Another Tour of Farleton Fell

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Beetham Fell, Kent Estuary, Whitbarrow Scar and Lakeland Fells from Farleton Fell.

The Explorer Scouts, with A amongst them, were trying out scree running on the slopes of Farleton Fell. Since it would fall to me to either take A and her friends or collect them, I decided that I would do both, earn double the brownie points, and get out for a walk of my own whilst I waited for them to finish. I dropped them off near Holme Park Farm, but since there isn’t much scope for parking there, I drove up to the high point of the Clawthorpe Fell Road and left the car there (near the spot height of 192 on the map at the bottom of the post). After fulfilling a promise I made to myself not so long ago – of which more later – I set off following the wall which forms, initially at least, the eastern boundary of the access area on Newbiggin Crags.

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There’s a track here, not marked on the map, close-cropped and with different vegetation than the surrounding area; I would hazard a guess that this is an old track, in long use.

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It follows a level shelf which circles the hill and makes for very pleasant walking.

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Scout Hill.

It was a gloomy evening, very overcast, but the forecast had said that it would brighten up, so I had high hopes.

Eventually, the track swings westward and climbs a shallow, dry valley with a low, limestone edge on the right…

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The grassy slopes below the edge…

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Had lots of orchids…

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They were mostly quite dried-up and finished. These had me confused at the time, but looking at them now I feel sure that they must be Early Purple Orchids. In the fields around home these have long since shrivelled up and disappeared, but I suppose the extra bit of elevation must be sufficient to make the flowering both begin and end a little later here.

The path brings you to the little col between the twin summits of Farleton Knott and Holmepark Fell. If I’d had a little more time I would have stayed with the path – it drops down to the paths which follow the base of the western edge – but I was conscious of the time, and too tempted by the view from the top.

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Farleton Knott.

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Looking back down the dry valley, sunshine finally arriving.

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Middlebarrow, Arnside Knott, Beetham Fell.

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Looking along the edge to Warton Crag.

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Hart’s-tongue Fern.

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Meadow-oat Grass – I did learn something on my course.

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Returning by a higher route on Newbiggin Crags. Ingleborough still in the murk in the distance.

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Skylark – I think.

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Coal Tit.

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The sunshine has reached the hills to the east by the time I was approaching the car again. The wind had picked up too; the little wind-turbine in the centre of this photo was whizzing around now. I’d walked past it twice earlier – the first time it wasn’t turning at all and the second time only rotating lazily.

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You can see on the map above why I’d already walked past the wind turbine twice. I detoured down to Whin Yeats Farm, where there’s a…

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…portashop?

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An honesty box, a fridge, and milk and cheese for sale…

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I’d seen this advertised on a previous visit to Fareton Fell and resolved to try this local produce when an opportunity arose. The next evening, the boys and my Father-in-Law joined me to sample the cheeses…

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I think this is the Farmhouse on the left and the Fellstone on the right. Both very tasty. The consensus was that we preferred the Fellstone. B described it as being ‘like Manchego, but stronger’, which is high praise, because he’s very fond of Manchego. I shall be getting those again.

 

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Another Tour of Farleton Fell

Herb Paris, Lily of the Valley and more…

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A Monday evening. With A hobbling about on her dodgy knee after her long DofE training walk, dancing was out of the question for her, so there were no taxi-dad duties for me to perform. I escaped to Gait Barrows, ostensibly to see whether the Lady’s-slipper Orchids were flowering. Some of them were, as you can see above, but some were yet to fully open…

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This is another of my annual flower pilgrimages and it served as a useful excuse, but really, with the sun still shining I was hoping for butterflies. I did see some: Orange-tips, Brimstones, Speckled Woods, but generally they wouldn’t settle to be photographed. Fortunately, there was a great deal more to see, in fact the Lady’s slippers were the last pictures I took in a great haul and I was tempted to appropriate Conrad’s phrase and title the post ‘blogger’s gifts’.

Usually, having come in search of the orchids, I’m a little late for the Lily-of-the-valley. The small areas completed dominated by the broad leaves are always still in evidence…

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But I often struggle to find any flowers; this time there were far more than I’ve ever seen before…

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The tiny, white bells are still quite shy and retiring, but utterly enchanting.

