Slightly Blurred

Clark’s Lot – Hollin’s Lane – Slackwood Lane – Leighton Moss – Trowbarrow Quarry – Eaves Wood

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In like a lion, they say of March, but if I remember right, this had been a very pleasant day, although sadly, a Wednesday spent at work. I had the idea that I would get out and catch some sunshine, but, as you can see from the photo above, by the time I reached Clark’s Lot, only a few minutes from home, the sun was already sinking behind the trees.

Slightly blurred photos of Long-Tailed Tits have become an irregular feature of this blog. Here is another example of the genre…

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Generally, the problem is their propensity to flit about relentlessly, but this was a remarkably relaxed Long-Tailed Tit content to sit still whilst I took three photos. Sadly, the auto-focus trained in perfectly on the branches just in front of the Bumbarrel. Even when the tit moved on, it rested in new positions, allowing me to take more photos, but in high branches, silhouetted against the sky, it came out very dark. It was obviously some kind of Zen Long-Tailed Tit however.

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Down at Leighton Moss the Starlings were gathering for the roost, which isn’t the massive affair of earlier in the winter, but still worth watching.

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On the Sunday before, I’d been out for a walk in unpromising conditions, leaving my camera at home since rain looked so imminent. I hadn’t intended to stay out long, but in the end, had a great walk, on a circular route I don’t think I’ve ever walked before. (Which says a great deal about the wealth of options in this area). At Hawes Water there had been four Cormorants on the trees where I saw one not so long ago. Later it began to rain, but at Leighton Moss I was cheered by an abundance of spring fungi, Scarlet Elf Cup…

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Which was why I wanted to return to Leighton Moss, now that I had my camera with me. Whist I was taking this photo, this Robin…

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…surprised me by practically landing on my shoulder.

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At Trowbarrow there were some climbers still bouldering despite the gathering gloom, and in Eaves Wood, when it was almost dark, I met a couple of dog walkers. I wasn’t the only one thinking that it was good to be out.

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Slightly Blurred

Three is the Magic Number

A Three Walk Day: A wander in Eaves Wood – The Cove and The Lots – Clark’s Lot and the Lots again (with a very excited Little S)

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Another Gatekeeper (they are everywhere now that I know to look out for them).

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Ringlet.

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We’ve had two Roe Deer fawns in our garden quite recently. This buck crossed my path in Eaves Wood. I’m sure that I’ve said this before on the blog, but the golden colour of their summer coat is stunning.

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The Cove.

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Morecambe Bay and Humphrey Head.

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Bettony.

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Bird’s-foot trefoil.

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Lady’s Bedstraw.

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Comma.

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The Comma was photographed in our garden, not on any of the three walks, in an interlude whilst I was cutting the grass.

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Why three walks?

Well, why not?

I was pleasantly surprised when Little S volunteered to join me for the final stroll of the day. He was almost frantic with anticipation for the coming few days.

Why was he so excited?

Because: school was set to finish, we were about to go away to the coast and if that wasn’t enough, his birthday, and his birthday party,  were imminent. He didn’t pause once for breath on that final, late stroll, but chatted incessantly, as he is wont to do. I think if he hadn’t, he might have exploded.

 

 

 

Three is the Magic Number

The Three Amigos Ride Again

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It’s quite a long time since CJ, X-Ray and I have been out for a stroll together. Back in 2010 it seems, although we started a walk together in January 2011, but X-Ray turned back for the comforts of the tea-shop. It was very satisfying then, that the team were back together at the end of last week. Here we are – I’m represented by my rucksack – on the summit of Whitbarrow. We’d parked near Witherslack Hall and took the relatively steep ascent from there.

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Kent Estuary and Arnside Knott from Whitbarrow.

The walk southwards along the plateau is delightfully easy walking and the Kent Estuary and the small hills of home loom larger in the view as the distance closes.

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Field Scabious (I think).

