Allt Coire Thoraidh – Cry Me a River

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Eas Urchaidh waterfall on the River Orchy.

Early March, time for our annual get together in the Highlands. This started many years ago as a ‘boys’ weekend, to get as many of us as possible on one place to meet an old friend who was visiting from Denmark. He still comes over from Denmark for the weekend, but we long since abandoned the idea of it being a for ‘boys’ only, so the group has, if anything, swelled over the years. In addition, as our kids have grown up, this has been a good opportunity to introduce them to the delights of winter hill-walking. This year we were joined by A and her friend, the Tower Captain’s daughter S. Imperative then, that we had some decent weather so as not to put them off.

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Eas Urchaidh waterfall on the River Orchy.

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Eas Urchaidh video – click on the image to open it and play it on flickr

Unfortunately, on the Saturday, we had one of the wettest days I can remember. We tried to get out for a walk – thinking that staying down in the forestry might be a good idea. We’d spotted a Caledonian Forest Reserve in Coire Thoraidh and thought we would go and have a look, then continue up to Lochan Coire Thoraidh and possibly down the other side beyond the Lochan.

But it really was chucking it down. The Allt Broighleachan was a raging torrent, which I didn’t recall from our previous visit to these woods. We crossed a slightly awkward ford and had just reached the reserve when we encountered…

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Ford (!) through Allt Coire Thoraidh.

…a ford too far!

I seem to remember that there was some discussion of ‘practising river-crossings’ in threes, or some such lunacy. Andy went off to look for somewhere to jump across.

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Drowned Rats.

But ultimately, sense prevailed, and we turned back.

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Allt Coire Thoraidh ford video.

Watch to the end to see how put-out Andy was by the situation. Doesn’t seem too bothered does he?

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Waterfall – Allt Broighleachan.

When we retraced our steps it was to find that the ford we had already crossed had become more of an extended pool and were forced to divert across a very wet boggy area, guaranteeing wet feet for all.

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Waterfall – Allt Broighleachan – video.

After we got back and hung up all of our drenched gear to dry, it actually briefly stopped raining. It didn’t last too long, but it was sufficient to entice me out again, for a wander towards Inverveigh.

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River Orchy at Bridge of Orchy – looking north.

The map shows another ford there, so I ought to have known how that outing would end.

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River Orchy at Bridge of Orchy – looking south.

I didn’t get far, but the views of the river were worth it.

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River Orchy

Later, the girls played Ticket to Ride in their room, whilst the Tower Captain and I watched England beat Wales at Twickenham on the little telly in ours. Then to the bar where we were staying, the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, for a slap up meal, a few bevvies and the usual mix of silliness, rehashed stories, daft gags and such like.

Not a bad day, considering.

Andy’s account of the day is here.

My own account of our previous visit, when both the river and the waterfalls at the top of this post were frozen over and we climbed Beinn Mhic Mhondaidh in testing conditions, is here.

Now,  a tune in different guises:

I’m presuming that everybody knows the original Julie London version. I’m very fond of that. There’s a great version by Dinah Washington too. The song was originally written for Ella Fitzgerald, but she didn’t actually record it until well after it had already been a hit. Unusually, I’m not overly-struck by her take on the tune. Too lush an arrangement, I think. Having said that, I really love this live rendition, which throws in everything but the kitchen sink and couldn’t be further from the spare, melancholy original…

It’s my favourite tune from Joe Cocker’s brilliant live album ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’.

Allt Coire Thoraidh – Cry Me a River

Wade Into Underbeing

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These photos are from the day after our High Cup walk and a few days after the boys had been kayaking in the field behind our house. Our friends E and C had declared themselves not prepared to go walking on both days of the weekend, but were enticed out for a local ramble by the prospect of flooding at Lambert’s Meadow. The weather was very changeable: in the first photo you can see that the sun was shining, creating reflections of the trees in the temporary lake; in the one below, taken a few moments earlier, the splashes of raindrops on the surface of the water are evident.

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A and Little S, the only members of the party in wellies, had to wade across of course. Little S predictably filling his boots with water in the process.

Having persuaded the girls to come so far we managed to drag them a little further to see the rift cave in Burtonwell Wood. The Hardman and I were wondering, as I often have, about the rings attached to the base of the cliffs and also to some boulders below the cliffs here…

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My only theory has been that they have something to do with the Scouts, who have a camp nearby, at the top of the cliffs in fact, and maybe are for belaying? But The Hardman pointed out that a 1270kg maximum load is way over the top for that purpose. And anyway, why put them at the bottom of the cliff?

With the weather clearly deteriorating everyone but The Hardman and I turned for home. We extended our walk a little, chatting and doing our best to ignore the rain. Without the rain we wouldn’t have seen the rainbows…

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…this is a double one, although the second is only just visible here. Or am I imagining it? It was taken from near Woodwell. After we got back to the house there was a second, full, double rainbow which was very impressive, but short-lived.

