A Walk with X-Ray and Boot Review Update.

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X-Ray on the Lune Aqueduct, just before he produced a flask of tea and two cups from his bag. What a gent.

X-Ray has appeared on this blog from time to time over the years. He’s an old friend who is always great company on a walk. We play in a pub quiz team together, but the pandemic put paid to that and when he rang me over Christmas I realised that I hadn’t seen him since the start of lockdown. A get together seemed called for and we eventually agreed on a walk around Lancaster. It was a glorious sunny day, lots of other people had a similar idea to us and were out for a post Christmas ramble in the unexpected sunshine. I probably should have taken a few more photographs, but X-Ray and I had a lot of catching-up to do, and anyway, whenever we get together we seem to able to fill several hours with non-stop conversation. On this occasion, without really realising it, we managed eight miles of blether before we’d found our way back to X-Ray’s flat.

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Freeman’s Pools

We talked, among other things, about work; the pandemic, of course; pensions I seem to remember – probably an age thing; and about shoes. X-Ray had been reluctant to come for a walk from Silverdale to Arnside because he has no comfortable walking boots. For our walk he was wearing, I think, a pair of trainers with part of the toes removed. He finds it very difficult to buy shoes or boots which are wide enough for his feet, as do I. I told him about my Altberg boots, which I bought at Whalley Warm and Dry and which, after 5 years of use, are a little scuffed but otherwise as good as new. In fact, I’m wearing them more and more, as I find that they are consistently the most comfortable footwear I own. Anyway, X-Ray rang me last week and told me that he has an appointment next week at Whalley Warm and Dry to get some boots fitted. Hopefully, he can find something which is a good fit, and then we can get out for a walk somewhere a little further afield. Remembering our chat has also got me thinking about maybe going back myself to try a pair of Altberg shoes.

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Talking of kit, we were out for a family walk later that same day, after sunset, to try out a Christmas present, a wooly hat with an integral head-torch.

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As you can see, although the sun had already set, the light was rather nice.

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I was jealous of B’s hat which, as well as a light, incorporates bluetooth headphones. What a great idea!

A Walk with X-Ray and Boot Review Update.

October 2020: Rainbow Days

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If you click on this image and then zoom in, you’ll see that the Howgill Fells had a dusting of snow.

Last year, when I got behind with the blog, I dealt with the previous October with a single brief post. Not this time. Last October deserves at least 2 posts.

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Eaves Wood

So, what did I get up to last October? Well, I certainly got out for a lot of walks; almost exclusively from home. I took a lot of photos, generally of cloudy skies, often with a rainbow thrown in for good measure.

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My brolly became my constant companion and my favourite bit of walking kit. It was windy too mind, and my umbrella was turned inside out on a couple of occasions. Which trauma it seems to have survived without any noticeable loss of function.

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Challan Hall and double rainbow.

B took over A’s Saturday morning paper-round, then offered to stand in on Sundays too for his friend E, at which point an ongoing knee problem flared up leaving him unable to walk, requiring surgery and a lengthy convalescence, so muggins ended up doing both rounds. At least I got an early walk in at the weekends. And often an early soaking. I was initially at bit slow finding all of the houses on the rounds, so much so that, on one occasion, the Newsagent sent out search parties. I think I was eventually forgiven – she took pity on me after seeing me doing my drowned rat impression so often.

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Hawes Water and rainbow.
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Eaves Wood from by Hagg Wood.
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The Bay looking moody.
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Sunset from near Hagg Wood.
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Rennie’s Aqueduct, taking the Lancaster Canal over the River Lune. Why was I in Lancaster? I can’t recall.
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Early mist rising off Hawes Water.
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Clearly, it wasn’t always cloudy.
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This has become a bit of a new favourite view, with the Lakeland Fells seen over the woods of Gait Barrows.
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In Eaves Wood.
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Ruskin’s View.

Rugby training, without contact, resumed for B, until the knee injury put a stop to that, which is why I was in Kirkby Lonsdale.

