Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh

image

A cast of thousands (well a dozen or so) assembled for our winter gathering, this year held once again at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel and, as ever, superbly organised by Andy. On the Saturday, The Tower Captain and I decided to tackle the two hills which tower over the hotel to the East – Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh.

The route was extremely simple: follow the path beside the Allt Coire an Dothaidh into the slightly forbidding looking Coire an Dothaidh…

image

Turn right at the col for the long haul up to Beinn Dorain before returning to the col to nip up Beinn an Dothaidh via a circuit of Coire Reidh.

image

Looking down Glen Orchy.

image

Looking across Loch Tulla.

Towards the top of Corie an Dothaidh I was really surprised to see, emerging from the snow, the flowers of what I assume to be Purple Saxifrage, familiar to me from the limestone crags high on Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent.

P1240293

P1240295

P1240296

P1240297

We stopped for a while, behind a boulder near the top of the corrie, for a drink and a bite to eat.

image

Lochan on the ridge, unnamed on the OS map.

image

Beinn a Chuirn and Beinn Mhanach, with Beinn Sheasgarnaich behind TC.

image

Looking up to the steepest section of the climb on Beinn Dorain.

image

Looking back towards Beinn an Dothaidh.

image

Across Loch Tulla again. Ben Starav, Stob Coir an Albannaich and Stob Ghabhar.

image

Pano. Click on this, or other pictures, to view a larger image on flickr.

image

Looking south-west, Ben Oss and Ben Lui prominent.

The weather was pretty changeable and we had a few showers of snow, hail and rain, but on the whole that just added to the drama of the views.

The false summit of Carn Sasunnaich came as a surprise, in mist I can see that it would be very easy to be fooled by it.

image

I was feeling in particularly fine fettle along this section of ridge, like I was really in my element.

55829720_2218665414857891_5422939808030785536_n

In fact, here I am, feeling very pleased with myself. The Tower Captain took the photo, I don’t think he’ll mind that I’ve used it.

image

Looking back along the ridge to Carn Sasunnaich.

P1240305

Across Loch Tulla again – the weather coming in.

P1240307

Looking toward Ben Oss and Ben Lui again.

P1240308

Looking South from the top.

image

Ice formations on the slopes of Beinn an Dothaidh.

image

Looking back to Beinn Dorain.

I was hoping that Beinn an Dothaidh would give us superb views across the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor, but, by the time we had reached the top, the weather had closed in again and our views were a bit limited.

image

Looking down to Loch Tulla.

image

Beinn Achaladair.

image

Large cornices and the summit of Beinn an Dothaidh.

image

The Tower Captain on the summit of Beinn an Dothaidh.

image

Looking towards the hills around Loch Lyon.

image

I’m not sure what kind of rocks the hills we climbed are composed of, but they seemed to glitter in the combination of damp and sunlight we had, with lots of silvers and golds on display. Eventually, it occurred to me to try to photograph them, but I only took one photo, which hasn’t really captured the effect very satisfactorily.

P1240312

When we got back down to Coire and Dothaidh the snow had mostly melted and the late afternoon light put a completely different aspect on the views.

image

We sat by the same boulder as we had on the way up for one final rest stop…

image

…before returning to the pub for food, drink and a convivial evening with old friends.

image

Beinn Dorrain

Can’t be bad.

Screenshot 2019-04-20 at 14.23.30

Screenshot 2019-04-20 at 14.25.47

Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh

Raven Crag and Bleaberry Fell

P1230965

It was getting towards the end of our Christmas break and I was itching to get out for ‘proper walk’, or in other words, a day in the hills. The forecast was for cold, cloudy but dry weather. I picked a walk from Brian and Aileen Evans’ excellent ‘Short Walks in Lakeland’ without really reading the description properly (of which, more later).

