The Weather is Variable

20210110_144959
TBH by the Pepper Pot.

Photos from a week’s worth of walks from back in January. This first is from the Sunday, the day after the glorious Saturday which featured in my previous post. As you can see, the snow was gone and so too the blue skies and sunshine.

20210111_165312
The lights of Grange from the Cove.

Monday must have been another drear day, because I had a reasonably substantial stroll after work, but only took photos from The Cove when it was almost dark.

On the Tuesday, I didn’t start teaching until after 11 and so took the opportunity to have a wander around Jenny Brown’s Point.

20210112_093233
The path down from Fleagarth Wood

The weather was a complete contrast from the day before. I think it was even quite mild.

20210112_094457
Farleton Fell in the distance.
20210112_094652
Quicksand Pool.

The tide was well in.

20210112_094959
Smelting works chimney.
P1320845
Mergansers. I think.
20210112_101502
Jack Scout coast. Coniston Fells on the horizon.
20210112_123250

The drab, dingy weather returned on Wednesday and Thursday.

20210113_161820
Wednesday – Elmaslack Lane.

Around the village, people had put their Christmas lights up early and now left them up late.

20210114_170121
Thursday – The Green, another late afternoon walk.

Using MapMyWalk usually persuades me to take at least one photo on each walk, so that I can attach it the file for that walk. I quite like having a visual record even of the gloomy days.

Friday brought a hard frost in the morning.

20210115_143827
Frosty windscreen.

And the longest walk of the week in the afternoon (only about six and a half miles).

P1320880
Wigeon (male).

I actually took lots of bird photos, particularly of a Little Egret which was close in shore, but the light was a bit weird…

P1320885

Lovely, but weird.

P1320887
20210115_153756

Rounding Arnside Point into the Kent I was surprised to see that Hampsfell and the other hills across the river had a covering of snow.

And then, when I climbed to Heathwaite, I discovered that we had some too…

20210115_160638

In fact, on the Knott, there was quite a bit…

20210115_162644

It was getting late, and I had the top to myself. I was disproportionately chuffed to have found some snow to crunch, and had a good wander around the highest part of the Knott.

20210115_162740
20210116_155008
Obligatory winter photo of flooded Lambert’s Meadow.

The weekend brought more cloud and damp.

20210116_164728

On the Sunday, I walked our now habitual Sunday circuit around Jenny Brown’s Point not once but twice, in the morning with our neighbour BB…

20210117_145001

And in the afternoon, with TBH.

20210117_145343
The tide well in at Quicksand Pool again.

Over the eight days represented here, I walked around thirty miles. Hardly earth-shattering, but not bad for a week when I was working and when daylight was at a premium. Working form home is a completely useless way to teach, but, from a completely selfish point of view, I was all in favour.

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

So, pop-picker’s, the post’s title is from a song which, I’m pretty sure, I’ve shared here before.

The weather’s variable – so are you
But I can’t do a thing – about the weather

Here’s another couplet:

You dislike the climate but you like the place
I hope you learn to live with what you choose

Anybody know it? It’s from an album called ‘Magic, Murder and The Weather’ if that helps?

The Weather is Variable

Snowy Scenes, a Murmuration and a Sunset

P1320800

With snow on the ground, a little bit of mist about and a fairly clear sky, worth getting out for an early work. Not that you need to be up that early here in early January to catch the sunrise.

P1320811
P1320814
P1320815
The mist hides the village.
P1320823
P1320826

I had a short walk, across the fields and then up into Eaves Wood.

P1320827
P1320830
P1320836
20210109_123509

Later I was out again and did a very similar walk with the next door neighbours who had a chore to do at the Silver Sapling campsite, probably breaking the rules in some way into the bargain.

20210109_131729
Our friend BB.
20210109_131948
Silver Sapling.

Later still, I was out on my own again, wandering around Jenny Brown’s Point. The light was superb.

20210109_154936
20210109_155112
20210109_160445
20210109_162733

Right through the winter, there’s a really impressive Starling Murmuration and roost at Leighton Moss. Of late, I haven’t made the effort to get down there to see it often enough. On this occasion, as I walked along the top of the small cliffs of Jack Scout, part of the murmuration flew along the coast behind me and swooped past me following the cliffs. Usually the Starlings fly just above the treetops, but this time, where there weren’t any trees, they were low, hugging the cliffs, and so I was enveloped in the flock and in the astonishing whirr of thousands of wings. It was breathtaking. They came around three or four more times, but never quite so close.