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Fungi intent in taking over a Luneside park in Kirkby.
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Looking toward the distant Howgills.
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Usually when I take photos of Roe Deer in the garden, I use my camera’s zoom to bring them closer. This was taken on my phone, since I hadn’t realised that the deer were there. They eventually hopped over the fence, but were unusually nonchalant about my presence.
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October 2020: Rainbow Days

Research Flat Earth

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The first weekend of February half-term. Pretty mixed weather to say the least. I was out several times none-the-less, first of all on my annual pilgrimage to see the display of Snowdrops near Hawes Water.

Later I was out in the garden and was astonished to see that a Brimstone butterfly had emerged from hibernation. Not something you expect to see on a cold, wet and windy day in mid-February.

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(The orange cables are fibre-optic, for a new broadband supply. Might be a while before they get dug in)

With all the rain we were having, the two big seasonal springs had appeared at the Cove:

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Between squalls it briefly brightened up…

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On the Sunday afternoon, I took B to a kick-boxing class in Lancaster, It’s a bit longer than some of the other classes he attends, so time for me to get in a slightly longer walk.

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I followed the Lancaster Canal, as far as the aqueduct…

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…where the canal had been drained whilst some work was underway.

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River Lune from the aqueduct.

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Carrs Billington plant catching the late afternoon light.

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Unnamed (on the OS map anyway) Lune Tributary.

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On the far side of the aqueduct I joined a slightly submerged riverside path.

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I found it quite exhilarating to walk alongside the river as it ran so high.

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Skerton Bridge.

The building catching the light here is new. We’ve christened it the ‘Shreddies’ building, which tells you more about the daft conversations we have in the car on the way into Lancaster in the mornings than it does about the building itself. (There’s another building nearby which looks like a Weetabix. No really, there is.)

 

Research Flat Earth

January Walks from Work

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Another component of my drive to increase my mileage were regular Lancaster walks from work, both at lunchtime and often later on for half an hour or so, before returning to prepare for the following day. I became quite adept at just missing the sunset from up by the castle.

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Lancaster Canal and the Cathedral.

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The garden at the Storey Institute.

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St Peter’s Cathedral.

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We did, occasionally, see some blue sky this winter. Just not often.

January Walks from Work

Half-term Happenings: Lancaster, Lune, Meal, Murmuration.

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On the Thursday of our February half-term week, we were looking to combine another ‘easy’ walk, which allowed the possibility of shorter or longer alternatives, with a lunchtime meal. We hit upon driving to the park and ride carpark, just off the motorway by Lancaster, which has the advantage of being free, then walking into town. We could then either walk back or catch the dedicated bus service if need be.

From the carpark, after crossing a couple of busy roads, it’s easy to access the path beside the River Lune. That took us to John Rennie’s 1797 aqueduct, which carries the Lancaster Canal over the river.

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We climbed up to the canal and then followed that into Lancaster.

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The River Lune and the (smelly) Carrs Billington plant.

We were heading for the Sun Hotel for lunch. The food was magnificent…

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I’ve included this slightly blurred photo of B instagramming his choice, because I know at least one reader of the blog who appreciates a huge burger.

The vegans were happy too…

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In fact, I think we all enjoyed our meals.

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After that enormous repast, we decided that we were all fit enough to walk back to the car. This time we followed the Lune rather than the canal.

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‘Little’ S and my nephew L. The latter wanted to pose in front of this cafe for some reason?

The dull cloud of the morning had cleared, so we had terrific views of the aqueduct reflected in the placid waters of the Lune to accompany our walk.

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On the way home, as we drove along Storrs Lane by Leighton Moss, I thought I saw a Starling murmuration, so we stopped to take a look. This is definitely a winter phenomenon and even in mid-February I suspect that there were perhaps less birds than we had seen earlier in the year, when we often saw people parked to watch the Starlings as we drove home from Lancaster in the late afternoons.

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The advantage we did have though was clear skies and good light.

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Still photos really don’t do this justice: the way the cloud of birds wheels together and pulses and fluidly changes shape.

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It was an unexpected bonus at the end of a very enjoyable day.

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Half-term Happenings: Lancaster, Lune, Meal, Murmuration.

Unlisted Lancaster.

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A weekend of absolutely glorious weather – blue skies and beautiful sunshine – but a very busy one for me, so another opportunity to make the most of whatever spare scraps of time were available. B was away with school, on a rugby tour, playing a game in Essex somewhere on the Friday and then at Twickenham watching England squeak past Japan in one of the Autumn Internationals on the Saturday. TBH was also away, I think on Guiding training, which left me as chief cook, bottle-washer and taxi-driver.

