10in10

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I feel like I’ve been broadcasting my intention to do this walk for far too long, so without further fanfares – here it finally is. That’s my old school friend JS, close to the top of Causey Pike, at a very anti-social hour on a Saturday morning. Registration for the event opened at 6am and I arrived very promptly, but then mistakenly hung around in the car park waiting for JS: I should have know that he would be there before me, in fact he was the very first person to turn-up to register at 5.30am – he leaves nothing to chance. In my defence, he had only come from his hotel in Keswick, whereas I’d been up at 4 to drive up from home.

We thought we would be walking shortly after 6, but it transpired that the earliest start was at 6.30 to allow the marshals to get out on the course – each summit housed a small tent, a few volunteers and quite often some water and snacks to be shared.

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This is the initial, highly scientific, schedule I drew up. I did a second version with extra time added into each section to give an overall time only slightly under 10 hours.

After a prolonged spell of cool and often damp weather, this mid-summer Saturday brought much hotter conditions. We started the walk in shade, but as we began to climb were soon in the sun, and right from the off it was very warm.

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Dalehead, Hindscarth and Robinson from Causey Pike.

We were already a little behind my schedule by the time we reached the summit of Causey Pike, but over the next section we were making up time. As we descended into Butttermere, it briefly clouded up…

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Just by the tiny church in Buttermere, a handful of gazebos had been erected. Refills for water bottles, and all manner of cakes, and savouries were available, best of all, really refreshing slices of orange. Like many others, we stopped here for some lunch, which put us back behind schedule.

The climb out of Buttermere and up to High Snockrigg was, for me at least, purgatorial. There was no breeze, the sun had appeared again, and I was seriously over-heating. JS was very patient with me as I inched up the slope. He’d tripped on the descent into Buttermere, and gone over on his ankle, but was admirably stoical about the discomfort he was suffering.

Buttermere Moss was every bit as soggy as I remembered from my last visit many moons ago. The path which ascends Robinson cuts across the slope in the photo below…

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Robinson from High Snockrigg.

…rising from right to left. The angle was a bit easier, there was now a hint of a breeze and I would have been much happier except I recognised the tell-tale sings of the onset of cramp. I found that if we stopped and sat down for a few minutes when it came on, or better yet, just before it set in, then we could get up the slope in steady bite-size chunks.

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Buttermere from Robinson.

From this point on, I seemed to get a second wind. The incidence of cramp became less frequent and less debilitating, eventually ceasing altogether, and I felt much better generally. JS put my recovery down to the small piece of millionaire’s shortbread I’d accepted from a marshal on High Snockrigg. Maybe? It helped that most of the hard work was behind us.

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North-western fells from Robinson.

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Newlands valley from Dalehead. High Spy on the right, Skiddaw beyond.

The climb from Dalehead to High Spy was very steady and from there it was almost all down hill.

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Cat Bells, Derwentwater, Keswick and Skiddaw.

For a while, I think we both entertained the possibility that we might actually finish in the allotted 10 hours, but although it was relatively easy going, it was still a long way to the finish.

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The hills of the morning, seen from the final descent.

We both ran out of water before the end and one final checkpoint where drinks were available was extremely welcome.

I wish I’d taken some photographs of the party which was in full swing at the Swinside Hotel. We were greeted by cheering, applause and cowbells. There was live music and lots of enthusiastic singing along. I even bumped into a couple of old friends who I hadn’t anticipated seeing there. The pub was extremely busy and JS and I waited quite a while for our long anticipated pints of shandy – when we finally got served we adopted an old tactic of mine, not always a wise on, and bought two rounds simultaneously. The first one didn’t touch the sides. The second – drunk whilst sat on a bench in the sun, listening to the music – was even more satisfying.

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That’s us at the Swinside. And the bench where we supped our shandies.

In the end, we finished in a little under 11 hours. I’m happy with the fact that I finished at all, because when JS first contacted me about the challenge I had severe doubts about my ability to do so. Without me to hold him up, I’m sure that JS would have finished within the required 10 hours, but then he would have missed out on my sparkling wit and repartee. Or something like that.

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I’ve never thought to include the gradient profile before, but I rather liked this one…

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Mapmywalk gives almost 17½ miles and around 6000 feet of ascent. My calculations of the ascent, largely based on the figures given by Wainwright, gave a total of 6600 feet. Either way, a good deal more than I’ve done in a day for quite some time.

