A Long Awaited Visit.

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Mum and Dad by the Pepperpot.

At the end of August, my Mum and Dad came to stay for a few days. It was the first time we’d seen them for quite some time, so it was great to have them with us, and also very handy that we had some pretty good weather for their visit.

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Coming down from Fleagarth Wood towards Jenny Brown’s Point.

I think we sat out on our patio quite a bit, but we also managed to get out for a number of walks.

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Sea Aster.
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Dad near Jenny Brown’s Cottages.
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Warton Crag and The Forest of Bowland on the horizon.
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Roadworks – the wall at Jenny Brown’s point was repaired. Signs said that the road was closed, even to pedestrians, but that turned out not to be the case.
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Colourful hanging baskets at Gibraltar Farm.
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Little S passing Woodwell Cottage.
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Another walk.
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Half Moon Bay. Sadly, there’s a Nuclear Power Station just to my left and behind me when I took this photo.

I think Mum and Dad were particularly impressed with our walk on Heysham headlands.

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Ship – Anna Gillespie.
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Across the Bay to the hills of the Lake District from Heysham Headland.
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Another view across the Bay.

B likes to come to Heysham headlands with his friends to watch the sunset and to swim when the tide is in, and I can see why.

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Rock cut graves.
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St. Patrick’s Chapel.
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The Spirit of Heysham by Michael Edwards.

I should mention that we had lunch at Tracy’s Homemade Pies and Cakes cafe, which was amazing value and very tasty. Highly recommended.

We had a day out in Kirkby Lonsdale too, although I don’t seem to have taken any photos. I was shocked by how busy it was; we did well to find car-parking spaces. I knew that it was touristy, but hadn’t expected it to be so thronged.

Looking forward to some more blue sky days, and for infection rates to settle down so Mum and Dad can visit for a few more walks and a postponed Christmas dinner.

A Long Awaited Visit.

Cark to Grange with X-Ray

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Cark Hall.

TBH had missed out on our walk from Cark to Grange via Cartmel and I thought she would enjoy it. X-Ray was keen to meet us for a walk, and perhaps a bite to eat, and I was pretty sure he would enjoy it too. Actually, as I recall, I presented X-Ray with a number of options and this was the one which most appealed. He hopped onto the Northern Fail service at Lancaster and we joined him at Silverdale for the short journey around the bay.

Cark has a pub and a cafe and I made a mental note that an evening repeat of this walk could start with a meal at one or the other. Cark also has Cark Hall, an imposing building which is now three dwellings. It dates from 1580 with a Seventeenth Century wing and alterations. Three hundred year old home improvements! The doorway looked really imposing, from what we could see of it, but good old-fashioned English reticence prevented me from wandering in to the garden to have a proper gander. (Historic England listing)

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Hampsfell from just beyond Cark.
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TBH and X-Ray sat on the fish tables (apparently) outside the Priory Gatehouse in Cartmel.

We bumped into a couple of old-friends and former neighbours in Cartmel who had won (in a raffle?) a meal at L’Enclume, Cartmel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. When we spoke to them later in the week they were highly impressed. Might have to check it out, if I win a booking in a raffle. Or rob a a bank.

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Cartmel Priory
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Cartmel Priory interior.
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Inside the church there was an exhibition of painted masks. They’d been there on my previous visit, but I paid a bit more attention this time. Collectively, they were very striking.

Ironically, the forecast was much better for this walk than it had been a few weeks before. On that occasion, the showers held-off. This time, sod’s-law was in operation and it rained quite a bit as we climbed Hampsfell. On the top we were shrouded in clouds and it was very cold for August.

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There’s a small hearth in the Hospice and somebody had laid a fire, it was very tempting to light it while we sheltered inside and made a brew.

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On our descent, at least the cloud lifted a little and we saw fleeting patches of sunlight on the Bay. It was actually quite striking, but sadly the photo doesn’t begin to do it justice.
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We came a slightly different way down in to Grange.

We were hoping to enjoy some lunch in a cafe near to the station which we used to bring the kids to when they were small, but were disappointed to find that they had nothing vegan on the menu for TBH. With a train imminent, and a long wait for the next one, we reluctantly had to abandon our late lunch plans. Maybe next time.

Cark to Grange with X-Ray

Cark to Grange via Cartmel

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Arnside through the train window, crossing the viaduct.

