Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens


Many moons ago, we toured Doddington Hall with my Mum and Dad. It’s not too far from where they live. On the second day of our trip to Lincolnshire this summer, TBH and I were eager to go again. For some reason, Dad wasn’t so keen, and kept turning up alternatives which he thought might appeal to the kids. He balked however, at the idea of accompanying them on a treetop trek, so in the end Doddington Hall won out.


There was a wedding in the hall that day, so we were restricted to the gardens, but that kept us well occupied beyond the advertised closing time, so it wasn’t really a problem.

Be warned, if you’re planning a visit: there are signs near the entrance forbidding picnics in the gardens. There’s a lot of green space at the back of the carpark though, which was a halfway decent alternative, but a bit rough on my Mum and Dad who prefer not to sit on the ground these days (or prefer not to have to get up again, anyway).


There is a cafe in one of the many estate buildings, which looked to be doing a roaring trade. I’m told that the cakes that some of the party sampled there later in the day were very good. The wasps certainly liked them.

Just by where we picnicked, there was a small pond…


And so some potential for flora and fauna…


Common Darter (I think).


Tachina Fera on Mayweed – both very tentative identifications.


Tachina Fera again.

This photo shows the strong black stripe on an orange abdomen which makes me think that this fly is Tachina Fera. The larvae of this fly parasitise caterpillars.

The plant is Gipsywort…


“Rogues masquerading as itinerant fortune-tellers and magicians used in past centuries to daub their bodies with a strong black dye produced from gipsywort, in order to pass themselves off as Egyptians and Africans. Swarthy looks were supposed to lend greater credibility to these vagabonds when they told fortunes; it was this use that gave the plant its names of gipsywort and Egyptian’s herb.”

Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain

Moving into the gardens…


Little S was particularly impressed with the huge…


…squashes, pumpkins? I’m not sure which.

He won’t really remember our last visit, since he was barely a year old at the time.


Small Tortoiseshell.


Large White.





Another Tortoiseshell.


This bee was absolutely coated in golden pollen, having just emerged…


…from a courgette flower.


Something that really stuck in my memory from our previous visit were these gnarly old Sweet Chestnut Trees.


They predate the hall, making them very, very old indeed.






One more Tortoiseshell.


The gatehouse.


Unicorn topiary.


The Hall is Elizabethan and was built, between 1595 and 1600, by Robert Smythson, who was the master stonemason when Longleat was built and who also designed the highly impressive Hardwick Hall, among others. Apparently, it has never been sold, which must be highly unusual. These days it seems to be the centre of a thriving industry, with several shops in the grounds, as well as the cafe and weddings. Not to mention the biennial sculpture exhibition in the gardens….of which, more to follow…

Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens

Hutton Roof

Saturday was again cold and bright (and the weather has remained so despite forecasts to the contrary). With in-laws on hand to child-mind we had long planned to escape for a child free walk in the Lakes. Baby S had his own ideas, however and decided to stay awake most of the night, which meant that we took advantage of the opportunity to have a lie-in and a late breakfast. As a result we chose to stay closer to home and walked from Burton, starting just after midday.

We parked on Vicarage lane, which is the minor road heading for the hamlet of Dalton, and set of along the bridleway named on the OS map Slape Lane. The footpath sign at the beginning told us that we were heading for Burton Fell. Almost immediately we encountered a toposcope giving a guide to the Lakeland fells which were ranged before us. Despite their modest elevation the houses on the edge of the village here have a magnificent view, although it is somewhat marred by the proximity of Holme Park Quarry.

Slape Lane is a narrow path bounded on both sides by hedges. I would guess that it is a byway which has been in use for many, perhaps hundreds of years. About a kilometre along the path, another right of way leads of to the right, crosses a couple of fields and apparently just stops at the edge of a huge field marked on the map as both Pickles Wood and Lancelot Clark Storth. I had a strong feeling that this was a nature reserve and we decided to head that way since it seemed to offer an interesting route to the summit of Hutton Roof Crags. Where the right of way ended we didn’t find the half expected information board or map, but decided to chance it anyway. As it turns out, we found out later that  both this and the areas immediately north and south of it belong to the Hutton Roof Crags nature reserve. There is access to the large area of woodland marked on the map as Storth Wood and Dalton Crags form the road south of Dalton – something which I shall have to investigate in due course. On the east side of Hutton Roof Crags, the hillside and woodland around Cockshot Hill, which I have often admired from the right of way below them, has also been designated as access land.

We followed a good track up through the woods and emerging into more open ground were treated to excellent views. Although it was cold, it was also very still and sunny. We picked a likely spot and enjoyed an al fresco lunch.

Seasoned with fresh air and expansive views, a flask of tea, a cheese and chutney sandwich and a piece of my mother-in-laws Christmas Cake tasted finer than anything the lardi-da cafe at Skelwith Bridge (where we had intended to eat) could possibly have offered.

Paths seem to criss-cross the nature reserve and having stuck close to the north wall of Lancelot Clark Storth, we now picked up a path which crossed limestone pavements to the south east corner where a style gave access to the trig point.  At 274m, Hutton Roof Crags is the highest of the little limestone hills that surround the lower end of the river Kent and its tributaries. Like many small hills it has superb views and it has the added distinction of being a Marilyn.

