More Spring Colour

Hagg Wood – Silverdale Green – Sharp’s Lot – Pointer Wood – Stankelt Road – The Lots – The Cove – The Shore

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A couple of nights after my last visit to Hagg Wood, I was out again, but this time with some better light to catch the new leaves on one of the Inman Oaks.

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And the palette of greens in Hagg Wood…

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Not all of the oaks had new leaves yet…

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The stronger light was short-lived…

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I watched this blackbird for a while. It repeatedly, diligently wiped either side of its beak against the branch it was perched on. I can’t think why.

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In Pointer Wood there’s a Wilding Apple I like to visit. It’s almost in flower…

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More Wych Elm.

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The ‘Primrose Garden’.

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I arrived on the coast a little too late for the sunset.

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As I walked across The Lots I watched a man walking his dog out on the Bay. It’s been looking unusually firm and sandy near the coast recently and I couldn’t resist having a walk on the ‘sand’. In this case appearances weren’t misleading and I enjoyed my stroll, doubling back along the coast to pretty much where I had just come from.

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Sometimes our actions can have unexpected, or indeed unintended consequences. One knock-on of my renewed determination to get out and about as often as I can is the fact that even though April is a month in which I often take a lot of photos, this year I have still far exceeded my standard haul. Also, I noticed with some surprise today, I’ve published a post every day this month so far. In fact, my streak has lasted a little longer than that. That too has consequences. For one thing, a few more people seem to be reading my blog (or at least visiting, and sometimes clicking ‘like’ or ‘follow’, which isn’t necessarily the same as reading). Also, I now feel under some pressure to keep it going; at least till the end of the month, although I’m not sure that I can manage it. We shall see…

More Spring Colour

Spring Colour – Mostly Leaves

Hagg Wood – Home – Hagg Wood – Silverdale Green – Burtonwell Wood – The Row – Ring O’Beeches – Eaves Wood – Elmslack Lane

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A beautiful, bright, clear spring day. Perfect for going back to work!

By the time I got out for a walk, after work and our evening meal, the sun was quite low, it had clouded up and the light was far from ideal for photography. Also, it helps to have a battery in your camera if you want to take photos, which is why I walked home again from Hagg Wood and then retraced my steps yet again.

First port of call, following that palaver: the oak trees in the fields near home. Had they put on new raiment like the ones we walked past the day before on the shores of Ullswater?

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They had, and in the same marvelous lemony-green.

As I walked towards Hagg Wood I was struck by the subtle variation in colours of the various trees coming into leaf in that small copse. We make a great deal of fuss about Autumn leaves, but Spring Colour seems only to refer to the latest palette for this season’s cat-walk.

Part of that plethora of hues was provided by these seed pods…

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I’ve been surprised by how many trees there are in the area carrying seeds of this kind. I believe that these are characteristic of Elms, and given our northern location, I’m assuming that this is Wych Elm, which, fortunately is more resistant to Dutch Elm disease than English Elm.

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Blackthorn.

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Gean, or Wild Cherry.

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Ivy.

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Hawthorn (blossom soon to appear!).

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Hazel (I think).

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A Rose, Dog Rose I assume.

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Rowan.

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Again, I assume that this is Wych Elm, although the seeds are so much more abundant that I wondered whether this was a different species than the first tree. Apparently the seeds are good to eat. I shall sample some and report back soon.

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Sycamore.

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Crab Apple?

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Ash. Leaves almost with us.

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Elder?

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Another Sycamore. But not just any old Sycamore. This is….

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The tree formerly known as the Mystery Tree now revealed as a not particularly mysterious Sycamore. Ten points then to my Mum and Dad, who had it tabbed as that all along.

I have decided, having enjoyed making frequent visits in anticipation of leaves appearing on this tree, to continue dropping by and to dip my toe into Tree Following.

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Although there was much more of this walk still to come, that’s it for this post, since, as you can see, the light was fading fast.

Spring Colour – Mostly Leaves

Walking and Gawking

Eaves Wood – The Row – Bottom’s Lane – The Green – Stankelt Lane – The Lots – The Cove – Elmslack Lane

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Cherry Blossom.

The forecast was poor, but the rain was meant to stop eventually, late in the afternoon. It didn’t, but then just when it seemed set in for the entire day it suddenly both stopped raining and brightened up, leaving dramatic dark skies to the east, but sunshine overhead.

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Honesty.

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I headed up the Coronation Path (bought in 1953 by the village to give access to Eaves Wood) knowing that I would gain height with a view of those glowering clouds.

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The sun was low filtering through the trees and lighting the new Beech leaves…

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From Castlebarrow, looking over the village, I could see the hills of the Forest of Bowland were still shrouded in a layer of cloud.

