Garden Guests

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Long-suffering readers of this blog will know that it’s not unusual for roe deer to visit our garden. However, I don’t think we’ve ever had four together before. In the photos the deer are actually in next door’s garden. (I don’t suppose that they recognise the boundary). That put them right by one of our windows, or one of them was at least, with the others frustratingly obscured by a fringe of trees…

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Later they were all at the bottom of our garden when I needed to go down to the compost bins. To my surprise they didn’t immediately scarper when I left the house, but huddled in a corner watching me nervously. When I reached the compost bins they rushed to get away – back to next door’s garden via our patio, walking inches past our patio doors were S was leaping about with excitement, apparently unobserved by the deer.

A few mornings later we were visited by a solitary buck, but that time I didn’t get any pictures.

Garden Guests

Silverdale to Keswick I: To Kendal

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With Lancashire playing silly b*****s with the Easter Holidays this year, the boys have a completely different fortnight off to the rest of the family. A and I decided to make a virtue of necessity and head off on our own little holiday jaunt: a walk from Silverdale to Keswick. Here she is setting off, on the Tuesday after Easter Monday, fully garbed in waterproofs since the sky was a monotone grey and a light rain was falling.

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We walked past Challan Hall…

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…and Hawes Water, diverting ever so slightly to check whether the toothwort which appears here every year was flowering…

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It was…

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From there we continued alongside Silverdale Moss…

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I can’t recall having seen it so flooded before, though I suspect that had we visited midwinter, the meres would have been even more extensive. A couple of spots of brilliant white in amongst the reeds were Little Egrets, whilst a Heron flapped away in that laconic, slow-motion fashion that they have.

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The bridge over Leighton Beck. A did all of the map-reading on this first day and some of it thereafter.

We passed Hazelslack Farm with it’s Peel Tower and then began the ascent of Beetham Fell. This old coffin route finds a fault in a line of crags…

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…which leads to a bit of a viewpoint…

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…and hey-presto, the clouds have broken, there’s some blue sky at last, it’s stopped raining and there’s an odd moment of sunshine.

The Fairy Steps…

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…brought us to the top of the Fell and an improved vista…

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…of Arnside Knott, the Kent Estuary and Hampsfell.

Dropping down the far side of the hill we encountered our first clumps of daffodils, which would become something of a feature of the walk.

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Another feature of the walk were the frequent stops for both of us to take photos.

Close to the boundary of the woods there’s a ruined building with a huge patch of snowdrops below it. Sadly, they’d finished flowering, but I’ve made a mental note to come back and take another look next February.

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By the time we’d reached Beetham, it was spitting with rain again.

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Beetham.

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St. Michael and All Angels.

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In addition to stopping to take lots of photographs of flowers, birds, butterflies, leaves etc whilst I’m walking, I also like to take a proper look around any interesting places I pass. There was a tension here though between exploring thoroughly and reaching our night’s lodgings, so we didn’t look into the church. It’s well worth a look however. Photos of the interior here, from a previous visit.

The optimism about the weather which I’d felt on Beetham Fell had been a little premature it seemed, and as we walked through Dallam Deer Park the heavens really opened.

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Most of the Fallow Deer were sheltering under the trees looking slightly forlorn, although some were still out in the open…

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As we dropped down the hill past Dallam Hall and towards the River Bela…

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…one decision seemed to have been made for us. We’d been debating where to buy lunch, but although it was still quite early our minds were being made up for us by the inclement weather. Booth’s in Milnthorpe had become the new favourite in the bidding.

“Even if we don’t get lunch from Booth’s, can we just go in and browse?”, was A’s opinion on the matter.

In fact, when we’d bought a bit of lunch, the rain had stopped again and the sun was shining. We found a bench in the car park, spread some gear out to dry and tucked in. A fine time, as we sat mud-spattered and bedraggled, for a friend from the village to roll up in her car, wind down the window and inquire what we were up to.

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The path out of Milnthorpe took us up a slight hill and that modest elevation gave fine views of the Kent Estuary…

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…Whitbarrow Scar, and Heversham Head…

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The next part of the route had been a bit ticklish to plan. We needed to get to Levens Bridge: the Cumbria Coastal way would do that, via a series of minor lanes; we could climb Heversham Head, but the paths we would use zig-zag furiously; we opted for the most direct route, involving some walking along the main A6, but mostly on a parallel road which runs through the villages of Heversham and Leasgill.