The walk starts near Castlerigg Stone Circle, where there’s a fair amount of roadside parking. I was eager to get off and since my return route would take me right past the stones, I didn’t bother to take any photographs of them in the morning. I ought to have foreseen that I would finish in the dark, I certainly would’ve realised that had I paid more attention to the guide book, but I didn’t, so you’ll have to go back to my last visit in 2010 if you want to see what it looks like.

As I was admiring the view in the photo above, a Kestrel flew across in front of me and landed in the hawthorn on the left. I stalked around the tree, expecting the falcon to be spooked and fly off again, but it didn’t, at least not immediately…

P1230945

I’d almost got a view which wasn’t obscured by twigs when it finally drifted away, but only as far as the wall on the far side of the field. I stalked once again, stopping every few strides to take a photo…

P1230957

I was really surprised how close he let me get.

P1230971

Naddle Beck, The Benn and Dodd Crag.

P1230974

Goat Crag and Dodd Crag.

There was evidently quite a bit of work going in the valley. Thirlmere Reservoir, originally created to supply Manchester with water, will soon be connected to West Cumbria. There were signs by the path to Rough How bridge saying that the path was closed whilst the work was being completed, but the signs looked to have been in situ for a while and the path was actually easy to walk, with no kind of obstruction. Likewise, there were signs where the path entered the forest near Shoulthwaite Farm which warned that many of the paths close to Thirlmere were still closed after the storm damage of 2015.

P1230976

Iron Crag and Goat Crag.

P1230978

Skiddaw and Blencathra from The Benn.

In fact there were Water Company staff in the forest in a large pick-up, I’m not sure what they were doing, driving around the forest tracks certainly, but one of the ‘closed’ paths took me to the top of the Benn without any issues whatsoever, so, again, I’m not sure why it’s still closed.

P1230982

Thirlmere and Raven Crag from the Benn.

It’s a shame about the flat light and slightly hazy conditions because Raven Crag is really quite spectacular.

P1230984

Thirlmere from Raven Crag.

On Raven Crag I sat down for a flask of tea and my lunch. I’ve not been up these minor summits above Thirlmere before and I was really pleased to have rectified that omission.

Although…

image

…Castle Crag was a bit underwhelming, even if it is the site of an Iron Age hill-fort.

image

Shoulthwaite Gill.

I left the forest and set off to cross the moorland. I’d hoped and expected that the ground would be frozen and it was to an extent, but the ground didn’t seem to be quite as boggy as I was expecting anyway.

P1230991

P1230994

I was heading for some knolls, curiously named Threefooted Brandreth and then on to Bleaberry Fell. Birkett doesn’t include either Iron Crag or Dodd Crag in his list of Lakeland Fells, but both look worth a visit to me. I shall have to come back another time for a more thorough exploration. I didn’t have time on this occasion: I’d seen that the Evans’ gave their route as nine miles, but only looked at the map and didn’t realise that I had unknowingly combined two of their walks; once I’d finished, Mapmywalk gave my route as twelve and a half miles.

image

Small unnamed tarn, not in the Nuttall’s ‘Tarns of Lakeland’ books, with Bleaberry Fell behind.

P1230996

High Seat and the Central Fells from Bleaberry Fell.

P1230998

Bassenthwaite Lake and Skiddaw from Bleaberry Fell.

image

Looking back to Bleaberry Fell.

I was rapidly running out of daylight now and was quite surprised by how many people I met still going uphill. I still had Walla Crag to bag, but fortunately that requires very little extra effort.

P1240002

Derwent Water and the Northwestern Fells from Walla Crag.

P1240003

Keswick and Skiddaw.

This is the second time I’ve taken photographs of Keswick in near darkness recently. The last part of the walk, along a narrow lane back to the stone circle was in complete darkness.