We’ve had a lot of wet weather of late, as usual. I’m just back from another walk in the rain, and whilst I was out, I was thinking that I would need some more titles for posts abut wet walks in the ‘dale. As I often do, I thought of looking for a suitable poem and in the process stumbled across ‘Go Fishing’ by Ted Hughes. It seems to me to be a poem about losing yourself in nature and I’m very glad to have found it. I can’t find a full version online, although I did find this image of an early draft…

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Maybe I’ll type-up the final version and post it some time. Or perhaps just cherry-pick phrases for post titles, depending on how lazy I’m feeling.

‘Join water, wade into underbeing                                                                                                   Let brain mist into moist earth’

 

Wade Into Underbeing

And Other Seas…

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Just occasionally, after very heavy rain, the fields behind our house can flood. It’s a rare occurrence, but the downpours towards the end of November brought the most extreme flooding we’ve seen in our time here…

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This is what it looked like on the Thursday morning. On the Wednesday evening I’d driven through water which, I suspect, I would have baulked at in daylight. After I took this photo, we struggled to commute into Lancaster, having to turn back twice where roads were closed.

Of course, every cloud has it’s proverbial silver lining. Where I saw flooding, the DBs saw an opportunity. On the Wednesday night they’d already been out together for a ‘paddle’, or more accurately, a wade, in the temporary lake. On the Thursday they decided to go one better.

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And paddle a kayak in the field.

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It was windy, and pretty cold, so we didn’t stay out for long, but it was an unusual experience, to say the least.

 

And Other Seas…

Over the Crag…at Last!

Another sunny Thursday. Circumstances have conspired against my walking commute home from Carnforth, but this week I was able to reinstate the habit – hopefully for the first time of many. I had to be home in order to go out again, so I took the most direct route: through Carnforth, Millhead and Warton, over the Crag and down to Cragfoot, across Quaker’s Stang, Fleagarth Wood, Hollin’s Lane, Clarke’s Lot, Pointer Wood, Silverdale Green and home. The route across the fields between Millhead and Warton is once again flooded (see above) after heavy rain earlier in the week.

On Warton Crag most of the blackthorn is liberally covered in small tight red buds, but I found some open blossoms.

View North from near the top of the Crag – over Arnside Knott to the distant Lakeland hills.

Is the beacon pole leaning a little more on each visit?

Wood Sorrel leaves – very tasty in a citrusy sort of way.

What’s this – a gear test for some sort of minimalist bivvy/tent? (With over ambitious firewood pile?)

Oh….

…it seems not.

The ‘little tent’ was fenced off and on one of the fence poles a small plastic dogbowl held….

The uppermost fly was still frantically swimming around in circles. Presumably this was an expected consequence of leaving the bowl out and is part of the survey? I wonder whether there is something in the liquid in the bowl to attract so many insects?

Wild cherry flowers.

By contrast with higher on the more exposed south face of the Crag, down at Cragfoot all of the blackthorn was flowering.

Barrowscout Fields.

The bridge where the railway crosses Quicksand Pool.

Which has several small stalactites and one larger calcium carbonate feature.

Ground ivy.

Over the Crag…at Last!

A Wet Day In Wasdale

Esthwaite Farm, Wastwater almost visible beyond.

I met X-Ray just before midday at the Screes pub in Nether Wasdale. We were hoping for an afternoon in the hills, perhaps on Buckbarrow and Middlebarrow, or maybe over Illgill Head and Whinrigg. But the cloud was down and the rain was coming thick and fast.

We debated for a while but ultimately opted to stay in the valley. We set off in full waterproofs headed for Santon Bridge on paths which roughly followed the River Irt. The river was running very high and was an impressive spectacle. At Santon Bridge we hurriedly ate our lunch in the rain and then had a brief respite from the downpour with a swift half in the Bridge Inn.

Our return route took us into forestry. Where the right-of-way left the forest track we couldn’t find the left turn we needed. We realised that sticking with the track would eventually bring us to another right-of-way which we could take us eventually to Wastwater. First we had to cross a stream – the ford was impassable. We followed the stream uphill without finding anywhere very promising, but eventually we found  a spot where the deeper stronger flow was on our side and we felt that we could probably jump at least as far as the shallows near the far bank. We got across but in the process ended up even wetter than we had been before.

As we approached Wastwater we could see that the Irt here had burst its banks and was flowing across the fields. The lake was also very high and some lakeside trees were now in the lake. We followed the Irt back away from the lake. The river was overflowing its banks just downstream of a stone footbridge so we crossed the river but found our progress downstream was blocked by flooding in this direction too. A permission path through the woodlands on the shore of Wastwater brought us to the road and we turned back for Nether Wasdale and a shower, dry clothes and a pleasant evening planning for better weather on the morrow. (And bizarrely, discussing the Sham 69 with some other middle-aged punks in the bar of the Strands.)

A Wet Day In Wasdale