Walking the Lanes above Brockhole.

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Little S was invited to a party at the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole. Looks like another job for taxi-Dad! Once I’d dropped him off with our friends, I had around three hours to wait until the party would finish. The forecast hadn’t been great, but not diabolical either, so – just for a change – I thought I’d get out for a walk!

I started on Mirk Lane which took me up to Newclose Wood where I found another Woodpecker nest. The adult was back and forth to the nest, but it was very difficult to get a clear view for a photograph.

The path, seen above, brought me out to a minor road on the outskirts of a hamlet seemingly composed entirely of fairly new houses. This set the tone for much of the walk, taking me past many large expensive looking properties, most of them with great views across Windermere to the Langdale Pikes. Many of the gardens, and hedges, were full of Rhododendrons which were flowering and looking splendid.

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Wansfell above was lost in cloud, but the weather generally held, bar a few occasional drops of rain. The whole route was resplendent with wildflowers, changing subtly as I climbed the hill and came back down again.

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Foxgloves.

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Meadow Crane’s-Bill, probably.

One short section of roadside verge had three different Crane’s-Bills.

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French Crane’s-Bill, I think. A species introduced from the Pyrenees.

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Wood Crane’s-Bill (I think).

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Windermere.

Skelghyll Lane took me past more grand properties. At one point, I was pleased to see a smaller, more rustic looking building with a traditional round Cumbrian chimney, but then realised that it was actually a garden folly.

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Holbeck Ghyll.

I passed a hedge absolutely cloaked with tent moth caterpillars…

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Water Avens seedhead.

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Low Skelghyll.

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Hol Beck.

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Early Bumblebee on Marsh Thistle (I think, in both cases).

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Marsh Lousewort.

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Lousewort.

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Robin Lane.

Robin Lane, which is part of the old route from Ambleside to Troutbeck, is a favourite of ours and very familiar, but it was really interesting to approach it via the lanes from Brockholes which I’ve never walked before.

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Windermere.

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Cantharis Rustica (Soldier Beetle).

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Mouse-ear-hawkweed.

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Lady’s Mantle.

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Wain Lane, by which I returned to Brockhole, has handsome stone barns all along its length.

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Ribwort Plantain.

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Garden Chafers.

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Roe Deer.

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White-lipped Snail.

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Silver-ground Carpet Moth.

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Honeysuckle.

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Another Wain Lane Barn.

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Another Roe Deer.

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Middlerigg Tarn.

I’ve never been to Middlerigg Tarn before. It’s difficult to get a proper view of the tarn, it being bordered by trees and a high wall, but there are one or two gaps. It’s not in the Nuttall’s Guide to the tarns of the Lake District, or in Heaton-Cooper’s, but it is a very peaceful spot.

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Yellow Irises.

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White Clover.

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Comfrey.

As I was almost back to Brockhole, I was looking over into a field on my right at pony dressed in a Zebra-skin print coat. I noticed a buzzard, relatively close by, sitting on the ground…

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Sadly, it took off just as I was taking a photo.

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White Stonecrop.

I’d been worried about arriving late for the end of the party, but actually arrived with half-an-hour to spare, so was able to get some soup and a pot of tea in the cafe there. Then when I picked up S, he declared his intention to stay a little longer to play on the adventure playground. The weather had improved considerably so that I was able to sit in the sun and read the book I’d brought for just such an eventuality – ‘Counting Sheep’ by Philip Walling.

I’d seen a lot of sheep of many different kinds during my walk. Apparently the UK had more breeds of sheep than any other country. Here are a few examples from my walk…

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This looks some of the very dark Scottish sheep, like Hebridean or Soay, but I’m not sure that it is either of those.

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I’m pretty sure that this is a Swaledale.

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I think that this is a Blue-faced Leicester, but as ever, stand ready to be corrected.

 

 

Walking the Lanes above Brockhole.

A Feast of Flora and Fauna

The Row – Challan Hall – Haweswater – Gait Barrows Circuit – Moss Lane – The Row

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A beautiful sunny afternoon stroll with TBH. The boys were trampolining in Morecambe, thankfully without incident, A was otherwise occupied and so we were free for a quiet roam.

