A Langdale Round

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White Stones – The Band. Crinkle Crags and Bowfell hidden in the cloud, but Rossett Pike is clear on the right of the photo.

Easter Monday. The forecast was a bit mixed, but generally for improvement throughout the day. I had big plans, so I’d set off early and was parked up in the National Trust carpark by the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel while there was still plenty of room.

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Pike of Blisco.
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Side Pike.

As I walked up the road towards Blea Tarn the cloud lifted off the Langdale Pikes, but it was cold and pretty gloomy.

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Langdale Pikes.

The Langdale Pikes would dominate the view for much of the early part of the walk, and then again towards the end. I took a lot of photographs of the iconic crags.

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Redacre Gill.

My route up Pike O’Blisco curls right behind the stand of trees and then follows the gill into the obvious deep cleft right of centre.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the incredible standard of the paths in the Lakes. This was an easy one to follow at a lovely gradient. somebody did a very fine job of making it.

It was spitting with rain now and again and my cag went on and off a few times.

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A well constructed path.
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Kettle Crag, Langale Pikes, Side Pike.

I seem to have stopped taking panorama shots for a while, without really deciding to, but I took loads on this walk. If you click on them, or on any of the other pictures for that matter, you’ll see a larger version on Flickr.

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Side Pike and Lingmoor.
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Side-streams, in often quite deep ravines, with lots of little waterfalls, abounded. This area would definitely repay further exploration.
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Pike O’Blisco.

As I reached the top of the gully and the angle levelled off, the weather turned temporarily a bit grim. I have several photos obviously taken in the rain. Fortunately, it was short-lived, and when the sun appeared once again, it had wet rocks to sparkle on.

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The Langdale Pikes again!
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Lingmoor with Fairfield Horseshoe beyond and a glimpse of Windermere.
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Pike O’Blisco summit.

The wind was blowing from the west, so those large slabs just below the summit offered superb shelter. I settled down, leaning against one of them, poured myself a hot cordial and video-called my Dad to wish him a happy birthday.

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Langdale Pikes and a rainbow.

It was soon raining again, but I had a well-sheltered spot and it didn’t seem to matter too much somehow.

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Rainbow panorama.
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Red Tarn and Cold Pike.

Cold Pike was my next target. I decided to take the path which angles up towards the head of Browney Gill, but then strike left when the angle eased.

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Red Tarn again. Wet Side Edge behind, which is heading up to Great Carrs, hidden in the cloud.
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Looking back to Pike O’Blisco. The broken crags on the left look like they might give a good scrambling route.
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Pike O’Blisco disappearing into the cloud, from near the top of Cold Pike.

I found another sheltered spot on Cold Pike for another quick stop. The clouds blew in once again. The weather was changing very quickly.

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Pike O’Blisco from Cold Pike. The Helvellyn and Fairfield range behind.
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Looking back to Cold Pike.
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Pike O’Blisco and Cold Pike. Wetherlam behind.
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Panorama from the same spot.
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The many tarns of Stonesty Pike. The Duddon Estuary, Harter Fell, Whitfell and Black Combe behind.
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Crinkle Crags.
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Upper Eskdale and the Scafells.
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The ‘Bad Step’. There were a couple of guys standing beneath it, having quite a lengthy discussion before deciding to follow the path around to the left. I went round too. I’ve been both up and down that way in the past and I don’t remember it being all that difficult.
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Bowfell just about out of the cloud.
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Lingmoor and Pike O’Blisco. Windermere beyond.
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The Duddon Valley and Harter Fell.
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Langdale, Lingmoor and Pike o’Blisco.
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Panorama – Scafells, Bowfell, Langdale Pikes, Langdale, Pike O’Blisco, Windermere, Coniston Fells.

There are a lot of ups and downs on Crinkle Crags. The scenery is fantastically rocky, but it does mean you really have to concentrate over where you are putting your feet to avoid taking a tumble.

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Scafells.

If the Langdale Pikes had kept drawing my eye during the early part of the walk, it was now Scafell and Scafell Pike which were hogging my attention.

The weather hadn’t been too bad, but it was getting bluer and brighter…

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Scafells again.
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Bowfell.
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Scafells and Bowfell panorama.
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Pike O’Blisco and Wetherlam.
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Pike O’Blisco, Crinkle Crags and Three Tarns.
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Langdale Pikes from Bowfell. Helvellyn and Fairfield range behind.
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Esk Pike, Grasmoor, Allen Crags, Glaramara, Skiddaw, Blencathra.
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Scafells.
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Langdale Pikes, Langdale, Lingmoor, Windermere.
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Pike O’Blisco, Wetherlam, Coniston Old Man, Crinkle Crags, Dow Crag.
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Esk Pike.

I know that the geology of the Lake District is quite complex, with some igneous rocks, lots of slate, periods when the area was underwater and sedimentary rocks were laid down, three separate periods of orogeny lifting the hills, glaciation etc – but I don’t often feel like I know what I’m looking at. The rocks on this walk seemed to change quite often.This large boulder, in Ore Gap had lots of parallel striations which make me think it must be sedimentary. And yet we’re in the central part of the hills, close to Borrowdale, where I thought the rock would be volcanic?

