Ricochet

Hagg Wood – Bottom’s Lane – Burtonwell Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Bank Well – The Row – The Golf Course – The Station – Storr’s Lane – Leighton Moss – Leighton Hall – Summer House Hill – Peter Lane Limekiln – Hyning Scout Wood – Warton – Warton Crag – Quaker’s Stang – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – The Lots – The Cove

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Lambert’s Meadow.

A long walk which didn’t go even remotely to plan. I had intended to climb Arnside Knott, but instead went in almost entirely the opposite direction.

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Ribwort plantain.

I began by heading for Bottom’s Lane, in the ‘wrong’ direction, to drop some bread flour off with some friends of ours who were having to self-isolate after a positive test for the virus and for whom TBH had done a shop, but come up short on numerous predictable items like tinned tomatoes, yeast, toilet paper, bread flour etc.

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Crane fly – possibly Tipula luna. Male – the females have a pointy tip to their abdomen for pushing eggs into the ground.

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Hmmm. Marsh valerian? Why I didn’t photograph the leaves too I don’t know.

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Orange-tip butterfly.

After that I kept spotting people on the paths ahead and changing course to evade them, and before I knew where I was, I was heading across Leighton Moss on the causeway path – the only part of the reserve which has remained open.

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Canada goose and coot.

From that point, I just did what I normally do and made it up as I went along.

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Leighton Moss.

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The view from Summer House Hill.

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Bluebells on Summer House Hill.

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Peter Lane Limekiln.

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Tree felling on Warton Crag has exposed a crag I didn’t even know was there. And expansive views from the top of that cliff.

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Warton and a distant Ingleborough.

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The Forest of Bowland and Carnforth.

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Crosswort.

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From the top of the Crag a path which seems like a new one to me seemed to promise more views, to the distant Lake District…

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Why the fences either side and on the ground?

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Because the path crosses one of the three Bronze Age walls which ring the summit of the Crag. Admittedly, it doesn’t look like an ancient monument in the photo, but it did seem quite obvious ‘in the flesh’.

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The tree felling seems to have been successful, in as much as it has produced masses of primroses, a key food plant for certain butterflies.

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Early purple orchid.

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In amongst the cowslips at Jack Scout, these primulas stood out. If that’s what they are? Or are they a naturally occurring variation of cowslips? Or a hybrid?

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Post sunset from above the Cove.

I bumped into a neighbour on The Lots, she was walking her dog, and she told me that she has stopped taking photographs of ‘the best sunsets in the world’, because she has thousands already. I have thousands too, probably. And no end of photos of early purple orchids and clouds and primroses, of Leighton Moss and of the views from Summer House Hill and Warton Crag. Fortunately, none of those things ever seem to get old, or lose their fascination and I fully intend to take thousands more.

Lucky me.

Note to self: this was too long a walk without carrying a drink – I keep doing that to myself. Did it again yesterday and have given myself a headache – golly it was hot.


Tunes. Back to Elvis in his Sun days, probably my favourite of his songs, ‘Mystery Train’:

Like most of Presley’s output, it’s a cover, and the laidback original by Little Junior and his Blue Flames is well worth seeking out.

And, while I’m making recommendations, the weird and wonderful 1989 film ‘Mystery Train’, directed by Jim Jarmusch, and starring, amongst others, both Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and  Joe Strummer, is also worth seeking out. Oddly, the song which recurs through the film is ‘Blue Moon’.

This next song, dating back to 1940, so older than Junior parker’s 1953 song, also contains the line ‘Train I ride, sixteen coaches long’.

When I was a nipper, my Dad bought a Reader’s Digest box set of Country records.

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Photo credit: my mum or my dad? Ta.

He mostly listened to the Johnny Cash album, but somehow I cottoned on to the bluegrass of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, both alumni of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. This is one of their better know tunes, Foggy Mountain Breakdown:

They also recorded the first version of ‘The Ballad of Jed Clampett’ theme tune to ‘The Beverley Hillbillies’.

Ricochet

Exhale.