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As we dropped down through the trees towards the village we came across this mystery…

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Something hanging in netting from a tree. Artwork?

We passed through the village of Beck Head and visited the Hikers’ Rest Self Service Cafe which I first came across on a family walk just after Christmas.

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CJ, who wasn’t carrying a rucksack, bought himself a bottle of water. The cafe is well-stocked with reading material. Here X-Ray is reading a randomly selected sentence from The Complete Sherlock Holmes. From that clue, CJ correctly identified the story as The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk. Quite a party trick.

We strung some paths and lanes together, across the Winster valley, to reach the Derby Arms for lunch. The beer was good, the sun continued to shine (rather contrary to the forecast) and the food, particularly the Thai Chicken Broth, was vey palatable.

At that point CJ had to speed back to the cars, needing to make an assignation at Oxenholme Station prior to a planned wild-camp at Sprinkling Tarn, so took the direct route via the road. X-Ray and I took a slightly more circuitous route.

First stop was Latterbarrow, where the wildflowers were stunning (I can’t think why I didn’t take any photos)

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Meadow Browns.

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A pleasant walk through woods brought us to Witherslack Church, also known as Barwick’s Church…

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There’s a little more about this church in this post about my first visit back in 2010 with B.

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We sat in the churchyard for a while and I watched this Red-Tailled Bumblebee’s progress around the flowerbeds.

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One final short, steep climb over Yewbarrow and a steady descent brought us back to the car. We still had one final treat in store however: a fox cub strayed on to the road as we drove back down the valley.

A very fine walk; hopefully our next outing will come around less than six years from now.

The Three Amigos Ride Again

Free Lunch

Across the fields and the golf course to Leighton Moss – Free Lunch – Home via Myer’s Allotment

Silverdale has an annual food fair, a recent innovation, and this year TBH won a voucher there in the raffle, exchangeable for lunch for two in the cafe at the Leighton Moss visitors’ centre. The boys were, indeed are, still at school, but TBH and A had now finished so the three of us wandered over for a bite. When we got there, it was to find that their electricity was off due to some work being done by the suppliers, but the centre has photo-valtaic panels and they seemed to be coping remarkably well. A enjoyed her humus and falafel wrap, despite it being ‘too leafy’ and TBH and I both loved our prawn salad.

TBH couldn’t be induced to venture onto the reserve (and to be fair, we did need to get home for the boys return from school) but the promise of striking Cinnabar Moth caterpillar lured TBH and A to join me in visiting Myer’s Allotment on our return journey. Here they are…

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…enjoying the view from the top of the hill.

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There was plenty to see within the reserve too.

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Rock Rose.

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Harebells.

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Self-heal.

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A lone Common Red Soldier Beetle – must be hunting!

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Normal service is resumed! Caption competition anyone? I think that those contrasting antennae are very expressive.

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Hoverfly on Ragwort.

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Bumblebee on Ragwort.

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Meadow Brown.

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I suppose the Meadow Brown is one of or drabbest butterflies. But I have to confess that I’m still captivated none-the-less.

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Damselfly.

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Red-tailed Bumblebee.

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Gatekeeper  Butterfly and Common Red Soldier Beetle.

Ardent followers of Beating the Bounds, if such a beast exists, will have seen photographs of Gatekeepers many times before; most, if not all, taken in North Wales, where we camp each summer and where Gatekeepers are extremely common. In fact I associate them with that area, because I’ve always assumed that we don’t get them here. Oops. Wrong again. Mea culpa.

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I almost missed this Gatekeeper too. It was resting low on Ragwort, very still, with its wings folded and very close to the ground. The dark patches are apparently scent scales and are only found on males.

I was studying that particular Ragwort because of its other residents…

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Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.

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There weren’t as many caterpillars evident as there had been on my previous visit, but there were enough to make good on my promise. Not that it mattered particularly; A was very happy photographing butterflies with her iPod. Nice to see that the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree!