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St. Peter’s, Heversham.

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With another daffodil decorated cross.

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The pump, from 1900, at St. Mary’s Well, which according to the sign on the wall behind, supplied the village with water for around 1000 years.

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Whitbarrow Scar.

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Leasgill.

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Leven’s Hall and its famous topiary.

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From Levens Bridge we would follow the River Kent upstream to Kendal.

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The Bagot Fallow Deer in Levens Deer Park.

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Initially, we could choose which bank of the river to follow and unfortunately we chose the West bank, still a source of much recrimination since…

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…a crucial bridge was closed, forcing us to retrace our steps back to a road bridge and then follow the East bank after all.

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All the way along the river we were to see plastic bags, traffic barriers, bundles of twigs and various other detritus in the branches of riverbank trees far above our heads. It was very sobering to see just how high the river-level had reached in last November’s floods.

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Happily we also saw goosander on the river and grey wagtails bobbing about on its margins.

Hawes bridge was also still closed…

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The river eventually brought us to…

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Where we were staying in the Hostel, formerly YHA, now independent, and highly recommended. I’d booked a two-bed room, but we were upgraded to a bigger, en-suite room, the only disadvantage being that it was on the third floor . The shower was very hot and very powerful and very welcome. We just had time to grab a meal in the Brewery Arts Centre (handily close by the hostel) before settling in to watch ‘Batman versus Superman’, about which the least said the better. (Oh alright, if I must, my detailed review: it was rubbish, but I managed to sleep through quite a bit of it, so not all bad).

By popular demand (well Alan and Andy): maps.

Silverdale to Milnthorpe:

Silverdale to Milnthorpe

Milnthorpe to Hawes Bridge:

Milnthorpe to Hawes Bridge

Hawes Bridge to Kendal:

Hawes Bridge to Kendal

 

 

Silverdale to Keswick I: To Kendal

An Entomologist on Arnside Knott

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Another day of blue and sunny skies and an afternoon, post rugby walk up the Knott and back with B. The interest started before we left the house, with a visiting row deer in the garden. Unusually, I was in the garden at the time – most of the time deer will only visit when we are safely ensconced in the house.

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A Speckled Wood.

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On Heathwaite – a clearing on the wooded ridge which leads down from the Knott towards the sea – B and I had fun exploring the many large meadow ant hills. Most of them seemed to have at least one resident spider and B also enjoyed catching grasshoppers.

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The view South to Warton Crag and the Bowland Fells.

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Red Admiral.

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Arnside Tower.

An Entomologist on Arnside Knott

Two Walks by the Bela

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More ‘Creative Use of Odd Moments’, or ‘Excerpts from the Diary of a Taxi Dad’. On a Monday evening A has two consecutive dance lessons in Milnthorpe; this creates a welcome opportunity for a bit of a daunder and since Dallam deer park and the river Bela’s confluence with the Kent are both conveniently close by it’s natural to head that way for a look-see.

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TBH generally does this particular taxi-run, because Monday night is also the appointed niche for my social life, such as it is, but with the evenings drawing in I snatched the opportunity to forgo the delights of the Lancaster City Quiz League and to get some fresh air and a little exercise instead.

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This last photo was taken near the end of the walk, when it was, frankly, almost dark. These two Fallow Deer bucks, part of a domesticated herd kept in Dallam Deer Park, stood out a ghostly white under the spreading shade of a riverside tree, seeming to concentrate and reflect the light of the recently risen moon. I was surprised, given the relative darkness, that the camera managed to capture an image.

A week later I took a more direct route to the level ground beside the Bela’s final few yards, having missed the sunset the week before by dallying elsewhere.

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I still missed the sunset, but the afterglow wasn’t too shabby.

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There was a chill in the air which had me regretting choosing to wear shorts.

Two Walks by the Bela

Roe Deer

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When we got home from our trip to Roa Island it was to discover one more wildlife treat awaiting us – a pair of roe deer in the garden.

