Company on Calf Top

20201205_104025
Uncle Fester in Barbon

The title says it all really. The restrictions were relaxed, some meeting up outdoors was allowed again – at last. So we arranged to meet in Barbon for a walk.

20201205_104240
Barbon Church

Despite having the least far to travel, we were, inevitably, the last to arrive. Or we would have been, had not the Yorkshire contingent parked in Barbondale, near Blindbeck Bridge I think. Somehow, for reasons I never quite fathomed, this was my fault. Not to worry, we were eventually assembled and ready to embark.

Incidentally, A had driven us to Barbon and would later drive back too. One unexpected consequence of the lockdowns has been that she hasn’t been able to have many driving lessons, so it’s fallen to me to teach her. It was a bit nerve-racking at first, but ultimately, a nice way to spend time together. Hopefully, she’ll soon manage to get a test booked.

20201205_111635
Waxcaps

Our route took us to the highest point in the Middleton Fells, Calf Top, and then back by the same route. (An alternative plan to drop down into Barbondale and return that way was abandoned because the sun was shining and leaving the ridge would have meant dropping into shadow, which seemed a shame.)

20201205_111811
Waxcaps?

The grassy, lower slopes of Eskholme Pike were decorated with lots of colourful Waxcaps. And also clumps of yellow stalks. I couldn’t decide whether they were also Waxcaps, perhaps in a more or less advanced stage of their life-cycle?

20201205_112213
20201205_113228
Across the Lune Valley. Lakeland Fells on the horizon. Howgills top right.
20201205_114342
Thorn Moor

The Middleton Fells give easy walking, without any particularly steep climbs, and expansive views.

P1320769
TBH takes a nap. Snow-capped Lakeland Fells in the distance.
20201205_123428
Crag Hill.
20201205_123533
20201205_123540
Professor Longhair leads the way.
20201205_124444
20201205_125132
Calf Top from Castle Knott.
20201205_125136
Looking over Howegill Head to the distant Lakeland Fells.
20201205_125204
On Castle Knott.
20201205_130044
A negotiates a boggy bit.
20201205_132105(0)
Looking back to Castle Knott.
20201205_132815
Crag Hill. Whernside in the background (I think).
20201205_132844
Nearing the top.
20201205_135430
The Howgills
20201205_135634
TBH next to the (unusually) decorated trig pillar.
20201205_135641
20201205_135836
Looking down to the Lune valley.
20201205_140822
Retracing our steps from the top.
20201205_140826
20201205_145321
20201205_151139
20201205_151152
Eskholme Pike
20201205_152845
…good place for a very belated lunch and brew.
P1320776

It would have been a good day’s walking in any circumstances, but throw in the opportunity to see friends with whom we’d missed several regular annual get-togethers, and the fact that I’d not ventured off home territory much for some months and this became a really special day out. When we said our goodbyes, we agreed not to wait too long before we met for another walk.

Company on Calf Top

September Colour.

P1320569
Evening Primrose.

The day after my Arnside Knott walk was another cracker. I was out three times, twice around home and also for a short stroll in Kirkby Lonsdale whilst B was at rugby training.

P1320570
Creeping Thistle.

I was revelling in the abundance and variety of the wildflowers on my home patch after the relative dearth beneath the trees in the Tarn Gorge. I took a huge number of photos, of which just a small selection have been chosen for this post.

P1320572
Yarrow and Oxeye Daisy.
Hoverfly.
P1320579
Nipplewort.

Nipplewort is a tall straggly weed, without, at first glance, a great deal to offer, but the small flowers are well worth a closer look.

P1320600
Grange from the Cove.
20200920_114953
River Lune from Ruskin’s View in Kirkby Lonsdale.
20200920_122337
Market Cross, Kirkby Lonsdale.
20200920_122417
St. Mary’s Church, Kirkby Lonsdale.
P1320605
Hoverfly.
P1320609
Common Darter.
P1320614
P1320616
Guelder Rose berries.
P1320620
Common Darter (on, I think, Marsh Thistle).
P1320623
P1320626
P1320627
P1320633
Yet another Common Darter.
P1320637
More Guelder Rose berries.
20200924_173452
A shower out over the Bay, taken on a midweek, post-work walk.
September Colour.

