Wildflowers on Heald Brow.

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Meadow Ant mounds on Heald Brow.

The Friday evening of the first May Bank Holiday weekend. TBH and Little S had tootled off to Dublin for their rugby tour. The team had had a surprise good luck message from “you know, that England rugby player, Dylan Thomas”, as TBH put it. Turned out to be Dylan Hartley, which is almost as impressive.

A and B and I were also going away, but A had a DofE training event on the Friday night and Saturday morning, so I decide to take advantage of the good weather we were having and get out for a local ramble.

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The ‘force that drives the green fuse’ had been hard at work and Heald Brow was resplendent with trees bedecked with new-minted leaves and a host of wildflowers.

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Primroses.

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Cowslips.

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Early Purple Orchid.

I walked a small circuit around Heald Brow and stumbled across an area carpeted with Primroses…

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If anything, this is even more impressive than the patch nestled in the limestone pavement at Sharp’s Lot which I am always keen to visit each spring.

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In amongst the standard yellow flowers were some variants…

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In the past, I’ve always assumed that these colourful exceptions were garden escapees, but now I’m wondering whether it was simply mutations like these which led to the selective breeding of the diverse variants which are now available for gardens.

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Bugle.

I dropped down to the salt-marsh.

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Warton Crag.

Which, unfortunately, left me in deep shade for some time.

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Scurvygrass.

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Gorse at Jack Scout.

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A Jack Scout shrub – shaped by the lashings of salty winds off the Bay.

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Sunset from Jack Scout.

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Wildflowers on Heald Brow.

Lately I’ve Let Things Slide.

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Eaves Wood.

Between work, the weather, the lurgy and lethargy, I’ve let my Little and Often resolve crumble away and I haven’t been getting out as often as I was. But now I’m off work for a couple of weeks, and the sun has come out, and in the woods spring is already well under way.

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Ramsons in Fleagarth Wood.

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Gorse at Jack Scout.

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Jack Scout view – The Coniston Fells in the distance. The horizon was tilted like that, honest.

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Wolf House.

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Daffs on Lindeth Road.

This was a short, familiar outing which I made very heavy weather of; apparently, I’m not completely over the lurgy yet. Still: time to do some catching up.

Lately I’ve Let Things Slide.

Bright Skies and Big Clouds

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Bright skies and big clouds tempted my out into bracing winds on a Friday night after work.

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Horse Chestnut by Pointer Wood.

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Traveller’s Joy, Sharp’s Lot.

The path down through Fleagarth Wood to the end of Quaker’s Stang was extremely muddy even then, heaven knows what it will be like now, given all of the rain we have endured since. When I reached the saltmarsh, I was exposed to the full force of the wind for the first time, and was surprised by how brisk it was.

The tide was coming up Quicksand Pool…

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But the muddy banks were unusually firm, so I continued along them, rather than seeking the road nearby, because that way I kept my view of the retreating sun.

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From Jenny Brown’s Point.

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Sunset from Jack Scout.

 

Bright Skies and Big Clouds

Brew with a View Too.

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Hagg Wood.

The very next evening, after my Arnside Knott excursion, I was out a bit earlier and able to enjoy the sunshine a little more, although the breeze was cool.

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Wilding apples.

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Hedgerow lichen.

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Sloes.

I was intending to brew-up and watch the sunset again, but I was also intent on collecting some sloes. I had gardening gloves with me, the thorns on Blackthorn are vicious, but, in the end, didn’t use the gloves, finding that a bit of circumspection was sufficient to protect my hands.

The hedgerow had been cut-back hard, earlier this year, and the hard, tart ‘bullies’ were disappointingly sparse.

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Haws.

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Hips.

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More wilding apples – I tried one of these, it was palatable, but nothing to write home about.

Fortunately, the Blackthorn bushes on Sharp’s Lot, National Trust land, had been left well alone and I fairly quickly filled my cup. They’re in the freezer now, I need to weigh them and decide whether I have enough for the Sloe Gin I intend to make (or maybe Sloe Vodka – I’m not find of Gin).

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TBH is a bit bemused, “But you don’t even like Sloe Gin!”