At the stone circle I was quite surprised to see a number of people apparently exploring by the light of headtorches. I wondered whether some sort of pagan midwinter ceremony was underway, but it soon became evident that some people had met to let off some  fireworks. Of course, it’s possible it was a pagan firework display. It looked like fun either way. I might have stopped to watch myself, but I was in something of a hurry because we were supposed to be at the home of our friends G and B for a meal and a games night by six thirty. I was cutting it pretty fine – I didn’t get home until ten past. I turned it around very quickly though and we enjoyed a delicious meal and a terrific evening.

screenshot 2019-01-27 at 08.51.45screenshot 2019-01-27 at 08.56.57

Raven Crag and Bleaberry Fell

No Jokers on Ingleborough

P1170980

Pen-y-Ghent in a winter suit.

I felt like I was holding all the aces. It was the day before my birthday, the sky was completely cloudless and the hills had a new dusting of snow. What’s more, I was driving along the A65 with an appointment with Ingleborough. The only thing I hadn’t decided was quite which route I would follow. I’d been perusing the map and some favourite websites the night before to try to make a decision. I hoped to find Purple Saxifrage flowering as we did last year on Pen-y-ghent. Now, Saxifraga Oppositifolia is rare in England, but I’d found several references to the fact that it grows on Ingleborough as well as Pen-y-ghent, not least in John Self’s online book ‘The Wildlife of the Lune Region’ which suggests that an exploration of the steep and fractured cliffs of the western face would be the best place to look. I also found an enthralling description of a route which would fit the bill perfectly.

But now that I could see those western slopes through my windscreen, I knew that they were in a deep shade and seemed likely to be so for some time to come. Knowing that I had to play the hand I’d been dealt, I decided to start my ascent from Clapham instead.

The first trick of the day was to find the right path out of the village and then a steepish pull brought me to Long Lane…

P1170966

Long Lane. The edge on the right is Robin Proctor’s Scar which I photographed last year during a walk from Austwick.

Long Lane climbed slowly but steadily and, although it was cold, it was wonderful to be out in the sunshine.

P1170968

Long Lane again.

I generally try to climb a hill on my birthday, but over the years I’ve learned to be flexible when work or other commitments have not allowed me to. This year I chose to take my birthday walk a day early, simply because the weather forecast was much better for that day.

P1170971

Rayside Plantation and Ingleborough Cave.

P1170972

Trow Gill.

P1170977

Pretty soon I’d reached the snow. At home we’d had rain the night before, but here it had fallen as a snow.

P1170978

Ingleborough and Simon Fell.

We see Ingleborough from Eaves Wood and on our daily drive in to Lancaster, and it has a very distinctive profile, so the view from the south-east was oddly unfamiliar.

P1170981

Pen-y-ghent.

P1170986

Looking back towards Norber. Distant Pendle Hill on the left-hand skyline.

P1170988

From the area around Long Scar I’d turned left on a marvellous green lane which made the going very easy. Even through areas of limestone pavement…

P1170990

Ingleborough and Simon Fell.

P1170989

Pen-y-ghent.

The breeze was only gentle, but still chilling, so I was pleased, after passing through the gate into the large field called The Allotment, to find a small hollow by a stream which afforded some shelter.

P1170992

It was a real suntrap! Everything was coming up trumps. I parked myself beside the beck: time to get a brew on.

P1170995

A prospect to warm the hearts ♥.

I felt quite warm and cosy sunbathing here, although there was plenty of evidence that I was kidding myself a little:

P1170997

Ice diamonds? ♦

I’d been listening to Meadow Pippits serenading the sun and I think I saw a couple of Wheatears, although I couldn’t be sure. It was great to hear some birdsong after the cold spring we’ve endured.

I sat for around half an hour in the sun, but then it was time to get going again. After the very gentle climbing I’d been doing, the next section was a little steeper, but brought the compensation of even better views.

P1170999

Pen-y-ghent and Ribblesdale.

Soon I’d reached the top edge of the great bowl between Simon Fell and Ingleborough.

P1180002

image

And then I was on the ridge itself, with new views to take in.

P1180007

Whernside and the valley of the River Doe. (Doedale?)

P1180008

The western edge of Simon Fell and Souther Scales Fell.