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Sedimentary, my dear Watson?

I have a book on the shelf in front of me, ‘Lakeland Rocky Rambles’, which I’ve never really dipped in to – hmm, could be a new project.

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Dale Head, Maiden Moor, Allen Crag, Glaramara, Derwentwater, Skiddaw, Blencathra. (And Many more!)
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Looking back to Bowfell and Crinkle Crags from Esk Pike.
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Great End, Great Gable, Green Gable, Grasmoor and more of the North-western fells.
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Langdale Pikes,Rossett Pike, Bowfell.
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Angle Tarn panorama.
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Panorama from Rossett Pike.
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Langdale Pikes, Langdale and Lingmoor from just below the summit of Rossett Pike.
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Buck Pike and Black Pike – my descent route.
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Another panorama.

I think it’s 11 years since I was last on Rossett Pike. Back then, I didn’t get too much of a view, but I did have my one and only (so far) close encounter with a Dotterel. That was also towards the end of a walk, and thinking back, I’m pretty sure that whilst I may not be particularly fit, I am at least fitter now than I was then.

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Buck Pike.
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Pike O’Stickle and Mickleden.

I picked up a path which skirted below Black Crag and kept me in the sun for a bit longer. It was a great way down, never too steep, and deposited me on the path down from Stake Pass which has superb zig-zags. Once down in the valley I followed two walkers, one of whom was barefoot. I met another barefoot walker a couple of weeks later. I quite like the idea, but I think I would probably stub my toes roughly every five minutes.

I wasn’t quite dark when I arrived back at the car, but it wasn’t far off.

Around the head of Langdale.

Some hike stats:

MapMyWalk gives a little over 13 miles (although once again, confusingly, the numbers on the map make it look closer to 25 km i.e. well over 15 miles. Who knows.) The app also suggests 1162m of ascent, which is definitely an underestimate. For a slightly different route, over exactly the same hills, Walking Englishman gives 12 miles and 1466m of ascent. I think the truth, for the climbing at least, lies somewhere between those two figures. The fact that they differ by around a 1000 feet is a bit shicking!

It was far enough, at least, to leave me feeling pleasantly tired by the end.

Despite all the effort, there are ‘only’ six Wainwrights, to wit: Pike O’Blisco, Cold Pike, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Esk Pike and Rossett Pike.

There’s lots more Birketts because all of the Crinkles are on the list. And some of the bobbles on the ridge down from Rossett Pike – but I wasn’t very careful about which of either of those I actually visited, so I shan’t list them on this occasion.

Leaving aside all of the stats, it was an absolutely superb day which will live very long in the memory. All day long I was thinking that this area is definitely the best bit of the Lakes. But I was thinking much the same thing when I did the Coledale Horseshoe, so I think all we can conclude is that I’m fickle!

A Langdale Round

Birthday Double

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The ‘upper’ path from Far Arnside. Third time running I’d foolowed this path, which I don’t usually use.

Long-suffering readers will know that on, or close to, my birthday I like to climb a hill to celebrate. This year, my Lingmoor walk was just two days before my birthday and a couple of days later I was back in the Little Langdale area with TBH, so I did pretty well.

On the actual day, the forecast was pretty ropey. Never-the-less, we managed to persuade the boys to join us for a walk to Arnside over the Knott. Possibly the promise of a pie in Arnside had some influence on their decision.

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In Far Arnside, we sheltered behind a tall hedge for the duration of a short, sharp hail shower. It was pretty fierce, but also wind-driven so that in the lea of the hedge it came over our heads and we didn’t do too badly.

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Warton Crag, the Bay and Bowland from Heathwaite. I think you can see showers tracking in off the Bay.
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Taking a Heathwaite selfie. Not sure why Little S wasn’t included.
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Far Arnside and The Bay.
As we approached the toposcope on the Knott, the heavens opened again.
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Kent Estuary in the rain.
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River Kent, Cartmel Fell, Gummer How, Yewbarrow and Whitbarrow Scar – bigger fells beyond conspicuous by their absence.

Fortunately, it was another short-lived shower. And the pies and sausage-rolls at the Old Bakehouse went a long-way as compensation for the changeable weather.

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Kent Viaduct. Louring skies.
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Arnside Tower – blue skies!

As I said – a very changeable day.

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Quince.

A had been working on my birthday and so wanted to go for a walk the following day. The weather was similar to the day before and although we had originally planned to go to Arnside for pies again, A eventually decided that a short Eaves Wood stroll would have to suffice.

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TBH and A at the Pepper Pot.

It’s very handy having some little hills on the doorstep to climb when the weather isn’t conducive to a longer expedition!

Birthday Double

The Langdales and Lingmoor

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Blea Tarn. Side Pike on the far side and the Langdale Pikes obscured by clouds behind.