Seismic Noise and Mast Years

20200328_082932

Early light on St. John’s Silverdale.

One consequence, apparently, of the current situation, has been the reduction of seismic noise; that is seismic readings caused by human activity. The journal Nature reports a drop by one third in Belgium, and I read somewhere, sorry, I can’t remember where, that in London it’s down by about a half.

20200328_120949

Heading towards Hawes Water. A fence on the left has been partially removed. Similar fences, between woodland and pasture, have been removed across the Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve. Will they be replaced or is this part of a new management plan?

It’s difficult to gauge whether paths around Silverdale are quieter now than they usually are, because I’m not normally out myself mid-week in the daytime. I think that they have got busier, though, since the extra clarification which has made it clear that it’s okay to drive a short distance for your daily exercise.

I didn’t drive for this walk, in fact I haven’t driven anywhere for weeks, but I did walk a little further than usual, as I have done from time to time.

P1260179

The cairn at Gait Barrows.

P1260180

Ash flower buds.

20200328_124154

Beech mast.

TBH and I have both been noticing on our walks (and runs in TBH’s case) that, when we are beneath Beech trees this spring, every step brings a satisfying crunch. The local Beeches seem to have produced a bumper crop of mast last year. That’s not unusual: every three to five years Oaks and Beeches produce a huge crop and those years when that happens are know as mast years.

It seems that the reasons why this occurs are not completely understood. A Guardian piece on mast years hypothesises that it’s the spring weather which dictates: Oaks and Beeches are wind pollinated, so a warm and windy spring produces a lot of flowers which are successfully pollinated. If that theory is correct then this year ought to be a mast year.

On the other hand, this article, on the Woodland Trust website, posits that the lean years control the population of frugivores*, like Jays and Squirrels and then, in the bumper years, the remaining populations of these creatures can’t possibly eat all of the seeds so that some are bound to get a chance to germinate and grow.

This second theory would seem to require some element of coordination between trees, which in turn would imply that trees must communicate in some way. That might seem unlikely, but that’s exactly the thesis advanced by Peter Wohlleben in his book ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’, which I read last summer while we were in Germany and found absolutely fascinating.

2020-05-05_02-52-12

Anyway, back to my walk: I’d left Gait Barrows via the small hill Thrang Brow which is enough of a rise to give partial views of the Lake District hills, but that view never seems to translate well in photographs. From Thrang Brow a slender path heads of through the woods of Yealand Allotment. I don’t often come this way, but always enjoy it when I do.

A bright yellow sign on the far side of a wall attracted my attention…

20200328_133336

And I’m glad that it did, because just over the wall was a small group of Fallow Deer…

P1260185

Fallow Deer.

Sadly, most of the group were almost hidden by trees so I only got a chance of a clear photo of this one individual.

20200328_133924

Limekiln in Yealand Allotments.

20200328_143520

Peter Lane Limekiln.

I’d been thinking of incorporating Warton Crag into my walk, but I was thirsty and the weather was deteriorating, so took the path which cuts across the lower slopes to the north of the crag. Just as I took this photo…

20200328_150208

View of Leighton Moss.

…it began to rain. TBH, bless her, rang me and asked if I wanted her drive over to pick me up, but the rain wasn’t heavy so I decided to carry on.

20200328_152649

Tide line on Quaker’s Stang.

On Quaker’s Stang, an old sea defence, previous high tides had left a line of driftwood and dried vegetation right on the top of the wall, and, further along, well beyond the wall on the landward side. I’ve often wondered about the name – apparently ‘stang’ is a measurement of land equivalent to a pole, rod or perch. That sounds like it might offer an explanation, except a pole, or a rod, or a perch, is five and a half yards and Quaker’s Stang is a lot longer than that.

P1260195

This tree is very close to home. I spent the last part of my ‘walk’ watching and photographing the antics of another Treecreeper in its branches.

P1260212

Treecreeper.