P1180010

Black shiver? The fissured boulder on the left is so distinctively gritstone that it had me thinking of all the rock features of the Dark Peak which still seem so familiar even though it’s many years since I visited any of them.

P1180012

Black Shiver from the other direction. I think.

The broad plateau of the top of Ingleborough was busy with walkers eating their sandwiches. I walked around the edges, thinking I could find some sort of shelter, but it seemed to be impossible to get out of the icy wind. Even the four way shelter at the very top didn’t seem to offer much protection, so I decided not to join the clubs ♣.

So I carried on, dropping down towards the prominent notch which is where, at some time in the past, a landslip has dropped down the slopes (hence Falls Foot on the lower slopes).

P1180017

My descent took me past a layer of broken limestone crags…

P1180019

Which is what I was looking for. So I began clambering around beneath those, in search of the, initially elusive, Purple Saxifrage.

I spotted these prominent plant stalks in a cliff…

P1180021

They were much too large to be saxifrage, but intriguing none-the-less. I shall have to return later in the year to see if I can discover what this is.

Eventually I found what I was looking for…

P1180025

…but the flowers weren’t quite open. Or not many of them were…

P1180026

I’d read that the flowers are purple when they first open, then gradually turn pink. There’s quite a contrast in fact, with the flowers we saw last year:

P1100148

Further exploration brought me to a dramatic spot…

P1180029

…where, with snow on steep ground, a limestone cliff above and another cliff, of a different rock, below, I decided that discretion was required and turned back.

image

Panorama of Whernside. Click to see larger version.

P1180031

Whernside and the extensive limestone pavements of Raven Scar and Twisleton Scar, part of the Great Scar Limestone.

P1180033

Gritstone rockfall below limestone crags. To say that the geology of this area is complex is a massive understatement.

P1180039

The Yoredale Series are layers of sedimentary rocks – limestones, sandstones, shales and a cap of gritstone – which characterise the Yorkshire Dales. In the photo above you can see two sets of crags, the lower limestone, the higher gritstone with gritstone boulders below the limestone.

P1180034

The crags at the top of The Falls. In shade still.

P1180044

And, on the other side of the gully, free of snow.

P1180035

Icicles, in spades. ♠

P1180036

Still quite cold, then!

Just along the edge from the Falls there are two heaps of stones…

P1180045

…that looked likely to be the remains of some sort of manmade structures. There’s a long history of Ingleborough being occupied, with an Iron Age hill-fort and hut circles and, even more improbably, a very short-lived Hospice Tower built in 1830, the base of which can still be seen on the summit. What age or purpose these small rocky piles might have had, I don’t know, but it’s interesting to speculate.

I climbed part of the way back towards the summit, detouring once again to check out a couple more limestone crags and find some more saxifrage.

P1180046

One short climb brought me to the Limestone Load, a level shelf between the two sets of crags which had gritstone features on the surface, but also a long line of dolines…

P1180048

Some of which had obvious limestone features…

P1180049

I was heading for Little Ingleborough…

P1180051

P1180052

Looking back to the summit.

P1180054

Little Ingleborough.

On the descent from Little Ingleborough I finally found somewhere sufficiently sheltered to make me feel inclined to stop for another brew and a late lunch.

image

Gaping Gill – Fell Beck falls 98m into the largest underground chamber in England which is naturally open to the surface.

image

Gaping Gill pano.

P1180060

Bar Pot, another entrance to the Gaping Gill system. An exit too: whilst I was taking the photo some scraping sounds augured the emergence of a lone caver.

P1180061

Trow Gill.

P1180064

The path descends through Trow Gill, apparently formed by a meltwater torrent at the end of the last ice age.

P1180068

P1180069

Foxholes a cave where human and animal remains have been found.

P1180071

Clapham Beck Head where the water from Gaping Gill finally resurges.

P1180072

Clapham Beck is one of the sources of the River Wenning and so is another tributary of the Lune, so that this walk is another instalment of my exploration of the Lune catchment area.