B had a shift in the cafe at Brockholes; since I was dropping him off there, I decided to stay in the Lakes and make the most of it, despite a fairly ropey forecast. I had a fine time, even though it rained on and off most of the day.

I parked up by Blea Tarn, another National Trust carpark, although the joy of ‘free’ parking was tempered by high winds and driving rain which weren’t terribly encouraging. I rarely set-off for a walk in full waterproofs, I’m a fair weather walker, as much as I can manage to be.

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Looking back towards Blea Tarn. The plug of rock in this photo is Tarnclose Crag.

Fortunately, my route started downhill into Little Langdale and I hadn’t walked far before both the wind and the rain had abated a bit.

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Farmhouse at Fell Foot
When the skies are grey and the weather is rotten, I always think the white-washed stone buildings still look attractive. I’ve often thought that the porch over the door here is unusual. Turns out this is a Grade II listed building.

“At the foot of Wrynose Pass. C16 north wing, the main block C17. A long, low house, white-washed stone rubble, flag roof, 2 storeys. The door is under the overhang of a slate-hung upper storey, gabled, and without windows, the timber beam ends showing in the gable.”

Source.

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This shows the entire farm complex at Fell Foot with Castle Crag behind, itself a scheduled monument because of it’s suspected history as a hill-fort. By the farm there’s the Ting Mound where the Norse inhabitants of the valley had council meetings.

Behind Castle Crag you can see Lingmoor which is out of the cloud and would remain so all day, unlike any of the surrounding higher hills. I assume these very rocky lumps – Side Pike, Tarnclose Crag and Castle Crag are volcanic in origin, but would love to find out more.

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Bridge End Cottage.

The National Trust own both Fell Foot Farm and Bridge End Cottage, in the latter case at least, gifted to them by Beatrix Potter. Bridge End Cottage is another grade II listed building.

I had half an idea that I might be able to bag Holme Fell and Black Crag as well as Lingmoor, but I needed to collect B from Brockholes at the end of his shift, and even I could see that I would be pushing it to manage all that and still arrive on time to pick him up. On the other hand, just climbing Lingmoor would undoubtedly leave me with quite a bit of time to kill, so I decided to extend my walk along Little Langdale as far as Skelwith Bridge and then come back up Great Langdale before bagging Lingmoor.

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Lingmoor and Little Langdale Tarn.
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High Hall Garth – you’ve guessed it, Grade II and property of the National Trust.
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Low Hall Garth. Owned by the NT, gifted by Beatrix Potter, Grade II.
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Lingmoor and Slater’s Bridge.

I didn’t divert, as I usually have, to photograph the marvellous Slater’s Bridge – it was very busy. It has appeared on the blog many times before. (Here for example, or here). It’s an amazing structure, in a low-key picturesque sort of way. I’ve never thought to look up it’s protected status before, but it turns out that it trumps the other local properties by being Grade II*.

“Slater’s Bridge II*. Over River Brathay. C17 packhorse bridge of slate and natural boulders. Huge boulder in mid-stream supports segmental arched bridge of 15 ft span with 3 1/2 ft voussoirs, and a flat causeway of a single slab on slate supports.”

Source

Voussoirs? A wedge-shaped or tapered stone used to construct an arch, obviously. Learn a new thing every day! (And forget it the next sadly.)

The obvious knobble on Lingmoor with a prominent gully on its right, is Busk Pike, of which more later.

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No sign of any voussoirs at the next bridge down the Brathay, but still quite a handsome footbridge I thought.

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Little Langdale and Lingmoor.
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Colwith Force.

At Chesters, at Skelwith bridge, I managed to buy a nice lunch* from their takeaway counter and then was lucky to get a picnic table under the eaves and so out of the rain. (*Pricey, but very tasty.)

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Elter Water. Lingmoor on the left. This should be one of the iconic views of the Langdale Pikes, but they were still lost in the cloud.
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Bridge over Great Langdale Beck in Elterwater. Rebuilt 1702. Grade II listed of course.

Judging by Historic England’s map, just about every building in the village of Elterwater must be listed. I shall have to come back to investigate some time. Since one of those listed buildings is the Britannia Inn, that should be an enjoyable experience!

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I left Elterwater on a steep and stony track and was amused by this cycle route sign at the bottom, since ‘challenging’ seems like a huge understatement to me.

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This path leaves that track at around its highest point. I think it must be an old mining track, it has fabulous zig-zags and clearly someone has gone to a lot of effort in constructing it.

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I’ve become a bit obsessed with being able to put a name to every hill, hump and hollow in the view. I blame Andy. The wooded hill in the middle-ground here doesn’t have a name on the OS map and there’s no path to the top, but the wooded slopes on it’s northern and eastern flanks are access land, Fletcher’s Wood, so it would be possible to get at least close to the top. The higher ground to the right, meanwhile, is the end of the Black Crag ridge. TBH and I traversed those slopes on our walk between Coniston and Ambleside last summer.

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A day of contrasts – the Coniston Fells are lost in what I suspect was foul weather, whilst the sun is trying to shine on Little Langdale Tarn.