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In addition to the flowers there were hoards of Damselflies about. I took lots of photos, but will content myself with just two…

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Common Damselfly.

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Azure Damselfly.

The colours look very different, but that’s a function of the light which was falling on them at the time. The easiest way to distinguish these males is the pattern on the second segment. The Common damselfly has a solid black omega  – Ω; whilst the Azure has an elongated u, like – ∏ – but the other way up. (You may need to click on the photos to view zoomable images on flickr to pick this out).

Walking through some warm glades, which act as a sun-trap and have often been good for butterflies on previous visits, I spotted something in flight which had all the colour of a butterfly, but which was bigger and more co-operative with regards being photographed…

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Broad-bodied Chaser.

In flight, I thought that it was yellow (the field guide says ‘ochre’), so assumed that it was a female, but the males also start life that colour, but then produce ‘pruinescence’, a dusty blue covering, which process has begun for this male, and is more advanced in this male…

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… which was also basking in the sun, just a few yards from the first dragonfly.

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There were lots of these…

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…Brown Silver-line moths about.

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Maidenhair Spleenwort.

I need to make a concerted effort with ferns and grasses. Hopefully, I can pick up quite a bit relatively easily, since presently I know next to nothing. I think the fern above is Maidenhair Spleenwort. It’s possible that this…

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…is another spleenwort, or Wall Rue? I’m not sure.

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Bird’s-foot Trefoil. New flowers – they will soon be egg-yolk yellow.

I did eventually manage to photograph one butterfly…

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Green-veined White on Bugle.

In pursuit of an Orange-tip, I turned onto a slim-trod along a ride which I have never taken before.

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Which, it transpired, was a very happy choice.

The path brought me to a gate, overlooking a field…

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…which helped me to reset my bearings, since I recognised it.

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Only a couple of days before, I had been reading, again, about Herb Paris. A highly unusual plant, which has been frustrating me, because I know that it grows locally in many locations, but I have never stumbled across it. Anyway, I read that it often grows alongside it’s close relative Dog’s Mercury, a very common plant hereabouts, and when I saw Dog’s Mercury blanketing the woodland floor, I optimistically thought: maybe there will be some Herb Paris nearby.

And was then very surprised when my wish-prophecy came true..

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It’s an odd plant with quite a strange flower, but after years of waiting, I was very pleased to see it.

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From this point, the path seemed to peter out and though I continued doggedly for some time, I eventually admitted defeat and turned to retrace my steps. Except, then I was distracted by another, even slighter tread which was heading into the woods. Almost immediately, I was confronted by a pile of feathers…

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Then another, and another…

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And then several pairs of bird-less wings…

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The wings were all busy with flies, but also with several of these rather striking orange and black beetles – oieceoptoma thoracicum. They aren’t here feast on the carrion, but on the other insects which are attracted to the wings.

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The last time, and the first time, that I saw one of these was on another warm spring day, on Yewbarrow above the Winster Valley, when B joined me for a fabulous walk. It was eight years ago, which I think says something about the power of blogging as an aide memoire; my memory is generally pretty dreadful, but although I didn’t remember their latin name, I did instantly recognise the insects and recall their predatory lifestyle.

That walk was a good one, and the post has a much better photograph of this actually rather handsome beetle. That day we found several badger setts, but these wings were untidily strewn around a Fox’s earth. I found a dead fox cub not so very far away from this spot last year and one summer saw a fox, late one evening, running along the woodland fringe near here. B is quite keen to see the earth, I don’t know whether there is any mileage in bringing him late one evening in the hope that we might see the resident foxes too.

The path which I had diverted onto was clearly a path made by the foxes. It soon forked and forked again. It was difficult to follow, but I persisted and eventually it brought me to a ‘proper’ path, which I recognised, and which was close to where the Lady’-slippers flower.

Down at Hawes Water, work was still continuing quite late into the evening…

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Having started with the last photo I took, here are the first two:

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Stacked timber and…

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planks from the old boardwalk, by the Gait Barrows carpark.

Herb Paris, Lily of the Valley and more…

Gait Barrows Again

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Female Common Darter.

A very pleasant wander around Gait Barrows which happened almost a month ago now – how the summer has flown by! It was memorable for the large number of dragonflies I saw – although very few would pose for photos – and, rather sadly, for the dead Fox cub I came across.

