Meeting

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

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

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This bee seemed to like them, whatever they were.

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

The second outing was a wander around Hawes Water.

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An ant mound which has been very thoroughly dug over.

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

Meeting

Half-Term Happenings I

February half-term was very busy here at our Country Pile. The Surf’n’slide crew dropped by for the first weekend. My brother and his kids also arrived late on the Saturday and my mum and dad had booked a room at the Silverdale Hotel from Sunday night through till Thursday.

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We had regular Roe Deer visitors in the garden too.

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In the woods by Hawes Water.

The remaining photos are all garnered from the first of two walks we managed to squeeze in on the Saturday.

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On the new Hawes Water boardwalk.

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Gloucester Old Spot pigs at Hawes Water Villa.

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Leighton Moss from the ‘Skytower’.

Andy has a fuller account of this and our other walks that weekend over on his blog. He seems to have taken more photos than I did.


In the summer, I shall be attempting to complete the annual 10 in 10 challenge. Briefly, the idea is to walk a route over 10 Wainwrights in 10 hours or less.  You can find out more here.

The event is a fundraiser and I’m hoping to get some sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. My Just Giving page is here. All donations, however small, will be most welcome. I should add that the sponsorship is not a condition of my entry and that I’ve already paid a fee to enter which covers all costs, so all sponsor money would go directly to charity.

Half-Term Happenings I

Mending Wall

Eaves Wood – Ring O’Beeches – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – Trowbarrow Quarry – Storrs Lane – Red Bridge Lane – Golf Course – Bank Well – Lambert’s Meadow – Burtonwell Wood – Hagg Wood.

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A half-term Monday, no work, not a cloud in the sky: better get out for a local walk!

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In Eaves Wood.

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The circle of beeches.

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Waterslack.

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Woods near Challan Hall.

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Exmoor ponies, used for conservation grazing.

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The only fly in the ointment that day was the new fencing and padlocked gate near Hawes Water. It looked as though the intention will be to keep the public off the grassland which borders the lake which the old boardwalk used to cross. That will protect the habitat of the plants which grow there – Bird’s-eye Primrose at the southern end of its range and Grass of Parnassus for example – but will also mean that people like me who enjoy seeing those plants will no longer enjoy that simple pleasure. I could be wrong of course, I hope I am: the fencing was far from finished and I haven’t yet been back to check.

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,”
from ‘Mending Wall’ by Robert Frost

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The bright sunshine went some way to alleviate my concern about the number of poor photographs of fungi I’ve taken this autumn; with better light the camera coped admirably.

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Birch polyps.

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Hawes Water.

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Trowbarrow Quarry.

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This female pheasant seemed unusually sanguine about my close proximity. I couldn’t decide whether or not she might be sitting on a very late clutch of eggs.

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I rather liked this new (to me) carving on a dead tree by the visitor centre at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve.

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By contrast, the following day the whole family went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach in bitterly cold weather. We’d bought tickets from a charity auction.

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Poor Little S wanted somebody to accompany him on all of the white knuckle attractions, but the rest of us were relatively cowardly. TBH did eventually agree to join him on the ‘Ice Blast’.

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Here they are, both looking very nervous, shortly before being sent hurtling skyward…

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I was up for taking him on ‘The Big One’ – I like rollercoasters, but it was shut due to the high winds. We had to settle for the old rickety wooden ones, which left me feeling pummelled and slightly nauseous. I must be getting old.

Here’s the rest of the family on something much tamer, but wet, which is why I refused to join them.

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To finish, another snippet of my diverse musical taste, in contrast with the previous post, this harks back to the late eighties when I waited eagerly for each addition of Maximumrocknroll where I could discover obscure punk bands, like, for example, Angst.

This song is the opener from their album “Mending Wall’. The fact that the album was named after the Frost poem was what put it into my mind, but I suppose that the song is also tangentially relevant, since it seems to be, in some way, about an inability to adapt to change (although I don’t think padlocked gates at nature reserves are explicitly mentioned). Angst were on SST records, run by Black Flag’s Greg Ginn and home not only of Black Flag, but also of Husker Du (at least for a while), Sonic Youth (for one album I think), the Meat Puppets, Saccharine Trust and a host of others including, best of all in my opinion, the Minutemen. Simply being on the label was recommendation enough for me and most of the records I bought on spec turned out to have been worth a punt.