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I think that this is a female orang-tip, but white butterflies are almost as tricky little brown birds. (Not as awkward as yellow dandelion like flowers however!)

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White tail, three bands of yellow – I think that this might be a garden bumblebee (bombus hortorum) which would be entirely appropriate because it was in our garden when I photographed it.

A and I walked around Know Point on the sands.

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We spotted a spring issuing from the base of the cliff…

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…I’ve realised that all of the channels on the Bay close to the shore, some of them quite wide and deep in places, are fed by deceptively small springs like this.

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We ran out of sand and had to clamber up the rocks…

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..and down again to Cow’s Mouth…

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I’d quite forgotten about the little cave there…

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As we rounded the corner towards Jack Scout, the tide came racing in…

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Fortunately for us it’s an easy scramble up the rocks and into Jack Scout.

I spotted this in Fleagarth Wood….

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These little painted stones seem to be everywhere. I know this idea predated the lockdown, but present circumstances  seem to have given the craze new impetus. I thoroughly approve. Especially when they are as skilfully rendered as this.

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Ramsons in Fleagarth Wood – almost in flower.

Now that I have ‘finished’ ‘War and Peace’, I wanted to read something completely different. I’ve actually started several books, but some have fallen by the wayside and two have emerged as joint ‘winners’. The first is ‘A Pelican at Blandings’, which, now I’m well into it, I realise I have read before. It doesn’t matter. I love P.G.Wodehouse and particularly the Blandings novels. I haven’t read them all, but I have read several, some of them repeatedly. The plots are much the same every time, it’s the manner of the telling  which is important and, as ever, this one is making me smile (again).

The other book is ‘The Age of Absurdity’ by Michael Foley. Its superbly written and so densely packed with ideas that I’m beginning to feel like I should be reading it very slowly with pencil in hand to underline passages and scribble notes in the margins. I was feeling very smug, reading a chapter about the elevation of shopping to an end in itself rather than a means to an end, when I came across…

My own compulsion is buying books…in the hope of acquiring secret esoteric knowledge….I have increasing numbers of unread purchases. A new book retains its lustre of potential for about six weeks and then changes from being a possible bearer of secret lore into a liability, a reproach, a source of embarrassment and shame.

Oh dear. That’s me. We’re surrounded by tottering heaps of my compulsively purchased secondhand tombs.

Still, both ‘War and Peace’ and ‘The Age of Absurdity’ have been rescued from those stacks, so there’s hope for the other neglected volumes yet.

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Tunes. First, ‘Grandma’s Hands’ a great Bill Withers song you may not know:

Then Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’, built around a sample from Mr Withers

Finally, the marvellous Hackney Colliery Band’s cover of same:

 

All very different. All brilliant.

Exhale.

Get Ready

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Sunset from Jack Scout.

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Post Sunset from near Gibraltar Farm.

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Roe deer buck chilling in our garden.

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A group of four Roe Deer in our garden.

These mid-week photos from early March* bring the blog into Lockdown Mode, which is not likely to be very dissimilar from what goes on hereabouts most of the time – familiar walks, to familiar places; lots of photos of sunsets, deer, the Bay, leaves, clouds, butterflies etc – but now, without a commute or any taxi dad duties for me to perform, I’ve been getting out for a walk every day, in daylight hours, so there will be lots more of it. Get ready!

Which neatly brings me to today’s musical offering, and another familiar song in perhaps unfamiliar guises. Surely everybody knows ‘Get Ready’, the Smokey Robinson penned, 1966 hit for the Temptations. Here it is, just in case you’ve been living under a rock and Motown has passed you by…

Clearly, you couldn’t top that iconic original take on the song? Unless, maybe, you could persuade Ella Fitzgerald to record it…

This is from a 1969 album which also has a great version of ‘Knock on Wood’ and a pretty good cover of The Beatles “Got to Get You into My Life’. Not what you expect of Ella really.

And talking of the unexpected, my own favourite take on ‘Get Ready’ is Gregory Isaac’s very laid back Lover’s Rock version…

If you are intrigued, Rare Earth recorded a cover which lasts for over twenty minutes and there’s a slightly odd Nancy Sinatra version too.