P1260210

P1260221

I suppose a treecreeper qualifies as an LBJ, a Little Brown Job, except that sounds derogatory and, in my opinion, Treecreeper’s are stunning, in their own muted way.

*Frugivore was a new word to me, and I’m always happy to meet one of those. Apparently, it’s an animal which lives wholly or mostly on fruit.

The idea of compiling a kind of day-y-day playlist originated when Andy and I were discussing a mixtape I made, many moons ago, for our long drives up to Scotland for walking holidays. One of the songs on the tape was The Band’s ‘The Weight’. It’s still a song I adore. As well as the original, there’s a great version by Aretha Franklin, but here (subject to it not getting blocked) is Mavis Staples singing it with Jools Holland’s orchestra from one of his hootenannies:

I’ve seen Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra a couple of times live and can definitely recommend them. Last time I saw them, at Cartmel Racetrack, we went with friends and took the kids with us. There was a fair there too, and several support acts, including the Uptown Monotones who have become a firm favourite. Anyway, the kids were mortified when the adults all had the temerity to dance. In public! One of my sandals fell apart whilst I was dancing, I’m not sure whether that was a consequence of my vigorous enthusiasm or my inept clumsiness. Or both.

Seismic Noise and Mast Years

The Unattended Moment

20200225_172910

The Bay from Castlebarrow, late evening.

20200229_114602

Millennium Bridge over The Lune, Lancaster.

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.

20200229_142426

Daffodils at Far Arnside.

20200229_142741

High water in the bay again.

The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale’s backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
Many gods and many voices.

20200229_142819

20200229_144051

The view from Park Point. With added whitecaps.

20200229_144140

Looking to Grange-Over-Sands.

20200229_151415

Looking south along the coast.

20200229_152714

River Kent from Arnside Knott. Lake district hills lost in cloud.

20200301_104945

River Lune. Ruskin’s view.

20200301_105144

St. Mary’s Kirkby Lonsdale.

20200301_153039

The Bay from Castlebarrow.

20200301_153255

20200301_154953

Arnside Tower.

20200301_161232

Whitbarrow from Arnside Knott.

20200301_161535

The River Kent from Arnside Knott again.

20200301_161610

The bay and Humphrey Head from Arnside Knott.

For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.

20200301_162859

Looking south along the coast.

20200301_173502

Sunset from Emesgate Lane.

20200229_142842

These last two images are actually videos. I don’t think they’ll work, because I’m too tight to fork out for a premium account. But click on the pictures and that should take you to the relevant flickr page where you can hear the sound of the wind and the breaking waves, some of the many voices of the sea, should you wish.

20200229_143418

The photos here are mostly from the ‘leap day’ weekend at the end of February and the start of March, except for the first which is from earlier that week.

The quotations are all from ‘The Dry Salvages’, which is the third of T.S.Elliot’s Four Quartets. To be honest, I stumbled across it when looking for something about the sea – or so I thought. It turns out, what I was really looking for was that passage about ‘the distraction fit’, ‘the unattended moment’. I’m sure I’ve read the poem before, but I’ve never been struck so forcibly by this section as I was on this occasion.

I remember trying to capture something like this idea in a post way back in the early days of the blog. Perhaps, in some ways, it’s always the ‘unattended moment’ I’m writing about, or seeking when I go out for yet another walk, or crawl around taking yet more photographs of orchids, or of leaves, waves, clouds etc when I have thousands of images of exactly those things already.

It seems entirely appropriate to me that Elliot’s examples of ‘distractions’ should end with music – anyone who’s been to a gig, or clubbing, with me and watched me throwing my ample, uncoordinated frame around, grinning like a loon, might have caught me in one of those moments, if they weren’t too lost in the music and the moment themselves. But equally, they might have shared a moment like that during a wild day in the hills, when, despite, or perhaps because of, adverse conditions, our enthusiasm bubbled over into unexplained laughter and broad smiles; equally I think of a few ‘wild’ swims which sparked the same kind of happy absorption, or quiet moments around a beach bonfire. I’m heaping up examples because I can’t really put my finger on what I’m driving at, but I know it when I feel it.

Usually happens when the horns come in during this tune, for example.