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Male Migrant Hawker.

As I manoeuvred to find a good position from which take the photograph above, I almost trod on this large Frog…

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Bumblebee on Betony.

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Speckled Wood.

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The ‘mystery plant’ – flowers still not open, but showing more colour – I need to go back to check on their progress.

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Broad-leaved Helleborine.

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Hoverflies on Hemp Agrimony.

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Robin’s Pincushion Gall.

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Wall-rue (I think), a fern.

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Knapweed and St. John’s Wort.

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Grasshoppers have often been evident from their singing on local walks, but I haven’t always seen them, or my photos haven’t come out well when I have.

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Although this doesn’t have the distinctive shieldbug shape, I think that this is a fourth instar of the Common Green Shieldbug – an instar being one of the developmental stages of a nymph. This website is very helpful.

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Hoverfly.

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On a previous walk I’d been thinking that Hemp Agrimony, which is very common at Gait Barrows, was a disappointing plant in as much as it’s large flower-heads didn’t seem to be attracting much insect life, but that seems to have been a false impression, because on this occasion quite the opposite was true.

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Buff Footman (I think), a moth.

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Another Common Green Shieldbug nymph – perhaps the final instar.

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The verges of one particular overgrown hedgerow at Gait Barrows are always busy with Rabbits, which usually scatter as I approach, but two of them played chicken with me – not really seeming very concerned and only hopping on a little each time I got closer.

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Time was marching on and I was keen to head for home, but I diverted slightly up the track towards Trowbarrow because I knew that I would find more Broad-leaved Helleborines there. These were much taller and more vigorous than the single plant I had seen earlier.

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Curiously, there was a wasp feeding on the flowers, as there had been on the first one I saw. I noticed earlier this year that wasps seem to like Figwort, perhaps the same is true Helleborines.

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Figwort and Helleborine both have small, tubular flowers – it may be the case that wasps are well adapted to take advantage of this particular niche – different insects definitely favour different kinds of flowers.

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Gait Barrows Again

Life’s Rich Pageant

Thursday afternoon – blue skies and sunshine naturally.  Once again I was walking home from Carnforth. This time I decided to stop to look at the churchyard at Saint Oswald’s in Warton, inspired by Francesca Greenoak and the flower dappled  churchyard at Holy Trinity in Seathwaite. Sadly at Saint Oswald’s all is carefully manicured lawns – not much scope for wildflowers here. The churchyard is very large – not too surprising when you realise that historically Warton was a huge parish incorporating Silverdale, the Yealands and several other villages. Since the grounds were a little disappointing I popped into the church itself…

Apparently there may have been a church here since before the Norman conquest and the oldest part of the current building is 14th Century. The Stars and Stripes hangs alongside the Union Jack inside the church, sent by American servicemen after WW2 due to Warton’s connection to the ancestors of George Washington, also celebrated in the name of one of the village’s pubs…

On this occasion I wasn’t tarrying for a pint however: too much to see. Behind the pub the crag road climbs steeply and a little way up that road is a small car park, the back wall of which is liberally festooned with red valerian…

..which confusingly, can also be white…

..an introduced species from the Mediterranean which is obviously very happy on these limestone cliffs.

I feel like I’ve turned something of a corner when it comes to identifying flowers – although I haven’t entirely got the hang of using the keys I have at least learned to look at the entire plant and I’m beginning to pick up on familial traits which give useful clues. I’m far from expert, but I’m getting better.

With grasses etc. I’m not even sure that I’ve made it to square one yet.

Could this be red fescue? Gettin to grips with grasses, sedges and ferns etc. is bound to be a steep learning curve, but I know that I shall enjoy looking. Already I’m quite taken aback by the huge variety I’ve discovered since I began to take more careful note.

Meanwhile the large clumps of biting stonecrop which I noticed on a previous Thursday afternoon’s Shank’s Pony commute…

…have begun to flower…

 Across Carnforth to Clougha Pike – must get back there sometime.

When I found these…

….before on Heald Brow, I tentatively identified them as quaking grass. I’m feeling much more confident now. After all the inflorescence (ooh I know – get me) is…

Inflorescence a pyramidal panicle, with very distinctive ovoid to broadly triangular spikelets 4 – 12mm, usually purplish, shaking in the wind on slender stalks *

They’re certainly very distinctive and rather handsome too.