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But that it was slightly brighter out over the bay…

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A Robin was serenading me from the top of a Yew tree level with the crag…

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Beech leaves in a rut, Andy Goldsworthy style?

Most of these photos were taken in the early part of the walk. After that the light was generally too poor. When I’d asked TBH to lend me her phone so that I could monitor my mileage, A had very kindly offered me hers instead, but insisted that I use a different App which she assured me was ‘better’ in some unspecified way.

This turned out to mean that the phone, rather disconcertingly, announced aloud, every kilometre, my average speed, split times, distance etc. It took me a bit by surprise the first time, to be spoken to in an American accent whilst I was ostensibly alone in the woods. It was no real surprise, on the other hand, to discover that my speed increases significantly when I stop taking photos.

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After my almost obligatory visit to The Lots and The Cove I walked past a friend’s house and discovered him having a quiet smoke on his front step. Twenty minutes later as we sat chewing the fat over a cup of tea in his kitchen, A’s phone piped up to deliver very disappointing news about my current speed and split time.

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Must try harder obviously!

Walking and Gawking

Little and Often – Lao Tzu

Hagg Wood – The Green – Stankelt Road – The Lots – The Cove – Townsfield

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I frequently walk past this border of Hagg Wood and it’s been interesting to watch the Blackthorn flowers transform from constellations of tight white balls into fully fledged blossom.

Ecotones are always busy with life and this one, between the woods and the open field, is no exception, being always thronged with birds. Usually I hear them more than see them, but this warbler…

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…was both silent, but also unusually easy to track with my camera.

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Warbler’s are easiest to distinguish by their songs, so I’m not sure whether this is a Chiff-Chaff or something else. And, to be honest, if it isn’t a Chiff-Chaff, then the song wouldn’t have helped me much either.

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The mystery tree is still playing its cards close to its chest, with no leaves unfurling yet, which probably means that it isn’t a Sycamore.

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Hebridean Sheep. I think.

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Chaffinch.

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I stepped into Pointer Wood, saw how deep the shadows were there and decided not to go that way. But I lingered long enough to take lots of backlit photos…

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Gooseberry flowers.

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Hazel leaves?

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Sycamore leaves.

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Ivy.

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The Lots.

The couple ahead of me in the photo are friends from the village whom I often meet when I’m walking locally, particularly of an evening. It amuses them that at the moment I wear shorts, but also a hat and gloves. Seems perfectly sensible to me.

As I approached the small copse which stands either side of the path above the cliff by The Cove, I watched a pair of Buzzards circling above it.

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There were several Starlings foraging in the second, northern-most of The Lots fields. A few years ago I spotted a Starling nest in the woods here and watched for some time as the two parent birds flew back and forth whilst their hungry brood noisily pleaded for more.

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Crow.

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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, this oft-quoted proverb is apparently from the 64th chapter of the Tao Te Ching which is attributed to Lao Tzu. A more accurate translation, I’ve read, would be: “A journey of a thousand li starts beneath ones feet.”

But, returning to Mr Sloman and his daily target of 3 miles; that average mileage per day would yield over 1000 miles in a year. Which would no doubt feel like something of an achievement. I notice that Country Walking magazine have a 1000 mile challenge. And some bloggers are already well underway with said challenge.

So: could I manage it? Well, this modest walk is two and a half miles. I know this since TBH has loaded an App called Move onto her phone and I’ve been borrowing the phone. The app provides a step-count, a distance, time and average speed for your walk. I must confess that I love both the data and the maps and am almost tempted to get my own smart phone so that I can use it more regularly. Almost. Even with all of the gawking I did, I still managed this in just over an hour, so yes, I could probably manage this most days and then make up any shortfall at the weekends. Of course, a good time to come to this particular realisation would have been just before New Year, rather than part way through April. Still, it’s something to think of for next year. In the meantime I’ll keep practising.

This gate…

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…gives me some measure of my progress to date. In recent years it has been a bit of a squeeze for me to get through it, but now I can pass through with ease. A fact which never fails to make me smile. Sometimes I go back and forth through it a couple of times, just because I can.

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The pair of Buzzards swooped low over the wood then gracefully arced over and back to come to land on branches high at the back of the wood. I could half see them, but not well enough to get a photo.

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Behind me, a Blackbird was regaling the sinking sun with gusto.

And why not?

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Blackthorn Blossom in late evening light.

 

Little and Often – Lao Tzu

Two Bonus Birthday Hills

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Cove Road Quince flowers.