Do people still become single-mindedly obsessed by the output of a favourite record label? I hope so. I was quietly pleased to see that Maximumrocknroll is still going strong.

Mending Wall

Imagine Dragonflies

Eaves Wood – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Gait Barrows – Moss Lane – Red Bridge Lane – The Row – Hagg Wood

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Hawes Water.

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Cormorant.

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Speckled White.

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Common Darter.

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Eyebright.

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Common Darter.

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Bryony.

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Hart’s-tongue Fern.

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Lily-of-the-Valley.

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Yew.

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Another Speckled Wood.

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Sloes.

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Haw’s.

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Tawny Mining Bee (?) on Devil’s-bit Scabious.

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Migrant Hawker.

A lazy, local walk at the tail end of the summer holidays when the hot, sunny conditions recalled the beautiful weather from earlier in the year. Once again, there were huge numbers of Darters about and lots of Speckled Wood butterflies and I took a ridiculous number of photos of both. There were lots of larger dragonflies about too, but, frustratingly, they wouldn’t pose for photos. On several occasions I almost caught one during a brief pause, perched on bracken or a branch, but, somehow or other, always contrived to miss the moment. I’d almost become resigned to failure, when this beauty flew over my shoulder and landed high on a tree ahead of me. I got one chance and then it flew again. But it made my day.

Imagine Dragonflies

Mouse Will Play

Eaves Wood – Arnside Tower – Far Arnside – Park Point – White Creek – Blackstone Point – New Barns – Copridding Wood – Arnside Knott – Redhill Woods – Hagg Wood – Black Dyke – Silverdale Moss – Gait Barrows – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – Redbridge Lane – The Row – Hagg Wood

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Big clouds and the beach at Far Arnside.

The best day of my solo week was the Thursday, which was windy and changeable, but which also brought quite a bit of sunshine. Because the forecast wasn’t great, I decided to stay close to home again.

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Sloes.

Last autumn, I collected some sloes with a view to making some sloe gin. I was a bit early and the sloes hadn’t had their first frost yet, but I’d read that you can just stick them in the freezer and achieve the same affect, which I duly did. I’m sure that I warned TBH about the sloes. Well, fairly sure. Anyway, she forgot, and added the sloes to her breakfast smoothie one morning, thinking they were frozen blueberries. The resulting smoothie was more crunchy than smooth, being full of bits of the stones from the sloes and it was also mouth-puckeringly tart.

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Marooned tree-trunk.

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I’ve posted pictures of these fossilised corals from Far Arnside a couple of times before.

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They aren’t always easy to find, which doesn’t make much sense, I know, but I was pleased to find them again on this occasion and spent a happy few moments seeking them out on the rocks.

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Vervain?

This delicate and inconspicuous plant bears slender spikes of pale lilac flowers. It is hard to understand why our ancestors regarded such a modest and unassuming plant as immensely powerful.

from Hatfield’s Herbal by Gabrielle Hatfield

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Can’t think that I’ve noticed this plant before, but there was quite a bit of it blowing about in the stiff wind on the rocks hard by the shore. It was apparently sacred to the Druids, widely regarded as a panacea in the Middle Ages, and thought to be both used by witches and proof against witchcraft.

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Looking along the shore towards Grange.

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A similar view taken not too much after the previous photo. You can see that the weather was very changeable.

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Burnett Rosehip.

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The Kent Estuary.

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A Tellin. I don’t know whether it’s a Thin Tellin or a Baltic Tellin, but I was interested to read that the creatures which occupy these shells can live beneath the sand at densities of up to 3000 per cubic metre.

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A shower on the far bank.

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Meathop Fell across the Kent – bathed in sunshine again.

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The Kent at New Barns.

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Big Clouds over Meathop Fell.

After our stay in the Tarn Gorge, where most flowers seemed to have already gone over to seed, I was on the look-out to see what was still in bloom at home. The refreshing answer was that there was so many things flowering that I soon lost count.

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Sea Plantain.

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A Hoverfly on a Hawk’s-beard. I wish I could be more specific, but Britain has several species of Hawk’s-beard and over 250 kinds of hoverfly and I can’t be sure about either of these.

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Mallards.

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Sea Campion.

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Another hoverfly – possibly Helophilus Pendulus.

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And yet another kind, also unidentified.

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Creeping Thistle and, I think, a Mason Bee (22 resident British species).

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Mason bees, although closely related to social wasps, are solitary hunters which stock their nests with various insects to feed their larvae.

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Sea Aster.