The weather had brightened up enough for me to take a short stop and drink some of the contents of my flask. The view was limited by the dense, low clouds, but still pretty good.

After the initial steep climb, somewhat eased by the marvellous zig-zags, a much steadier ascent ensues. There were still a number of broad grassy tracks, testament to this areas quarrying history. I took the lower path, intending to take in Busk Pike.

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Looking down on Little Langdale Tarn. Holme Fell visible through the rain. Spoil heaps and small, tumble-down walled structures like this were dotted about the hillside.
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Busk Pike.
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Busk Pike again.
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I’d like to revisit Busk Pike when the views are less curtailed by clouds.

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Brown How – the summit of Lingmoor – from Busk Pike. Notice the ruined buildings between the two tops.
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This was the biggest of the many derelict buildings I saw on Lingmoor. It provided a sheltered spot for another drinks stop. The sun even shone a little, although it also started drizzling again, just in case I was getting complacent about the weather.
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Looking back to Busk Pike and the the old mine buildings.
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And again.from a little higher up.

On the summit of Lingmoor, I met a family party of three, the first walkers I’d met since leaving the track near Dale End. We congratulated each other on the fact that it was “Not too bad”. As soon as our conversation ended, I realised that it was indeed ‘too bad’: the weather was back to how it had been when I first set-off from Blea Tarn – a howling gale and very heavy rain. It seemed highly plausible that closer to the higher hills around the head of Langdale, the weather had remained this way all day.

I was keen to get out of these conditions and back to the car, but I did divert slightly to include Lingmoor Tarn on my route…

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Side Pike – it had been my intention to include this on my route, but with the weather now so foul and with time running short, I decided to keep it for another day.
MapMyWalk gives a little over 11 miles and 560m of ascent (the latter might be a bit of an overestimate)

B had told me his shift finished at 6.30, but when I arrived to pick him up (and two friends who had also been working at Brockholes that day), it turned out that, because the cafe had been so quiet, they’d been ‘sent home’ an hour early. B was furious that I hadn’t been answering my phone (it had been on flight mode, preserving the battery whilst I probably didn’t have a signal anyway). Unfortunately for B, beggar’s can’t be chooser’s, and he soon calmed down when I offered to leave him behind, if he didn’t like the free taxi-service on offer.

The Langdales and Lingmoor

Two for One: The Mell Fells

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Despite what I’d said to TBH about having climbed ‘most’ of the Wainwrights, there are actually quite a few I’ve never been up; Great and Little Mell Fell being a case in point. Although they aren’t particularly high, they really stand out from anywhere in the north-eastern Lakes, so they’ve been on my ‘to do’ list for years. On this Saturday, at the end of January, the forecast wasn’t very promising, so they seemed like an ideal target.
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From the lane to the east of Great Mell Fell there’s a path which heads directly for the summit and I guess that most people go straight up and down by the same route, but Aileen and Brian Evans’ ‘Northern Lakeland’ book (Short Walks in Lakeland Volume 2) has a circular route which follows the edge of the woods before ascending the shoulder on the North-East side of the hill. There’s a path, seemingly quite well used, quite boggy in places.

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On the shoulder we didn’t find much of a path, but it was pleasant enough winding up through the trees, it helped that the weather was unexpectedly brightening up, there was even the odd shaft of sunlight getting through.

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Some of the trees were twisted and gnarly – I guess they are very exposed to the winds.

As we cleared the trees, and the gradient eased, the going became very tussocky. Quite hard going. TBH hates this kind of thing. There is actually a path – we just missed it somehow.

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TBH on the top – Blencathra in the cloud behind.

It was pretty windy on the top, but we thought we’d find a sheltered spot on the way down. TBH had bought me an insulated mug, similar to one she has herself. It was full of hot tea and stowed away safely in the outside pocket of my rucksack. Except it wasn’t, I discovered when we stopped: it must have fallen out when I took my bag off near the summit. TBH went to look for shelter and I went back up. Couldn’t find it, so I retraced our steps, part of the way down our ascent route, with no luck. That was how I found that there was actually a path just a few yards across the hill from where we had come up. In all then, I ‘topped out’ on Great Mell Fell three times that day – can I count that as three separate ticks?

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I’m a bit confused by this low ridge – I think, by a process of elimination, that it must be Great Meldrum and Gowbarrow Fell.
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Descending towards Little Mell Fell.

TBH had found ‘a lovely sheltered spot’ but had also got cold waiting for me, so we returned to the car and ate our lunches there.

The weather was clearly worsening, but we decided to risk an ascent of Little Mell Fell. Lazily, we drove around to The Hause, where there’s a lay-by with room for a few cars, and from where there’s a short, sharp climb to the top.

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Great Mell Fell – Blencathra seems to have cleared.
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Hallin Fell and Place Fell across Haweswater.

We made it back to the cars just as it started to rain in earnest.

So, two more ticked off, making seven Wainwrights for January, which I thought was a reasonable start, could I maintain that pace?