So, I had a little op, part of my ongoing review of local surgery facilities. I had the same op 24 years ago. On that occasion, I spent a few days in hospital afterwards, and although the aftermath was a good deal better than the few days prior to the procedure, suffice to say that it wasn’t entirely comfortable. This time then, I knew what to expect. What’s more the surgeon had warned me that I would need at least a week off work to recuperate (and then scotched that silver-lining by sending me a date at the beginning of a two week holiday period) and I had been sent home with a handy collection of pain-killers to help me get by.

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Violets.

I went under the knife on the day before my birthday, so not much chance then of my usual walk on my birthday, and certainly no hill-climbing, at least that’s what I thought, which was why I was so keen to drag the kids up Pen-y-ghent and Helvellyn in the days beforehand.

But this time, the op had been performed as a day case, so at least I was sent home. And it had gone much better than expected and I wasn’t really experiencing much pain. A little discomfort would be nearer the mark.

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This clump of sedge is close to the Elmslack entrance to Eaves Wood. I’ve walked past them countless times before, but never noticed them flowering, or are they fruiting? To the left of the rush the shorter, fine ‘grass’ is actually some kind of garlic or chive – it has a strong garlic flavour and smell.

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A consultation of ‘Roger Phillips Grasses, Ferns, Mosses & Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland’ has led me to the conviction that this is Hairy Woodrush.

In fact, I felt pretty good. I’d been told I couldn’t drive for 24 hours. And that I couldn’t be left alone during the same period. But nobody had categorically told me that I couldn’t go for a birthday walk. And the sun was shining. Or at least, it was when I set off, although a wave of cloud was rushing in from the west, presumably carried in on a front of some kind.

I did go out on my own, which probably contravened the terms of my release, but I took my mobile so that I cold phone for help, if I fell unconscious or somesuch….

I planned to head up to Castlebarrow, giving me a hill, however small, as is my custom on my birthday and a vantage point to watch the weather change, but I was distracted by the area of fallen trees just off the path, which the children used to enjoy visiting in order to build a den between the roots of two large trunks.

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There are several large fallen trees in the one small area…

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The area around the trees is now filling up with a thicket of saplings…

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…in contrast with other nearby areas where the mature trees still stand and the woodland floor is only covered with old leaves and the odd patch of Cuckoo Pint.

I expected to find fungi growing on the dead wood…

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And I did!

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But also, on an old Yew, a new Yew…

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And…

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….something else, I’m not sure what.

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New leaves…Hazel?

Because of all of my faffing about admiring dead trees and fungi, by the time I reached Castlebarrow, the blue sky had virtually all been enveloped by the cloud.

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It was really too gloomy for taking bird photos, but there were a number of duelling Robins on adjacent small trees…

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…and I couldn’t resist them!

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Blue Moor Grass

From Castlebarrow I dropped down on to the northern side and took a dog walkers path into Middlebarrow which I may have followed before, but which I don’t know well. I heard a Green Woodpecker yaffle very close at hand. Scanning the nearby trees I was rewarded with a flash of exotic green and red as the woodpecker flew away. I frequently hear Green Woodpeckers but very rarely see them, so this was a special moment.

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Arnside Tower and Blackthorn blossom.

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Honeysuckle.

Following the path which traces the northern edge of the Caravan Park I expected to see Green Hellebore…

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Green Hellebore. No flowers in evidence. Too late or too early – I suspect the latter.

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Primroses.

But certainly didn’t expect to see another Green Woodpecker. I heard it first, then tracked down its position due to the sound of it knocking persistently on the trunk of a tree. I could just make out it’s head…

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And managed a frustratingly useless first-ever photograph of a Green Woodpecker. It soon flew off, and whilst I waited to see if it would return, and watched the antics of a dog which had skipped over the wall from the path and was gleefully evading its owners, I wondered about the ownership of a largish hole in the ground I could see just beyond the wall. I didn’t wonder for long…

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This…

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…is the large Blackthorn where last year I watched for a while entranced by the huge and varied population of bees frequenting its flowers. It wasn’t fully in blossom this year and I was struck by its lichen bedecked branches.

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Cherry Blossom on the cricket club grounds.

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Primroses on a Cove Road verge.

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Barren Strawberry on a Cove Road wall.

Briefly, as I neared home, the blue sky returned, but this was a very fleeting improvement in the weather – patches of blue appeared and then, in a matter of moments, virtually the whole sky was blue again, but only moments later it had all disappeared again.

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Jack-by-the-Hedge, or Hedge Garlic, or Garlic Mustard. Supposed to be good to eat, but much too bitter for me.

There’d been a dispute, apparently, about who was going to cook me a birthday breakfast, but this was a bit of a pointless argument, since I don’t eat breakfast these days. However, A deferred her menu choice and served up a very creditable Spanish omelette for lunch. We now just need to work on the other 364 days of the year.