The Unattended Moment

January Walks from Work

20200117_161131

Another component of my drive to increase my mileage were regular Lancaster walks from work, both at lunchtime and often later on for half an hour or so, before returning to prepare for the following day. I became quite adept at just missing the sunset from up by the castle.

20200107_155925

Lancaster Canal and the Cathedral.

20200109_123951

The garden at the Storey Institute.

20200115_170455

St Peter’s Cathedral.

20200204_131213

We did, occasionally, see some blue sky this winter. Just not often.

January Walks from Work

Night Hikes

20200108_193315

St Michael & All Angels Parish Church, Beetham.

So, in my quest to for ‘Longer and More Often’, I strove to fit in a walk whenever I was giving the kids a lift. One standard was a walk from Milnthorpe to Beetham and back, on the nights when A had a ballet lesson. It’s along the busy A6, but fortunately there’s a footpath all the way.

St Micheal’s is Grade I listed. Here’s the beginning of the listing:

Church. Probably C12; South aisle added c.1200, chancel extended to East C13, Beetham Chapel added C14, North aisle added and South aisle widened C15, top stage of Tower added C16. Restored and south porch added 1873-74

There are images from inside the church here, which I took when TBH and I walked to Beetham. I’m surprised to see that was as long ago as 2012.

20200115_191807

The Wheatsheaf, Beetham.

When I lived in Arnside, so over twenty years ago, we had a Christmas lunch at the Wheatsheaf, we being Mum and Dad, my brother and me. It was a very pleasant walk and a lovely meal I think. The walk home was enlivened by the fact that my mum forgot to remove her paper crown and couldn’t understand why the rest of us had the giggles. I’m easily pleased!

20200211_192813

Beetham, again.

After I’d walk this route a few times, I took to adding on a loop, if time allowed, on a path which skirts the paper mill, crosses a footbridge over the River Bela and then joins the minor road near Heron Corn Mill, which follows the Bela into Beetham.

20200225_192610

During the storms and flooding which we endured this winter, the little Bela was running very high, had far exceeded its banks, and was very close to the road.

On evenings when the boys were at Ju-jitsu or Kick-boxing classes, I would walk along the Lancaster Canal, aiming to reach the aqueduct over the Caton Road out of Lancaster.

20200131_171607

And when Little S had his climbing lessons at the University, I would wander around the campus, past the sports pitches…

20200122_181303

There’s allegedly a woodland trail around the outskirts of the campus. It was quite hard to find in the dark, but I had a bit more success as the evenings started to lighten…

20200226_180805

Of course, most of my evening walks were around the village on a series of loops, the length and duration of which I became very familiar with. Pavements and street-lighting are a bit of a rarity in the village and I generally didn’t bother trying to take photos, aside from one beautiful moon-lit evening when, walking along Bottoms Lane, I attempted to capture the moon and the way it was lighting the clouds on my cameraphone. Curiously, that didn’t work, but I have the blurred image as a reminder.

Night Hikes

Stralsund

20190807_144627

We visited Stralsund several times. We drove through, for example, on the way to and from Rügen. It was also our go to choice for shopping. And we had a bit of a wander around a couple of times.

20190807_144633

Very charming it was too.

20190807_144931

Here Little S is giving an impromptu recital on a piano seemingly left out for just such an eventuality. He’s never had lessons and was probably playing chopsticks. A, who can actually play, refused to give us a rendition.

20190807_144837

20190807_145743

The Dom and the Rathaus.

20190807_145841

20190807_183814

20190807_182745

20190807_182255

20190807_182523

This is part of the bridge over to Rügen. The pano below is my attempt to capture it all.

20190807_182656

I don’t have a photo of the tiny Turkish cafe where we ate a couple of times – kebabs and falafel at a fraction of the price we might have paid elsewhere and very tasty too.

When these photos were taken we were in town to visit one of Stralsund’s many attractions. More of which to follow.

Stralsund

Half-term Happenings: Back to Little Salkeld

P1240236

Addingham Church.