Two for One: The Mell Fells

Sour Howes and Sallows

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River Kent from Ullthwaite Bridge. The monument on Hugill Fell visible on the skyline.

For Christmas, TBH bought me a Wainwright Map:

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“But I’ve done most of them,” I protested, “several times.”

“I know, I thought you might like to start again.”

A map, a ticklist, and a project – an irresistible combination!

Meanwhile, Little S has become highly engaged in his BJJ and trains several times a week, but has decided that the Saturday morning class, which he has regularly attended for years, is no longer appropriate since most of the participants are genuinely little, unlike the rangy Little S.

So, spurred on by TBH and with my calendar suddenly blank every Saturday, I’ve been getting out on the hills much more frequently than I have for a while.

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Croft Head.

Having said that, this walk, from mid-January, started late, after midday – I can’t remember what had kept me occupied in the morning, so a shortish route was required. I was very lucky, at that time of day, to get a parking spot in Kentmere, conveniently next to Ullthwaite Bridge.

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Bothy? by Acretarn Plantation.

We used to tease our friend UF for his obsession with seeking out small buildings which he had identified on the map as potential ‘secret’ bothies. This building looks relatively salubrious compared to some of his hopefuls: the glazing and interior decor are a bit lacking and the ceiling was falling in, but it looks like somebody has used the fireplace, so maybe it’s ripe for adoption by the MBA?

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If there’s been a common theme to my days on the hills to date this year it has been wind, wind and more wind. Cold and often very strong winds.

“Oh, you’ve caught the sun!” People will say.

“No, I’ve been wind-blasted.”

This afternoon was the single exception so far, a fairly mild day, especially for January. A faint path ascends alongside Park Beck, a really pleasant route.

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Park Beck. Sallows behind.
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Brunt Knott, Millrigg Knott, Spy Crag, Hugill Fell. And Mackerel sky?
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Pano. The humps and hollows of Sour Howes on the left. Moor Head, the broad ridge in the middle and Sallows on the right.
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View down Windermere.

It’s a long while since I was last on these hills and I’d forgotten what great views they have, Sour Howes in particular.

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Sour Howes pano.

I parked myself just off the top and enjoyed a late lunch and some hot cordial.

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Looking down into Troutbeck. Wansfell Pike behind. Scafells and Great Gable on the skyline.

The cloud was breaking up, and the sunlight began to alternately pick out different patches of hillside, which was wonderful to watch.

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Red Screes and Stony Cove Pike.
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Sallows.
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Howgills catching the sun.
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Stony Cove Pike, Thornthwaite Crag, Ill Bell, Yoke.

It looked like it would be the easiest thing in the world just to romp up onto the western ridge of the Kentmere Horseshoe, but that will have to wait for another day (and almost certainly won’t be ‘ the easiest thing in the world’ when that day comes!)

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Scour Rigg.

On the way down, I found a path and rather heedlessly followed it, which serendipitously brought me to the curious knolls of Scour Rigg. Then I wandered around Mould Rigg. The OS maps app was an invaluable aid in locating my position and guiding me down Whiteside End and onto the track which would take me back to my car.

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Kentmere Tarn.

MapMyWalk gives a smidgen under 7 miles and close to 400m of ascent (I reckon 420 from the map, so that’s not a bad figure, I don’t think). Not bad for a short winter afternoon. I was also thinking that these hills would be ideal for a summer evening stroll.

So, two down (and Capple Howe is a Birkett), just two hundred and twelve to go!

Sour Howes and Sallows

January, High Tides and Partly Cloudies

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Three days at the beginning of January to finish our Winterval* break. First off, an Arnside Knott walk. As you can see, it was fairly bright, but very cloudy elsewhere, so the views were highly truncated. No Cumbrian Fells on display, and to the south…

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…Warton Crag looking a bit hazy, and the Forest of Bowland, usually the horizon, nowhere to be seen.

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Flooded fields and Silverdale Moss.
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Low winter sun over Humphrey Head.
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Sunset.
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The next day’s walk, our ‘standard’ Jenny Brown’s Point circuit, is represented by this single photo of high tide in Quicksand Pool. A grey day!

The next day, a Monday, in lieu of our New Year’s Day Bank Holiday, we had four Roe Deer in the garden: a male and three females.

He was easiest to photograph, since he didn’t move about too much, often sitting quite still…

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…also giving himself a thorough grooming…

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…occasionally shaking himself in much the same way a dog would, and every now and then having a bit of a snack…

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The females were much more intent on feeding themselves. They have a long gestation period and so maybe they were all pregnant and that was the reason for their greater appetite?

I took hundreds of photos, many of them very poor, but it was interesting to be watching them. I was surprised by how catholic their tastes were. We are all too aware that in the spring and summer the deer will come into our garden and eat lots of flowers, but in the middle of winter they seemed keen on just about anything green.

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Even the rather leathery looking leaves of our large Fatsia japonica didn’t escape unscathed.

Brambles and Ivy too were firmly on the menu…

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Through my zoom lens I could see the deers’ long tongues, seemingly well adapted for grasping leaves and tearing them from the plants.