Here on the crag they were plentiful too and since I first saw them they have grown and spread out like a child’s mobile so that they really do quake in the breeze. Quite hard to catch on camera the overall effect…

Of course, having boasted about my abilities as a plant identifier, I can’t trace this large and very vigorous one…

…which looks like it may be about to flower…

 

…so hopefully I can come back again soon and get some more clues. (The keys led me to a couple of plants neither of which quite seemed to match, but we shall see…)

No keys needed for red clover…

 

….I just enjoyed these three flowers, all on the same plant and seeming to offer an opportunity for a sort of faked time-lapse sequence.

I saw a number of butterflies and some damselflies but none would cooperate by sitting still for a photo. I chased one orange butterfly – some sort of fritillary I hoped, and when I lost it, noticed this large egg-shell down in the grass.

I thought that this might be flea sedge….

…but I searched for images and now I’m not at all convinced.

These tiny flowers are a bedstraw, but hard to decide which one. Heath bedstraw looks favourite except that it favours acid soils.

This had been one of my slower ascents of Warton Crag. Once over the top I was into the woods and the vegetation changed.

In the shade under the canopy, there’s lots of this…

..which I think is male fern…

This is black bryony…

…which is dioecious  (ie male and female flowers on different plants) , apparently related to the yam, although you wouldn’t want to eat it – the berries it produces are poisonous (other parts of the plant can apparently be safely eaten after cooking but would you want to risk it?) According to Gabrielle Hatfield** it has several uses in folk medicine including the treatment of bruises, hence the French name ‘herbe aux femmes battues’ – the plant for battered wives.

 Lakeland hills from Summer House Hill.

Walking down past Leighton Hall I was struck by a meadow blushed white by oxeye daisies….

On the opposite side of the driveway a similar effect was achieved by more daisies..

…a mayweed or a chamomile, but I couldn’t get the closer look needed to try what looks like the tricky task of deciding which this is.

Meadow vetchling. 

So confident am I feeling, in fact, in my ability to chase down the identity of flowers that I thought I might even take on an umbellifer. How difficult could it be? The flowers seem quite distinctive…

And the pinnate leaves….

The stem is grooved. It’s growing in a damp spot on the edge of the causeway path across Leighton Moss. Easy surely?

Well…I’ve tussled with it for ages. It looks like wild celery. I quite like this idea – it would give me an opportunity to tell the story of the ‘ancient Incan’ herbal tea I was given in Peru when I went down with Cuzco tummy, which it transpired was made by steeping celery leaves in hot water. Made me feel much better though. But…if this is wild celery then why can’t I find a picture of wild celery anywhere which shows these striking red stamens?

Because it isn’t wild celery at all, it’s Hemlock Water-dropwort. You wouldn’t be well advised to be drinking  a tea made by steeping these leaves in hot water. You might find yourself with a ‘dead tongue’ which is an old Cumbrian name for this plant. Or you might just find yourself dead, since this is one of Britain’s most poisonous plants.

 

There were several of these along the causeway too. If I had needed any convincing about ‘The Wild Flower Key’ after Sheila’s recommendation, I need only have flicked through the few pages on orchids, which I have just done – and now I can pronounce with confidence, rather than my usual bemused confusion, that these are common spotted orchid.

Reed-bed view.

I listened for quite some time to a warbler (I like to think sedge warbler but I know I’m only kidding myself when I think that I can tell the difference.) and was charmed again by a family of long-tailed tits chattering and hopping about in the alders on either side of the path. One of the marsh harrier was circling overhead. Generally they fly quite low over the reed-beds, but this was much higher than usual. Also it was calling, which I’ve never heard before, a rather plaintive cry.

I’ve written before about the wonderful spiral patterns in the centre of oxeye daisies.  On this occasion paying attention to the daisies yielded additional rewards…

I think that this is a honey bee. If you look at the wings you can see a long thin cell on the outside edge, a marginal cell, which almost extends as far as the wing-tip and then three sub-marginal cells next to that which apparently is characteristic of honey bees.

