How Do I Get Down?

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We were at Fellfoot park with a bunch of friends from the village, for the annual church picnic. To us the park has become Fell-ten-foot Park because of Little S’s unfortunate experience here: our family has track record with tree-climbing accidents. I spotted A high in the tree and decided to take a photo. She managed a smile, as you can see, but was hissing at me, not wanting to attract the attention of our friends, but wanting a private word with me:

“I don’t think I can get down.”

After taking this ideal opportunity to lecture a captive audience on the inadvisability of climbing anything you aren’t absolutely sure you can definitely climb back down, I relented and helped her find the good footholds on the knobbly trunk which she was having difficulty picking out from above.

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The weather was very changeable and would eventually have us abandoning our idea of a barbecue in the park. However, this didn’t deter The Tower Captain from taking his Mirror Dinghy for a row…

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…or the boys and their friend E from swimming to the far bank. This was some feat, because, after rain, this bottom end of Windermere has quite a strong current.

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A and I also took one of our inflatable canoes out, which she described as ‘extremely relaxing’; presumably much more enjoyable than being stuck up a tree.

I chatted to a National Trust volunteer about photographs of camping pods which were on display and she told me that the plan is for the Park to become a campsite, or perhaps, in part a campsite. Apparently it has been one in the past. The Trust’s campsite at Low Wray, at the far end of the lake, was fully booked for the entirety of August when I tried to make a booking, so more capacity for camping on the lake shore seems like a sensible plan.

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How Do I Get Down?

Skelwith Bridge and Little Langdale Stroll

Skelwith Bridge – Skelwith Force – Elter Water – Elterwater – Little Langdale – Slater Bridge – Stang End – High Park – Colwith Force – Skelwith Bridge.

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The Langdale Pikes seen across Elter Water. 

How appropriate, after a post about favourite walks, that in my next bit of catching up from the summer hols, I’m recounting a walk which, in slight variations, I’ve walked many times, in all seasons, in all weathers, alone on occasions but often with big groups of friends and which definitely qualifies at least as one of my favourites, particularly for when time is short, or the forecast is a bit iffy.

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Skelwith Force.

A dodgy forecast was partly responsible for us choosing this route. We were going out with our friends Beaver B and G and their family again; the original plan had been to get the boats out on one of the lakes, but with showers, possibly prolonged, expected, we decided that a low level walk was a better option. We’d actually run through a number of alternatives the night before and it was eventually G who suggested something in this area.

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Black and Yellow Longhorn Beetle (Leptura quadrifasciata).

This was spotted by Little B pretty much at the top of the track between Langdale and Little Langdale and it led us both a merry dance as we tried to photograph it in damp and gloomy conditions. It’s led me on another merry dance as I’ve tried to identify it – I was struck by it’s superficial resemblance to the Sexton beetle which I photographed recently, which wasn’t helpful because this is not even a closely related species.

We’d had drizzle, then a bright spell as we lunched by Elter Water, then rain as we climbed up and over into Little Langdale. Now it began to brighten up.

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Little Langdale Tarn.

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Slater Bridge.

Over Slater’s bridge and heading along Little Langdale we paused a while to watch cyclists riding their bikes through a ford on the infant River Brathay and then, a little further along, spotted a Roe deer down by the stream.

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Little Langdale. Blake Rigg on Pike O’Blisco and Busk Pike on Lingmoor behind.

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Stang End.

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The barn at Stang End with it’s impressive tiers of stacked fire wood.

Our perseverance through the rain was paying off now with some beautiful warm, sunny weather. The garden at Stang End was busy with Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies sunning themselves.

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High Park.

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Colwith Force.

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Peacock butterfly.

We interrupted this large beetle, here already scuttling for cover, as it was preying on the earthworm seen in the top left of the picture.

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Here is the predator after I’d fetched him (or her) out of hiding…

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I’m reasonably sure that this is a Violet Ground Beetle, Carabus violaceus, although there are several very similar species of large, black beetles which also have that violet tint.

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I haven’t featured a Robin in the blog for an unusually long time. This one looks a bit tatty,  but juvenile Robins have speckled feathers, which are moulted at around two to three months, so could this be a juvenile, born in May or June, which has almost changed into adult plumage?

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Almost back, crossing the footbridge near Skelwith Bridge.

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We were quite late finishing, having not set-off particularly early, and had wondered whether the promised tea and cake at Chesters By The River would be thwarted, but the new take-away section (well, new since I was last there) was still serving, so a mutiny by the kids was averted. I had the beluga lentil dish, seen near the front of the counter above, as an alternative to cake, and very nice it was too. Chesters, both cafe and shop, had been very busy when we had passed earlier and their success seems well deserved. If only they would reinstate the missing apostrophe in their name, I could thoroughly recommend a visit.

Skelwith Bridge and Little Langdale Stroll

Aira Force

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Once we had discovered that our friends had never visited Aira Force before, that seemed like an obvious thing to do whilst we were in the area. The main car park was full and we were quite lucky to get two spaces in the additional Park Brow parking a little up the road toward Dockray. We dropped down to the visitor centre where the kids discovered a bit of a playground…

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I suppose there will eventually come a point when they feel that they are too mature and sophisticated for this kind of thing, but it hasn’t happened yet and I’m in no hurry for them to get there.

