Our year revolves around a cycle of regular get-togethers with a group of old friends. A relatively recent addition to the programme is a family weekend in the autumn at our house.
Last year, the weekend was a complete wash-out, with wall-to-wall cloud and rain. So it was pleasing last week to look at the forecast and see, sandwiched between two bouts of foul wet weather, a fine weekend predicted, cold but dry.
In the event, after a hard frost early on, Saturday wasn’t cold at all. We opted for a walk to Arnside. Our daughter A asked for, and received (thanks G!), a local OS map for her birthday and happily took charge of the route planning and navigation. She managed to find a circuit which incorporated four playgrounds, so very child friendly.
Here are some of the assembled ankle-biters, stress-testing the zip-wire at the first of those parks, which is just a few hundred yards from home.
From there we ambled through Holgates Caravan Park to the coast at Far Arnside (see the top photo). There are many fossilised corals on display in the rocks there.
I always forget to put something in the shot to give scale. This one above is quite large, perhaps almost a foot long. This…
…is a roughly football sized patch of these…
This tessellation of irregular polygons…
(There’s a bit more about the fossils in this post.)
We took an early, and leisurely lunch on the rocks here, chiefly because it looked such an inviting place to sit in the sun.
At Far Arnside we’d passed ivy absolutely thronging with bees. On the cliff path the scabious flowers were attracting hover-flies…
A convenient rocky ramp….
…leads down from the cliff-top to…
…the wide open spaces of the sands. This has long been a favourite spot of mine and I was pleased that our friend D, the Junior Sherpa, was impressed. He isn’t easily impressed. The playgrounds were ‘mundane’. And I think he found our general lack of pace and ambition frustrating. After-all, he’s a seasoned mountain man these days. He was also keen to get back to the house for some ‘Golden Time’ with his friends. (No, I’m not sure what he meant either).
I couldn’t persuade D, or indeed anybody else, to taste the samphire which was thrusting up through the beach. I was pretty tentative myself, bit I did nibble a small piece. Salty. And reminiscent of something……,which I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
The first part of the river-bank walk into Arnside, on estuarine mud, was a sloppy, slip-sliding affair. Some of the children, well principally my boys, were coated, seemingly from head to foot.
There’s a spot on the bank where deadly night-shade grows every year, and we admired the smooth, shiny black berries from a respectful distance.
The tide warning siren at the Coastguard station was sounded a couple of times. We enjoyed an ice-cream on the promenade and watched the tidal bore shoot down past the viaduct.
From there, after a brief visit to another playground, we climbed up on to Arnside Knott.
The air was very clear and the views were stunning. A high-effort-to-view-ratio according to the Shandy Sherpa and the Adopted Yorkshireman.
The kids were more interested in a bit of tree climbing.
The Next Generation.
I’d been boasting that the hills of North Wales could be seen from the Knott in the right conditions. It was certainly a clear day. We could see Skiddaw over Dunmail Raise, a ferry arriving from Ireland at Heysham, and Blackpool Tower down the coast. And also, apparently, the afore-mentioned hills of North Wales, which I missed, being too busy gabbing.
Our route home took us past Arnside Tower…
…and through Eaves Wood.
With sixteen to serve for tea, we settled on two sittings: simple pasta based fare for the kids and a fabulous take-away from our local Indian Restaurant, Cinnamon Spice, for the greying brigade. Heartily recommended by the way. I always go for the mixed kebab and Chicken Handi Achar. Everybody else seemed to enjoy their meals too. The onion bahjis were superb.
A lazy walk. Sunshine. Good company. Curry. A few beers. Loads of blather.
Doesn’t get any better than that, does it?