Ampersand Mountain

Adirondacks Day 9

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TBH on Ampersand Mountain.

Time for another family hike.

We parked in the same place as we had for our first swim from Ampersand Beach. The route was very straightforward – up and back on a well-marked trail.

Initially, the going was fairly level, and the path crossed several small streams.

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One of three rickety bridges on the path.

The bridges seemed a bit superfluous, but I suspect that, at other times of the year, the streams have a great deal more water in them.

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Toadstool.

Eventually, the gradient rapidly increases and in some places the going was very steep…

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Steep and rocky.
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TBH on tree-root steps.
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Tantalising glimpses.

As we approached the top, there were glimpses through the trees of the views to come.

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Large fungi.

Also, close to the top, there is a jumble of huge boulders, which were too much to resist for the DBs (it’s fair to say that the DBs ranks had swollen to five)

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Clambering on huge boulders.
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The path skirts beneath one of the boulders.

At one point, there was a very small rock step, maybe 10′ at most, which had to be climbed. TBH and I used tree roots again. It can’t have been that difficult – Prof A had challenged the DBs to get to the top without using their hands and they managed it some how.

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The last part of the ascent.

The final part of the climb was steep and rocky again, but still just a walk.

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The view over the Saranac Lakes.

The views were amazing. I think that this was the day when Prof A pointed out the Green Mountains in Vermont. In honesty, I’m not sure how far away they are, but it felt like we could see forest, lakes and mountains stretching on for ever.

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More views.
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Pano.

It was really pretty warm in the sunshine. Too much so for Coco, who doesn’t generally seem to be very fond of water, but clearly needed to cool down on this occasion…

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Coco cooling off.

Ampersand has a second top and Prof A was keen to head that way for a quiet lunch spot. We could see that there was nobody on the other top, but to get there we had to drop down another small rock step. I was confident I could get down safely, but not at all sure I would drag myself back up again, so, unfortunately, had to veto that plan.

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Lunch stop.

Still, our lunch stop had great views.

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Another Pano.
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Ampersand Lake. Seymour Mountain, Seward Mountain and Donaldson Mountain beyond.

Ampersand Lake supposedly resembles an ampersand sign. I can’t see it myself.

South of the lake lie four of the 46. They look very remote, but apparently they can all be knocked off in one day by keen baggers.

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Ampersand Lake pano.
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Retracing our route.
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Another rickety bridge.
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More interesting fungi.

Once again, I took far more fungi shots than have made it in to this post. Most were blurred as usual. I also took some blurred photos, under the trees, of a Scorpion Fly and a Broad-leaved Helleborine, or at least, in each case, something very, very like the species I see close to home. I’m not sure why I was repeatedly so excited when I encountered something which seemed familiar, or which I could partially identify due to its similarity to something I see at home. Perhaps its because I didn’t really expect the things I’ve learned over the years, plodding around my home patch, to be applicable in any way elsewhere.

It was no surprise, on the way down, to find that TBH and I were left even further in the wake of the rest of the party than we had been going up. The others were all keen to cool off with a swim and/or a couple of cold beers at Ampersand Beach….

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Another swim at Ampersand Beach.

The boys had found a plastic box full, I think, with floats and were having great fun ‘fighting’ over it and tipping each other into the water. You can see it on the right of the photo above. I chose to avoid the horse-play and swam out far enough to get out of my depth, which turned out to be quite a long way.

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Dead Man’s Fingers. (I think).
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More fungi.

We didn’t climb any of the 46 whilst we were in the Adirondacks, but Ampersand Mountain is one of the Saranac Six. I think we’re duty bound now to go back at some point and hike the remaining five? That must be a rule, surely?

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Ampersand Mountain

Rock Pond

Adirondacks Day 8 Part 1

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Rock Pond

Just south of Stony Creek Pond there are two smaller ponds – Pickerel Pond and Rock Pond. On this particular morning Prof A and his lads were busy (I’m afraid I can’t remember what they were busy with) and Prof S had work to do, so we had a little family trip out together.

It was (or should have been) a simple affair: drive along a dirt road to a small parking area…

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The dirt road.

Walk about a half a mile along a path through the woods…

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Fungus.

