulging on foraged treats. He had the last laugh: fibrous strands from the seeds had me coughing and spluttering for a while.

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Ribblehead Viaduct.

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Force Gill.

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Ingleborough.

I was carrying an old point-and-snap Fuji compact camera, rather than my Panasonic. It was lighter to carry, and, more importantly, could be stashed in a pocket and was therefore quick to use. Even so, we were trying to maintain a steady pace so I didn’t take as many photos as I usually would.

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Whernside was quite busy, but I suspect it had been much busier, the day before, a Saturday, when apparently there had been a number of organised charity events taking place in diabolical weather conditions.

Slightly away from the trig pillar and shelters, a radio ham had a tent pitched and a substantial aerial rigged up, presumably in order to contact far-flung parts.

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Whernside Summit.

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Lots of people were picnicking on Whernside, but there was still a cold wind blowing, so we dropped down and found a sheltered spot by a wall for a longer stop and some late lunch.

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Our lunchstop view.

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The route between Whernside and Ingleborough took us through very familiar territory, and right past The Old School House at Chapel-le-Dale where we have stayed many times over recent pre-Christmas weekends. In general, navigation was very straight-forward: partly because the route is so well sign-posted, partly because I’ve walked almost all of the route recently, some sections several times, but mostly because there were enough other people who were obviously ticking off the Three Peaks and we could just follow the crowd.

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Because I was trying to resist the temptation to stop and poke my nose into everything like I usually do, I didn’t take many flora or fauna photos, but I couldn’t resist this. I think  it might be Mossy Saxifrage, and if it is, then it hasn’t appeared on this blog before.

The route from Chapel-le-Dale on to Ingleborough crosses a fair bit of wet ground. In one fair sized pool I spotted a Newt, and when I pointed it out to eagle-eyed B, he soon spotted several more. The water was dark with peat, and anyway I didn’t have the right camera with me to get photos, so I’m not sure whether these were Palmate Newts again, like the ones we saw in Red Tarn a couple of summers ago.

Almost the last part of the climb, out of Humphrey Bottom and on to the ridge, is very steep and I have to confess that I started to struggle here. By the time I’d reached the top of the steep section my legs had turned to jelly, but somewhat to my surprise we were still ahead of schedule when we reached the trig pillar…

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Ingleborough Summit.

B meanwhile was still going strong and never showed any signs of flagging. I’d already warned him about the long walk from the top of Ingleborough back down to Horton: on reaching the final summit it can feel like all of the hard work is done, but in this case you still have many miles to walk.

Although B refused to take his sweater off, the sun was shining by now and it was really quite warm, a huge contrast with earlier. We’d both carried a lot of water, but were both running out, and we were very glad to find a small spring just off the ridge and a little way from the path.

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Heading for Horton. The large grey area in the middle distance is the extensive limestone pavements above the head of Crummack Dale, one of my favourite places in the Dales.

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I feel like I’ve spotted far more caterpillars this summer when I’ve been out on the hills than I ever have before. I’m not really sure why. I’m not sure either what kind of caterpillar this is. The caterpillar of the Broom Moth has three longitudinal stripes, but in all the pictures I’ve looked at those stripes look much bolder than these.

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Descending from Ingleborough.

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Pen-y-ghent ahead, looking quite different from earlier in the day.

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A final view of Pen-y-ghent from just outside Horton.

Though I didn’t realise it at the time, my phone was on it’s last legs. Mapmywalk worked well on the day, recording the walk as almost exactly 25 miles, but then ‘lost’ the file afterwards, so I can’t post the map or relay an exact time. I think we finished in just a little over 11 hours, not that that matters very much.

We stopped off in Ingleton on the way home for a celebratory milkshake and pepsi. I’m pretty sure I remember my dad buying me a pint at the Hill Inn when we walked the Three Peaks on a hot summer’s day, when I must have been around B’s age. I definitely recall the pint he bought me when we finished the Derwent Watershed (although I thought the pub was called the Dambusters and I can’t find it online – I suppose the name may have changed in forty years). How times have changed!

I reluctantly passed up an opportunity to walk from Old Glossop, on an old favourite route, with some old favourite friends on that Sunday, so that I could fulfil my promise to B by doing this walk with him. On balance, I think I made the right decision: I really enjoyed our day. I was hobbling on very stiff pegs for three days afterwards however, whilst B was posting a new PB for 800m (his latest sporting obsession).

 

 

The Yorkshire Three Peaks with B

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…

 

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