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I think that these are Muscovy Ducks. They aren’t native to the UK, but there were half a dozen on the canal that day, presumably feral birds.

Little S had BJJ in Lancaster on the Saturday morning and then a birthday party with a new friend (he’s moved up to ‘big school’) in the afternoon. I drove him in for BJJ and then took him for lunch afterwards and kept him company before his party.

I needed somewhere to leave the car; there’s not much in the way of free parking in Lancaster, but there are some spots on Aldcliffe Road, by the Lancaster Canal, which had the added advantage of leaving me with a bit of a walk to meet Little S after his grappling.

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Owl sculpture in a community garden sandwiched between Aldcliffe Road and the canal.

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Having passed through the town centre, my route to meet Little S took me along St. Leonard’s Gate. I wondered how properties which get listed are chosen and others are not. This building is fairly old, and the City Council have deemed it interesting enough to warrant one of their Green Plaques, but it isn’t listed.

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The Grand Theatre, just across the road is listed, but I didn’t photograph it, because it was in heavy shade. Another time.

Some of the properties in this area are looking a bit rundown to say the least….

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I walked past this building again recently and noticed that there was a pigeon stuck inside which was flying repeatedly into one of the few remaining panes of glass in a window.

This building…

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…is St. Leonard’s House, which is listed. It was built 1881-2 and was a furniture factory, for the Lancaster firm Gillow and Company. It too was looking a tad dishevelled, but has been hidden behind scaffolding for quite some time now and is clearly being tarted up for some purpose.

There’s been a fair bit of building work in Lancaster over recent years. This…

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…is part of Caton Court, which will provide student accommodation when it’s finished.

Little S was in no doubt about what he wanted for lunch – there’s a street market in Lancaster On Wednesdays and Saturdays and one of the stalls does a hog roast. Very nice it was too. After that we still had some time to kill, so I took S to the Music Room cafe and finally got to see the interior. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise at first that there’s seating upstairs which is presumably where we needed to go in order to see the ‘very richly decorated plasterwork walls and ceiling of c1730’. I would have known that if I’d thought to check the Historic England listing in advance. Oh well: next time!

Having dropped Little S at his party I went scooting home, hoping to get out again around the village whilst the weather was so benign.

Unlisted Lancaster.

Perch in Lancaster Canal

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For reasons too tedious to go into, after work one afternoon I needed to leave my car on Aldcliffe Road and walk across town to Caton Road. It was frankly, a bit too hot for my liking, especially since I was still in my work clothes, but it did give the compensation of a walk along the canal. Now, I’ve walked along this stretch of water many, many times over the last twenty years, but I’ve never before had the impression that it was particularly densely populated with fish. On this occasion, however, it was blatantly teeming with them.

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This photo doesn’t really capture it, but shoals of them were just below the surface, spreading ripples across the canal. I could see they they were striped, with a greenish, orangey tinge, so I assume that they were Perch.

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Red Valerian again. Native to the mediterranean, it has been naturalised in the UK for centuries.

In the old wharves, opposite the Water Witch pub, there were, if anything, even more fish, but much smaller ones.

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Whether these were simply shoals of smaller Perch, or something else entirely, I couldn’t say.

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They could be though, since apparently Perch spawn in shallow water in spring. I can’t recall ever seeing anyone fishing this stretch of water, which is curious since…

Perch flesh makes exceptionally good eating. Adjectives that have been used to describe their flesh include white, firm, flaky, and most importantly, boneless and well-flavoured. On the continent perch are farmed and eaten in large numbers. Indeed, in Finland perch is the third most important fish by weight, after herring and sprats.

Perch also make good sport. On a summer’s evening the smaller perch can be seen queuing up to take the bait – perfect angling for beginners – while the larger, solitary individuals are sufficiently secretive and wary to make a specimen hunters life interesting. Although no where near the size of a decent pike or salmon, a large perch is a stunning animal. The Scottish rod record stands at 4lb 14oz (2.21 kg), but bigger perch undoubtedly swim in Scottish waters.

Source

I was tickled, in this passage, by the image of the Perch forming an orderly queue to take the bait. How very British.