Each day seemed to bring an even greater variety of shapes, sizes and colours of fungi. This day in particular seemed to yield some very bright specimens in reds and yellows, but once again many of my photos are blurred.

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Weird looking fungus.
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Big fungus.

When we reached the lake a very faint path turned along the shore to the left.

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Rickety ladder.

Although we didn’t see any other people whilst we were out, we did see this ladder as evidence that other people do come here. We were a bit puzzled by it as the water around the boulder seemed a bit shallow to jump in to.

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The Rock Pond rocks challenge.

Prof A had challenged the DBs to get out to the farthest boulder without getting wet, which proved to be impossible since some of the stepping stones in between were submerged.

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Rock Pond.

The pond is well named since it is surrounded by large boulders, with a lot more boulders in the water too. It was an idyllic spot, which, as I say, we had completely to ourselves. Amazing. B and I had a swim to the prominent boulders which you can perhaps make out in the photos above on the left-hand side. TBH and S chose to sunbathe instead.

And that should be where the story ends, except….

As we walked back, B and I waited just after we had turned away from the water, to see if TBH and S would attempt to take the non-existent path straight ahead along the lakeside. They did. I should have taken that as a warning.

For some reason, TBH lingered as we walked back and the DBs and I arrived back at the car without her. We waited. We waited some more. And then I went into full-on panic mode and ran back along the path shouting every few yards. When I say ran, I mean jogged obviously. As fast as I could manage, which is to say just a bit quicker than the boys who followed me at a walk. Nothing. Neither sight nor sound of TBH. Somehow she had managed to wander off the path. Fortunately, as we made our way back she heard us and disaster was averted. Phew!

Anyway, Rock Pond is a stunning spot for a swim and I hope I shall go back there some day. Next time however, I shall make a trail of breadcrumbs.

Rock Pond

Big Crow and Little Crow Mountains

Adirondacks Day 5 Part 2

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B enjoying the views.

Time for an afternoon stroll.

“While steep in spots, this short hike to the summit of Big Crow offers one of the Adirondacks‘ best views for the least effort.”

This from the Lake Placid tourist website. I’m always keen for a Small Hill with Disproportionately Good Views. Having said that, at 857 metres, Big Crow probably wouldn’t count as small in the UK, but the point is that the car park, Crow Clearing, is at 670m so the ascent is not huge. On the drive up to Crow Clearing I started to lose faith in our phone navigation app when the surfaced road gave way to a dirt track, but I needn’t have worried, we were in the right spot.

The woods here seemed to be particularly well stocked with fungi of a wide variety of shapes and colours, but once again my photos were not very successful.

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Odd looking fungi – seemed to be a Big Crow speciality.
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Leaf miner patterns?

Leaf miners are the larval stage of various insects which live inside, and eat, leaves. The patterns are very common, but I don’t recall seeing any as aesthetically pleasing as these before.

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Steep in spots.
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A flowering shrub.
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Hurricane Mountain (dead centre). Giant to the right (I think) and…?

The views will have to speak for themselves. They really were superb, with ranks of high hills all around. Cascade and Pitchoff are relatively nearby so I ought to be able to pick those out, you’d think, but I can’t.

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Hills, hills…
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…and more hills.
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Pano.

Not only were there hills in every direction, but woods too stretching as far as the eye could see.

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The hill in the foreground here is Little Crow Mountain.
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Having a rest.
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Hurricane and Giant.

Hurricane Mountain was the closest hill, with a route also starting from Crow Clearing (a much longer route admittedly). Back at the house, Prof A had a book of walks in the Adirondacks which I had a very thorough peruse of. The author listed her top ten walks in the area, and the ascent of Hurricane Mountain was one of those. So one for next time.

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Hurricane Mountain pano.
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‘Little’ S and TBH.

TBH and Prof S took Coco the dog and turned back for the cars, whilst the rest of us took a different route down, over Little Crow Mountain.

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Descending towards Little Crow Mountain.

It was steep. Very steep in places.

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Little Crow pano.
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Looking back to Big Crow Mountain.
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Leaving Little Crow.

If I remember correctly, there was no view at all from the summit of Little Crow Mountain, but on the way down we had more views again, due to the rocky ledges we crossed.

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Gathering clouds.