Two of the does roamed the garden together, never straying from each others’ sides.

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The other female occasionally joined them, but mostly plowed her own furrow. Then she joined the buck on our lawn…

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And they sat, companionably ignoring one another…

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I’m not sure how long I would have sat watching the deer, but then I got an offer of a lift to Arnside from A, who is working in a Care Home there. It was raining a little, but the forecast was for better to come, so this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

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High tide – the Kent viaduct. Gummer How, Yewbarrow and Whitbarrow behind.
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Arnside Prom. This was a very high tide, the slipway here was almost submerged.

I walked around the coast, as far as the Coastguard station, from where I had to turn inland since the path was underwater.

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I followed the road to New Barns. The tide had receded somewhat, although the salt marsh was still inundated…

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From New Barns I was able to follow the shore again. It had stopped raining, and some blue sky started to appear.
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White Creek.
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Hampsfell and Meathop Fell across the Kent Estuary from White Creek.

The remainder of the walk was enlivened by my attempts to capture the crepuscular rays illuminating Morecambe Bay.

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Today is one of those excellent January partly cloudies in which light chooses an unexpected part of the landscape to trick out in gilt, and then shadow sweeps it away. You know you are alive. You take huge steps, trying to feel the planet’s roundness arc between your feet.

Anne Dillard from ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’

I’ve quoted this before, but, somewhat to my surprise, it was ten years ago, so I think that’s okay. I’ve been slowing rereading ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’, which put it in mind, but anyway I’ve come to think of days like this as Partly Cloudies.

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When I eventually got home, the three does had disappeared, but the buck was still stationed on our lawn, bold as brass. Nowhere else to be, no calls on his time. Nice work if you can get it!

*Winterval – not a term I ever normally use, but I thought I’d put it out there and see if anyone would bite!

January, High Tides and Partly Cloudies

Wide-Ranging Whernside Views

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A reduced team near the start of the walk by Ribblehead Viaduct. Whernside behind.

The next day, a Sunday, we were better prepared. Up and out! The early bird and all that. We were walking just before 11 – practically an Alpine start! We were a much smaller party, with many of the group having opted for a waterfalls walk from Ingleton. The weather was magnificent again.

As ever, the Ribblehead Viaduct looked stunning; even more so when a train crossed for some reason.

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Andy had a cunning plan, we first followed the railway line as far as Force Gill. There we turned uphill – this is a route I’ve taken many times recently, but where a second left turn would have taken us up towards the Greensett Tarn and the top, instead we continued on, following the Craven Way path which curls around the shoulder of Whernside and down into Dentdale. This is where Andy’s cunning plan came into play – we left the path at it’s high point and struck across the moor to hit the ridge by the Whernside tarns.

Well, most of us did, UF and the Prof had some objection to this idea, I think they were worried about getting mud on their shoes, or something equally daft. Here they are…

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…on the more direct route to Whernside, where we would meet them again.
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Craven Way track – looking to Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough.
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Our diminished group in the vicinity of Craven Wold.
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Wold Fell, I think, with Great Knoutberry Hill on the left – both overdue a visit. The deep cleft between them is Arten Gill with Arten Gill Viaduct at the bottom.

We were constantly entertained by the mist on the move: flowing down Arten Gill’s steep valley and across the moors towards Ingleborough.

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One of the Whernside Tarns. Lake District Fells in the background.
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From a little further up the ridge – Howgill Fells in the centre, Baugh Fell on the right with the three Whernside tarns in front of it.
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Greensett Tarn, Pen-y-Ghent beyond.
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Greensett Tarn, Great Knoutberry Hill, Wold Fell and a sea of cloud beyond.
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Approaching the top of Whernside, a view of Ingleborough.
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Great Coum with the Lake District hills behind.
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Howgill Fells.
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This chap was trying to take off, without much success, he would run toward the steeper ground, but then the wind would drag him and his chute back again.

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A summit picnic – reunited with UF and the Prof.

It had been quite mild during our ascent, but it was really quite chilly on the top. The views were stunning – the air was so clear that we could pick out the Isle of Man and the hills of North Wales, both poking above the sea of cloud.

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Ribblehead, Pen-y-Ghent beyond. The mist making a much more rapid ascent of Park Fell than we had the day before.
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Here’s the parascender again – finally airborne.
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Ribblehead and mist again and some lovely late light.
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Ingleborough.
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Winterscales Beck and Ingleborough.
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The moon rising above the moor.

A couple of cracking days which will live long in the memory.

Wide-Ranging Whernside Views

Ingleborough Inversion

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Pen-y-Ghent.

Our little group of friends has been getting together for a weekend before Christmas for donkey’s years. We know what to expect from the weather – rain, rain and more rain. But not to worry, it’s a social weekend really, a chance to catch-up, eat too much food, retell ancient stories of times long gone and maybe sink a few beers.

So, this year, when Saturday morning revealed clear blue skies and sunshine, I think we were a bit unprepared. How else to explain the fact that we didn’t leave our accommodation at Gearstones Lodge until nearly midday, after our usual gargantuan cooked breakfast?