Although, I found this walk much tougher than the Three Peaks, if anything the recovery was slightly easier. I even made it, briefly, to a friends birthday party in the village that night.

The event was extremely well organised, and although it meant that at times we were walking in a bit of a crowd, I rather enjoyed the camaraderie and cheerful atmosphere. Thanks again for those of you who have very generously sponsored me and made donations to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. It’s not too late if you still want to chip in, my Just Giving page is here and that really is the last time I will mention it, I promise.

10in10

Meeting

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Some photos from two shortish local walks during the half-term. The first was a trip over the Knott on a hot sunny day, when the views were decidedly hazy.

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I spotted this clump of pink flowers a little way from the path, near the top of the Knott. They had me puzzled at the time and I’m still none the wiser.

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This bee seemed to like them, whatever they were.

Much as I enjoy a wander up the Knott, that wasn’t the sole purpose of this trip: I was heading over to Arnside to drop in on Conrad of the Conrad Walks blog. Having conversed over the internet for many years, it was great to finally meet and chat. Hopefully, we’ll get out for a walk together too in the not too distant future.

The second outing was a wander around Hawes Water.

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An ant mound which has been very thoroughly dug over.

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The dead oak between Hawes Water and Challan Hall – the foreground of many photos before it fell.

Meeting

Three Nights in Wasdale

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Great Gable.

Our annual Bank Holiday camping trip to Nether Wasdale. This year it was a bit brass monkeys. Actually, it’s often very cold. And it wasn’t as cold as the forecasters had predicted. And we didn’t have the tent-destroying gales that we’ve experienced more than once in the past. And it mostly stayed dry. And the company was excellent, as ever. And the Herdwick burgers sold in the campsite shop and made from their own lamb from the farm were delicious, even if I did burn them somewhat on the barbecue.

A was once again involved in DofE practice and then wanted to stay at home because of forthcoming exams. TBH volunteered to stay at home to look after A (You might almost conclude that TBH doesn’t like camping when its chilly!). So it was just me and the DBs from our clan. Fortunately, we had lots of old friends to meet at the campsite to keep us company.

On the first day of our stay, we decided to repeat the route we walked last year, climbing Lingmell by the path alongside Piers Gill. I didn’t take so many pictures this time around. I didn’t even capture group shots at all of our many rest stops…

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…of which I think this was the first.

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And this…

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…was probably about the fourth.

We stopped again on the top, obviously…

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…but it was snowing at the time, so not the warmest spot. Easter weekend – river swimming; Spring Bank Holiday weekend – snow. Of course – that’s British weather for you: predictably unpredictable.

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Wastwater and the Irish Sea, plus snow showers heading our way.

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Scafell Pike and Scafell and approximately a million hikers.

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Looking down Lingmell’s shattered cliffs towards Piers Gill.

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Little S couldn’t resist this pinnacle. My heart was in my mouth when he nonchalantly scampered up and down, but, of course, he was fine.

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Lingmell, Piers Gill and one of Piers Gill’s tributaries, seen from the Corridor Route.

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Great Gable, Green Gable and Uncle Fester.

Great Gable really dominates the view for much of this walk. Our friend J pointed out to me last year that you can pick out Napes Needle relatively easily from the Corridor Route. Through the magic of my camera’s zoom, here it is…

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You can see three people in front of the Needle and, perhaps by clicking on the image to see a larger version on flickr, you can also see that two others are ‘threading the Needle’, a well known scramble which I’ve never done, and am not likely to do now, I don’t think.

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Looking towards Wasdale Head.

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Great Gable and Little S.

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This spring seems to have been a bumper one for spotting hairy caterpillars. This rather attractive specimen maybe destined to become a moth called The Drinker, because of the caterpillar’s penchant for supping dew. Then again, I could easily be wrong about that.

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Great Gable yet again. It’s become slightly irksome that I’ve revisited almost every peak in the area in recent years apart from Gable, and its neighbour…

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…Kirk Fell.

On the Sunday, we chose to repeat a route which, in a number of variations, we’ve walked many times before – a circuit taking in Irton Pike, the village of Santon Bridge and a wander back along the valley of the River Irt.

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I took even less photos than I had the day before.