Many of my photos from our stay in the Adirondacks show quite cloudy skies. I suppose we did have some mixed weather, but generally the weather didn’t really impinge on our activities. But this time it was evident that rain was imminent.

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‘Little’ S photographing the clouds. They were much more dramatic than my photos suggest.

We did eventually get caught by the rain, but under the trees it wasn’t as bad as it might have been, and the heavens didn’t really open until just as we emerged on to the road, where TBH and Prof S were waiting for us in the cars.

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Clouds clearing.

They took us to the home of Prof A’s aunt, who lives nearby on a hillside above the village of Keene. This is the view from the balcony as the rain clouds cleared and the sun was setting.

Big Crow and Little Crow Mountains

Hanging Around I

Adirondacks Day 5 Part 1

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The House.

Every holiday needs a bit of down time, a chance to relax and do nothing much. It’s a forte of mine. One morning, the rest of the party upped-sticks and headed out to do…..something energetic no doubt. I opted to stay at the ranch and read my book. I’d been reading ‘Freedom’ by Jonathon Franzen, but I think by now I had switched to ‘Anathem’ by Neal Stephenson, which was equally brilliant and enjoyable but in a completely different way. Like the other books of his I’ve read, it was very thought provoking, but at the same time a ripping-yarn. Anyway, I was intending to read my book, but I was distracted by a flock of Bluejays which were flitting about in the trees surrounding the property and occasionally venturing onto the lawns. I have several very odd photographs of patches of lawn, a wheelbarrow, trees etc which if you stare hard enough reveal a small, distant patch of blue which, with imagination, might just about be a bird.

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Japanese Beetles.

There was always something to see around the house. The Japanese beetles were always about. Likewise damselflies and dragonflies. There were a large variety of toadstools…

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Fungi.

…both on the lawns and beneath the trees. Squirrels could be heard chattering in the trees most of the time, and we occasionally saw them; diminutive, red squirrels which seemed to be permanently angry about something or other. There were deer about too, although they were quite elusive in the trees. One memorable, moonlit night we heard a cacophony of coyotes howling. It’s probably a cliche to say that the sound was eerie, but…well, it was eerie.

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Harvestman.

Harvestmen were ubiquitous, particularly on the garage doors for some reason. Butterflies would occasionally flutter by, but I very rarely managed to catch up with them. This was a rare exception…

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A Fritillary.

It’s obviously a fritillary, but which kind? I thought a quick bit of internet research would help, although given how difficult I’ve generally found fritillaries to identify in the past, I’m not sure why I thought that. It turns out that in the Adirondacks there are three fritillaries – the Aphrodite Fritillary, the Great Spangled Fritillary and the Atlantis Fritillary which are very difficult to distinguish between. I think this was one of those.

When the others got back from whatever they’d been up to, TBH was keen to take the dog for a short walk along the track.

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Stony Creek Pond.

Prof A had already warned us that the track over the bridge was private, and in case we weren’t sure roughly every two yards, on both sides of the track, there were lengthy notices pinned to trees warning of the dire consequences of trespassing. However, TBH wanted to see the view from the bridge and once she has an idea in her head there’s not much which will deflect her. She assured me that injunctions on the signs were, improbably, against leaving the track and entering the trees. So we went to look at the view from the bridge. The top photos shows the channel linking the different parts of the pond. On satellite images it looks like a narrower stretch of the pond, but when we paddled through it, perhaps because of the vegetation growing in the water and the obvious flow, it felt more like a river or stream joining two separate ponds.

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Stony Creek Pond. Looking North.

At the back of the pond here you can see the island we had paddled beyond, and which B and I had swum to.

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Another butterfly patient enough to be photographed from very close range. Eyed Brown?
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B and M taking the canoe for a spin.
Hanging Around I

Pitchoff Mountain and Balanced Rocks

Adirondacks Day 4

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The steep initial start to the trail.

The rest of the party were heading for a tree-top swinging, zip-line soaring adventure, not really my scene, so, having listened to a few recommendations, I opted for this shortish route. TBH and I had driven through the pass where I needed to park on our way back from Massachusetts the night before, so I was well aware of the many set of roadworks on the route, but parking was at a premium and, having failed to find a spot, I still managed to get into those roadworks and then had to drive through three sets of lights before I found a lay-by where I could pull-off and turn around and come back through all three sets again. When I did eventually manage to pull-off the road and park I was very close to the trailhead. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that and walked a long way back along the road, in the wrong direction, looking for the path. Still, I eventually got started, into the deep shade of the woods.