20210109_162518

The sunset was highly impressive. I watched for ages, taking lots of photos (on my phone, I didn’t have my camera with me). When the cold started to seep into my bones, I set off for home, but then, looking behind me, realised that the colours had intensified even further. I went back to the clifftop to take more photos, but then my phone’s battery died.

20210109_162900

Unlike my camera, my phone seems, if anything, to rather underplay the colours of a sunset. This one really was spectacular. Especially after the battery had died. You’ll just have to take my word for it!

20210109_162935
20210109_163042
20210109_163333

Another very memorable day, chiefly because of the Starlings.

Snowy Scenes, a Murmuration and a Sunset

A Walk with X-Ray and Boot Review Update.

20201228_133924
X-Ray on the Lune Aqueduct, just before he produced a flask of tea and two cups from his bag. What a gent.

X-Ray has appeared on this blog from time to time over the years. He’s an old friend who is always great company on a walk. We play in a pub quiz team together, but the pandemic put paid to that and when he rang me over Christmas I realised that I hadn’t seen him since the start of lockdown. A get together seemed called for and we eventually agreed on a walk around Lancaster. It was a glorious sunny day, lots of other people had a similar idea to us and were out for a post Christmas ramble in the unexpected sunshine. I probably should have taken a few more photographs, but X-Ray and I had a lot of catching-up to do, and anyway, whenever we get together we seem to able to fill several hours with non-stop conversation. On this occasion, without really realising it, we managed eight miles of blether before we’d found our way back to X-Ray’s flat.

20201228_115424
Freeman’s Pools

We talked, among other things, about work; the pandemic, of course; pensions I seem to remember – probably an age thing; and about shoes. X-Ray had been reluctant to come for a walk from Silverdale to Arnside because he has no comfortable walking boots. For our walk he was wearing, I think, a pair of trainers with part of the toes removed. He finds it very difficult to buy shoes or boots which are wide enough for his feet, as do I. I told him about my Altberg boots, which I bought at Whalley Warm and Dry and which, after 5 years of use, are a little scuffed but otherwise as good as new. In fact, I’m wearing them more and more, as I find that they are consistently the most comfortable footwear I own. Anyway, X-Ray rang me last week and told me that he has an appointment next week at Whalley Warm and Dry to get some boots fitted. Hopefully, he can find something which is a good fit, and then we can get out for a walk somewhere a little further afield. Remembering our chat has also got me thinking about maybe going back myself to try a pair of Altberg shoes.

20201228_162809

Talking of kit, we were out for a family walk later that same day, after sunset, to try out a Christmas present, a wooly hat with an integral head-torch.

20201228_162828

As you can see, although the sun had already set, the light was rather nice.

20201228_162846

I was jealous of B’s hat which, as well as a light, incorporates bluetooth headphones. What a great idea!

A Walk with X-Ray and Boot Review Update.

Warrendale Knotts

20201219_110452
Above Settle.

The weekend before Christmas, when we would, in normal circumstances, be gathered together for a wet weekend of overeating, anecdote bingo, and maybe a bit of walking. Obviously that couldn’t happen last year. At least we could meet up for a walk. Sadly, the Surfnslide crew were self-isolating and weren’t able to join us.

20201219_111410
Rainbow over Settle. Glad I got that sheet of corrugated iron in the foreground!

We met in Settle with a view to climb Warrendale Knotts. I suggested we divert slightly from our planned itinerary to take a look at Scaleber Force…

20201219_115954
Scaleber Force.

I’d noticed that a small section of woodland here is access land, and that a right-of-way drops down to the bottom of the falls and then abruptly stops.

20201219_120356
The EWO and Scaleber Force.

I think you’ll agree, it was worth a little out-and-back along a minor lane to see it. We found a likely spot, out of the wind, for an early lunch spot, thinking shelter might be at a premium later in the walk. Naturally, once we’d settled down, it began to rain. This seems to have been a recurring theme when we’ve met for walks of late.