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Deer visit from time to time. Sometimes they sleep on our lawn. We’d seen them a few times recently, but it was pleasing that they visited whilst our guests were still with us – putting on a show as it were.

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The slightly scruffy look is because they are shedding their darker, winter coat in anticipation of warmer weather (which we are still anticipating patiently).

Roe Deer

Levens Park and Force Falls

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Another weekend afternoon jaunt, this time with the whole family, on an old favourite walk through Levens Deer Park. The park is a proper deer park, attached to Levens Hall, and has its own herd of domesticated fallow deer, of a breed particular to the park, and likewise it’s own breed of goats, although we didn’t see those on this occasion.

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It’s spread out either side of the River Kent…

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…and this walk follows the western bank for a while, leaves the park briefly, crosses a road bridge and then returns via the eastern bank.

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We met the deer pretty much as we entered the park.

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A nice opportunity to try out my new favourite toy’s zoom facility.

Another chance cropped up after we’d left the park, when we spotted a grey heron sat on the verge of the minor lane ahead of us. It was really very gloomy at this point, both because it was late in the afternoon and also because it was overcast, so I’m quite chuffed with the result…

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The minor lane is extremely quiet since it’s a dead-end, having been chopped off when the A590 dual-carriageway was built. A path continues however, under the main-road’s bridge over the Kent….

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….to Force Falls.

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We stopped here for a while to watch some canoeists shooting the falls.

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I did take some photos, but they were taken through a tall hedge, before a resident of one of the cottages by the falls invited us to watch from their car-parking area.

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There’s a sign at the other end of the park which says ‘No Swimming’. We never ignore that. Not at all.

It looked exhilarating. One canoeist did capsize as he went over, but they’d obviously got a good safety routine organised and he was soon rescued.

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Most of the return leg follows this avenue of magnificent oaks, dating back to 1690 when the park was first laid out.

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Some of the oaks are hollow, and there’s little that’s more enticing to a small boy than climbing inside a hollow tree.

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I was more absorbed by the sun setting ahead of us.

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I’ve taken photos of the boys inside this tree before, when they were tiny-tots…

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….but the opening used to be much smaller and for a time they weren’t able to get inside.

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On the wooded banks of the Kent, snowdrops were flowering. Spring is on its way!

Levens Park and Force Falls

Autumn Round-Up

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So, what else was going on here in sunny Silverdale during last year’s back-end?

Well, we had a regular visitor to the garden, sometimes with a friend. Usually, but not always, seen either early in the morning or late in the evening, or sometimes both. We strongly suspected that it was sleeping-over.

And…

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….there were skies, with clouds n’stuff. This was taken just before sunset from Castle Barrow, by the Pepper Pot – I can tell. But I don’t really remember taking it.

Here’s something I do remember: a conversation with Little S:

“How come I haven’t had my Birthday treat yet?”

“Eh?” (His Birthday was months earlier)

“You said…”. (A lot of S’s sentences begin with an accusatory “You said”.)

“You said that I could go horse riding, but you never took me.”

For once he appeared to have us bang to rights. So we took him, and his siblings, to Bowkerstead Farm in Grizedale.

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It was destined to be one of those days – the sun was shining, but to the North the sky was ominously black. When the rains arrived they brought with them a spectacular double rainbow.

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It rained intermittently whilst we were out, but we all enjoyed the experience. We went into the forest, initially climbing steeply on a very boggy track, and eventually came back down on wider forestry tracks. TBH and I walked – it was fairly strenuous keeping up with the horses. TBH had the unenviable task of leading the pony which S was riding – a thoroughly wilful and uncooperative creature, it stood on her foot a couple of times, shouldered her into particularly boggy bits of the track and walked poor S into a couple of low branches.

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When we took A and B pony trekking before, S wasn’t old enough to join them, and I think he saw this as an opportunity to right an injustice. He was very happy anyway.

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The others enjoyed it too.

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So much so that A asked for riding lessons for Christmas.

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I would have strongly recommend the riding centre, but sadly, it has subsequently closed.

The weather cleared up somewhat in the afternoon and we took advantage of the opportunity to have a wander around one of the sculpture trails in the Forest. (Photos from a previous visit here.)

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Another Eaves Wood snap.

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The Cove.

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A Happy Halloween to all our readers!

Autumn Round-Up