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False Solomon’s-seal.

My friend the EWO, once told me, decades ago, that he didn’t like walking in woods because of the absence of views. He may well have revised his opinion by now. Anyway, I suppose the lack of views made me focus even more than I usually would on the plants and fungi growing under the canopy. I was struck, for instance, by how much this plant resembled our own Solomon’s-seal. Obviously, I’m not the first to have noticed.

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False Solomon’s-seal.
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Fungi.
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Fungus-mungous.
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Chipmunk.

I think I saw about five Chipmunks during this walk. It was a bit of a fool’s errand attempting to photograph them with my phone, but that didn’t stop me trying.

Obviously vistas of any kind were a bit of a rarity, but at one point the path was close to a steep drop and the views opened up.

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Cascade Mountain.

Perhaps because views were far and few between, when they did come I relished them all the more. I took a lot of photographs of Cascade Mountain that day. It’s apparently regarded as the easiest of The 46 – the mountains in the Adirondacks of over 4000′. Of which there are, you’ve guessed it, twenty-seven. Just joshing – there are forty-six of course. Ticking-off the 46 is just as much an Adirondack preoccupation as Munro-bagging is in Scotland.

Something about this ‘wasp’ made me suspect that what I was seeing was actually a moth, a wasp mimic.

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Raspberry Crown Borer Moth.

I now believe that it’s a Raspberry Crown Borer Moth, a clearwing moth whose larvae bore into the stems of brambles and raspberry plants, causing a lot of damage to fruit-crops apparently.

Parts of the climb were very steep, with one short section bordering on scrambling, on very loose ground where the best hand and footholds were exposed tree-roots. Eventually however, I reached the broad ridge and turned right – which took me downhill and onto an open rocky area with sudden expansive views.

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Cascade Mountain.
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Cascade Mountain pano.

Continuing down the rocky ridge a little way brought me to Balanced Rocks…

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Balanced Rocks.

I’m not sure if they look it here, but these were pretty big boulders. The views were superb and, initially at least, there was nobody else about. I briefly chased a Monarch butterfly again, and some large grasshoppers, and a pair of chipmunks, in each case without any photos to show for it, before settling down to eat some lunch and enjoy the views.

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Round Lake and the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Bobsled Run.

Somewhere over that way is the small town of Lake Placid where the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games were held.

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Balanced Rocks pano. Cascade Mountain on the right and…lots of other mountains!
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Another pano.
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And another – Cascade on the left Pitchoff on the right.
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Pitchoff Mountain. You can see the steep drop at the edge of the rocks here.

I followed a large dragonfly along this edge, trying to get a photo whilst, at the same time, trying not to lose sight of the drop and fall off.

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Balanced Rocks.
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Round Lake – the open areas are the summer camp which our nephews attend.

Eventually I had company, an all male group (my guess, two brothers and their sons) whom I had passed on the steep approach to the ridge. Here they are on the boulders…

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Balanced Rocks with figures for scale.

It was nice to talk briefly to them. They were blown away by the views, whooping and hollering in a very American way, and their enthusiasm was infectious. I took some group photos for them and then dragged myself away and turned back up the ridge.

I still hadn’t decided whether I would return directly to the car, or continue up the ridge to the top, but when I reached the path junction, I didn’t have to deliberate for long – I wanted to continue up the ridge to the top.

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Toadstool and slug.

Immediately, the path was narrower and evidently less well-used.

The other very obvious difference was the presence of lots of clumps of…

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Indian Pipe.

It was very common along the ridge. Like Toothwort, which pops up in the woods at home in the spring, this is a parasitic plant which has no chlorophyl, hence the completely white stems, flowers etc.

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Liverworts?
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Another toadstool.

The summit of Pitchoff Mountain has no views at all, being crowded by trees. But a very faint path continues along the ridge to another, lower top, so I followed that to try my luck.