20201219_124328
Pendle Hill. Plus more corrugated iron.
20201219_124340
High Hill Lanethat’s High Hill straight ahead.

It brightened up and we had a lovely sunny spell back along High Hill Lane.

But it was soon grey and wet again. It was that sort of day.

20201219_130456
Warrendale Knotts.

The route we took up Warrendale Knotts proved to be ridiculously steep near the top, but it was well worth the effort…

20201219_133320
Attermire Scar from Warrendale Knotts. The distant big hole in the middle of the picture is Victoria Cave.
20201219_133745
On Warrendale Knotts.

We spent quite some time on this modest top. It was very windy, but with the clouds scudding across the views were constantly changing and very dramatic.

20201219_133710
Crepuscular Rays.
20201219_134127
Warrendale Knotts and Attermire Scar. Rye Loaf Hill on the right.
20201219_134305
Pen-y-ghent
20201219_134551
Pen-y-ghent and one of the cairns on Warrendale Knotts. Is that Fountains Fell in the cloud on the right?
20201219_134636
Leaving the top.
20201219_134706

Eventually, we had to move on. In fact, the Cheshire contingent had some pressing engagement and we chose to walk with them, initially at least, and so by-passed Victoria Cave.

20201219_135532
Another view of Pen-y-ghent.

The weather deteriorated again, but the Adopted Yorkshire Woman assured us that she remembered a shelter, or possibly a cave, in the vicinity of Jubilee Cave, which would be kitted out with comfortable benches and provide a pleasant dry spot for another lunch stop. Sadly, it never materialised. Hard words may have been spoken about the vividness of the AYW’s imagination.

20201219_142302
Jubilee Cave.

AT Jubilee Cave, the Cheshire crew left us to take a direct route back to Settle, whilst the remainder of our small party returned to Settle via Winskill and Langcliffe. That’s a very pleasant route, but I didn’t take any more photos, because the rain returned and this time it meant business. We did enjoy a brief dry spell and had a hurried stop in order to drain the dregs from our flasks, but by the time we reached the cars it was chucking it down. A small price to pay for a terrific walk though.

The day before this walk I uninstalled and reinstalled MapMyWalk. It worked, so here’s the resultant map. I think the numbers are kilometres, although the 4 and 6 seem a bit odd?
Warrendale Knotts, not named on the OS 1:50,000 is the trig pillar with a psot height of 440m.

I’ve never climbed Warrendale Knotts before, and I still haven’t been up Rye Loaf Hill. Looking at the map of the Dales, it also occurs to me that I haven’t been up Great Shunner Fell or Buckden Pike or Fountains Fell since the mid-eighties. Which seems criminal given that they’re all relatively close to home. Aside from the Three Peaks area, the closest bit to home, I’ve been neglecting the Dales. I have a lot of exploring to do!

Warrendale Knotts

Company on Calf Top

20201205_104025
Uncle Fester in Barbon

The title says it all really. The restrictions were relaxed, some meeting up outdoors was allowed again – at last. So we arranged to meet in Barbon for a walk.

20201205_104240
Barbon Church

Despite having the least far to travel, we were, inevitably, the last to arrive. Or we would have been, had not the Yorkshire contingent parked in Barbondale, near Blindbeck Bridge I think. Somehow, for reasons I never quite fathomed, this was my fault. Not to worry, we were eventually assembled and ready to embark.

Incidentally, A had driven us to Barbon and would later drive back too. One unexpected consequence of the lockdowns has been that she hasn’t been able to have many driving lessons, so it’s fallen to me to teach her. It was a bit nerve-racking at first, but ultimately, a nice way to spend time together. Hopefully, she’ll soon manage to get a test booked.

20201205_111635
Waxcaps

Our route took us to the highest point in the Middleton Fells, Calf Top, and then back by the same route. (An alternative plan to drop down into Barbondale and return that way was abandoned because the sun was shining and leaving the ridge would have meant dropping into shadow, which seemed a shame.)

20201205_111811
Waxcaps?

The grassy, lower slopes of Eskholme Pike were decorated with lots of colourful Waxcaps. And also clumps of yellow stalks. I couldn’t decide whether they were also Waxcaps, perhaps in a more or less advanced stage of their life-cycle?