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We had a leisurely stop on the summit of Irton Pike – I may even have dozed off for a while.

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Looking toward Wasdale Head from Irton Pike.

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Eskdale and Harter Fell from Irton Pike.

On the final day we needed to pack-up, faff about and mull over what we should do once we’d finished faffing about. The DBs had heard Andy’s tales of whopping great plates of waffles and ice-cream from the cafe in Seascale, so a visit there was very high on their agenda. Eventually, they were persuaded that we could manage that, but still also fit in an ascent of Buckbarrow, another favourite outing from our Wasdale trips.

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Scafell Pike, Scafell, Wastwater and the Screes from Buckbarrow.

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The Isle of Man is out there somewhere.

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The 2019 crew, having the obligatory brew/lunch stop.

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Buckbarrow.

And finally, if you were wondering about the awkward title: I manoeuvred “three nights” into the title, so that I could cram Three Dog Night into the post…

Three Nights in Wasdale

Kent Bore

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Not me, I hope! Although this is yet another account of one of our favourite walks – around the coast to Arnside for lunch and back over the Knott.

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Grange-over-Sands.

As you can see, the tide was well out as we turned the corner into the Kent estuary.

It being Easter Monday, Arnside was extremely busy. We’d hoped to dine in the Wagtail cafe again, but all the tables were taken (it’s not a big place). Fortunately, we could fall back on the excellent Bake House instead and buy pies and pasties to eat on the benches on the small quay.

We’d already heard the Coastguard hooter sound to warn of the tide coming in. Just as we’d settled down with our pies, here it was…

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I think I’m right in saying that the Kent tidal bore is the second biggest in the UK, after the Severn bore, which is one of the largest in the world.

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It’s quite a while since I’ve been in Arnside at the right time to witness it. Sometimes, when the tidal range is particularly large, there can be many kayakers surfing the bore. On this occasion, there were just two paddle-boarders.

I have to confess that it looks a bit tame in a photo, but the rapidity with which the tide arrives is something to behold.

I think the Surfnslide crew missed the show, being still embroiled in the business of purchasing lunch in the thronged bakery. I guess they’ll have to visit again!

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Pie time! I’m not sure why TBH is pulling a face, she really likes the vegan pie from the bakery.

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Meanwhile, Andy liked his pie so much that he decided to wear it!

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Kent Estuary.

There followed a rather hot and wearisome interlude whilst I dragged everyone on a diversion to Plantation Avenue to check the number of my old house, because I couldn’t remember and we needed to know (for boring quotidian reasons).

Some of the party (well, the rest of my family) then decided that it was too hot and too much like hard work to climb Arnside Knott (I think there may have been work to do to prepare for the following days return to school too).

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Looking south from Arnside Knott: Arnside Tower Farm, Arnside Tower, Middlebarrow, Warton Crag and (just about) the Forest of Bowland hills.

The rest of us arrived on the top with perfect timing to see the part-timers heading down the drive of Arnside Tower Farm…

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We shouted them, but to no avail. So we left them to it and headed on to the trig pillar to admire the slightly hazy view to the north…

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It was a fine way to finish both an excellent fortnight off work and a really enjoyable Easter weekend.

And I almost forgot to mention that the Jones clan arrived this time very generously laden with gifts. A stove and a game and very probably other things which I have ungraciously forgotten. More about those to come…

Anyway, it’s always great to see them, with or without gifts, and fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long before our next meeting…

(Two teasers in one post, I really know how to ramp up the tension! However, I have another great weekend to record before I get to either of those…)

(That’s three teasers! And I haven’t even mentioned the Redpolls…Or the Hare…)

(That’s five teasers. Blimey, I’m still way behind!)

Kent Bore

Harter Fell and Birks Bridge.

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On the Saturday of our Easter weekend I stayed at home with TBH, who, unfortunately, was suffering from her worst bout yet of labyrinthitis. Most of the rest of the party went for a swim in the Kent at Levens. It really was that warm, which is hard to believe now that it’s late May and the wind is howling outside beneath grey skies.

Easter Sunday was B’s birthday. How to entertain a teenager on their birthday? Fortunately, B was happy to fall in with our plans for a shortish walk up Harter Fell, followed by a swim in the River Duddon. TBH was feeling much better, but not well enough to want to join us.

This…

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…is Birks Bridge, where we planned to have a dip after our walk.