This top had a rocky edge, giving clear views in one direction only – you guessed it, toward Cascade Mountain again…

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Cascade Mountain from the Pitchoff Ridge – Pitchoff summit on the right.

Now, it was just a case of retracing my steps back to the road. I was surprised by how tired I felt. When I reached the place on the descent where views opened out to Cascade, I seem to have found a better spot to take a photo. I think I was a bit less circumspect about the exposed drop.

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Cascade Mountain and Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes.

It had been a really superb day, but it didn’t end there. I’d arranged to meet up with the others in the town of Saranac Lake which, of course, sits on the shore of….Flower Lake! (Which, to be fair, is connected by waterway to the complex of Lakes which include Upper, Middle and Lower Saranac Lakes – of which more to follow.)

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Flower Lake, Lake Saranac.

We were there to get pizza. Do a bit of fishing…

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B fishing.

Have a wander around the town (well TBH and I did anyway).

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Dragonfly sculpture.
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Monarch butterfly sculpture.

And enjoy a free concert. I think the band said they were Puerto Rican, so I guess the music was Puerto Rican too. Wherever it originated, it was very good.

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Free music.

The concert was the last in a series of free summer concerts in the town. It was one facet of the very favourable impression of Lake Saranac I came away with.

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Lake Saranac sunset.

The town even has its own bagging challenge, to climb six local mountains: Ampersand, Baker, Haystack, McKenzie, Scarface and St. Regis. For hardy souls there’s a winter version of the challenge too, which I presume would have to be done in snow-shoes. Apparently, the winters are hard here; the lakes and ponds all freeze over and the ski-doo becomes the practical mode of transport.

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Flower Lake moonrise.

Anyway, the Lake Saranac Six sounds like a more manageable target than The 46 and I’d love to come back and climb them all. (Spoiler alert, we did climb one of them – more to follow!)

Pitchoff Mountain and Balanced Rocks

Panther Mountain

Adirondacks Day 3

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Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes.

Here’s B taking his turn with Prof A’s latest toy – a BB gun. Many coke cans were injured in the making of this post. I avoided joining in until pressed, and then, inevitably, was absolutely rubbish. Still, I’ve never felt threatened by coke cans, so I’m not too worried by my repeated failure to shoot one from very short range.

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Harvestman – an arachnid, but not a spider. They shed legs to escape predators which is presumably why this one is missing one of its very long limbs.

We fancied a short outing; Prof A suggested Panther Mountain, which was both nearby and a suitably easy stroll.

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Setting out.
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Just 0.6 miles!
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Chicory?

The roadside verges were resplendent with flowers. I think that these might be Chicory, which came to America with European settlers. Apparently, each flower is actually an inflorescence – a grouping of flowers, and each ostensible petal is in fact five fused petals and a flower in its own right.

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Woodland fungi.

The woods, wherever we went, were full of toadstools of various sizes and hues and I took no end of photos. Sadly, most of them came out rather blurred, I’m not sure why, perhaps due to the deep shade under the trees?

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The summit of Panther Mountain.

It didn’t take long to get to the top, from where there were partial views. Looking at the map now, I can see that Panther Mountain sits by Upper Lake Saranac, but we couldn’t see that at all.

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Partial views.

As you can see it was quite cloudy. We were below the cloud because Panther Mountain is of modest height, about 2200 feet, which makes the climb roughly equivalent to climbing Arnside Knott, given the height of the surrounding countryside. Perfect for a short morning walk.

There was a Monarch butterfly flapping about, I think the first I’ve ever seen. I chased after it with my phone, with no success. Not to worry, I did come across…

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Fox and Cubs.

…these Fox and Cubs, which have made the opposite journey from the Chicory and pop up in our garden. I was perhaps disproportionately pleased to find them in in their home environment.

Some things don’t change: whilst I was pursuing a butterfly, the DBs and their cousins found a boulder to take it in turns to scale…

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King of the Castle.

The boys were persuaded to play hide and seek with their cousins. Meanwhile, my butterfly hunting had brought me down hill to a rocky edge from where I could just about see Panther Pond below…

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Panther Pond.

And an expanse of misty woods and hills…

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Adirondack woods.

Prof A was very good at naming the hills we could see from the hilltops we visited, but without written notes I have no hope of remembering what he told me.

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More fungi.