20201205_112213
20201205_113228
Across the Lune Valley. Lakeland Fells on the horizon. Howgills top right.
20201205_114342
Thorn Moor

The Middleton Fells give easy walking, without any particularly steep climbs, and expansive views.

P1320769
TBH takes a nap. Snow-capped Lakeland Fells in the distance.
20201205_123428
Crag Hill.
20201205_123533
20201205_123540
Professor Longhair leads the way.
20201205_124444
20201205_125132
Calf Top from Castle Knott.
20201205_125136
Looking over Howegill Head to the distant Lakeland Fells.
20201205_125204
On Castle Knott.
20201205_130044
A negotiates a boggy bit.
20201205_132105(0)
Looking back to Castle Knott.
20201205_132815
Crag Hill. Whernside in the background (I think).
20201205_132844
Nearing the top.
20201205_135430
The Howgills
20201205_135634
TBH next to the (unusually) decorated trig pillar.
20201205_135641
20201205_135836
Looking down to the Lune valley.
20201205_140822
Retracing our steps from the top.
20201205_140826
20201205_145321
20201205_151139
20201205_151152
Eskholme Pike
20201205_152845
…good place for a very belated lunch and brew.
P1320776

It would have been a good day’s walking in any circumstances, but throw in the opportunity to see friends with whom we’d missed several regular annual get-togethers, and the fact that I’d not ventured off home territory much for some months and this became a really special day out. When we said our goodbyes, we agreed not to wait too long before we met for another walk.

Company on Calf Top

October 2020: More Showers, Rainbows, and Big Clouds.

20201020_171042
The view from Castlebarrow.

The title pretty much sums it up. Photos from lots of different local walks, taken during the second half of October. I was aware that some people were beginning to travel a little further afield for their exercise, but somehow my own radius of activity seemed to shrink to local favourite spots not too far from the village.

20201022_162959
Crepuscular rays on the Bay.
20201023_172613
Rainbow over The Lots

This is my mate D and his pug. I often meet him when I’m out for a local walk. I think I’ve mentioned before how much bumping into neighbours whilst out and about has helped during the lockdown in all of it guises.

20201023_172926
The sun dips towards the sea, from Castle Barrow.

I can’t remember exactly when this happened – let’s assume it was October: I bumped into a chap carrying a fair bit of camera gear in Eaves Wood. He asked if he was going the right way to the Pepper Pot. He was. I saw him again on the top. It turned out he’s working on a book, one in a series, about where to take photos from in the North-West. Based in Lancaster, he’d never been to the Pepper Pot before. Funny how that can happen. Cloud had rolled in and the chances of a decent sunset looked a bit poor. I saw him again, a few weeks later, this time he’d set up his camera and tripod a little further West, in a spot I’d suggested. I hope he got his sunset.

20201025_091037
A paper round rainbow. Just prior to a proper drenching.
20201025_130134
TBH in Eaves Wood.
20201025_132317
Among all the changes which Natural England have been carrying out at Gait Barrows – raising the water level, felling trees, removing fences, putting up new fences in other places etc, they’ve also renovated this old summer house by Hawes Water. Presently, it’s still locked, but eventually it will be an information centre and a vantage point to look out over the lake.
20201026_105647
Around this time, TBH started to take a regular weekend walk together around Jenny Brown’s Point. It was interesting to watch the channel from Quicksand Pool change each week and to contrast the weather and the tides each week.
20201026_111023
Traveller’s Joy by Jenny Brown’s Point.
20201026_152607
From Castlebarrow, heavy showers tracking in from The Bay.
20201026_152552
Late sun from Castlebarrow again.
20201026_172136
The lights of Grange from The Cove.
20201027_065519
Sunrise from our garden.
20201027_170908
TBH by the Pepper Pot on Castlebarrow.
20201027_171157
Post sunset from Castlebarrow.
20201027_173213
The last of the light from The Cove.
20201028_080130
Silverdale Moss from the rim of Middlebarrow Quarry. It had just finished raining, or was just about to rain, or probably both.
20201028_080823
Autumnal birches with a rainbow behind.
20201028_092248
The Shelter Stone Trowbarrow Quarry.
20201028_100020
Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.
20201028_100515
20201028_103107
20201028_152436
The Copper Smelting Works Chimney near Jenny Brown’s and more heavy showers.
20201028_152547
Jenny Brown’s Cottages.
20201029_070809
The Bay from The Cove on a very grey day!
20201029_074625
Cows in the rain.

