No Jokers on Ingleborough

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Pen-y-Ghent in a winter suit.

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

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

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

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

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

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Long Lane again.

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

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Rayside Plantation and Ingleborough Cave.

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Trow Gill.

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

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Ingleborough and Simon Fell.

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

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Pen-y-ghent.

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

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

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Ingleborough and Simon Fell.

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Pen-y-ghent.

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

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

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A prospect to warm the hearts ♥.

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

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Ice diamonds? ♦

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

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

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Pen-y-ghent and Ribblesdale.

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

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

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

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The western edge of Simon Fell and Souther Scales Fell.

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

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Black Shiver from the other direction. I think.

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

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

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

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

I spotted these prominent plant stalks in a cliff…

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

Eventually I found what I was looking for…

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

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

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Further exploration brought me to a dramatic spot…

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

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Panorama of Whernside. Click to see larger version.

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

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

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

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

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

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Icicles, in spades. ♠

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Still quite cold, then!

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

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

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

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

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Some of which had obvious limestone features…

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I was heading for Little Ingleborough…

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Looking back to the summit.

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Little Ingleborough.

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

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

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Gaping Gill pano.

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

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Trow Gill.

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

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

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

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

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

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Clapham Beck.

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

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

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Clapham Beck.

Scenes from Clapham…

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Market Cross.

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In ‘Walks in Limestone Country’, Wainwright wrote:

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

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

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

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

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No Jokers on Ingleborough

Sunday Triptych: Ruskin’s View.

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I know that I posted photos of this view only recently, but I thought you might like to see what it looks like when the sun shines and with an added dusting of distant snow.

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Ruskin’s view panorama. Click to see larger image.

The snow-capped hills are at the southern end of the Middleton Fells – Castle Knott and Calf Top. The prominent hill on the right of the first photo is Brownthwaite Pike, which is a bit of an oddity, because when you’re on it, it doesn’t seem very prominent at all: there’s higher ground just behind and then the ridge curls to the east and much higher tops. Still, it’s a great view point and a good place for a picnic on a summer’s evening. I’m intrigued by the Kirfit Hall in the middle distance, which looks to have some sort of tower incorporated into the building.

 

 

Sunday Triptych: Ruskin’s View.

Little and Often: Listed Lancaster

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Millenium Footbridge over the Lune.

Half-baked projects have been a feature of this blog. Some of them – following the length of the Kent over several outings, bagging the Birketts, last year’s Lune Catchment outings – have been moderately successful, in their modest way, not that any of them have reached a conclusion, but they’ve been enjoyable and have all taken me to places I might not have visited otherwise. There have been other ideas which I’ve floated from time to time, but even the ones on which I haven’t made much progress – learning birdsong springs to mind – have given me pleasure despite the lack of significant gains. All of which being the build-up to the announcement of another hare-brained scheme of mine, but first, an aside…

This…

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…is Greyhound Bridge in Lancaster. It was closed today for repairs. Built in 1911, it was a railway bridge until the line was closed in 1966. In 1972 it was reopened as a road bridge.  It will be closed for at least 6 months. Apparently the repairs are necessary because the bridge is deteriorating at a rate which means that by 2029 it will be unfit for traffic. In the meantime, traffic will be diverted over Skerton Bridge, which will have to accommodate the traffic currently carried by both bridges,  and which, built between 1783 and 1787, is considered to be rock-solid. There’s a moral in there somewhere.

Anyway, my little projects: last weekend, after I had been admiring the many handsome buildings in Kirkby Lonsdale, I decided to see what I could find out about one or two of them, and it occurred to me to search the internet for listed buildings there. It transpires that Wikipedia has a handy page which gives some details on them all. Whilst I was reading through that list, it occurred to me that a similar page for Lancaster probably exists and that seeking out the buildings on that list would add some interest to my lunch time strolls.

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St. John the Evangelist’s Church.

It turns out that Lancaster has well over 300 listed buildings. So plenty to go at. A small number have appeared here before. So, should I start from scratch? Does each building require a stroll and a post of it’s own? Multiple pictures? Interiors where possible? I shall have to give this some thought, otherwise gawping at and photographing the buildings will become too diverting and I shan’t be racking up the miles which was my original intention. Still, I think that this idea has legs.