Another thing which doesn’t change is B’s observational skills.

“Have you seen the weird dragonfly on this bush?” he asked me.

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American Pelecinid Wasp.

I felt reasonably confident that this was more likely to be a wasp than a dragonfly; I was put in mind of the Sabre Wasp I once spotted near Leighton Moss. And so it turns out: this is a female American Pelecinid Wasp. She uses that long abdomen to deposit eggs on grubs living underground. A single egg on each larvae. Her offspring, when they hatch, burrow into the unfortunate grubs and eat them from within.

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Descending.
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Scrambled egg slime?

I suspect that this is Dog Vomit Slime Mold, or Scrambled Egg Slime. I’ve seen this near home too. Apparently it has an almost worldwide distribution. Like other slime molds it can move in search of nutrients.

After our walk, and a bit of lunch, we had a little time before we had to take A back to West Stockbridge. Down to the pond obviously.

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B and M sharing a board again.

M doesn’t stand for mischievous, but it easily could; he was always keen to deposit the others boys in the water at every opportunity.

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A swimming away from the chaos.

TBH and I kept our distance from the high jinx in a canoe.

During our stay the boys came up with various challenges to try. Here S is attempting to back somersault into the water. Or back flip? I’m not sure which.

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S somersaulting. It’s a video: if you click on it, you can find out how successful he was on flickr. (You’ll also hear me lying through my teeth, most unusual.)
Panther Mountain

Birthday Double

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The ‘upper’ path from Far Arnside. Third time running I’d foolowed this path, which I don’t usually use.

Long-suffering readers will know that on, or close to, my birthday I like to climb a hill to celebrate. This year, my Lingmoor walk was just two days before my birthday and a couple of days later I was back in the Little Langdale area with TBH, so I did pretty well.

On the actual day, the forecast was pretty ropey. Never-the-less, we managed to persuade the boys to join us for a walk to Arnside over the Knott. Possibly the promise of a pie in Arnside had some influence on their decision.

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In Far Arnside, we sheltered behind a tall hedge for the duration of a short, sharp hail shower. It was pretty fierce, but also wind-driven so that in the lea of the hedge it came over our heads and we didn’t do too badly.

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Warton Crag, the Bay and Bowland from Heathwaite. I think you can see showers tracking in off the Bay.
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Taking a Heathwaite selfie. Not sure why Little S wasn’t included.
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Far Arnside and The Bay.
As we approached the toposcope on the Knott, the heavens opened again.
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Kent Estuary in the rain.
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River Kent, Cartmel Fell, Gummer How, Yewbarrow and Whitbarrow Scar – bigger fells beyond conspicuous by their absence.

Fortunately, it was another short-lived shower. And the pies and sausage-rolls at the Old Bakehouse went a long-way as compensation for the changeable weather.

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Kent Viaduct. Louring skies.
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Arnside Tower – blue skies!

As I said – a very changeable day.

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Quince.

A had been working on my birthday and so wanted to go for a walk the following day. The weather was similar to the day before and although we had originally planned to go to Arnside for pies again, A eventually decided that a short Eaves Wood stroll would have to suffice.

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TBH and A at the Pepper Pot.

It’s very handy having some little hills on the doorstep to climb when the weather isn’t conducive to a longer expedition!

Birthday Double

Half Term at Home

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The Cove

Not sure what happened during the first half of February. Rain probably; by the bucketload. The most significant thing to happen over half-term is that my parents came to visit, which was terrific – it had been a long while since we had seen them.

I think we had some mixed weather that week, but I managed to get out for several local walks and even saw some blue skies and sunshine.

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View from Castlebarrow.
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Winter Aconites and Snowdrops.
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Snowdrops in Eaves Wood.
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Eaves Wood.
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The ruined cottage in Eaves Wood.
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Hawes Water.
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I wondered whether all the tree-felling by Hawes Water would affect the Snowdrops there, but fortunately it doesn’t seem to have had any impact.

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Snowdrops.
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I know this second photo looks much the same as the first, but there’s an insect on one of the flowers in the centre of the photo. Perhaps a drone fly. I thought it was pretty unusual to see a fly outside in the middle of February.