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Ingleborough.

We cut across the fields to Gauber, heading for a steep ascent of Park Fell.

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Whernside from Park Fell.
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Some of our group on Park Fell.

From Park Fell we followed a minor tread which accompanied the drystone wall to Simon Fell.

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D in a t-shirt on the fells in December! (I don’t think it was really that warm!)
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South and west of us everything low-lying was cloaked in a cloud inversion, a thick fog.

The cloud inversion was superb, I took lots of photographs – we probably all did – but they all look a bit the same! At the time we also had great fun trying to identify the high ground which was poking through the fog, but, out of context, I’m struggling to do the same with the photos. Not that I was very accurate at the time anyway. I think I managed to find at least three Pendle Hills!

I’ve seen photos from Morecambe FC’s home match that day, some of the boy’s friends were there, and I’m surprised that the match wasn’t abandoned, the visibility was so poor. I doubt that the opposing goalkeepers could see each other. Had you been down in the fog, you might have no idea of the sunshine and clear air so close at hand.

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Whernside, with the Howgills behind.
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Looking back the way we had come. The superb path which contours along the west side of the ridge would be our return route.

I’d been left well behind as we completed the final climb onto Ingleborough. Just as I arrived on the huge summit plateau I encountered B running back to meet me. My heart sank, I didn’t think he would have good news.

“Have you got a first-aid kit? S has spilt his chin open.”

Apparently, S had slipped and broken his fall with his chin. His hands were scratched and grazed too. Fortunately, by the time I reached the wind-shelter on the top, UF had produced a first-aid kit and a kind passer-by had also provided a suitable plaster.

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The Lake District fells from Ingleborough summit plateau.

We cleaned him up as best we could and improvised a dressing with a plaster and a covid face-mask.

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The inversion from Ingleborough summit.

The injury wasn’t as severe as last time he spilt his chin, but it was quite a deep wound and I thought that he might need stitches, so he and I left the others enjoying the views and their lunches to make a rapid return to Gearstones.

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Whernside catching late winter afternoon light.
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Looking back to Ingleborough.
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Little’ S striding out.
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Little S – with a good excuse to wear his mask around his chin.

S and I were talking about this walk recently and he described the light as ‘magical’. It’s good to know that he was still enjoying himself despite the considerable pain he must have been suffering.

B must have come haring after us, because he caught up with us as we descended towards Park Fell.

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It was only as arrived back at Gearstones that I remembered that our car was trapped in due to the double parking necessary to get all of our vehicles into the available space. I would have to wait anyway and needn’t really have rushed. It did give me a chance to have a quick shower while we waited. Our friend Doctor F, who had remained at Gearstones, had a look at the gash and was of the same mind, that S needed to visit casualty.

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AT Dr F’s suggestion, we phoned Westmorland General Hospital, in Kendal, to check that we’d be okay to go to their Minor Injuries Clinic, rather than the much bigger and much busier A&E at Lancaster. We were, and so S got seen very quickly. It was now several hours since his fall and the doctor told us that the wound was already healing well and that steri-strips would be sufficient. Anyway, S and I were even able to get back in time for the communal meal and subsequent festivities. (A lot of pool and table tennis in the games room, I think)

A stunning day, with just a little too much excitement for my liking. Accident prone Little S is very stoical about these things, perhaps because of all the practice he has had. He was bitten by a dog last weekend, whilst doing his paper round, and didn’t seem very bothered at all – in fact was adamant that we shouldn’t report the incident because the owner was “very nice and apologetic”.

Ingleborough Inversion

More Than Enough

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UF was up from Manchester since we had tickets to see Martin Simpson and Martin Taylor at the Brewery Arts in Kendal. I invited TC to bring his dogs out for a walk around the village with us. We started in Eaves Wood with a visit to the Pepper Pot, then walked through Burton Well Wood and across Lambert’s Meadow. The fact that I have no photographs is, I think, a good indication of how poor the weather was. In the photo above, we are at the now decrepit bench at the top of the hill at Myer’s Allotment. Even on a wet day there was a bit of a view over Leighton Moss…

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We dropped down through Fleagarth Wood to Jenny Brown’s Point, where, since it had stopped raining and the sand was reasonably firm, we decided to walk around the coast back to the village.

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It was bracingly windy and rather splendid.

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Ink Caps, I think.

The next morning, a Sunday, UF made an early exit to make a prior engagement. Usually, when he makes a Sunday flit, he’ll be playing snap – the variant that has ‘seven no trumps’ and the like – or watching City play, but, if I remember right, on this occasion he was meeting friends for a walk. It might have been a good one, because the weather was much brighter, with big clouds, plenty of sunshine and heavy showers tracking in off the Bay. Having said that, I didn’t set out for a walk until late afternoon, so it’s possible I’d been waiting for the weather to improve.

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I managed to string a five mile route out over nearly three hours. Tea breaks to sit and watch the showers falling elsewhere were the order of the day.