We were all keen to get out for a family walk, none more so than my dad, but he struggles with the cold these days and I wanted to find a route which had both the potential for a good walk, but also the option to cut the walk short if need be. After a bit of deliberation, I hit upon the idea of two shorter walks based around Little Salkeld in the Eden valley. We parked initially by Addingham Church near the village of Glassonby (curiously, the village of Addingham no longer exists).

Screenshot 2018-12-09 at 20.39.37

This walk, or variations on it, have become a firm favourite of ours. Here’s A beside the Saxon Cross in the churchyard…

P1240224

And here she is posing for a similar photo back in 2011….

A with Anglo-Saxon cross

In the intervening years the cross seems to have shrunk!

P1240226

I can rarely resist the temptation to have a peek inside any churches I pass and Addingham certainly repays the effort. The lady on the right here is St. Cecilia, an early Christian martyr. I thought that the instrument she’s shown playing seemed entirely unlikely, but apparently she is often depicted playing it and it’s a real instrument – a portative organ or organetto. My lazy internet research also revealed that St. Cecilia appeared on the reverse of the old Edward Elgar £20 note.

Image result for old twenty pound note

There she is bottom left, beneath Worcester Cathedral. Presumably because she is the patron saint of musician’s. I can’t say that I’ve ever realised that she was there. How many times I have handled notes like this one, over the years, without ever really looking at them?

Then again, I didn’t know that King David is traditionally associated with the harp either, a fact which appears in the Book of Samuel, just before the more familiar story of David and Goliath.

P1240227

Talking of familiar stories, here’s Saint George and the unfortunate dragon in my favourite window at Addingham.

P1240232

Addingham also has two hogback gravestones, which, I’ve learned, were unique to the Viking settlers in Britain and haven’t been found in Scandinavia. The best preserved example is at St. Peters in Heysham, which I’ve walked past many times, but never been inside – an omission I must rectify soon.

P1240234

P1240235

It’s a short downhill stroll from Addingham Church to the huge stone circle of Long Meg and her Daughters.

P1240238

P1240239

I didn’t take many photos on this occasion, just these of my mum and Dad and my brother, but the stones have appeared on the blog many times before.

P1240241

Winter Aconites on a roadside verge.

Another short stroll brings you to Little Salkeld, where we enjoyed a fabulous lunch in the cafe at the Watermill….

P1240242

Steve and I then walked briskly back up to collect the cars and park them in Little Salkeld, whilst the rest set-off for a wander along the River Eden to Lacy’s Caves…

P1240243

We managed to catch them up at the caves themselves.

P1240244

By the time we had turned to walk back to Little Salkeld, an already cold day had become even colder, but that didn’t detract from a marvellous family outing.

Half-term Happenings: Back to Little Salkeld

Whitbarrow with JS.

Mill Side – Whitbarrow Scar – Fell Edge – Cowmire Hall – St. Anthony’s Cartmel Fell – Pool Bank – Park Wood – Witherslack Hall – Beck Head – Mill Side.

image

This is my friend JS, stood by the summit cairn on Whitbarrow Scar. He’s appeared on the blog a few times before, most recently two years ago, when B and I joined him for an ascent of Haystacks, the last top in his round of the Wainwrights. Thinking about it now, he has to be my oldest friend, I can’t think of anyone else who I’ve kept in touch with since we were knee-high to a grasshopper and started school together.

JS was back in the Lakes for a week’s holiday and, since another parent had kindly offered to pick up B from his rugby camp, I was able to join him for a walk. He was keen to try something new and, after a long drive the day before, wanted something relatively straightforward to ease him into the holiday. A walk on Whitbarrow and through the wonderful Winster valley seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

The weather was a bit mixed, even when I took this photo…

image

Fell Edge, looking across the Winster Valley to Cartmell Fell.

…with a bit of blue sky in it, it was actually still raining on us. This was after, rather embarrassingly, we’d wandered around on the plateau looking for one or other of the descent routes, my ‘local knowledge’ proving to be a bit less impressive than I had hoped.

image

Cowmire Hall, a late Sixteenth Century Tower House. Yet another of the Winster valley’s listed buildings.