With a pretty dismal sounding forecast, we couldn’t persuade any of the younger members of the party to join us for walk from Cark to Grange. So it was only Andy, TBF and myself who caught the train from Silverdale to Cark.

I remember the walk from Cark to Cartmel being very pleasant, if perhaps unremarkable, but I don’t seem to have taken any photos until we reached Cartmel…

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The Priory gatehouse, built around 1330.
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Cartmel market cross.
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Cartmel Priory Church.

The Priory Church was built between 1190 and 1220 and was part of an Augustinian monastery, but most of the monastic buildings were destroyed after the dissolution of monasteries.

I haven’t been inside the church for far too long, and was very pleased to have a little nosey on this occasion.

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The choir stalls.
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A green man?

I took lots of photos of the amazing intricate carving in the church, but the light was very low and they didn’t come out too well.

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Looking back to Cartmel.
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Hampsfell Hospice.

Built in 1835 by George Remington, a former pastor of Cartmel Parish, Hampsfell Hospice has verses on boards around the walls inside, which make a puzzle, and on the roof, accessed by a narrow flight of stone steps, a view indicator.

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I think it was pretty windy up there on this occasion. But the forecast showers held off and the views were still quite good.

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Looking south to Humphrey Head.
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Looking North – Newton Fell.
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Looking West – How Barrow and the high moorland west of Ulverston beyond – if you click on the photo to see a larger image, you can just about pick out the wind turbines on Lowick High Common.
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Looking East – the limestone hills of home and the Kent Estuary.
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Heading down to Grange pano.
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Arnside Knott across the estuary.
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Grange Station.
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Yewbarrow and Whitbarrow Scar seen through the train window from the viaduct.
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Kent Estuary seen through the train window from the viaduct.

A terrific walk which packs a lot into its slightly more than six miles.

Cark to Grange via Cartmel

Glasson Dock and Cockersand Abbey

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Taking in the view from…Bodie Hill or Tithe Barn Hill. The road sign has one, the OS map the other.

Back to July. The Madley Massive were in town, collecting the Professor at the end of his term. Andy had the excellent idea of meeting for a walk at Glasson, seeing that the forecast wasn’t great, so that a coastal walk seemed like a sensible alternative to a soaking in the hills. I carried an umbrella, but it wasn’t needed and the weather brightened during the walk, so that we eventually had some sunshine.

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Across the Lune to Sunderland Point.
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Coattages at Crook Farm – with large anchor and….buoy?

There’s something very enticing about the paraphernalia of shipping and trawling: nets, lobster pots, anchors and such like. Is this big rusty ball a former buoy? I suppose that if metal ships can keep afloat then so can metal buoys?

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By coincidence, TBH and I had occasion to walk a short part of the Lancashire Coastal Way a couple of days ago and I was thinking how nice it would be to walk it all, or at least the part which goes around Morecambe Bay.

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Plover Scar Lighthouse.

Funny what perspective can do – I assumed that Plover Scar lighthouse was quite small, but I’ve since read that it is 8m tall. Now I’m thinking that I’d like to have a wander out, at low tide, to take a closer look. Lighthouses too are fascinating in some way. This was one of a pair which used to guide ships into the Lune Estuary. It was damaged in 2016 when it was hit by a commercial ship which was on its way into the docks at Glasson. Must be a bit embarrassing to run into a lighthouse.

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Lancashire Coastal Way, looking towards the Forest of Bowland hills.
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Approaching the remains of Cockersand Abbey.

In his post about this walk, Andy had this to say:

I’m sure when Mark gets around to posting about this walk (sometime in 2027 I think) I’m sure he’ll tell you more about it.

So: around 1180 a hermitage was built here, which soon became a hospital, then a priory and finally an abbey. It belonged, in the first instance, to Leicester Abbey, which seems quite odd, given that Leicester is quite a long way from here. When it was built, this area was marshland, so the location is a bit odd in that respect too.

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Cockersand Abbey Chapter House.

The intact building is the Chapter House, where meetings would have taken place, which was restored and refurbished and used as a mausoleum, from 1750 to 1861 by the Dalton family of nearby Thurnham Hall. The actual abbey was much more extensive than this small building would suggest. Here’s the Historic England listing.