(A bit of a spoiler – Dad: there are photos coming up which you won’t appreciate.)

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Azure Damselfly.

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TBH spotted this little vole sitting by a field path. I think that it’s a Bank Vole rather than a Field Vole (but stand ready to be corrected).

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It was even less concerned by our presence than the Blackbird which featured in my last post. In fact, it was so bold that I wonder whether it’s devil-may-care attitude has subsequently got it into hot water. I took endless snaps and TBH eventually decided to see just how tame it was and bent down and stroked it’s back.

That got it moving, but perhaps not with the urgency we had expected and rather than making a beeline for the nearby hedge, it ran towards me, over my shoe, around my ankle and then we lost it in some longer grass.

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The wildflower meadow (where we saw the Vole).

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Gait Barrows Limestone Pavement.

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White-spotted Sable Moth

We spotted a couple of these nationally scarce day-flying moths, a first for me.

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Scorpion Fly

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Lady’s-Slipper Orchids

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Lily-of-the-Valley.

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Rock Rose.

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Dingy Skipper (another first for me).

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Green Lacewing.

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Common Blue.

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In the rides between the trees in Gait Barrows, out of the wind, it was really very warm and there were butterflies everywhere. As well as the ones I managed to photograph we also saw Brimstones, Orange-Tips and other Whites, and a few Fritillaries.

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I was intrigued by these striking white flowers growing in profusion in one stretch of the hedge-bottom, opposite some cottages on Moss Lane. I now think that they are Star of Bethlehem, an introduced species – possibly someone has planted some bulbs here along the verge.

A Feast of Flora and Fauna

Buff-Tip Caterpillar

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The latest in a series of posts which begin with the phrase: “Dad, come and look at This!”

I can’t find this striking caterpillar in my field guide, but a bit of internet sleuthing reveals it to be a Buff-Tip Moth, Phalera bucephala.

Probably not most likely to be seen crawling down our pebble-dashing, these caterpillars are usually gregarious and feed on a variety of plants together. The fact that this one was seen alone, on our wall, on a sunny day in September makes me think that it was searching for a place to pupate.

I hope that my identification is correct, and that I’m also right in thinking that this caterpillar has pupated in and around our garden, because this is a fascinating moth. In it’s adult form it does a stunning impersonation of a chip of birch twig…

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This is a photo I took back in 2010 at one of the excellent Moth Breakfast events at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve. We have two birch trees in our garden, so it seems reasonable to assume that we might have these moths in our garden. It makes me determined, next May and June, to finally getting around to improvising a simple moth trap to see just what we can find in our garden. At the moment I’m reading ‘The Fly Trap’ by Fredrik Sjöberg – it’s a delightful book, though I’m hard-pressed to explain why I’m enjoying it so much. The book has several themes – the motives of collectors, the joys of living on an island, the life and works of the naturalist and explorer René Malaise. Sjöberg is an entomologist, specialising in Hoverflies and one of his themes is about the joys of sitting put and letting nature come to you. Sounds like a plan.

Links:

http://ukmoths.org.uk/species/phalera-bucephala/eggs/                                                       More images and information about Buff Tips

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Fly-Trap-Fredrik-Sj%C3%B6berg/dp/184614776X                 ‘The Fly Trap’ by Fredrik Sjöberg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Malaise                                                               Wikipedia’s entry on René Malaise.

Buff-Tip Caterpillar

Oxburgh Hall

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Our last day in Norfolk. We were heading home in fact, but wanting to make the most of our opportunity, had decided to stop en route at Oxburgh Hall. Not that it was really on our homeward route, but in retrospect, it was well worth a bit of a diversion.

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There’s was lots to see. So much so that we didn’t get around to a walk around the extensive woods in the grounds.

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The house was interesting, both inside and out.

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You can possibly tell that it was the moat, and the views of the house across the moat which captivated me.