Free Lunch

Along the Margin of a Bay – to Far Arnside for the Daffodils

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A lot of words and/or worms in recent posts. Less of each of those in this one. Simply put, this was a family Sunday afternoon stroll, with the added company of our friend L at least until her knees were bothering her too much and she turned back, which was a shame because that meant she missed Far Arnside, which is the best place within walking distance for wild daffodils.

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I tend to think of fungi as principally an autumnal delight, but there are plenty of spring fruiting types too and we found quite a few on this short wander.

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Earthballs.

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Arnside Tower

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B has a real genius for finding small creatures. This handsome spider…

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…was inside a hollow plant stem.

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Inkcaps.

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Crepuscular rays over the Bay.

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I wasn’t particularly confident that the daffs would be flowering. But some of them were.

In the caravan park by the woods the zoom on the camera helped to confirm that a tiny bird in a hedge was a goldcrest, the first I’d seen for a while, or at least the first I could be certain of. By coincidence, I’ve seen one again today – I watched it through a window at work for a while.

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Along the Margin of a Bay – to Far Arnside for the Daffodils

Where The Wild Things Were.

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The clocks go forward the clocks go back: a flurry of posts and momentarily I’m almost up to date, but then, wham – all of a sudden I’m miles behind again. How did that happen? It’s not all bad – partly it’s because I’ve been managing to get out quite a bit, even if only for a few snatched moments here and there. So – lots of catching up to do and how am I going to begin? With a digression of course!

Libraries.

Library – a building or room containing collections of books, periodicals, and sometimes films and recorded music for use or borrowing by the public or the members of an institution

(You knew that obviously, I seemed to have strayed into the beginning of a round from The Unbelievable Truth there.)

A while back, I took the kids to the village library – which is small but perfectly formed, as they say – so that they could return some books. Now I don’t often use the library these days, or the larger library in Lancaster either. I have a bit of a second-hand book buying habit, to the point where the house is slowly silting-up with the accumulated piles of as-yet-unread, but never-the-less highly desirable old books I’ve smuggled in. But whilst I was at the library I thought to check the non-fiction shelf for a recently published book about the history of Leighton Moss I’ve been wanting to read. Rather surprisingly, it wasn’t there. But what I did find….

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…encouraged me to rediscover the library habit.

Once upon a time, the local library was pretty much the centre of my universe. It wasn’t the same village library – this was on Paget Street in Kibworth, where I grew up. A slightly bigger library in a slightly bigger village. We visited often, and I can remember the layout well. One end of the building was dedicated to children’s books. I can even remember reading Where The Wild Things Are there, although it was the terrific pictures of the wild things which stuck with me rather than any details of the story. I also vividly recall getting my own library tickets and being trusted to walk the half-mile into the village on my own to choose books. And then greedily devouring those books and taking them back almost immediately after borrowing them. I often read surreptitiously into the night, long after I was supposed to be asleep. Later, I can remember deciding that I had outgrown the children’s section and making what felt like a huge journey across to the other side of the room to try the books for grown-ups.

Anyway, talking of books for grown-ups, here’s a recommendation: the first of the library books I read was ‘A Buzz in the Meadow’ by Dave Goulson. I’ve been on the look out for his ‘A Sting in the Tale’ since, Emily reviewed it on her Adventures in Beeland blog. If you believe the blurb on ‘A Buzz in the Meadow’, it’s about a meadow in France that Goulson owns and the insects which live there. But that’s very far from all of the story. The meadow and farm house which he bought form a convenient frame for a whole load of other stuff.

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Not unlike the way in which I’m going to attempt to string a series of digressions around these pictures from a post-work walk. It was a fairly digressive walk in itself: I was tempted away from the main path around Haweswater by primroses, up a narrow trod which climbs through what I think an Orienteer might class as a slight reentrant. Because the boys and I have previously found badger trails in this area, I’ve often assumed that this path is another of those, but the shotgun casings, oddly out-of-place in a National Nature Reserve, had me reconsidering. The woods are wonderfully unkempt hereabouts, with fallen branches and fungi-decked trunks on every side.