Which isn’t quite true, but she does have a point: I don’t really drink spirits these days. In truth, I’m a bit puzzled by my own enthusiasm; I think it’s maybe got more to do with the making than the drinking. Well, we’ll see.

My walk brought me to Jack Scout, but a little too late really: the sun hadn’t set, but it had dropped behind a band of cloud on the western horizon. Nevertheless, I fired up the stove again…

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…and watched the light fade behind the clouds whilst I drank my char.

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Brew with a View Too.

Moon Over Quicksand Pool

Woodwell – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – Woodwell

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Little Egret in Quicksand Pool.

A very late start, so I parked the car at Woodwell and walked from there.

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Warton Crag, the moon and the Bowland Fells over Quicksand Pool.

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Inevitable sunset. The sun setting much further north now.

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I think that one of the reasons that I particularly like to watch the sun go down from Jack Scout is the way the Coniston Fells’ distinctive outline looms over Grange, behind the darker bulk of Hampsfell.

Moon Over Quicksand Pool

Eiders at Jenny Brown’s

Sharp’s Lot – Hollins Lane – Fleagarth Wood – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – The Lots – The Cove.

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Warton Crag, Quicksand Pool and a huge washed-up, rust-stained timber.

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Early Purple Orchid.

Another evening stroll, very pleasant in itself, but made lustrous by an unexpected encounter. As I approached Jenny Brown’s Point I spotted a duck on the far side of Quicksand Pool. Even when seen out of the corner of my eye, something struck me about it and so I used the camera’s telephoto to find out whether or not I was really looking at a male Eider or merely another Shelduck…

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A male Eider!

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In amongst the trees at the southern end of Jack Scout I spent a while trying to photograph songsters – a Blackbird, a Robin and an elusive Chiff-chaff.

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Because the tide was well in, I decided to follow the coast rather than the path which runs along the wall where butterflies are more often to be seen. I’m pleased that I did.

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Another male Eider!

Of course, we’ve usually seen Eiders when we’ve been to Piel Island and I also spotted one last time we were at Roa Island, but I’ve never seen their courtship display before.

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A group of seven ducks were drifting on the tide and the males were throwing their heads back along their backs and cooing. It’s a very odd sound. (Better pictures, and a ¬†fuller description here.)

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There was a male Merganser in with the Eiders for a while, not sure what he was up to.

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Black-backed Gull flying across the sun’s glitter path.

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More ‘Long Purples’.

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Sunset from the Lots.

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Eiders at Jenny Brown’s

Bring me the Sunset in a Cup

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Whether it’s three miles a day, or six, or twenty-seven, a daily mileage target would be unrealistic for me. Some days I just don’t manage to get out at all. On the other hand, sometimes I manage a lunchtime wander along the canal from work and on occasion I’ve been out before work too.

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I could almost certainly manage to average three miles a day, however.

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On this occasion, I arrived home from work, after a fairly sunny day I think, and headed off to Jack Scout hoping for a spectacular sunset. What I got was cloud spreading in and something more muted, but much appreciated anyway.

Having watched the sun set, I decided to head around Jenny Brown’s Point, away from home, and therefore finished by stumbling home in almost total darkness, having neglected to take my headtorch.

I’m feeling the benefits of my regular excursions – whether they’re three miles, six, more or less. Some of those benefits are obvious and tangible – the improved fitness I felt when I was in Scotland at the start of the month, for example – and some are more elusive and difficult to quantify.

Bring me the sunset in a cup,
Reckon the morning’s flagons up
And say how many Dew,
Tell me how far the morning leaps
Tell me what time the weaver sleeps
Who spun the breadth of blue!

Write me how many notes there be
In the new Robin’s ecstasy
Among astonished boughs.
How many trips the Tortoise makes
How many cups the Bee partakes,
The Debauchee of Dews!

Also, who laid the Rainbow’s piers,
Also, who leads the docile spheres
By withes of supple blue?
Whose fingers string the stalactite
Who counts the wampum of the night
To see that none is due?

Who built this little Alban House
And shut the windows down so close
My spirit cannot see?
Who’ll let me out some gala day
With implements to fly away,
Passing Pomposity?

– Emily Dickinson.

 

 

 

 

 

Bring me the Sunset in a Cup