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At Far Arnside, I spent some time looking for the fossilised corals in the rocks on the edge of the Bay; something I hadn’t done for quite some time.

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Clougha Pike and Ward’s Stone from Heathwaite.
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Kent Estuary and Whitbarrow from Arnside Knott.
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Humphrey Head.

I was surprised to get to the top of Arnside Knott without being caught by any showers. Perhaps I celebrated too soon: as I began to descend, it finally started to rain on me.

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It was short lived though, and brought a rainbow with it.

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Mushroom cloud formation above Heysham Nuclear Power Plant. Hmmm.
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Late light on the houses of Townsfield.
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Almost home. More rain and another rainbow.

Here’s the two Martins, performing a song from Martin Simpson’s repertoire, written, I think, by his father-in-law. It seems highly appropriate for these ‘Eat or Heat’ times.

More Than Enough

Duke of Burgundies, A Holly Blue, An Osprey, Iridescent Clouds, an Interloper.

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TBH in Bottoms Wood

A post to take me a bit further through May. These first six photos were all taken on the same Sunday. I was out for an early walk with TBH, then took B to rugby training in Kirkby, a chance for another brief wander, and finally had a short stroll, which took a long time, around Gait Barrows.

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River Lune near Kirkby Lonsdale
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Herb Paris in the woods at Gait Barrows
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A pair of Duke of Burgundy butterflies

Obviously, Duke of Burgundy butterflies are like buses; I’ve waited years to see one, then two come along at once. Seeing me with my camera, a fellow enthusiast asked if I was looking for Duke of Burgundies? And when I replied; ‘That would be nice’, he pointed out where I could find a pair on one of the ropes which cordoned off the path.

“Hurry,” he said, “I’ve been watching them there for 45 minutes. I don’t know how much longer they’ll stay.”

Long enough for me to take lots of almost identical photos! What surprised me was how tiny they were – this is a really diminutive species of butterfly. Perhaps that’s why I’ve found them so hard to spot? They didn’t move at all, so intent on mating were they, so I didn’t get to see their upperwings. Maybe next May.

Duke of Burgundy butterflies are seriously in decline. Here’s the distribution map:

You can see that our population is very much an isolated North-Western outpost. The wonderful Back On Our Map project (BOOM!) are aiming to reintroduce or spread a number of rare species in the area, including Dormice and possibly Pine Martens. At Gait Barrows huge efforts have been made to encourage Primroses and Cowslips which are the food-plants of the Duke of Burgundy caterpillars.

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Big skies over Gait Barrows
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Iridescent clouds above Farleton Fell.

Here’s a curious phenomena which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before – rainbow colours in the sky, but not in a rainbow arc. Sadly, none of the photos I took showed the colours very clearly, but you can just about see them here in this enhanced shot. Fascinating to see; due to tiny ice-particles diffracting the light apparently.

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Another view of Farleton Fell.

One evening whilst A was at a dance lesson, I made a first visit to Hale Moss nature reserve. There were lots of snails and a few Bird’s-eye Primroses dotted about the boggy open ground.

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Hale Moss.
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Holly Blue butterfly, photographed in the grounds at work.

Not much more to say about that one. Not the first Holly Blue I’ve seen, but the first I’ve seen locally. Probably, I think because they’re another small butterfly, and because they tend to fly quite high in the tree-tops.

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Reed Bunting at Foulshaw Moss.
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Male Great-spotted Woodpecker (the females don’t have the red patch on their nape)
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Two male Redpolls.
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Foulshaw Moss.

I was standing on the raised platform at Foulshaw Moss which gives great views over the wetland, when a large white bird flew directly overhead from behind me. By the time I’d got my camera pointing in the right direction, the bird had already travelled a long way, but it was still obviously an Osprey.

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Osprey

The Wildlife Trust had webcams stationed over the nest at Foulshaw and through the spring and early summer I periodically watched the adults and then the chicks. Still special to see the bird ‘in the flesh’ though.

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Osprey being harried by a Crow.
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Perched Osprey.
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Two more views of Foulshaw Moss.
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Sedge Warbler.

This bird was bobbing about in the reeds beneath the platform, singing enthusiastically. I think the prominent eye-stripe makes this a Sedge Warbler. I took lots of photos, but none were quite as sharp as I would have liked.

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And finally, this also flew overhead that same evening whilst I was at Foulshaw Moss – ironically, I think that this is an Osprey too: a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. The rotors tilt so that it can take off, land and manoeuvre like a helicopter, but also fly like a plane. But what is an American military aircraft doing flying over Cumbria? Well, RAF Alconbury, RAF Fairford, RAF Lakenheath, RAF Mildenhall, RAF Menwith Hill, RAF Croughton – all US run bases in the UK apparently. None of them are near here, but I guess it must have come from one of them? Good to know that we’re still living in Airstrip One. When will we be ‘taking back control’ of military bases on our ‘sovereign’ territory? Don’t hold your breath.

Duke of Burgundies, A Holly Blue, An Osprey, Iridescent Clouds, an Interloper.