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Yet another kind of hoverfly, perhaps a Drone Fly, this time on Yarrow.

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And another, on Common Knapweed, I think.

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This has been quite a year for fungi, and this walk was no exception, with many different sizes, colours and forms seen.

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A rather faded Brown Argus butterfly.

This area is unusual because it’s on the northern limit of the Brown Argus and the southern limit of the Northern Brown Argus, but has both species. I’ve rarely seen either though, so this was a bit of a bonus.

In Greek mythology, Argus was a giant with a hundred eyes.

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More fungi.

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Bedeguar Galls, home to wasp grubs.

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Common Darter, this colouration is typical of older females.

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The view from the Knott, excellent though it was, was curtailed somewhat by clouds obscuring the larger hills of the the Lake District, which, to some extent at least, justified my decision not to head for the hills for a walk.

I stopped for half an hour, to sit on a bench and make a brew. I chatted to a couple of chaps I’d met earlier in the walk and was also befriended by a wasp, which was apparently fascinated by my phone and insisted on crawling all over it.

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A bumblebee on what looks like Marsh Woundwort, although it wasn’t growing in a remotely marshy spot.

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Blackberries – I ate plenty during this walk.

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A male Small White (I think).

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That bumblebee again. I can’t see any pollen-baskets, so is it a male or a Cuckoo Bee?

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Arnside Knott pano (click on this, or nay other, image to see larger version on flickr.

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Bittersweet.

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Painted Lady.

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Leighton Beck.

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Greater plantain.

A common plant with many names: Broad-leaved Plantain, Rat’s-tail Plantain, Banjos, Angel’s Harps. To the Anglo-Saxons it was Waybread, one of their nine sacred herbs and another powerful medicinal plant. I remember playing with these as a child – gently pulled away from the plant, a leaf would bring with several long thin fibres – the challenge was to get longer ‘guitar strings’ than your friends. Who needs Fortnite?

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It wasn’t only me enjoying the blackberries!

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Heron.

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Middlebarrow and Arnside Knott.

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Unidentified Umbellifer.

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Arnside Knott across Silverdale Moss.

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Little Egret.

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These look like mutant Blackberries, but in fact they are a related species: Dewberries. They have fewer segments and are so juicy that they tend to disintegrate when picked. In my opinion, they’re superior to blackberries. They’re apparently more common in Eastern England, but I now know several spots where they grow.

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Speckled Wood.

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Orpine.

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More fungi.

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Grasshopper (possibly Common Green Grasshopper).

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This is the field adjacent to the one where I found lots of mushrooms just a couple of days before. All along this track there was a new rash of small mushrooms.

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A little later I passed through another field with, if anything, even more mushrooms.

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Banded snail.

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Of course, mushrooms are fine in the field, but even better with a piece of rump steak and a creamy blue cheese sauce….

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Fine way to finish a fine day.

Mouse Will Play

Home Alone

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Gait Barrows – Moss Lane – The Row – Bottoms Lane – The Green – Stankelt Road – The Shore – The Cove.

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Silverdale from Castlebarrow.

When we returned from France, for the rest of the family three weeks under canvas stretched into four weeks. After just one night at home and a frenzy of laundry and repacking they were all camping again with their respective guiding and scouting units – the DBs with the Scouts, TBH as leader of the local Guides and A with the Explorer Scouts. They were all on the same field though, at the Red Rose international camp (I’m not sure if these things are still called jamborees?). Although there were scouts and guides from around the world at the camp, for us it was very local, just a few miles down the road at the Westmorland County Show-ground near Crooklands, which was fortunate, since in the hasty repacking many items had been forgotten.

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A (very hairy) Hoverfly.

That left me at home ‘on me tod’. Although these photographs show lovely blue skies and sunshine, the weather that week was generally atrocious and it’s a testament to the the organisers and our local leaders that the kids all had a wonderful time on their very damp camp.

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Limestone pavement at Gait Barrows.

Left to my own devices, I naturally tried to get out for walks as often as possible and, with the weather the way it was, and all the driving I’d recently done, I opted to stay close to home when I did go out.

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Orpine.

In fact, since the end of the summer and through the autumn my walks have mainly been local – I’ve been beating the bounds quite a bit and have lots of walks to catch up on, with lots of photos of all the old familiar things – local views, flowers, butterflies, leaves, trees, rocks, bugs etc. You have been warned!

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Devil’s-bit Scabious.