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You can see that the water is crystal clear. Deceptively deep too, it was possible, we later found, to jump from these rocks into the water without hitting the bottom.

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River Duddon.

First of all though, we had a hill to climb. The initial ascent was very steep and it was unseasonably hot. Here we are…

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…resting after the first steep pull.

This rocky tor…

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…is Maiden Castle. It’s very imposing and we’d picked it out from the car park as somewhere worth visiting. Actually, around the far side it can be easily scaled via a grassy ramp. That’s be sat on the top.

From this point on, not only did the angle ease, but there were lots more rocky knolls, so that a variety of different entertaining options for scrambling to the top were available. Andy and the DBs were in their element. I followed on more slowly, picking my route and avoiding some of the steeper sections they sort-out.

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At the top itself, there were plenty of sheltered spots for some lunch and a sunbathe…

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But also lots more rocky knolls to enjoy…

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B tells me that this photo…

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…gives a misleading impression about the route he is climbing, which, apparently, was “much steeper than that!”

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A and B have been up here once before, although I’m not sure how well they remember that visit , it was a long time ago after all.

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Hazy view of the hills around Upper Eskdale.

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Bird’s-eye view of Hardknott Roman Fort.

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We chose the simple option of retracing our steps down to the valley. By this time, the haze had begun to clear and the views were improving.

The others were setting a cracking pace, no doubt eager for the swim to come, but I was distracted by the great number of Peacock and Orange-tip butterflies which were flying.

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Orange-tips are one of those species of butterfly which rarely seem to land, at least when I have my camera handy. Fortunately, there were other distractions…

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…I love the way the almost lime green new Beech leaves complement the layer of old orange leaves which always blanket the ground beneath Beeches.

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They look pretty good against a blue sky too.

Eventually, a couple of Orange-tips decided to oblige and pose for photos…

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All that and a swim still to come!

Andy has photos of us swimming (as well as lots more pictures of the DBs scrambling). The water was refreshing of course, but not as cold, frankly, as I thought it might be. My theory is that the rivers are a good bet after prolonged dry spells, which is exactly what we’d just had. Once you were immersed, it wasn’t bad at all, and even Little S, who has no padding whatsoever and often suffers with the cold, managed a good long swim.

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Little S and I both like to climb a hill on our Birthdays if possible. I think this might be a first for B, but the combination of sunshine, old friends, some scrambling, and a swim is surely a hard act to follow.

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Harter Fell and Birks Bridge.

Fat Man on a Bike

Or: A Promise Fulfilled

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B on his bike. Not the fat man.

The actual Easter Weekend was at the end of our fortnight off. The Surfnslide crew were scheduled to join us and, in the run up to the weekend, although we were all, as ever, excited about the impending visit, the Dangerous Brothers in particular had just about reached fever-pitch.

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At Trowbarrow Quarry.

Rather rashly, when we had last seen him, Andy had promised that on his next visit he would bring his bike and accompany the boys to their favourite local mountain biking venue.

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Andy on his bike. Not the fat man.

For weeks before Easter they had been pestering me to remind him of his promise. And now that he had finally arrived they couldn’t wait to get out on their trusty steeds. So, on Good Friday, we all agreed to head for Trowbarrow Quarry.

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Little S.

Our two-family party spilt into a cycling group and walking-to-watch-the-cyclists-fall-off brigade. Somewhat to everybody’s surprise, especially my own, I decided to join the ranks of the cyclists, which meant something of a delay whilst the entire party lent a hand to replace both of my bikes inner tubes. (You’d be right to conclude that my bike doesn’t leave the garage very often.)

Once we’d set-off, it was to discover that TBH’s bike wasn’t in a good state of repair either: one of the wheels was out of true and wobbled prodigiously as she rode. I waited a while and lost the others as TBH decided to turn back for home. When I eventually got going again, for some reason I didn’t take the first turn, along Moss Lane, but went the long way around beside Leighton Moss. It wasn’t much of cycle, but by the time I arrived I was already jelly-legged.

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At the Quarry, the boys were showing Andy, the honorary Dangerous Brother, all of the steep banks which they enjoy riding down, and also the various mounds and edges they like to jump off.

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Little S on his bike. Not the fat man.

They all looked much too steep to me.

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I decided to try out my camera’s sports setting instead of attempting any feats of derring-do.