The brown cow at the back here is a bull. I’d walked through the fields on Heald Brow where they were grazing a few times and he’d never batted an eyelid. But on this day he and a few of his harem where stationed in a gateway. I was considering my options and wondering whether to turn back, but when I got within about 50 yards the bull suddenly started to run. At quite a canter. Fortunately, it was away from me and not towards – he was obviously even more of a wuss than me!

20201029_074641
A White-lipped Snail – the rain isn’t universally disliked.
20201030_130650
Clougha across the Bay.
P1320738
Little Egret.
P1320732
The yellow feet are a good distinguishing feature.
20201030_131956
20201030_133958
Picnic lunch – apple, mushroom soup and a selection of cheeses.

I decided that the best way to make the most of sometimes limited windows at weekends was to head out in the middle of the day and to eat somewhere on my walk. This bench overlooking the Kent Estuary was a particular favourite. Haven’t been there for a while now – must rectify that.

20201030_141529
The tide had heaped up fallen leaves in a long sinuous line.
20201030_143533
Scot’s Pines on Arnside Knott.
20201030_144239
Birches on Arnside Knott.
20201030_145301
Whitbarrow from Arnside Knott.
20201030_145933
River Kent from Arnside Knott.
20201030_150621
A flooded Silverdale Moss from Arnside Knott. Ingleborough in the background
20201030_154048
Arnside Tower.
20201031_162516
Clouds catching late light.
October 2020: More Showers, Rainbows, and Big Clouds.

Le sentier rive gauche du Tarn

P1320386

This is, I think, a Scotch Argus butterfly. If I’m right, then this is the third photo of a Scotch Argus which has appeared here on the blog. The first was from a family holiday in the Vosges ten years ago, the second taken much closer to home on Arnside Knott, which has one of only two English colonies. I assume that we call them Scotch Argus because of their rarity in England and relative abundance in Scotland, but apparently they are common across Europe. This had me wondering what they’re called in French, surely not Scotch Argus? A bit of lazy internet research failed to turn up an answer, but I did discover that France has around 250 species of butterfly, as compared to our own miserly total of 57 (or 59 if you included Painted Ladies and Clouded Yellow which both arrive regularly as migrants). No wonder I feel so much at home in France! I also discovered that France has over 30 species of Ringlet, the family to which Scotch Argus belong, so my identification may be incorrect anyway. I’m looking again at my photo from the Vosges and wondering whether it might actually be an Arran Brown?

P1320387

Andy had waded the Tarn and discovered a rough, steep path which lead up to the sentier which runs along the left side of the gorge, away from any roads. This seemed too good an opportunity to miss so, on separate days, we had a couple of out and back walks along that path.

P1320389

The slopes were heavily wooded, but every now and then gaps in the trees would reveal tantalising views of the towering rock features above or on the far side of the gorge.

P1320394
Huge toadstool.
P1320400
P1320416

It was terrific walking which had me daydreaming again about long distance walking in France in general, and about a multi-day wander through the gorge in particular. I’ve subsequently found this blog, which has further sold me on that idea.

P1320421

Unlike in the Cirque des Baumes, here in the deep shade of the trees there were still quite a few plants in flower, including some delightful tiny yellow blooms which had mauve bracts or leaves on the end of its stems beyond the flowers. I took lots of photos, but sadly none of them have come out well, perhaps due to the depth of the shade where they were growing.

P1320422
P1320423
P1320426

On the first of our two walks I saw lots of Wall Browns in the woods.

the wall brown is la Mégère – Megera, one of the Furies, which is arresting, but seems a bit of an over-the-top label for such an inoffensive basker in the sunshine.

Michael McCarthy

P1320435
P1320439
P1320443
P1320452
P1320456
The path gradually climbed, whilst the river dropped, so that we were soon high above the valley bottom.
P1320458
P1320460
A small, sunnny, open glade was very busy with Common Blues.
P1320461
P1320465
P1320481
P1320483
P1320488
P1320490
P1320496
P1320497
P1320510

For our second walk we had less sunny conditions, but since this section of the path had quite a bit of up and down, maybe this wasn’t a bad thing.