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This track took us to a minor lane which ought to have been quiet, it being a dead-end road, but in fact there was quite a lot of traffic, presumably due to the caravan park at the end of the road.

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Lancaster Canal, Glasson Dock spur.
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The marina at Glasson.
Glasson Dock and Cockersand Abbey

Pedalling the Perimeter – A Trial Run

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So, I think I mentioned that my Mum and Dad very kindly donated their ebikes to us. We were keen to give them a go. Well, I was, I couldn’t persuade TBH of the merits at this point, so she was on Little S’s bike (she prefers it to her own bike, I think it has much lower gears), Little S was on an old bike of B’s and B was on his own bike. A is not keen on cycling and wouldn’t be persuaded to join us.

First stop, as you can see, was Arnside Prom for a pasty lunch. Actually, this was our second trip out – we’d already cycled halfway to Arnside, the day before, when I realised that the cracked pedals on my borrowed bike weren’t going to last the course. We had to return home. Fortunately, B had some spare pedals and, better yet, he fitted them for me.

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I’d been looking at the National Cycle Network and discovered that routes 700 and 90 come almost past our door, whilst 6 connects with those two to make a little loop around the Arnside and Silverdale AONB. Route 700 is the Morecambe Bay cycleway (of which more to come), 90 is a North Lancashire Loop and 6 seems to be London to the Lakes, presumably shadowing the A6?

From Arnside, we took the B road towards Milnthorpe but turned off through the grounds of Dallam Hall on a very minor little lane which took us to Beetham…

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In Beetham.
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Beetham Post Office.
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Beetham Church.

From Beetham a steep climb took us to Slackhead, followed by a long downhill, another climb over Thrang Brow and a steeper descent to Yealand Storrs.

Recognising that we were close to home, Little S deserted us at this point. Apparently, all of the up and down was a bit much for him. I have to say, had I not had the advantage of an ebike, I think I would have felt much the same way: there are a lot of ups and downs on this route, none of them very big, but in 17 miles we managed a little over 400 meters of ascent, according to MapMyWalk anyway.

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In Yealand Redmayne. A rare flatish bit.
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In Yealand Conyers, near the top of another long climb. I presume the steps were for mounting a horse?
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The small Quaker church in Yealand Conyers.
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Richard Hubberthorne fought in the Civil War, was a member of a Westmoreland religious group, the Seekers, and converted, if that’s the right term, to Quakerism after George Fox preached in the area. He wrote about his faith, and died in Newgate Prison.

More details here.

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A very successful first trip and one of many. In fact, I did much more cycling this summer than walking, so more posts of this kind to follow.

It would be pretty easy to put together a similar route, on footpaths, which would not only tour the AONB, but also take in all of the little limestone hills of the area, a walk I’ve often contemplated, but never got around to. One for the future.

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Pedalling the Perimeter – A Trial Run

A Walk from Bowland Bridge

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Across the Winster Valley to Whitbarrow Scar.

A hot Saturday afternoon, towards the end of April. TBH and I escaped for a short stroll around the Winster valley.

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Eastern Fells from Raven’s Barrow.

Raven’s Barrow isn’t really a summit, just a bump on the edge of sprawling Cartmel Fell, but it has a huge cairn (with a seat built into it) and superb, panoramic views. We found a place to get out of the wind and sat for quite some time. With a brew, of course.

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Whitbarrow from Raven’s Barrow.
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Looking South from Raven’s Barrow.
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With annotations – what do you think?
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Hmmmm – not sure that I agree.

I like the idea of footpath signs with a quote. I always like to know where quotes originate, but couldn’t track this one down. I did find this…

“I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.”

…which seems to be often wrongly attributed to Emerson, but is actually the work of Muriel Strode, ‘the female Walt Whitman’, who I think may repay further investigation.

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St. Anthony’s Church.
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Whitbarrow Scar again.
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River Winster – looking South.
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River Winster – looking north.
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Raven’s Barrow from the edge of Colehowe Wood.
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Cowclose Wood.
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Cowclose Wood bluebells.
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Nearing the top of Cowclose Wood.

The bluebells in Cowclose Wood were fantastic. I’m afraid, as usual, my photos don’t begin to do them justice.

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Pool Bank.

Pool Bank is a tiny hamlet, full of charming old buildings.