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And some curious odds and ends of human detritus lying about too..

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I followed a very faint path, losing it and then regaining it from time to time. This is it…

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…it wasn’t especially obvious. Not like these…

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…Scarlet Elf Cup.

Their parabolic surfaces, as vivid as a guardsman’s regimental tunic, focus the feeble heat of the winter sun on thousands of minute, flask-shaped sporangia embedded in their surface, which respond by discharging a silent fusillade of invisible spores.

from The Guardian Country Diary

‘A Buzz in the Meadow’ has a section about the way that some flowers can generate heat. Parts of cuckoo pint flowers can feel quite warm to the touch apparently, a fact that I look forward to checking soon. In fact the book is full of really surprising and fascinating facts about the kinds of flora and fauna you might easily overlook.

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Found sculpture: a tangle of twigs – some fallen, some live – suspended like a natural mobile.

In a second section, Goulson moves on to the web of interconnections, not all of them perfectly understood, between the many denizens of his land.

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A query: at the base of tree – some….foam? What could have caused it?

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I was still clinging to the notion that I might be following a badger highway. But there was a high deer fence around an area of coppicing to my left. And bird-boxes liberally distributed around this part of the wood…

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So I was probably deluding myself. But then we’re good at that aren’t we? The last section of Goulson’s book is about the alarming rate at which the world is losing entire species: how we’ve almost entirely eradicated megafauna, how new pesticides are are scandalously harming our bees…..

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According to last Friday’s paper 10 percent of European bee species are threatened, but it’s worse for bumble bees, with the figure rising to 25 percent. In China bees are already so scarce that children are employed in orchards to climb the trees and pollinate blossoms using brushes. We’re depressingly adept at thinking of ourselves as somehow apart from nature; that the natural world is either something to be exploited or something to be managed and preserved. But we are part of those webs of interconnectedness, whether we acknowledge that fact or not and it must be in our own self-interest to modify our behaviour before it’s too late.

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It was getting quite late on my walk and a bit gloomy in the woods. I’ve been enjoying the way the birdsong is gradually swelling, with more birds adding their voices each week. The song thrushes are very vocal in the evenings at present. I was impressed with the way the camera caught this one, despite the low light and the tangle of surrounding branches.

But then equally frustrated by my inability to get it to focus properly on the small nubs appearing at the base of this tree, as they do every year.

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They were the emerging spears of another spring curiosity – toothwort – a parasitic flower without leaves, which gathers nourishment from the roots of the tree below.

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I finished my wander with a view of Haweswater and back to the car.

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There used to be a path across this meadow….

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…but something has changed and now it doesn’t drain as it did, and even in wellies I found I had to go around.

I should at this point have gone home for my tea, since I was needed quite soon for a football-training-taxi-run. But I decided I just about had time to catch the sunset over The Bay…

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Meanwhile my Mum tells me that the library in her village is scheduled to shut soon. Not an uncommon occurrence I know, in these straitened times. But this is a particularly crazy plan, since this library has hardly been there for long, a brand-spanking new facility was only recently built. Now it will shut.

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I hope we won’t wait to find that miss what we had when it’s gone.

Where The Wild Things Were.

Haverbrack, Beetham Fell, Lunch at the Ship.

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A couple of posts back, I was waxing lyrical (well trying to anyway) about four consecutive Sundays of really superb weather last November. The first was spent climbing Clough Head and Great Dodd on my own, the second on Dale Head and Hindscarth with a gaggle of old friends, and this, the last of them, saw me strolling over Haverbrack and Beetham Fell with the family.

“But, hang on,” I hear you cry, “that’s only three!”