P1320511
P1320512
P1320516
Les Détroits, I think.
P1320519
P1320522
P1320524
P1320528
Southern Smooth Snake?

At the end of the walk, as I waded back across the river, I was startled to spot a snake, motionless on the riverbed. I fumbled my camera out and bellowed to the others to come and see what I assumed was a dead snake. I was even more startled when it shot off across the rocky river-bottom. I knew that snakes could swim on the surface but haven’t seen one submerged before.

That’s the last of my photos from France last summer and as I look out at leaden grey skies, I’m slightly sad about that fact. I’ve hardly been anywhere since though, so I should be able to make swift inroads into catching-up.

Le sentier rive gauche du Tarn

Watching the Sunset from Point Sublime

P1320340
The light fades in the gorge.

We drove up to Point Sublime one evening to watch the sunset.

P1320347
Looking ‘downstream’.
P1320351
TBH and A.
P1320358

In point of fact, the sunset was behind us, away from the view of the gorge, but this was still a great place to chill out with some friends and watch the day turn to night.

P1320369
P1320379
In this photo, you can just about pick out the cliffs which have been spotlit down the valley, From the campsite they looked monumental, from Point Sublime, pretty insignificant.
P1320365
Haven’t posted a moon photo for a while – I’m always amazed by the detail even a handheld camera can capture.
Watching the Sunset from Point Sublime

On and In the Tarn

20200825_124540

Inevitably, we hired kayaks and had a paddle down the Tarn.

20200825_125221
Andy demonstrates that you don’t have to be young to be bonkers.

The Tarn is a bit more racy than the Dordogne, with some shallower, fast flowing sections and lots of places to stop for swims and for the DBs to throw themselves into the river.

20200825_134641
20200825_134655
20200825_140205
20200825_140246

The scenery is amazing, the water beautifully clear and very inviting.

20200825_140301
The beginning (I think) of Les Détroits – the straits.

You can perhaps see, in the photograph above, that there are a lot of people congregated on the shingle bank downstream. They are examining a fast-flowing section which we had been told we should portage around. In fact, everybody seemed to be canoeing the little rapid quite successfully, so we did the same.

The section through Les Détroits was quite odd – suddenly we were fighting a strong, chilly head-on wind. Once the steep cliffs either side of the river receded the wind calmed down again.

Our route took as past the campsite (I think we stopped for ice-creams) and then past the mushroom rock, just after which there was another small fast-flowing section. Having successfully navigated that, I was upended by one of the flat-bottomed commercial passenger boats which ply the river with, it seems, almost complete disregard for the many canoeists also on the water. Somehow, I didn’t lose either my hat or my glasses, and only my pride was hurt, but I was infuriated and may have hurled a few choice Anglo-Saxon expletives after the departing boatman.

On a couple of occasions, later in the week, we drove a little down the valley to swim in the river in an area where a substantial rockfall in the past has left the river choked with huge boulders.

20200827_151306

It was a fascinating spot. The water was very deep and, in places, where side-streams issued into the Tarn, the water was bracingly cold. Upstream, the water flowed through narrow little channels and forcing a way upstream became both challenging and exhausting, but highly enjoyable.

20200827_151315

The big boulders in and by the river provided numerous opportunities for big jumps into the water. Even A joined in. Me too, but nothing too ambitious.

It was a great find, enlivened, for B at least, by the radar speed sign on the road above the river – which he found he could trigger by running along the road.

On and In the Tarn

Cirque des Baumes Again

P1320095

Last time we came this way, we drove up to the view point at Point Sublime, left the cars up at the rim of the gorge, and walked back down to the campsite. It proved to be one of the most memorable mornings of the trip, so, naturally, we were keen to repeat that outing this time.

The views from the top of the gorge defy superlatives. I think I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

P1320096
The campsite is down there somewhere, in the trees.
P1320097
The top of Cirque des Baumes – looks steep. It is.

Last time we visited, I was absolutely fascinated by the vultures we regularly saw overhead, and spent quite a bit of time both watching them and photographing them, mostly producing fairly useless photos. This time, perhaps the novelty had worn off a bit and I wasn’t as engaged as I had been. Never-the-less, they are amazing to watch and from the top of the gorge we had great views.