Little and Often: Listed Lancaster

An Underley Walk

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Today has been a slightly odd Sunday because not only I have not been to Underley Park,  home of the Rams, Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC, but I also haven’t been to any other muddy, wind-blown, rain-lashed venues to watch boys play rugby. But that’s this Sunday, which will have to wait for a post of its own. Last Sunday I was at Underley Park, as I so often am.

Having said that, I haven’t been there as much this season. The boys fixtures used to generally coincide so that they would both be at home or both be away at the same venue. But this year they mostly have different fixtures, so that often one is at home and the other away. Sometimes they are both away. I’m the designated driver for away games, and TBH now does home fixtures and training.

Last Sunday, however, both boys had training. In fact, I think that all of the junior teams had training. As a result, it had been decided that some of the senior players would lead a strength and fitness session. With my ‘little and often’ head on, I decided that this was a great opportunity for me to log a few bonus kilometres, before the actual rugby was underway.

Underley park, the rugby ground, is within Underley Park the grounds of Underley Hall one of Ye Stately Homes of England.

I think that this Hansel and Gretel house may have been a gatehouse to the Hall…

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This is Underley Business Park…

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…once a stable block perhaps? There was also a small pond which was dammed, I wondered whether the other buildings behind this one were a former mill, but I can’t find any history on the web.

You can sort of see the Hall here…

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…partially shielded by trees.

This is the current house…

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…in its heyday.  I’ve shamelessly lifted this from wikipedia and they have it from A Series of Picturesque Views of Seats of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland by Francis Orpen Morris in 1879. There was a hall before this one, and this building has been extended since this painting.

There’s actually a good view of Underley Hall from the rugby club. Here’s a photo I took back in 2014, but never used on the blog…

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And with a zoom…

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It was a very changeable day.

Anyway, back to last Sunday, I followed this Leat…

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..which took me to the banks of the Lune (but with too many trees between me and the river for a good photo) and a little gate which let me back into the rugby club…

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The gate was unexpected, but very handy because I had to meet TBH and A. I had realised that the girls’ team were training and had rung to let A know, because she has decided that she no longer wants to be left out and now she’s going to play rugby too! Quite how we will get all three of them to matches and training in potentially three different locations, I’m not sure.

More photos from 2014. The clubhouse as it was then…

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…it’s been extended since then.

One thing Underley Park definitely has is great views. Here’s B’s team warming up…

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…and here they’re playing, you can see that the weather has changed…

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It’s a very exposed spot. You’ll just have to imagine the cold and the wind.

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Here’s B. Not in a ruck, which is unusual. I realise that I have no other photos of him playing and none at all of Little S. I shall have to rectify that.

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An Underley Walk

Crook O’Lune and Aughton Woods

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B was playing away for his school team in Liverpool, necessitating an early drop off in Lancaster and a lunch time pick-up. I decided to use the time between the two for a little wander along the Lune. The car park at Crook of Lune is pay and display these days, but only a pound for the whole day. Signs at the car park warned me that the path along the north bank of the river was closed due to a landslip, but, being pig-headed, I decided to head that way anyway, to take a look-see. The forecast promised fair weather, but I set-off with atmospheric, early-morning mist. The fields along the Lune here were very soggy, as if the river might recently have been above its banks.

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What could be the purpose of this building on the far bank? Surely, the weir doesn’t need to be watched?

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I was surprised to find Campion flowering on Armistice Day.

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Waterworks Bridge – actually an aqueduct carrying two pipelines which supply water from Thirlmere to Manchester.

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Just beyond the bridge, the path enters Aughton Woods.

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I took the higher, permission path hoping it might perhaps take me around the damaged section of path by the river.

It didn’t, but it did take me to this view point in Lawson’s Meadow…

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This would be an easy spot to get to after work. I can see myself returning as soon as the evenings are light enough.