Perch in Lancaster Canal

Home from Kirkby

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Woods near High Biggins.

Mid-May and the rugby season has apparently come to an end. Or at least, there was an end-of-season award ceremony organised at Underley Park (midweek training is set to continue, seemingly indefinitely*). The ground was extremely busy, with extra-parking laid on, large marquees and a number of enormous trailers on site, not because of the junior rugby awards, but because Hollywood was in town, filming a scene (or scenes?) for a new Dr Doolittle movie. We kept our eyes-peeled, but Robert Downey Junior and Antonio Banderas weren’t in evidence. Due to all the excitement, the awards were slightly delayed, but the assembled families picnicked, played a little rounders and enjoyed the fabulous weather.

The whole event was over by around two, and having anticipated this, I had decided to fulfil an ambition I’d been nurturing throughout the season: to walk home from Kirkby. In truth, this had not been my original plan, but when TBH made a last minute decision to join the boys and I, I hastily threw my rucksack, maps and a change of shoes into the boot. So that when I set off, I didn’t have a route planned, or know quite how far I would be walking. For that reason I chose not to start from Underley Park, but asked instead to be dropped off in Low Biggins, just across the busy A65 from Kirkby.

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Cottages in High Biggins.

A short walk brought me to High Biggins, which seemed a very sleepy place and which I don’t think I’ve ever been through before.

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A coat of arms in a wall. Linked to High Biggins Old Hall? (Which I missed somehow, I shall have to come back.)

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Heading towards Hutton Roof.

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Looking back. Gragareth and Ingleborough on the horizon.

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Longfield pano.

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The hill on the right here is Scout Hill.

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Looking back again.

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Hutton Roof Crags and Farleton Fell.

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Hutton Roof.

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I liked the look of this house, on the outskirts of the hamlet, nestled into the hillside and dated 1874 over the porch door.

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On Hutton Roof Crags.

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Looking back towards the Middleton Fells.

It was hot. Just before she left me TBH asked if I had enough water and I said that I did. I was wrong. This little puddle…

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…,rather a surprise on a limestone hill, was no use to me, sadly.

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Farleton Fell. Lake District Fells and Howgills beyond.

I’d climbed on to a path slightly higher than the right-of-way shown on the map, but the views were more than sufficient compensation.

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Panorama.

Once I met the Clawthorpe Fell Road I followed that for a while, before picking up Snape Lane and dropping down to Burton-in-Kendal. I’ve walked this way more than once before, so was surprised to come across an entrance into the Lancelot Clarke Storth Nature Reserve which I haven’t used before. I shall have to come back.

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Field just outside Burton. These shiny, plastic covered fields seem to be a growing phenomena. Is the plastic acting as a sort of cloche?

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Burton-in-Kendal.

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Sadly, I didn’t read this sign the first time I walked past it. If I had, I could have saved myself a rather pointless out-and-back.

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M6 and Farleton Fell. Some people like these things apparently. Sorry there’s no junction, Andy.

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Ash tree, finally coming into leaf.

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Beetham Fell in the middle distance, Lakeland Fells beyond.

West of the motorway, there’s a tiny lump called Hanging Hill. I suspect the name probably signifies a grim past. The path doesn’t even cross the highest point, but this modest height has really expansive views.

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Hanging Hill pano.

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Lancaster Canal.

The map doesn’t show a towpath here, but clearly there is one.

I’d followed this DofE party…

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…over Hanging Hill. I found out later that they are friends of A and had been lost, which I was wondering about, because it was quite late on a Sunday afternoon now for them not to have finished. The bright rucksack liners are colour-coded so that different groups from the same school can be easily identified from a distance, which seems like a good idea.

I passed through the tiny hamlet of Hilderstone and then through a section of the walk with very flat farmland and numerous ditches, sharply contrasting  with what had come before.

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I must have been tired when I reached the A6, that’s my excuse anyway, because I temporarily turned the wrong way. I was worried that the path leaving the A6 might not be very well-used, but I found the stile okay and it wasn’t completely overgrown. The first field though, turned out to be thoroughly water-logged, which didn’t seem to deter the Lapwings which I think were nesting there.

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White Moss is relatively close to home and has some permission paths as well as the one shown on the map, and yet it’s many, many years since I last walked here.