P1180073

Ingleborough Cave. I haven’t been in there for years, but it’s well worth a visit. Must take the kids.

P1180074

Clapham Beck.

P1180075

Since I dropped into the shelter of Trow Gill it had been feeling much warmer, so in Clapdale Wood I stopped for one final cup of tea.

image

The Lake. Imaginatively named, don’t you think? And – it’s a reservoir.

image

Clapham Beck.

Scenes from Clapham…

image

image

image

image

image

image

Market Cross.

image

image

In ‘Walks in Limestone Country’, Wainwright wrote:

Of the many walks described in this book, the ascent of Ingleborough from Clapham is pre-eminent, the finest of all, a classic. A lovely village….charming woodlands……..an enchanting valley……natural wonders………a climb to a grand mountain-top. Oh yes, this is the best.

I can’t help feeling that in amending my plan for the day I made a good choice. You might say that I played my cards right. Or that I was dealing from a full-deck.

Joker

What’s that? Which birthday was it? Haven’t you worked that out yet? Just to clear-up any ambiguity: I didn’t come across any humorous types on Ingleborough. No jokers, you might say. Which leaves?

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 21.02.54

My mapping app gives 13½ miles and just over 2000′ of climbing. Not a bad little outing.

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 21.18.47

No Jokers on Ingleborough

Beinn Bhreac

image

With another forecast for not particularly favourable weather, what to do with our Sunday? Over a lengthy breakfast, various options were tossed out for inspection, mulled over, discussed and ultimately rejected before Beinn Bhreac finally came out on top.

image

Beinn Bhreac had the advantages of being a shortish walk, not too high and, for those with a bagging habit, the prospect of a tick, since it’s a Graham, and therefore, I think, also a Marilyn, (I’m pretty sure that the Grahams must be a subset of the Marilyns).

image

In the early and late stages of the walk we also had some partial views of Loch Lomond.

The wind was pretty fierce again and this large boulder provided the best shelter we could find and so was the venue for two butty stops, one on the way up and the other on the way down again.

image

The highest stage of the walk was quite wild again, although the wind was perhaps just a notch down on what it had been the day before.

Spikes and ice-axe were once more pressed into service, although it transpired that the steep ice-bound rocks which prompted that choice could actually be easily circumvented.

image

As we descended, the cloud lifted momentarily giving us a bit of a view back up the hill.

image

Years ago, pre-blog, we had a wander around some of the Luss hills on an equivalent weekend to this one. I was decidedly off-colour that day, but was still left with a decidedly favourable opinion of the area, which this walk has done nothing to dispel.

image

The Tower Captain and Loch Lomond.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 20.51.43

Maps!

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 20.55.57

 

Beinn Bhreac

Beinn Mhic Mhondaidh

image

A frozen over River Orchy.

image

A view from the approach walk through the forest.

image

Wild weather on the summit.

image

Drifted snow and icicles.

image

Back in the forest – and a hint of blue sky!

image

More ice.

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 12.12.51

Maps!

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 12.14.50

The occasion of this walk was our annual Highland Gathering of old friends. After heavy snowfalls followed by Atlantic gales our party was somewhat smaller than it should have been, with some people not able to make it. On the Saturday, those of us that did manage to get there mostly opted to climb Beinn Mhic Mhonaidh above Glen Orchy which was not too far from where we were staying at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, is a Corbett for those who are bothered by such things, and is not too high given the low cloud and strong winds forecast.

One unanticipated difficulty was that the start of the track was closed, due to tree felling and the building of a replacement bridge over the Orchy, but after a bit of a conflab we decided that with the machinery standing silent on the track, and with the new bridge clearly almost finished, we would ignore the signs and go ahead anyway.