The path down from there proved to be treacherous. Wet leaves, tree roots and the kind of muddy surface which slips, taking you with it. I fell over a couple of times, the second landing, unfortunately, very heavily on my camera. The fact that the camera doesn’t seem to be damaged is testament to the Camera Care Systems bag which I scrounged off my Dad. My back seems to have recovered too, although it was a bit sore at the time.

The landslip proved to be substantial. Several large trees had come down and it didn’t look at all easy to get around the various blockages. It’s a while now since this happened and hopefully there are plans to restore the right-of-way.

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Although it’s not shown on the OS map, I now knew that I could cross Waterworks Bridge, so turned back through the woods along the lower path.

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Aughton Woods and Ingleborough.

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Anybody know the purpose of this? There were a couple of them, set well back from the river bank. You can see one, in fact, in the photo above of Ingleborough.

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Waterworks Bridge again.

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Aughton Woods and the Lune again.

Whilst I was in the woods, the cloud had substantially cleared and the sun was shining. The river turns through a huge loop here, doubling back toward Caton. It was really enjoyable to walk: the sun was shining, there were Cormorants and Goosanders in the river and Ingleborough looked fantastic…

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I took far too many photos of Aughton Woods, the river and the mountain which dominates the valley.

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I liked this tree and the small hut beneath it too.

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It wasn’t the only one of its type I saw that day. There’s something by the door for holding…I’m not sure what?

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Could be for fishermen? Or wildfowlers?

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Eventually, I left the riverbank near Caton and headed back towards Crook O’Lune on the former railway line which is now a footpath and cycleway.

It’s not as nice walking as the riverside path, but, ironically, much busier.

Again, I was surprised by what seemed like unseasonal wildlife, this time a Blue Tit feeding a late brood in a pathside nesting box…

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The Lune from Crook O’Lune. Quite different from the first photo!

I still had some time in hand, so went seeking out Gray’s Seat, a viewpoint popularised by the poet Thomas Gray in the eighteenth century.

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Art on the old railway.

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River Lune.

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One of the bridges at Crook O’Lune. Last time we were here, in the summer, the boys swam in the river, to get clean….

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…after taking part, with some friends, in the Badass Mucker challenge, an assault course. Not everyone got quite so filthy. Our boys sought out the muddiest sections and then swam in them. Again. B’s right arm is in a waterproof plastic cover because his arm was still in a pot at the time, after he broke it

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Gray’s Seat was originally by the road. Artists visited and painted the famous view, including Turner. Then the road was moved and Gray’s Seat became a woodland.

This is Turner’s version of the view…

Crook of Lune, Looking towards Hornby Castle c.1816-18 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

…which I think is now in the Tate. I think it’s fair to say that he has taken considerable liberties with the landscape. It’s hard to make a comparison however, since this…

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…is what the view looks like now.

Shortly after I arrived at my scheduled rendezvous with B, he texted to say he would be back just after two o’clock, more than an hour later than I expected. I walked into town looking for a cup of tea, whereupon he texted me again to say that he was sorry, but he had meant just after one. I think I’d had a better morning than he had: he’d had a taste of some of the dark arts of the front row and I think his neck was worse than my back. I shan’t repeat the uncharitable things he had to say about his opponents, or Mr Magoo their teacher, who refereed.

Crook O’Lune and Aughton Woods

Return to Crummack Dale

Austwick – Flascoe Bridge – Oxenber Wood – Wharfe Wood – Wharfe – Moughton Whetstone Hole – Moughton Scars – Beggar’s Stile – Crummack – Norber Sike – Austwick.

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Ingleborough and Moughton from Oxenber Wood.

A walk with our friends M and S (seniority has had to give way to propriety here). They live on the edge of the Lakes and haven’t explored the Dales much, I was anxious to take the rest of the family to see Crummack Dale, the forecast was good, so all-in-all, this walk seemed ideal.

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Heading down towards Higher Bark House (we would soon turn left). Moughton Scar and Pen-y-ghent beyond.

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Red Admiral.

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Waterfall on Wharfe Gill Sike (another Lune tributary).

The kids were chatting away, somewhat ahead of the adults – we were talking about Ash dieback, I’m not sure what was keeping them occupied – when I noticed that they’d all stopped and looked rather hesitant. Here’s why…

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….fortunately, he didn’t seem very bothered by our presence.