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Scarlet Elf Cup.
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New rustic picket fence around the restored summer house by Hawes Water.
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This is Jelly Ear Fungus or Wood Fungus. It’s allegedly edible – I have eaten it, in a restaurant years ago and I can’t say I was impressed.

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These black cords, called rhizomorphs, are how Honey, or Bootlace, fungus spreads. They grow beneath the bark of an infected tree, but can also spread beneath the soil to reach new trees. Honey fungus will kill its host tree. I think it’s quite common in this area.

Honey Fungus mushrooms are bioluminescent (the gills glow in the dark), although their ghostly greenish light emissions are usually far too weak to be visible to the human eye in a normal woodland environment, even on a moonless night. To see this effect it is necessary to sit close to some of the mushrooms in total darkness (in a windowless room) until your eyes have become accustomed to the dark and your pupils are fully dilated.

Source

A rash of fungus appears along Inman’s Road, the path along the bottom edge of Eaves Wood, every autumn. I think it’s Honey Fungus. It’s never occurred to me before to bring some home to test the bioluminescence, but I think this year I will.

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Lumpy Bracket fungus?

I think that this might be Lumpy Bracket fungus, partly because in the same way that Jelly Ear fungus usually grows on Elder, this fungus typically grows on Beech, especially stumps, which is exactly what was happening here. Where a large number of Beeches have been (controversially) felled by Hawes Water, many of the stumps now host this fungus.

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Gloucester Old Spot piglets at Hawes Villa farm.

I thought, obviously mistakenly, that Hawes Villa had stopped keeping pigs. Happily, I’m wrong.

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Walking along Bottoms Lane I was struck by the abundance and diversity of the mosses and lichens living in the hedge.

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How many different species here?
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Back in Eaves Wood again.
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By the Pepper Pot.

Because there were cold winds blowing all week, my Dad, who really suffers with the cold, was understandably reluctant to venture out. TBH had the bright idea that the gardens at Sizergh Castle might be relatively sheltered. She was right.

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Family photo – I took several, but none in which everybody managed to look at the camera simultaneously.

A is in a wheelchair – lent to us by the National Trust for our visit – because she had broken a bone in her ankle whilst dancing. Little S (you can see here how diminutive he is!) delighted in pushing her around at great speed and alarming her with his ‘driving’ skills.

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More Snowdrops in the grounds of Sizergh.
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The Winter Aconites again.
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Four fields between Holgates and Far Arnside had been seeded with what looks to me like Ribwort Plantain. A bit of lazy internet research reveals that it can be used as fodder. Certainly, when we’ve been back to the fields, after stock have been introduced, the leaves have been pretty thoroughly stripped off. I read that growing plantain can improve soil structure. And also, more surprisingly, that its seeds are used as a thickening agent in ice-cream and cosmetics.

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Far Arnside.
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Looking to Knowe Point.
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The Bay.
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Grange. Hampsfell behind with a dusting of snow.
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Turning the corner into the Kent Estuary.

The weather le me down a bit here. I walked around the coast in glorious sunshine, but by the time I’d climbed the Knott from White Creek, not the longest of ascents, it had completely clouded over.

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Bit of snow on Arnside Knott too.

And finally, on a very damp final day of the break, the flocks of Starlings which roost at Leighton Moss briefly gathered above the field behind our house, so that we had a grandstand view from our garden.

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Magic!

Half Term at Home

The Aftermath of Arwen

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A post to (almost) clear-up November. On three successive weekends TBH and I got out for short local walks. Here she is on what was evidently a glorious Sunday at the Pepper Pot.

The week before, the day after my exhausting wander around Gait Barrows in the sun, we completed our standard Jenny Brown’s circuit.

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It was a grey day and the only photographs I took were of these large toadstools growing on a tree in Sharp’s Lot.

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On the final weekend in November A had a challenging journey, during storm Arwen, to collect B and I from a do at Kirkby Rugby club. Then, at around 2am, TBH and I were out in the gale, dismantling the trampoline which had begun the evening at the bottom of the garden, but which was now flying around our patio (which is several feet higher than the lawn where it started). The storm did quite a bit of damage – knocking out the downpipe from our gutters, moving a shed a few inches, destroying a section of fence as well as a gate etc. What’s more, we were without electricity for a quite a while – not quite 24 hours.