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I did have a couple of freewheels down this, less intimidating, slope…

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A on my bike. Not the fat man.

The net result of my change of heart was another puncture for my bike. Andy very kindly cycled back to our house for his car so that he could collect me and my long-suffering bike.

The ‘Fat Man on a Bike’ was, of course, me. But also the late Tom Vernon who wrote a book of that name after radio and television series about his cycling exploits. I can’t really recall anything about Vernon, apart from the title of his book. In my mind, he seems to have become muddled with Richard Ballantine, who wrote ‘Richards Bicycle Book’…

…a book which I thoroughly enjoyed when I was in my teens and very much bicycle obsessed. B is similarly bike fixated now. Of course, things have changed in the intervening years. I joined the Cycle Touring Club and fancied a set of Carradice panniers (handmade in Nelson, Lancashire since 1932), B hangs out in local quarries with his mates and has just acquired a dropper seatpost (whatever one of those is). We didn’t have mountain bikes, although I did enjoy off-road cycling, or rough-stuff as we used to call it. I even briefly kept a diary of my cycling exploits, a sort of forerunner to this blog, with carefully hand-drawn maps of the routes.

Finally, a bit of nature to round off the post…

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In one corner of the quarry, we spotted a couple of what I think are slime moulds, probably the False Puffball, Enteridium lycoperdon, which is apparently common in Britain in the spring. According to this article, slime moulds, once thought to be fungi, are now classed as amoeba. They are certainly very strange.

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Enteridium lycoperdon is found across Europe, but also in Mexico, where, in the state of Veracruz, it is known as Caca de Lune or Moon’s Excrement.

If this is False Puffball, then it is in its plasmodial stage, preparing to spore. The plasmodial stage is mobile, which I find very disconcerting – it looks like some sort of fungi, but it can move around. How very odd.

My extremely limited knowledge of slime moulds is a perfect example of one advantage of blogging – if it weren’t for a question I posted years ago, I wouldn’t even know they existed.

Fat Man on a Bike

Fine WX on Whitbarrow

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Green Hairstreak.

My first Green Hairstreak and, therefore, very exciting for me, I can tell you. In fact, my first Hairstreak of any description. As is the way of these thing, I saw a few more that day and then another closer to home in Eaves Wood a couple of days later. Just before we saw this, we also saw a butterfly or a moth which, unfortunately, I didn’t get a decent photo of. It looked, in terms of the general shape, like a butterfly; had brown forewings with a little dash of white and orange hindwings with a chocolate brown crescent on each. The latter is very characteristic of the many yellow underwing moth species, but I can’t find one that fits otherwise, and, like I say, it really looked more like a butterfly. I think it’s destined to remain a mystery.

The occasion was an ascent of Whitbarrow with our friend BB and three of his kids. Here he is…

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…on the excellent path which climbs the southern end of the escarpment.

When we reached the higher ground we settled in this sheltered spot which also has excellent views.

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BB had brought his portable radio kit with him and wanted to get on the airwaves and play with that. Equally, I’d brought my Bushbuddy stove and wanted to play with that…

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I don’t use it all that often and was reminded of one reason why that is, as it took an age to bring a small kettle of water to the boil for a brew.

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The view along the edge towards Gummer How.

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Ingleborough and Farleton Fell seen over a broad meander in the Kent.

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Whitbarrow is a limestone plateau and it’s a fair walk to the top at Lord’s Seat.

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It was lovely walking, but windy, and we soon had to put several layers back on. The contrast in the temperature compared to our sheltered lunch spot was amazing.

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Lord’s Seat.

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Scout Scar with the Howgills in the background.

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The Kent, Morecambe Bay and Arnside Knott.

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Arnside Knott again.

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Green Tiger Beetle.

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All the routes down the western side of Whitbarrow are steep, the route we took being no exception.

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Gummer How.

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The edges from near Witherslack Hall.

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Whitbarrow has appeared on the blog many times now. It seems to have become my go-to choice for a walk with friends. Perhaps because I feel like it deserves to be better known. On this occasion, it was actually BB’s suggestion. He has fond memories of climbing it when he was a boy.

Oh, WX, by the way, is amateur radio shorthand for weather.

And that’s 73 from me. (I’ll let you look that one up).

 

Fine WX on Whitbarrow