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Of course, a good tree to climb is even better than a manmade substitute, a fact which B reminded me of when he appeared, grinning rather cheekily, above the roof of the snack kiosk.

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When we eventually got going again, our friend Little B (there were really too many people on this trip with christian names beginning with B!) , spotted this striking caterpillar…

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Alder Moth caterpillar.

…determinedly making its way across a very busy path.

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On the bridge below Aira Force.

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Dipper.

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Our route was a simple one, we followed the paths up one side of the stream and then came back down on the other side.

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Little B is something of a kindred spirit; she loves nature and took lots of photographs. She will surely have a blog of her own in years to come. There were quite a few toadstools emerging in the woods and she was evidently fascinated. When we came across this enormous specimen…

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She stood by it to give me some scale.

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High Cascades.

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Ullswater.

Aira Force

Waterside House

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After Silver Sapling we had one night at home, but didn’t unpack the trailer, because we were straight off again the following day, this time to Waterside House on the shore of Ullswater, once again with our friends Beaver B and G and their family.

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On the first day, after we’d pitched the tent, we inflated the canoes and spent the remainder of the day enjoying the lake.

The following day we took a short stroll into Pooley Bridge.

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It wasn’t far, but there was plenty of entertainment along the way.

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Pooley Bridge is not a huge place, but TBH and G wanted to fully explore all of the shopping opportunities it had to offer. Fortunately, the sun came out and those of us who wee not so interested in tat could settle down on a bench and watch the world go by.

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Browsing concluded and ice-creams consumed, we moved on for an ascent of Dunmallard Hill. This was Little S’s brainwave; seeing it from the campsite, he’d announced his intention to climb it. The kids also selected the route, a frontal assault which turned out to be ridiculously steep and which I think some party members will remember for all the wrong reasons, having not enjoyed it at all. To add insult to injury, there are no views from the top because of the trees.

Fortunately, there are other routes from the top, one of which we used for our descent, finding opportunities for feats of derring-do en route.

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The principal reason for choosing the campsite was it’s lake-fronting location and we got out in the boats every day that we were there.

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A view from the water gives a whole new perspective on the Lake District and I found it very relaxing, even though the weather was a bit mixed.

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A in particular seemed to agree with me and, with her friend E, probably used the canoes more than anybody else.

TBH was out quite a bit too…

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…here with our friend G.

We didn’t go very far, but we didn’t need to. Down to the yacht club at Thwaitehill Bay a couple of times was the furthest. (Dinghies can be rented there we found, something I’ve stored away for future planning).

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Some of the kids were more keen on the small playground on site, and others, B in particular, spent a lot of time swimming. I probably would have swum more than I actually did, but for the fact that the water is not very deep. I swam out quite a way and found that I still wasn’t out of my depth. It seems illogical, now that I come to write it down, but for whatever reason, I don’t like that. Even TBH, much to everyone’s surprise, got in on the act…

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…briefly.

The campsite was excellent, we would definitely go again. The showers were good. The toilet block closest to us was a sort of upmarket portacabin, but it was always clean and perfectly adequate. There’s a small well-stocked shop and a take-away kiosk. The site was busy, but very quiet at night. The ground was water-logged – we saw one car get really stuck in the mire. For that reason, we put the trailer-tent on a bit of a slope, which isn’t ideal, but it worked out okay: we managed to pitch it with the beds level after a lot of help from our friends. The big advantage for us was the access to the lake shore which, hopefully you can tell, we really enjoyed.

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Waterside House

Silver Sapling Weekend

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Here is our trusty Conway Countryman pitched at the Silver Sapling campsite. Where’s that? What exotic locale have we chosen for our latest break? Well, er…it’s about half a mile down the road from home. The kids bikes, you’ll note, are strewn across the field by the tent, because they had decided that they would cycle rather than joining us in the car. It’s a Girl Guiding site, but bookable by other groups (although this is not immediately clear from the website). We were there for our friend Beaver B’s* big birthday bash. He’d booked it so that friends from the village could easily attend, but so that friends and family from further afield could also be easily accommodated. A brilliant idea I thought.

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We’d barely started to pitch the tent, in which task B is my principal assistant, when B discovered a Slowworm. It was dead sadly, but that gave us a good chance to examine it closely. It’s scales were gold on its upper-side and it was black underneath.

The weather was a bit mixed. When the sun shone, with trees on three sides but open to the south, the site was a lovely sun-trap. When it rained, we had the marquee to use, to which we added another tent to give a sort of T-shaped affair…

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For the kids there are pedal go-karts, grass sledges, giant jenga, and giant kerplunk (all provided on site), plus badminton, footballs, frisbees and bikes which we’d brought ourselves. There are huge barbecues and fire-pits on site too, which got good use, as well as a place where it’s okay to have a larger fire. Beaver B had ordered in a barrel of Tag Lag beer, which is brewed at the Drunken Duck near Windermere and proved to be very palatable.