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I must make more of an effort!

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White Moss.

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Yealand Hall.

High excitement at the corner of Thrang Brow Lane and Storrs Lane…

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I think I counted eight or nine emergency vehicles, some of which were unmarked. I don’t know what had happened, but I hope that everyone was okay.

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Copper Beeches on The Row.

Incidentally, there were a few butterflies about, and plenty of birds to enjoy, but I didn’t take any photos, because I only had my phone with me, and anyway was trying not to hang about. The walk was a little over 14 miles, which took me a little over 5 hours, which is a good deal faster than I usually walk, but I wanted to get home in time for my tea. Which I did.

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Given that I improvised the route as I went, I think I made some good choices. Next time I walk it, I think I will go over Hutton Roof Crags and down through Lancelot Clark Storth, but otherwise I would probably stick with this route. A pie and a pint in Burton wouldn’t go amiss either!

*Which is a Good Thing. No really, it is a Good Thing. What else would you do with a Wednesday evening in the summer, when the sun is shining and the evenings are long?

 

Home from Kirkby

Thurnham Hall Birthday Bash

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A family gathering, during which I don’t seem to have taken many family photos. We stayed at Thurnham Hall, a Grade I listed 17th Century Country House, but now also a hotel with lots of cottages in the grounds.

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The occasion was to celebrate my Dad’s eightieth birthday which happened earlier in the week, and also B’s birthday. Later in the day we would have the former chapel on the right here for our sole use as we ate a very fine evening meal.

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Primroses and Celandines.

We got out for a bit of a stroll in the very welcome sunshine early on the Saturday (in fact my Dad and I did this short circuit twice).

Our walk took us past Saints Thomas and Elizabeth Church…

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Lych Gate.

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Apprentice gargoyles.

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Mausoleum in the churchyard.

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The churchyard was also full of Primroses and Daffodils.

Whilst the woods opposite…

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….were equally full of Wood Anemones and Bluebells, some of the first I’d seen this spring.

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The church is quite isolated, alone in the woods.

We also walked briefly along the Glasson Branch of the Lancaster Canal…

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Later, we were back in Silverdale, to watch a dress rehearsal of a children’s production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in which A and S were appearing as Oberon and Lysander respectively.

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The following day we were Go-Karting in Lancaster, although sadly I’d been struck down with another bug and wasn’t well enough to participate.

A fabulous weekend all round, especially because we got to spend it with my Mum and Dad and my Brother and his family.

 

Thurnham Hall Birthday Bash

Little and Often: Ever Decreasing Circles

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Lancaster Canal and Cathedral.

I’ve been trying to get out at lunchtimes, partly to bump up my mileage, partly to get some daylight since it’s generally dark when I leave for work and when I get home again, partly to force myself to take a break, but principally because, once I’m out there, I enjoy it.

These photos were all taken on my phone, but on several different days.

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The Judge’s Lodgings.

Last week, I walked the same loop three times: along the canal, down Moor Lane then up Church Street to the Judge’s Lodgings.

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Then past Lancaster Priory and the Castle.

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View across Lancaster from near the Priory.

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Lancaster Priory.

…from where there’s a view across Morecambe and the Bay to the distant hills of the Lake District…

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It’s a comfortable 3.29km, just right for a lunchtime. Or…well, it was 3.29km the first time I walked it. The second time it had shrunk to 3.14km and by the third circuit it was further reduced to only 2.99km. This week I’ve chosen to walk a different route on the basis that if I continued in this way then Lancaster might disappear altogether by June.

This wasn’t altogether a bad thing, because the new route took me past Penny’s Hospital, the almshouses on King Street.

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And past Windermere House, now flats, but originally a Bluecoat school, first built in 1772, and then the Lancaster Charity School for Girls’, rebuilt in 1849-50.

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And, next door to that, Trinity United Reform Church…

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Or, actually, the former site of Trinity United Reform Church, since the church has recently moved out.

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And across the road from there…

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…this building which has an association with Thomas Mawson, architect and garden designer, who has often been mentioned on the blog before (because I’m very taken with his gardens).

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There: I got through the whole thing without any reference to the Richard Briers sitcom.

Oh. Whoops.

Little and Often: Ever Decreasing Circles