* I’ve skipped a special hill-walk from mid-March which will have to wait a couple more weeks before I can publish a post.

Get Ready

Half-term Happenings: A Figure-eight Amble

The Green – Woodwell – Gibraltar Farm – Jack Scout – Jenny Brown’s Point – Fleagarth Wood – Woodwell – The Lots – The Cove – Elmslack

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On the Friday of half-term my mum and dad were travelling home. Later in the afternoon I got out for a walk, I suspect my brother was with me and possibly TBH, but, to be honest, I can’t really remember.

I do remember that this calf…

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…had clearly only just been born.

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The Bay, Humphrey Head, Grange and the distant Coniston Fells from Jack Scout.

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Quicksand Pool.

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Post-sunset sky from The Cove.

Half-term Happenings: A Figure-eight Amble

New Year Floral Survey

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – The Row – Burtonwell Wood – The Clifftop – Heald Brow – Quaker’s Stang – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – Gibraltar Farm – Woodwell – Emesgate Lane.

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Quince Flowers.

After a string of grey, overcast, foggy, damp days, New Year’s Day was a corker: bright, sunny and, out of the wind, even quite warm at times. TBH was wiped out by a rotten cold, but the rest of us had been out on New Year’s Eve and the children, lightweights to a man, weren’t up very early. Eventually, Little S emerged into the light and I told him I was heading out to take advantage of the sunshine and asked him to ring me when the others got up, chiefly because the day before we’d got halfway through a game of Pandemic, a board game my brother sent us for Christmas, and I’d promised to finish it with the kids when they were ready.

The first surprise, apart from the glorious sunshine, was the thicket of Quince on the  corner of Elmslack Lane which was studded with bright red baubles. I suppose it must have been flowering when I walked past it earlier that week, but it took some brighter conditions to draw my attention to that fact. When I spotted a Marigold (I think?), which must have self-seeded where it sat at the end of a gravel drive….

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…I was reminded again, as I often am, of Richards Adams marvellous ‘A Nature Diary’ in which the author, most famous for Watership Down, explores the lanes, hills and coasts around his home on the Isle of Man. His winter entries often gleefully list the flowers he has found unexpectedly in bloom. I wondered how I might fare with a similar scheme on New Year’s Day. Almost immediately, I spotted Snowdrops and a single Celandine. Also…

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…quite a bit of Winter Jasmine in gardens. All of those might reasonably be expected, but I was a bit more surprised by the extent to which the brambles were flowering wherever I saw them in the woods…

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The Jubilee Monument on Castlebarrow.

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In Eaves Wood.

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In Burtonwell Wood.

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I think that this might be Yellow Jelly Fungus, also known as Witches Butter, but I’m not sufficiently confident about that, or hungry enough, to try adding this allegedly edible fungi to my diet.

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Heald Brow.

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Meadow Ant Mounds on Heald Brow.

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Evidence of Badger predation of Meadow Ants? Apparently Badgers are partial to ants.

It was a good morning for birds, if not for bird photographs: I heard and saw Nuthatches, a Buzzard, various tits, several Great Spotted Woodpeckers and one Green Woodpecker.

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Ragwort.

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Dandelion.

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Gorse.

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Daisy.

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Quaker’s Stang and Warton Crag.

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Sea Beet.

It wasn’t just the flowers which caught my attention; Sea Beet is the wild ancestor of Beetroot, Sugar Beet and Perennial Spinach, grows all year by the coast, is packed full of vitamins and is reputedly delicious. Spring is apparently the best time to eat it, so, seeing it growing on the edge of the salt-marsh, I made a mental note to come back this way, later in the year, with some sort of receptacle in which to carry away some forage.