I’m not generally very keen on walks though pine plantations, but have to admit that the lower stages of this route, both up and down, were very pleasant, with some shelter from the wind and occasional views of the surrounding hills. Beyond the trees, the climb was steep. Initially, where there was a thin layer of fresh snow over frozen and icy ground, the going was much too exciting for me, but after we put our spikes on, and swapped a trekking pole for an ice axe, I felt a lot more secure and enjoyed the climb, especially some of the less steep sections of old neve which were in perfect condition.

When we hit the ridge, the wind was making walking quite challenging – I was glad I had goggles and a balaclava so that only the end of my nose was exposed to the the scouring ice and snow which was being blown about. Fortunately, almost as soon as we started to descend, the wind dropped considerably.

Back at the hotel, the beer, the meal and the conversation were all highly enjoyable, but I’m afraid I led the field in the Snoring in the Residents’ Lounge Stakes.

Andy, who booked and organised the weekend (cheers Andy!), has more and better photographs in his post about this walk here.

Beinn Mhic Mhondaidh

Spindrift on Selside Pike

P1170840

Another snow-hunting expedition. The forecast was once again for mixed weather: wintery showers and maybe some brighter spells, but also for fierce winds. This is our crew shortly after we’d left the cars. We were joined by three of our friends, one of whom long-suffering readers might recognise as The Tower Captain, otherwise known as the Faffmeister, and also by their highly excited dogs.

image

High Street and Kidsty Pike across Haweswater.

We’d had quite a bit of rain and snow on the journey up and as we drove alongside Haweswater it was snowing pretty heavily and settling on the road. But soon after we’d parked we had probably the sunniest spell of the entire day.

Our plan was simple: follow the Old Corpse Road, which crosses between Mardale and Swindale, to its highest point and then divert up Selside Pike, returning by the same route. This had been one of the possibilities I’d considered for the day that we’d been up to the Garburn Pass and, never one to waste things, I’d decided to revivify the idea for this outing.

P1170839

Waterfalls on Hopgill Beck.

P1170844

Rough Crag, High Street and Kidsty Pike.

P1170848

The kids had their small plastic sledges with them again and weren’t long in finding an opportunity to use them. This time, I didn’t wait to watch them, but climbed a little further to…

P1170847

…the small ruined, roofless cottage of High Loup. Although we’d not walked far at all, I had it in mind that this might be our last chance of any kind of shelter from the strong winds and suggested it as a lunch spot.

I didn’t have to twist anybody’s arm.

P1170850

After our stop, we made it too the pass with relative ease, and then found a couple more spots for some sledging. Once on the ridge, I was finding the snow conditions very frustrating: it was the kind of compacted snow which suggests it will hold you, but then collapses when you shift your weight, which is hard work. At least, it was that kind of snow for me. For most of the party it was perfect snow – firm enough to walk on top of, but soft enough to take an edge and give some grip. Little S, however, had the opposite problem to me: he was making no impression on the snow, but the wind was making a huge impression on him. Between the icy snow and the gales he was struggling to stand up. He didn’t complain, but after watching him struggle for a while, it seemed madness to let him continue and I asked him whether he would like to turn back. He would. And the other boys would be very glad to keep him company. I don’t think that they were any of them very impressed with the spindrift which was attacking us. It’s a lovely word ‘spindrift’, but totally inappropriate for the wind-driven ice shrapnel which stings any exposed skin and manages to get inside every garment.

The boys were also keen to put into action their plan to use the sledges as much as possible in their descent. Unfortunately, Little S didn’t keep a tight enough grip on his and it whipped away on the breeze and is probably now lying in a field down in Swindale.

The girls, meanwhile, were keen to carry on to the top. TBH offered to accompany the boys and so I joined King Dilly Dally, and A and S in the summit party.

image

Here’s A sitting on the snowdrift filled summit shelter.

image

The view of the snowcapped Pennines across the Eden Valley was better then this photo suggests, but it was quite difficult to hang on to the phone at this point, never mind hold it steady for a photo.

image

Baron Behindhand on the descent.

image

S and A with poles nicked from their Dads.