Very sharp of you to notice – the missing sunny Sunday, probably the sunniest of the lot, was devoted to a huge rugby tournament at Sedbergh School. Naturally, I was there in my capacity as chauffeur to B, our budding sportsman. It was highly enjoyable watching him play a succession of matches, although the views of the sunlit Howgill Fells towering over the town did have me champing the bit somewhat.

Anyway, on that fourth Sunday, we were parked at Sandside on the minor lane which runs just back from the main road along the Kent estuary between Arnside and Milnthorpe. We picked up a path opposite a building which, until then, I hadn’t realised houses the offices of both Rock + Run and Marmot UK. Well there’s a thing.

Haverbrack is one of the small limestone hills in our small AONB. Employees of the aforementioned gear retailers can no doubt jog up and down it easily in their lunch break. If they were to do so, they would get a great view of the river Kent, and of the hills beyond, although, if they were also going to take photos of that view they should probably do it before they’ve passed the trees which grow near the top. As you can see above, I forgot to do that. You’ll have to take my word for the fact that it is a cracking viewpoint – another one of those Small Hills With A Disproportionately Great View.

Or, come to think of it, I could just slide in an old photo from the summer of 2011:

On top of the hill there’s a small concrete bunker which I assume is a water tank.

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Spindle berries.

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Beetham Fell, and in particular the Fairy Steps, seemed to have ousted Woodwell as the kids’ first choice local destination.

It’s said that if you can ascend the steps without touching the sides then you will get a wish granted, presumably by a local imp or sprite.

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The kids were all adamant that they succeeded.

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I’m not sure what they wished for. Maybe it was for a really huge lunch, in which case the resident imp is highly efficient, but more of that anon.

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The views from Beetham Fell are quite limited because of the blanket of trees which cover most of the hill, but you do get a view of Arnside Knott and Hampsfell across the Kent estuary.

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“Look Dad, a cave.”

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There’s a second rock band on the hillside below the Fairy Steps. Again, the path finds an impressive way through them.

I’ve mentioned this large gate hinge which is fixed to the rock wall of the natural passageway, but I know that I often manage to walk past it without noticing that it’s there.

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I wonder whether this is a remnant of the times when this route was the corpse road between Arnside and Beetham – bodies were carried to the church at Beetham for burial before Arnside had its own cemetery.

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At the bottom of the hill, you’ll find Hazelslack Farm and the remains of its peel tower.

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The original plan had been to lunch in Arnside, but it was getting late so we changed our plan and walked along the embankment of the old railway line by the estuary.

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Arnside Knott.

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River Kent and Whitbarrow Scar.

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Which quickly brought us to the Ship.

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When I lived in Arnside I used to walk here for lunch quite often, but I haven’t been back for a long time.

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The meal was excellent, both tasty and very generous. I can see us going back there.

It wasn’t much of a stroll from the pub back to our car. The others opted to head home, but my appetite for fresh air and sunshine wasn’t fully sated yet and so, with no too much light left, I took a lift part way and then walked the rest of the way home.

Low winter sun…

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….fuels one of my favourite photographic obsessions – back-lit leaves….

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Usually I use the camera’s macro facility and try to get the lens as close to the leaf as I can whilst still framing the photo satisfactorily. On this occasion I couldn’t reach to do that and so used the telephoto instead, which produced a completely different effect. Which gives me another avenue to pursue!

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Oyster mushrooms.

I took the path along the edge of Silverdale Moss, which follows a section of the Trough, a fault which passes across the area where mudstone has eroded away between two surrounding beds of limestone. It’s not particularly pronounced here, but it was enough, with the trees around it too, to cut out the sun, and suddenly it was very cold. The tree-tops above me were still catching the last rays of the sun however.

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Once past Haweswater I came out of the trees to see the woods given a kind of late autumn blush by the lowland equivalent of Alpenglow.

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Unusually, I could see the trees reflected in Haweswater too…

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Haverbrack, Beetham Fell, Lunch at the Ship.