Frustratingly, I can’t find this natty pin-striped hover fly in my book. Ferdinandea cuprea has grey and black stripes on the thorax but a bronze abdomen whereas through the wings this seems to have stripes. Another hover fly rhingia campestris has a prominent snout, which this seems to have, but also a very striking orange abdomen. No mention is made in the description of either of banded legs. I shall call him Malvolio, for now at least, because he is cross-gartered and yellow-stockinged.

Where the causeway crosses a bridge and the view opens-out because there’s a gap in the reed-bed, I’ve learned to approach slowly and cautiously because that way there is often something interesting to see.

There were three red deer hinds in all. Unlike last time that I saw deer at close range here, the deer soon turned and disappeared into the reeds.

Even if there’s no wildlife to see, the view is special in itself.

 

This tall plant with flowers hidden behind it’s own long and abundant stamens is common meadow-rue.

I’ve drawn a blank with this too. It’s quite small, sitting on an alder leaf. I thought maybe a wasp, but I’ve got no further than that.

 Figwort.

Pleasantly red – no idea what it is.

Bittersweet flowers are tiny but very striking. This plant is related to the potato and the aubergine, but again the berries it produces are best avoided. They cause sickness rather than death.

The plant’s species name dulcamara, is derived from two Latin words meaning sweet and bitter.

Because of the presence of the toxic alkaloid solanine in the stem, leaves and berries, they taste bitter at first and then sweet.#

 

 

Could this be star sedge?

In the hedgerow, a vigorous climber covered in lots of unopened flowers like the one above, and some open flowers….

 Tufted vetch.

Nearby…

..another purple vetch which I think is wood-bitter vetch.

 

This fern has grey-green patches where the leaves attach to the stem. Any ideas?

 

this apparently unperturbable bunny let me walk right up to it,

..and past…

..without ever being too distracted from the golf-course grass.

I noticed that many of the oxeye daisies I passed were infested with what I presume are aphids. Apparently there are around 550 British species, so I shall just content myself with ‘aphid’.

Whilst I was meandering home taking frivolous photos, the fields around the village were busy with the making of sileage…

* Guide to the Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns of Britain and Northern Europe by Fitter, Fitter and Farrer

**Hatfield’s Herbal                   by Gabrielle Hatfield

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

———————————————————————————————————————–

It’s  all Andy’s fault.

He set me a quiz question and I enjoyed both answering it (even if I did have to cheat) and the discussion which followed.

So (and also by way of a trailer for the next post) how well do you know your Lake District?

Which valley are you in if you can see: Truss Gap, Seat Robert, Mosedale Beck Forces, Gouthercrag and Hobgrumble Gill?

Life’s Rich Pageant

Kendal Castle

Yet another fine sunny morning. We had an hour to kill before lunch at the Brewery Arts Centre and a theatre trip for TBH, A and B. What better way to spend that hour than a walk on Castle Hill and a wander around the ruins of Kendal Castle.

A and B were very excited and had run ahead and begun to explore before we joined them. S also ran but his little legs don’t generate much speed and he had to settle for bringing up the rear with his grandparents.

According to the information boards dotted around the castle it was built in the early thirteenth century and was occupied by the Barons of Kendal until it was abandoned in 1597. Katherine Parr who was Henry VIII’s last wife was from Kendal Castle.

Although it’s ruined the castle has plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.

After following their granddad onto this tower…

 

…the children decided that it was a dungeon and had soon imagined that they were prisoners there…

We climbed every available staircase and examined every extant room…

Troutbeck Tower

…and then walked around the moat to view the battlements from there.

There was more ivy-leaved toadflax growing on the walls. Also this…

which might be maidenhair fern.

Castle Hill is all of 93m, but none the less, like most castles, Kendal Castle is a fine vantage point with views over Kendal and on a clearer day of the hills of the lake District.

It’s also possible to pick out some of the road bridges over the Kent as it passes through Kendal – a reminder of unfinished business.

You can find more (better) pictures, including an aerial one, and some history of the Castle here.

Kendal Castle

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

Fernucopia

My paean to leaves was inevitably partial and incomplete. Some of our ferns caught my attention on Sunday too.

Hart’s tongue is fairly common in this area. The stripes on the leaves…

…are the spore producing bodies which are on the undersides of the leaves:

This last photo was taken in Eaves Wood, but the first two were from Pointer Wood where the Hart’s Tongue was growing next door to another fern:

Which I’m not familiar with. Any ideas?

Fernucopia