When I’d bought the boys new boots the day before, S fixed the shop assistant with a glare and asked, “But are they waterproof?”

To which he responded; “Well, you’ll have to wax them.”

I’m glad that they got this from someone else, because I doubt they would have taken it half so seriously if I had told them. Anyway, B, particularly, was very vexed that he had scuffed his boots on Helvellyn so I decided to take advantage of their enthusiasm for their new boots and they washed them, and then applied two coats, one of a leather treatment and softer, and one of wax.

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Which, in turn, encouraged me to do the same to mine!

I’ve kept my ‘cleaning kit’ – wax, rags and brush – in the box my own relatively new boots came in, in the summer house and said box had two sizeable residents spiders…

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I think they have been living in here a while because the box also contained a couple of shed exoskeletons. I suspect that these are some kind of wolf spider, but I don’t have even a remotely comprehensive guide to British spiders, so really, I’m just guessing.

Later, A had a dance lesson in Milnthorpe. Whilst she was there, the boys and I had a simple straight up and down walk up Haverbrack…

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So, rather unexpectedly, I managed two hills on my birthday, only the modest heights of Castlebarrow and Haverbrack, but it’s a good deal more than I anticipated.

Two Bonus Birthday Hills

The Peace of Wild Things

Hagg Wood – Silverdale Green – Clark’s Lot – Silverdale Green – Burtonwell Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Bank Well – The Row – Golf Course – Leighton Moss – Trowbarrow Quarry – Moss Lane – Jubilee Wood – Ring O’Beeches – Eaves Wood 

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Ear Fungus.

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Blackthorn Blossom.

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More Blackthorn Blossom (with photobombing Bee?).

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Gooseberry Flowers.

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New Sycamore Leaves.

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Roadside verge White Violets.

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Emerging Horse Chestnut leaves and flower.

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Ash buds transmute into blackberries.

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Then wacky flowers.

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More Blackthorn.

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Primroses.

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Wood Anemone.

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Marsh Marigold.

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Willow Catkins.

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I liked the colours.

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And the variety.

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And the various stages.

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Obligatory Robin.

In Eaves Wood I thought I could hear Chiff-Chaffs a returning migratory warbler bringing news of spring. However, I’m very suspicious of my own bird identifications, especially when they are based on song only, so I was tempted to dismiss this as a mistake. Tempted that is, until the following morning, when a Chiff-Chaff was singing proudly from the Birch tree right by our kitchen window – incontrovertible evidence that they are back!

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

It’s that time of year again. Lots of evening walks. Lots of photographs of flowers and Robins. And poems. Not e.e.cummings yet. But soon!

The Peace of Wild Things

All’s Right With The World

Park Road – Eaves Wood – Middlebarrow – Arnside Tower – Saul’s Road – Arnside Knott – Shilla Slope – Black Dyke – Middlebarrow Quarry – Eaves Wood.

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Oystercatchers and Black-headed Gull.

The day after Boxing Day was the kind of bright sunny day which always makes me feel cheerful.

The lark’s on the wing;

The snail’s on the thorn;

God’s in His heaven—

All’s right with the world!

Which is apparently a passage from Browning, although I know it because Wodehouse’s characters are apt to quote it when all is going well (which is to say, just before everything goes horribly, comically wrong).

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And yes, I know that the lark isn’t really on the wing at the end of December, well at least not in its characteristic steep display flight, but sunshine and blue skies just make everything look fresh and special and spring like.

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Reading up on the water tanks in Eaves Wood for my previous post, I was reminded that amongst the former owners of Hill House (now the Woodlands pub) were the Inman family  who were responsible for the planting of many of the trees in the woods.

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I think the circle of trees in the Ring o’Beeches must have been planted. I wonder if it was by the Inmans, who owned the wood in the first half of the Nineteenth Century?

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The larches too must have been planted.

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Arnside Tower.

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Arnside Tower Farm.

The hill behind the farm is Arnside Knott and that steep slope is covered in a very loose scree, known locally as shilla. After I’d climbed the Knott I took a route which looped around and recrossed my ascent route, taking me down to a path through those trees at the bottom of the slope.

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Saul’s Road.

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I’d walked out of the front door before I’d decided where to go, but with a host of competing ideas in my head – it’s nice to have so many options. I’d plumped for Arnside Knott because I’d assumed that there would be great views of the Lakes…

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…but in fact everything beyond Whitbarrow Scar and Gummer How was lost in a grey haze. Never mind: plenty to see close at hand.

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Magic.

All’s Right With The World