I didn’t take many photos, partly, perhaps, because of the weather, but mainly because I was much too busy catching up with JS. We talked about family, finance, mutual friends, board games, introversion – and the book on that subject ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain which JS had read and was very eloquently recommending – wild-camping, our respective ailments, walking, facebook and it’s pros and cons, the tremendous fungi we kept spotting and almost certainly a whole host of other things, whilst also, no doubt, revisiting some shared memories of days long past.

image

I didn’t even take any photos of St. Anthony’s Church, where we huddled in the porch for a late lunch. (You can see pictures from a visit this spring here.)

I’m happy to report, after the gloomy news from my last visit, that ‘The Hiker’s Rest’ self-service cafe near Beck Head is once again open for business. I had my stove with me, but was very happy to stop for a comfortable brew. Even more so when we discovered that the previous entry in the visitor’s book was by members of Fleckney Walking Club, Fleckney being a village almost two hundred miles from Beck Head, but only a couple down the road from Kibworth where JS and I grew up.

image

Screenshot 2018-12-02 at 21.16.10Screenshot 2018-12-02 at 21.18.35

Whitbarrow with JS.

How Barrow and Ellerside from Cartmel

P1220560

Looking to Morecambe Bay and the mouth of the Leven from How Barrow trig pillar.

The first weekend after my return to work. B’s rugby team had an early season training camp, staying in the scout hut in Cartmel.  They’ve had weekends there before and seem to always have a good time. I’ve stayed there myself – it was the salubrious venue for my stag do, back in 2001. But that’s a different story.

Since B had to be dropped off at around lunch time, I decided to make the most of the opportunity and, after I’d helped to prep the veg for the boys evening meal, set out for an afternoon walk in the Cartmel area. Unusually, the scout hut is in the grounds of Cartmel’s racecourse and I first walked through the grounds and then beside the diminutive River Eea and into a conifer plantation, before skirting around the western flank of Mount Barnard.

P1220561

The Leven estuary, Roudsea Mosses and the Coniston Fells from How Barrow.

The right-of-way slightly misses the summit of How Barrow (170m trig point on the map below), but a little discrete trespass is definitely called for here, because, even on a damp and overcast day, this top provides a great view for such a modest height.

image

How Barrow pano (click on this, or any other, picture to see a larger version on flickr)

The view takes in the Leven estuary, the Coniston Fells and the extensive wetlands of the Roudsea Wood and Mosses National Nature Reserve – which is high on my list of places due for a revisit.

P1220574

Mistle Thrushes.

Walking along the Ellerside ridge I seemed to be continually following small flocks of Mistle Thrushes.

P1220585

The Coniston Fells again – now clear of cloud.

Further along the ridge, just before I turned eastward away from the views, I watched two large raptors flying above the wetlands below. They were flying high, at quite some distance, and looked very dark against the sky, but they had a highly distinctive silhouette with their wings bowed, giving an obvious ‘elbow’ and then a second curve near the tips. Although my photos are pretty useless, they show enough to confirm the suspicion I had at the time that I was watching Ospreys. Ospreys have returned to this area of the lakes, nesting at Foulshaw Moss, but I suppose that these may also have been migrating birds on their return journey from Scotland to Africa.

P1220590

Once again, lots of large toadstools to be seen.

P1220594

P1220596

Collkield Wood.

P1220600

Presumably, these are farmed deer, later to be venison. Certainly, a lot of effort and expense had been put into erecting tall, new fencing.

P1220606

Guelder Rose hedge.

P1220603

P1220608

P1220610

Pincushion Gall.

P1220614

Green islands with sandy beaches on a turning oak leaf.

My walk finished by crossing the racecourse again. A cricket match was just finishing on a pitch in the middle of the track and, judging by the exuberant cheering, the local team had just won an important victory.

image

Cartmel Racecourse.

image

Market Cross Cartmel.

P1220620

Cartmel Priory.

I’d promised myself that, being in Cartmel, I would take the opportunity to revisit the impressive priory, but it closes to the public at 5pm each day and my walk had lasted too long for me to fit that in on this occasion. Next time.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 21.48.39Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 21.45.27

How Barrow and Ellerside from Cartmel