This is the the tall plant which caused my much confusion last year. The flower-heads seem to stay closed like this for a very long time before opening and revealing the more familiar scabious form.

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Common Darter.

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Elderberries (I think).

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Sloes.

This being late summer, there were berries everywhere. Mostly they weren’t ripe yet, but fortunately the blackberries were. This was the first of many blackberry fuelled walks.

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Blackberries.

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Mushroom.

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Forage!

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More mushrooms.

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Tea!

This has been a bumper year for autumn fungi, which started with an abundance of field mushrooms. I remember something similar happening after the long, hot, dry summers of 1975 and 1976. And going out with my Mum foraging for mushrooms. Although, since I almost certainly didn’t eat mushrooms then, being as fussy a child as my own kids are now, I wonder if I’ve made this up. Mum?

Anyway, fried in plenty of butter, these mushrooms were delicious. I also like to eat the small ones raw, just after picking them. There’s no taste quite like it.

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Gait Barrows.

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Red-tailed Cuckoo Bumblebee (perhaps), on Devil’s-bit Scabious.

Cuckoo Bumblebees don’t collect pollen for their larvae, but instead take over the nests of their host bumblebees, in this case Red-tailed Bumblebees. Although I am, as ever, tentative with my identification, what makes me think that this is a cuckoo bee are the lack of pollen baskets and the very hairy legs, both of which are apparently tell-tales. This species is one of many insects which has been confined to the south of Britain, but is now spreading northwards with the changing climate.

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Hawes Water.

Home Alone

Gloucester Old Spot

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Half-term! Astonishingly, the good weather hadn’t given up the ghost just as we broke up, but was set fair and would continue to be pretty good for most of the week. On the first Saturday, TBH took A to Manchester to see ‘Blood Brothers’*, Little S joined a friend’s birthday outing to the flicks to catch the new Star Wars spin-off, leaving B and I to our own devices.

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I persuaded him that a walk would be a good idea and whilst his enthusiasm for the project was a little lukewarm, he soon perked up after demonstrating some fairly gymnastic tree-climbing and really came alive when he spotted this female broad-bodied chaser…

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On the totally unscientific basis of how many I’ve seen so far this summer, this has been a good year for broad-bodied chasers.

We were heading for Hawes Water…

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Where the Irises…

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…had come into flower.

Common Blue Damselflies were seemingly everywhere, mostly in mating pairs…

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B hadn’t seen the new boardwalk.

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Somewhat optimistically, we hoped that the Common Lizards, which on a hot day like this might well have been sunning themselves along the edges of the old boardwalk, might have already adopted the new structure. But I think that will take a while. There were still plenty of damselflies though….

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…if not on the new boardwalk, then very near to it.

At Hawes Villa they keep a small number of Gloucester Old Spot Pigs…

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They seemed to be happily eating dirt and it’s only subsequently that it has occurred to me that this field might once have hosted Pignuts, a common enough plant locally, which might explain their relish.

B was very taken with the pigs and having admired them for a while then wanted to read the sign right through (reading is not usually one of his favourite pastimes).

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“Eat them, to keep them.”, I read. “Do you want to try some?”

He did, so we did. We bought both sausages and burgers. We haven’t tried the sausages yet, but the burgers were delicious. With TBH and A still sticking to their vegan October regime, even the boys and I are eating less meat than we were, and with several local farmers supplying meat directly to customers, and the news that US style stockyards are appearing in the UK, I’m keen to switch to buying meat locally, where I have a fair idea about the welfare of the livestock. Having said that, this has just been a toe in the water so to speak, I need to think about where I go from here.

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B on a Cow Parsley fringed Moss Lane.

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Star of Bethlehem.

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The large stand of Honesty on The Row has finished flowering and the flowers have been replaced by giant seed-heads which resemble thin slices of Kiwifruit.

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Looks like a carpet moth. Maybe Striped Twin-spot Carpet?

This last one is a bit of a cheat, taken the next day, which was spent in the garden cutting down two overgrown coniferous shrubs and then driving back and forth to the tip to dispose of the evidence.

*This is a Sore Point. I wasn’t invited. Because, apparently, I ‘don’t like musicals’. That’s the last time I watch ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ or ‘West-Side Story’ with A when she’s off sick. Or take TBH to the cinema to watch ‘La-La Land’. Apparently, ‘Blood Brothers’ was very good, but I expected as much: it’s a great show.

Gloucester Old Spot