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Fox’s Pulpit Pool Bank – another place where the Quaker founder preached in the open.
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Descending towards Coppy Beck accompanied by Blackthorn blossom.
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Cowmire Hall and the northern end of Whitbarrow Scar.
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The Hare and Hounds – back in Bowland Bridge.

I think the battery on my phone died at Pool Bank. From there we followed the path through Broomer Dale to near Lobby Bridge, then another path to Scale Hill, then back along the minor lane we had started on.

A Walk from Bowland Bridge

A Market, A Fire-pit, Clouds and Sunsets

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Ruskin’s View

Mid-April. Most of these photos are from a single day, which started with rugby training for B in Kirkby Lonsdale. The measures around the pandemic almost entirely wiped-out B’s final season with his age group team, although knee surgery would have kept him on the sidelines anyway. Hopefully he’ll soon be fit to join his contemporaries in the Colts team.

While he was training, I took my usual stroll by the Lune and through Kirkby. It’s unusual to see the river so clear.

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St. Mary’s churchyard, full of daffs.
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The Manor House.
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The Lune.

In the afternoon, TBH and I were out completing a circuit of Jenny Brown’s Point for a change! The sunshine was still with us, but now there were very dark and brooding skies too, a combination I find irresistible.

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Hollins Lane.
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Warton Crag and a snow-dusted Ward’s Stone across the salt-marsh.
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Warton Crag.
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Quicksand Pool and the copper-smelting chimney.
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The Bowland Fells across Quicksand Pool.
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Jenny Brown’s pano (click for larger image).

The remaining photos are from odd days during the second half of our Easter Break.

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Cove sunset.
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Huge cloud.
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Post sunset from Jack Scout.

B often does his best to present himself as a bit of a Philistine, memorably dismissing a stunning cave in the Cévennes, for example, as ‘just rocks and water’, but secretly he’s a bit of a romantic after all. He likes a good sunset and often watches them from Heysham Barrows with his school friends. I think this photo was taken on one of a couple of walks we took together in an attempt to catch the sunset from Jack Scout. We were a bit late on this occasion.

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Saturday market, Dalton Square, Lancaster.

I’m not entirely sure why I was in Lancaster, possibly due to the return of BJJ training on a Saturday morning. What I do remember was how shocked I was to see market stalls and shoppers. Although I’d been back at work for a while, Lancaster always seemed to stay resolutely quiet and traffic free.

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Washing-machine tub fire-pit.

This photos is a bit of a cheat, since it’s from March. Our washing-machine conked out, and, having replaced it, over a couple of Saturdays I dismantled the broken one and salvaged the drum to use as a fire-pit.

It wasn’t until April that we put it to use, toasting some marsh-mallows…

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TBH got a bit carried away…

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Flambéed marshmallow.

Actually, this is typical TBH cooking – she would call this ‘caramelised’.

A Market, A Fire-pit, Clouds and Sunsets

Company on Calf Top

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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?

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Across the Lune Valley. Lakeland Fells on the horizon. Howgills top right.
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Thorn Moor

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

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TBH takes a nap. Snow-capped Lakeland Fells in the distance.
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Crag Hill.
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Professor Longhair leads the way.
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Calf Top from Castle Knott.
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Looking over Howegill Head to the distant Lakeland Fells.
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On Castle Knott.
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A negotiates a boggy bit.
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Looking back to Castle Knott.
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Crag Hill. Whernside in the background (I think).
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Nearing the top.
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The Howgills
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TBH next to the (unusually) decorated trig pillar.
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Looking down to the Lune valley.
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Retracing our steps from the top.
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Eskholme Pike
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…good place for a very belated lunch and brew.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Yarrow and Oxeye Daisy.
Hoverfly.
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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.

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Grange from the Cove.
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River Lune from Ruskin’s View in Kirkby Lonsdale.
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Market Cross, Kirkby Lonsdale.
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St. Mary’s Church, Kirkby Lonsdale.
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Hoverfly.
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Common Darter.
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Guelder Rose berries.
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Common Darter (on, I think, Marsh Thistle).
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Yet another Common Darter.
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More Guelder Rose berries.
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A shower out over the Bay, taken on a midweek, post-work walk.
September Colour.

Seismic Noise and Mast Years

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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.

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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.

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The cairn at Gait Barrows.

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Ash flower buds.

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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.

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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…

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

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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.

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Limekiln in Yealand Allotments.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Treecreeper.

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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