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Wharfe.

One reason for choosing to repeat a walk very similar to one I’d only recently done was my anticipation of plentiful Raspberries on the track out of Wharfe. Everyone tucked in, but nobody seemed to relish them quite as much as me, and I got left well behind.

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Bridge over Austwick Beck.

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A ford on the path. This small stream, between Studrigg and Hunterstye, unnamed on the OS map, is another Lune tributary.

After his foraging lesson in North Wales, Little S recognised the leaves of Sorrel on the path here and decided to educate the rest of the party.

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Knotgrass Caterpillar.

We weren’t the only one enjoying the Sorrel – almost inevitably it was B who spotted this colourful creepy-crawly.

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This stream flows from Moughton Whetstone Hole to join Austwick Beck and therefore is another source of the Lune. 

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Ingleborough from Moughton Scars.

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And again.

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Looking back along the scars, Pendle Hill in the distance.

Little S had bashed his leg against a bench by Austwick Beck and since then had been limping theatrically, whenever he remembered to, alternating legs from time to time. He loves hopping about on Limestone Pavements however and now underwent a remarkable recovery which enabled his foot-dragging pace to increase to a run.

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The view from just below Beggar’s Stile. Again, Pendle Hill on the horizon.

Although B is very adept at spotting wildlife, and his powers of observation are usually acute, they don’t always seem to function: when I pointed out Pendle Hill and asked him if he had noticed its bulk looming over the Scout Camp where he had spent the previous week he looked at me blankly.

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Roe Deer Buck – the sheep behind gives a good idea of their size: they aren’t very big.

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Heading back down to Austwick. The stream at the bottom is Norber Sike, you guessed it, another Lune Tributary! Obsessed? Who me?

Return to Crummack Dale

Lancaster: The Heights, Aldcliffe, Lune

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Another taxi-Dad related walking-window which involved staying in Lancaster after work to wait for A. I started on the footpath which runs between this field, which the kids tell me is called ‘The Heights’, and the Haverbreaks housing estate, which my former colleague Dr PH used to call ‘The Magic Kingdom’ when we ran along its private roads during our lunch breaks years ago.

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I’m not sure whether Lancaster is built on seven hills like Rome, but it certainly does lay on a series of modest heights, some of which, like this one, give excellent views. The hills in the background are Arnside Knott and the long ridge of Cartmell Fell, with the higher Lake District Fells behind.

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Lancaster Castle.

The path took me down to the Lancaster Canal and I turned south-west along the towpath for a time. On the far side of the canal, some of the gardens of the Haverbreaks houses run down to the canal bank. The gardens always look very pleasant, but I was more interested in the flowers growing in the shallow margins of the canal itself…

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White Water-lily.

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Flowering Rush

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Meadowsweet and Marsh Woundwort.

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A house in Aldcliffe.

I left the canal to take the lane into the tiny hamlet of Aldcliffe. This is less than a mile from where I’ve worked for the past 20 years (nearly), but I’d never been here before!

From Aldcliffe a path snakes down towards the Lune. For most of its length it was hemmed in by two very tall hedges and seemed to be a haven for a wealth of insect life, notably butterflies including several Red Admirals, some Speckled Wood and…

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Comma.

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Salt marsh by the Lune.

I had a choice of paths around Aldcliffe Marsh, but took the shorter, eastern option because I was already realising that I had underestimated the length of the walk, or at least how long it would take me.

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Rosebay Willowherb.

There were a wealth of flowers and plenty of butterflies along this section of the walk, but I took only a few photos because I was hurrying now.

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Great Willowherb.

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Green-veined White on Bramble.

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Gatekeeper.

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A (very vigorous) Melilot.

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Bumblebee with very full pollen basket.

Embarrassingly, after a stomp through town, I arrived, hot and sweaty, half-an-hour late for my rendezvous with A. Fortunately, she was very forgiving.

This route, and variations on it, have great potential for walks from work, just as long as I’m more careful with my time-keeping in future!

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Lancaster: The Heights, Aldcliffe, Lune