The views of the Lakes are good but rather distant. Similarly the Bowland Fells. The best views are of the hills across the Lune valley:


Crag Hill, Great Coum and Gragareth

Calf Top and the Middleton Fells – which TBH pointed out look quite Croissant like – reminiscent of old volcanoes we climbed in the Auvergne.

Navigation on Hutton Roof crags can be surprisingly difficult. It has a topology quite unlike anywhere else I have been, with humps and hollows, limestone crags, and much of it heavily wooded with thickets of low thorny shrubs and brambles. The nearest comparison I can think of is trying to find your way on Kinder Scout, although that’s not a particularly helpful analogy.

Since TBH had not been here before (have I really not been here for 8 years?) we wanted to explore properly and so took the path that follows the wall down towards the village of Hutton Roof, before following another path through a larger example of the sort of dry valley that is common here. Many of the features here are named – Uberash Plain, the Rakes, Potslacks, Uberash Breast. Is this Blasterfoot Gap?

The trees growing from the cliff gave me another entry for the Crooked Tree Competition:

It was great to be out on a day with such clear blue skies – they are far and few between and normally when they arrive I always seem to be lamenting the fact that I’m stuck at work.

This short-cut brought us to the Limestone Link path (which runs from Kirby Lonsdale to Arnside). With shadows lengthening we followed that round to the road which runs through between Hutton Roof Crags and Farleton Fell.

A short stroll down the road brought us to the far end of Slape Lane which would take us back to Burton. Shortly before rejoining our outward route, we reentered the Hutton Roof Crags nature reserve…

and this time found an information board and a map:

I like the idea of including maps in my posts (but perhaps not with trees and me reflected in them).

As we neared Burton, the sun was setting…

…but not before lighting up some bramble leaves to fuel my latest obsession…

Hutton Roof

Self Similarity

Yet More Sunday – Walk the Second

Having very briefly returned home and dropped off A and B and their mum to make their way to church, S and I embarked on another modest loop to celebrate creation in our own peculiar way.

In the spring I whiled away several strolls hunting for rooks. Then two pairs came and nested in an oak tree visible from the house. Hardly the huge gathering expected of a rookery, but a start. Now they seem to be back, four birds roosting in the same tree.

Walking along the perimeter of Hagg Wood, in reality just a small copse, I was attracted to the frost trimmed margins of these ivy leaves…

…and another example of the as yet unidentified fern that I spotted recently in Pointer Wood…

These specimens had brown nodules on the undersides of the leaves, presumably spore producing bodies like those on hart’s tongue fern?

As ever my companion was fascinated by the wonders of the natural world, and expressed his delight in his usual inimitable fashion…

Which meant that he missed what would undoubtedly have been the highlights of the walk for him…

…this jacketed pony and his diminutive Shetland Pony companions…

…and these Long-Faced Leicester sheep, which for some reason decided to follow us around Pointer Wood. Perhaps they recognised a kindred spirit exiled from the east midland home of fox-hunting, ‘mild’ beer and “ay up me duck” greetings. Or perhaps they thought that I might feed them.

Despite the indifference of S, I was still convinced that the frost made just about any subject worth photographing, not matter how banal…

Another sharp frost again this weekend and I shall no doubt take lots more pictures like this one…

…and this one…

…I liked the way that the darkness of the leaf contrasted with the frosted emphasis of the skeletal framework.

I did find some variations on favourite themes though. This dew spattered oak leave had been frozen into something new…

…and the dew-drops on the twigs, which had been frozen on Saturday, now had an additional opaque layer of ice crystals…

Fungi are another staple motif of my walks and my blog…

I hope that I can get away with one final photo of frosted leaves…

…if only as an excuse to remark that the structure of the central leaf mirrors that of a tree itself, a self-similarity on an entirely different level than my unrelenting repetition of the same few walks and the same few images. Which, in my mind at least, brings me back to where I started: celebrating creation in my own peculiar way.

Walk the Third

After lunch the whole family were out again, this time in the company of Dr R and her daughters. Our walk took us past the crooked tree which sparked The Crooked Tree Competition with Ron at Walking Fort Bragg. It looks different again now that its branches are bare…

What I have never noticed before, and I’ve walked past this tree countless times, is the tree watching me…


The Owl-Tree Competition starts here!

Martin and Sue spotted a watchful tree on their visit to the area, but that tree looked much less benign.

After an unscheduled loo stop at a friend’s house on The Row, our walk took us past Dog Well and Bank Well and then across the golf course to Leighton Moss. We warmed up in the cafe there, but didn’t have time to watch the mass starling roost before setting off for home in near darkness.

Two bright ‘stars’ appeared early in the southern sky. I would have assumed that one of them was Venus, but been stuck with the other, but Dr R tells me that it was probably Jupiter. I was absorbed for the remainder of the walk trying to picture the relative positions of the Sun and the planets if Venus and Jupiter could appear in the same part of our sky.

Self Similarity

Crooked Tree Competition

Ron, of Walking Fort Bragg fame, and I have engaged in friendly rivalry in the search for a Very Crooked Tree. I see that he has upped the ante. Not to be outdone, I thought that I would post this photo, another one of the many from my excellent walks on Sunday.

This, the crookedest tree that I know, is beside a path in Eaves Wood close to the Pepper Pot. My photograph doesn’t really do justice to the crazy way it leans in all directions at once and twists and doubles back in slow spirals, but until blogging evolves to allow holograms or some other form of three dimensional image it will have to suffice.

Crooked Tree Competition