P1320102
Griffon Vulture (I think)
P1320103

Of course, having not been so intent on getting a photo of the vultures, I actually got my best yet. Inevitable perhaps. There’s probably a moral there somewhere, for a clever person to tease out.

P1320106
Griffon Vulture. Big.
P1320116
Wall Brown.
P1320127
B nonchalantly standing much too close to the edge.
P1320132
A vulture on an even more airy perch.
P1320133
The head of Cirque des Baumes again.
P1320135
Grasshopper.
P1320137
Grasshopper.
P1320140
I suspect that this is a Common Lizard – I think the most widespread reptile species, but I’m not sure.
P1320143
Likewise.
P1320144
Descending into the cirque.
P1320148

It’s quite a sketchy path through really impressive scenery. Some of us were taking our time to save our aged knees (and take photos) and the kids raced ahead of us, only to reappear above and behind us somehow.

P1320153
P1320169

As we dropped past one of the large towers, a vulture wheeled just overhead, the closest encounter I’ve had by far. Sadly, my hasty photos, with the light behind the huge scavenger, didn’t come out too well, but it was a very exciting few moments.

P1320171
P1320175
P1320185
This looks like a Meadow Brown, except they usually have some orange on the underwing. So, I’m hoping that it’s actually a Tree Grayling which would make it another new species to me, in what was a bumper year for butterflies.
P1320187
Common Blue, I presume. There were a lot of them about.
P1320194
Actually, this might well be a Tree Grayling.
P1320201
P1320232
Silver-washed Fritillary. Possibly.
P1320235
Unidentified, but colourful grasshopper.
P1320240
Unidentified, but rather lovely moth.

Last time we visited, the Best Butterfly Moment of the holiday – surely everybody has ‘Best Butterfly Moments’ in their holidays? – was the Small Purple Emperor I spotted by the Tarn. This time it was a number of Southern White Admirals which were flitting about near to the end of our descent, where the trees started to get bigger, but there was still plenty of sunshine filtering through.

P1320243
Southern White Admiral.
P1320252
Southern White Admiral.
P1320257
Southern White Admiral.

Stunning creatures. It was a species I didn’t know existed until this summer. Marvellous.

P1320247
Looking back up the Cirque.
P1320260
A member of the Dead-Nettle family, I suspect.

Most plants seemed to have finished flowering, perhaps as a result of the tree-cover and also the heat, so it was nice to find this small but attractive flowers.

P1320264
Wall Brown.

As I approached the bottom of the ravine I met a group who asked if they were going the right way for Point Sublime. They weren’t, having taken the the turn which leads up to La Chapelle Saint-Hillaire, a tiny church nestling under cliffs. My attempts to produce “Go back and turn left” in my rusty school French met with blank looks, but fortunately one of the group spoke very good English. I didn’t envy them the steep ascent in the midday heat, but they were at least young and they all looked very fit.

Sadly, a locked gate blocked the last part of the path to the church, so no photographs this time, although there are a few on my post from our last visit.

P1320266
Almost down: looking into the steep-sided ravine at the bottom of the gorge.
P1320269
Crag Martin

My own short climb up to the chapel wasn’t wasted energy, partly because the views from near the church are superb, but also because I actually managed to catch a hirundine in flight. Not the sharpest photo, but better than I expected. Crag Martins are apparently quite similar to our own Sand Martins, but with broader wings, lacking a darker band on their chests and with ‘diagnostic’ twin white patches on their tails. I’d been enjoying watching the martins deftly skimming across the surface of the huge cliff which looms over the latter part of the descent, so was very happy to have a closer encounter and a chance to take some photos. You can see in the picture how closely they hug the cliffs in their long sweeps, a bit like watching swallows in their low sallies across a pond or field, but with the different challenge of a vertical surface to follow.

P1320274
Looking back at Cirque des Baumes from the road.
P1320279
The Tarn from the ‘Mushroom Rock’. The campsite is in the trees by the big shingle bank on the left.

Of course, one consequence of walking down and leaving the cars is that somebody has to go back later to collect them. What a hardship!

P1320282
The same view later in the day.
P1320288
P1320284
Another Vulture

More Point Sublime photos to come.

Cirque des Baumes Again