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Most importantly, there was lots of good company, both old friends and some we hadn’t met before. A fine time was had by all, I think. I certainly know that I enjoyed myself enormously.

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We had a couple of visitors to our tent over the weekend. On the Friday night there were some comedy attempts to photograph a quite striking green cricket using flash photography (the results are predictably blurred). The following morning I spotted this moth on our awning. There is a species of moth called the Mottled Grey. Since this moth is both grey and mottled, maybe that’s what this is.

In all, a fabulous weekend. The camp site can be booked in sections (as we did) or the whole thing can be block booked (every year a group of bikers have a charity weekend and concert here for example). It can also be booked for daytime use. You only pay per camper. Why not give it a try?

*When Beaver B has appeared here previously, I think he has just been B, but, obviously that gets confusing with our own B. I’m not sure that he will be too enamoured with this sobriquet, but it is how we make the distinction at home, since Beaver B helped run the local Beaver unit when our own B and S were members.

Silver Sapling Weekend

Return to Crummack Dale

Austwick – Flascoe Bridge – Oxenber Wood – Wharfe Wood – Wharfe – Moughton Whetstone Hole – Moughton Scars – Beggar’s Stile – Crummack – Norber Sike – Austwick.

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Ingleborough and Moughton from Oxenber Wood.

A walk with our friends M and S (seniority has had to give way to propriety here). They live on the edge of the Lakes and haven’t explored the Dales much, I was anxious to take the rest of the family to see Crummack Dale, the forecast was good, so all-in-all, this walk seemed ideal.

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Heading down towards Higher Bark House (we would soon turn left). Moughton Scar and Pen-y-ghent beyond.

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Red Admiral.

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Waterfall on Wharfe Gill Sike (another Lune tributary).

The kids were chatting away, somewhat ahead of the adults – we were talking about Ash dieback, I’m not sure what was keeping them occupied – when I noticed that they’d all stopped and looked rather hesitant. Here’s why…

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….fortunately, he didn’t seem very bothered by our presence.

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Wharfe.

One reason for choosing to repeat a walk very similar to one I’d only recently done was my anticipation of plentiful Raspberries on the track out of Wharfe. Everyone tucked in, but nobody seemed to relish them quite as much as me, and I got left well behind.

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Bridge over Austwick Beck.

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A ford on the path. This small stream, between Studrigg and Hunterstye, unnamed on the OS map, is another Lune tributary.

After his foraging lesson in North Wales, Little S recognised the leaves of Sorrel on the path here and decided to educate the rest of the party.

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Knotgrass Caterpillar.

We weren’t the only one enjoying the Sorrel – almost inevitably it was B who spotted this colourful creepy-crawly.

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This stream flows from Moughton Whetstone Hole to join Austwick Beck and therefore is another source of the Lune. 

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Ingleborough from Moughton Scars.

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And again.

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Looking back along the scars, Pendle Hill in the distance.

Little S had bashed his leg against a bench by Austwick Beck and since then had been limping theatrically, whenever he remembered to, alternating legs from time to time. He loves hopping about on Limestone Pavements however and now underwent a remarkable recovery which enabled his foot-dragging pace to increase to a run.

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The view from just below Beggar’s Stile. Again, Pendle Hill on the horizon.

Although B is very adept at spotting wildlife, and his powers of observation are usually acute, they don’t always seem to function: when I pointed out Pendle Hill and asked him if he had noticed its bulk looming over the Scout Camp where he had spent the previous week he looked at me blankly.

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Roe Deer Buck – the sheep behind gives a good idea of their size: they aren’t very big.

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Heading back down to Austwick. The stream at the bottom is Norber Sike, you guessed it, another Lune Tributary! Obsessed? Who me?

Return to Crummack Dale

Return to the Rivals

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As a precursor to climbing Yr Eifl we visited a couple of its satellite summits, both north-west of the main summit and both unnamed on the OS map. The first, at around 250m, has only a couple of contours of its own, but is perched right above the sea and has spectacular views, even on a cloudy day.

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Porth y Nant.

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Nant Gwrtheyrn.

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Waterfall on Graig Ddu.

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These two summits were the remaining targets of the walk. Yr Eifl is on the right of the picture, but first we were headed for the smaller peak on the left. The route up it from here was virtually pathless, bouldery and quite rough going.

By comparison, the longer climb onto Yr Eifl itself was relatively easy. Sadly the top was in cloud when we arrived. We had tantalising glimpses of views through rents in the cloud and soon had better on our descent when we dropped below the cloud again.

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In fact it was brightening up and because we’d had an early start we were able to enjoy a sunny afternoon on the campsite and the beach. The hill in the middle distance in the photo above is Mynydd Carnguwch, which we’ve yet to visit, an omission which we should surely be aiming to correct.

We last visited Yr Eifl back in 2012, when we also climbed Tre’r Ceiri, which has the remains of an amazing hill-fort.

Return to the Rivals