The path through the fields behind the house was closed due to felled telephone and powerlines, but since I could see all of the fallen lines, and avoid them, I decided to go that way anyway. One of the line of oaks had fallen…

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And another, larger oak was down in the fields between Bottom’s Lane and The Row…

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It was quite sad to see these trees, which I’ve photographed so many times, so swiftly destroyed.

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We were actually meant to be away on this Sunday – TBH had managed to transfer our hotel booking from our postponed anniversary celebration a month before. But we didn’t get off until after dark, because B had an emergency appointment due to a suspected broken nose – a rugby injury. We might as well have gone anyway: the doctor told B that, since his breathing wasn’t affected, he could get his nose straightened out when he stops playing rugby, but not before.

Anyway, we did eventually get away – more about our brief trip in my next post.

The Aftermath of Arwen

Pierrot Peregrinates

Hagg WoodThe Row – Challan Hall – Hawes Water – Challan Hall Allotments – Silverdale Moss – Back Wood – Leighton Beck – Coldwell Meadows – Coldwell Parrock – Gait Barrows – West Coppice – Hawes Water – Challan Hall – Waterslack – Eaves Wood – Inman’s Road

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Autumn colour in Eaves Wood.

Covid laid me up for a little over two weeks. Not a pleasant experience, obviously, but it could have been worse. The first week of that fortnight was half-term, we’d planned to meet up with my Brother, who was over from Switzerland with his kids, and my Mum and Dad. We’d also booked a night away to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. All that went out the window. On the plus side, I did listen to a lot of radio dramas.

I also felt like I’d missed out on a half-term’s worth of walking. So, in mid-November, on the Saturday after my first week back at work, when the skies were virtually cloud free, I was itching to get out for a walk.

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Some Inman Oaks, Farleton Fell and the distant Howgill Fells.

The autumn colours were splendid, and there was fungi in abundance, particularly in Eaves Wood. I very much enjoyed the views and the light and the sunshine and taking lots of photos.

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Spindle berries.
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A Harlequin ladybird.

A drystone wall between the woods around Hawes Water and the meadows by Challan Hall was festooned with Harlequin ladybirds. A non-native species, which arrived in the UK as recently as 2004, they are enormously varied in colour and patterns. The air around the wall was full of them too. As I paused to get some photos with my phone, they began to land on me too. Apparently, they hibernate together in large groups. I assume that this wall, with its many cracks and crevices, is an ideal spot for that.

(Interesting article here)

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Another Harlequin.

Whilst I was enjoying the weather and the sights, the walking was another matter. After about a mile, I was already feeling quite fatigued. Anyone with any sense would have turned back, but I kept walking away from home, getting increasingly tired. In the end, I walked a little over six miles, but the last couple were pretty purgatorial – I felt so tired I was tempted to lie down by the path and have a nap.

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Unidentified fungi growing on the remains of the Cloven Ash.

After this walk, I took it easier for a couple of weekends and have been okay since, except it took a while for my senses of smell and taste to come back, and now that they have some foods which I formerly enjoyed now taste revolting; peanut butter springs to mind, which used to be a favourite. Almonds too. Curiously, the things which taste bad all have the same foul flavour.

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Across Silverdale Moss – Middlebarrow Quarry, Arnside Tower, Arnside Knott.
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Anyway, back to the walk – I was taken by the contrast of the yellow leaves of the Blackthorn thicket and the blue sky behind, but also by the abundance of Sloes on the Blackthorn…

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More Spindle berries.
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Leighton Beck.
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A partial view of Lakeland Fells from Coldwell Meadow.
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Gait Barrows limestone pavement.
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And again.
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This bench, near Hawes Water was very welcome and I sat on it for quite a while, although it was fairly wet.

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Hawes Water.
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Hazel leaves catching the light.
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Another Harlequin.
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King Alfred’s Cakes.
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Tall Beech trees in Eaves Wood.
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Candlesnuff Fungus. Probably.

There was an absolute riot of fungi in Eaves Wood, fascinating to see, but extremely difficult to identify.

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Unusually, I think I’ve enjoyed this walk more in retrospect than I did at the time. Can’t wait for some more bright and sunny days.

Pierrot Peregrinates