There were quite a few people enjoying a New Year’s Day constitutional down by the salt-marsh, but I felt like I might be the only one who spotted the completely unexpected flight of a Speckled Wood butterfly and, moments later, a Painted Lady…

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Butterflies can only fly when the temperature is high enough, so the fact that they were here at all was testament to the genuine warmth by this sheltered, south-facing bank. It’s still a bit of a puzzle however, since Speckled Wood butterflies are unique in that they can overwinter as either a caterpillar or a chrysalis, but I don’t think they generally hibernate, as some other species do. And Painted Ladies famously migrate northwards from North Africa over several generations during a summer and then return in the autumn. Perhaps this one was a straggler.

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The large tree behind the old chimney had a couple of clumps of…

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…exquisitely ochre fungi.

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Jenny Brown’s Cottages.

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This looks like a Hawk’s-beard, although I’m not remotely confident about that. Maybe Rough Hawk’s-beard, but that’s supposed to flower in June and July, so if it is, it’s a confused specimen.

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Jack Scout.

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I’ve previously reported that the berries on Flowering Nutmeg, here growing close to Woodwell, reputedly taste chocolaty. In the interest of accuracy, I tried a berry and can now correct my error – it didn’t taste at all like chocolate. It was bitter and not at all pleasant. Oh well – you live and learn.

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More flowers. These were staked, clearly a garden plant, but Stinking Hellebore is actually native to the British Isles. This plant is very early to flower and would be one of the few you might expect to see at this time of year.

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Emerging Cuckoo Pint leaves: spring is on the way!

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Hydrangea. In retrospect these are not actually flowers at all I don’t think, but the remains of the large bracts which once surrounded the actual flowers.

We never did finish that game of Pandemic. I eventually rang Little S, when it seemed too late in the day for the rest of the family to still be in bed. It transpired that they were watching a film instead, so I was free to continue my New Year’s Day ramble without feeling guilty about having abandoned them all. We have played several times since.

The following day our old friend X-Ray visited and he and I and B played another new game, sent by my brother, Queen Domino. It’s a companion to, and can be combined with, King Domino, which we’ve enjoyed enormously since we got it last Christmas. Although I won, I didn’t really feel that I’d grasped the strategy for Queen Domino; I think that might take numerous games.

After our game, X-Ray and I went for a rather late wander down to Jack Scout and managed to miss what was, apparently, quite a spectacular sunset.

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Next time will have to do.

A pretty good start to 2019. I hope you’ve enjoyed the same.

New Year Floral Survey

Brighter Later

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The first Saturday in October began overcast and rather autumnal, but brightened up whilst I was out for the first of my strolls that day, a circuit via Clark’s Lot, Hollins Lane, Heald Brow, Jenny Brown’s Point, Jack Scout and Woodwell.

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Rosehips and blue tits.

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The Forest of Bowland hills and Carnforth Salt-marsh from Heald Brow.

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Quicksand Pool and the chimney at Jenny Brown’s.

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Traveller’s Joy.

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Grange-over-Sands, blue skies and the Coniston Fells from Jack Scout.

The remaining photos could be from that same trip, but may well be from my second walk of the day, a familiar turn around the Cove and the Lots, because both routes finished along the same bit of track close to home. The fence around the vicarage grounds is liberally festooned with ivy and, on that day, the ivy was absolutely overrun with insects, particularly wasps, but also various flies, hoverflies and ladybirds.

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Flesh-fly.

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Greenbottle.

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A hoverfly – Scaeva Pyrastri. Very handsome with it’s curving white markings, not really shown to best advantage here, sadly.

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Some flower-heads were very busy!

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Bluebottle.

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Wasps.

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Drone fly.

I should probably celebrate the fact that I’m so easily engrossed by flies which are generally considered to be pests gathered on a plant which many would regard as a persist weed. Sometimes, however, the habit of gawping can have it’s downsides: a couple of weeks later, whilst I was similarly occupied, a wasp got trapped between my glasses and my face and stung me just below the eye for its troubles. On this occasion though, prolonged staring helped me to spot this…

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I think that this might be the pupal stage of a ladybird, although I’m not at all confident about that, and if I am right, I still don’t know which of the many varieties of ladybird this might be.


 

Brighter Later

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.

Wildflowers on Heald Brow.