P1170852

Rough Crag and Haweswater again.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 21.58.34.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 22.01.58.png

A modest outing of just 5 miles, but very enjoyable.

I’ve climbed Selside Pike twice before, since I started this blog. Once on another wintery February day, with X-Ray another old friend. Although it was February and very icy, in every other respect this was a very different day:

Selside Pike and Branstree

And once on a mammoth (by my standards anyway) circuit around Haweswater.

A Haweswater Round

We’ve been meaning to get out with the Duke of Delay again ever since his igloo collapsing antics on Wansfell last year:

Grand Designs – An Igloo on Wansfell

 

 

Spindrift on Selside Pike

An ¡Ándale! Walk

P1170566

Look at that sky!

When we got back from Underley, I was keen to get out for another walk whilst the daylight and the good weather lasted. I fancied one of my favourite local routes from last year, which takes in Eaves Wood, Hawes Water, Yealand Allotment and Leighton Moss. I usually walk it clockwise, in that order, but it occurred to me that the path ’round the back’ of Leighton Moss might still be flooded, so went widdershins so that I could ask at the visitor centre. Which I did. I was assured that all of the paths around the reserve were open, by a volunteer, well-intentioned I’m sure, who may have been distracted by the fact that he was just about to go on his break.

Pheasants…

P1170564

…are daft creatures, apt to stay hidden until you’re almost standing on them and then burst out in a flurry of wings and calls, leaving you every bit as flustered as they clearly are. But this hen pheasant was one of several I saw last Sunday which were apparently completely sanguine about my presence.

The meres (and paths) were partially frozen over still…

P1170567

I wondered what had caused these strange undulations and gouges in the ice in front of the public hide…

P1170572

There were lots of ducks in evidence. Mainly Shovelers, Teal and Pintails. Judging by the reactions of the proper birders who were about, the Pintails are the most exciting of these.

P1170569

P1170580

I walked around to Lower Hide. The path was pretty wet and the last bit was iced over and decidedly treacherous.

P1170589

Teal on the ice.

The onward path from there was barred with a notice saying it was closed because it was flooded. I went past it anyway, as I am wont to do. But not very far. It was flooded. Oh….blast!

Time’s winged chariot was hurtling on, as it is wont to do, the sun was low in the sky…

P1170591

…and my plan was thwarted. What to do?

I contemplated the possibilities as I wandered back to the visitor centre.

P1170592

Stopping briefly again at the public hide for another gander. There were cygnets…

P1170593

And…a willow?…catching the lovely light.

P1170596

And Black-headed gulls briefly launching into the air before making shallow dives into the water. I wonder what they were after?

P1170598

I’d heard several people discussing the Starling murmuration, and since, slightly ridiculously, its several years since I’ve been at the Moss to witness that, one possibility was to wait to watch that. It seemed to me that the other sensible option would be to head down towards Quaker’s Stang and Quicksand Pool to catch the sunset. I chose the latter. But that meant a stretch of road-walking and a need for speed to find a good vantage point before it was too late.

So, I was in the unusual position of being in a hurry on one of my walks. Which is what made me think of Speedy Gonzales and “¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! ¡Epa! ¡Epa! ¡Epa! Yeehaw!”. (Well that and the fact that ‘An ¡Ándale! Walk’ follows on quite satisfyingly from ‘An Underley Walk’.)

P1170602

Quicksand Pool.

P1170604

Little Egret.

P1170607

Sunset from Quaker’s Stang.

Recent high tides had left a series of pools across the saltmarsh, making a nice foreground as the sun dropped into the Bay.

P1170612

By the time I’d crossed the Stang and was back by Quicksand Pool, the sun had gone.

P1170614

But again…

P1170616

…it was great to be out in the gloaming, enjoying a subtle light-show…

P1170617

The land reclamation wall at Jenny Brown’s Point.

P1170621

 From near Gibraltar Farm and The Wolfhouse.

An ¡Ándale! Walk