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I think the kids might pick their visit to the tight little priest hole as their highlight of the day. I deferred that pleasure for another visit – I had an unpleasant image of myself stoppering the entrance like Winnie the Pooh stuck in Rabbit’s hole with washing dangling from his legs.

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But, as I say, it was definitely the moat for me. It had a huge cast of attendant dragonflies and damselflies. Some of the dragonflies were of quite a size – I like to think that they were Emperor’s, but I’m only speculating. Other dragonflies were mating in flight, quite a curious thing to see. I took lots of photos, none of them even remotely successful. The damselflies were more accommodating, often settling on a lily pad…

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These are red-eyed damselflies, which are apparently very fond of lily pads, and who don’t venture as far north as Silverdale: always nice to spot something not found on our home-patch.

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The moat is fed by water diverted from the River Gadder and very clean and clear looking it is. And abundantly full of fish. I wondered whether it had been stocked.

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There seemed to be at least two sorts of fish swimming about. Smaller stripy ones swimming nearer the bottom of the moat…

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…not sure what these are. Perch are quite heavily striped, but they aren’t really small. The larger fish however…

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…with their red fins, I think are probably Roach.

Meanwhile this bundle of fluff looks drab enough to be a young Coot, except that the colour on its beak makes me suspect that it might actually be a Moorhen.

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The formal gardens were resplendent, not just with flowers, but also with butterflies and moths. I would have been flummoxed by this little, colourful moth – it isn’t in my field guide, but fortuitously I discovered that it is a Mint Moth when a picture was posted over at Quercus Community

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Peacock.

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We did manage a little wander down to a pleasant flower-filled meadow where there were many more butterflies and dragonflies. I think that these are both Common Darters, although I’m not at all confident with dragonflies.

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And I’m guessing, thanks to an informative comment in a previous post, that this…

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….is a Turkey Oak acorn.

I watched a little drama unfold whilst I was photographing the dragonflies. A ladybird ran along the top bar of the fence, straight into the clutches of one of the Darters…

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Both are predators, but I feared for the ladybird in a quarrel. However, the dragonfly seemed quite perturbed by the ladybird, and after a cursory examination allowed it to continue on its way.

Oxburgh Hall

A Hazy Day on Lord’s Seat

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A brief window of opportunity…how many times have I used that phrase on this blog? This is the internet age, the era of textspeak and limited attention spans, I ought to be using an acronym…BWOO! How’s that?

So, I had a BWOO because the boys had been invited to attend a cub-scouting event in Whinlatter Forest; they were scheduled to kill and gut a bullock before roasting it over a blazing 2CV. Possibly. Anyway, leaving them with their favourite paramilitary organisation, I parked at the Spout Gill car park and, with three hours before I needed to pick them up again, set-off in search of some Birketts to tick.

Mr Birkett suggests a circuit here which takes in 6 tops, but I knew I would never get around all of those. In fact, I wasn’t really sure, at my standard Almost Snail’s Pace (but not quite that speedy), that I would make any tops. In the end I managed to snaffle two: Broom Fell and Lord’s Seat.

It was a hazy day with very limited views, but there was a pleasantly distracting diversity of insect life about, seemingly enjoying the clammy conditions.

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Dor Beetle

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Looking back from the ascent on Broom Fell – the hill on the left is Whinlatter Top.

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Mother Shipton moth.

I had quite a game getting a sharp photo of this distinctive little chap (or chapess). It’s a Mother Shipton Moth apparently. Look at those dark profiles on the outer edges of each wing; apparently they resemble the famed Yorkshire witch. She was a prophetess. Predicted that the world would go to wrack-and-ruin, destroyed in a conflagration sparked by small boys and blazing 2CVs. Or maybe that’s a load of bullocks.

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The Cairn on Broom Fell.

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Looking back to Broom Fell from Lord’s Seat.

There’s an embarrassing postscript to this tale. I generally pride myself on my ability to cope with the simple tasks in life…tying shoe-laces, utilising a knife and fork efficiently, turning up at airports on the same day that my flight is booked, distinguishing correctly between left and right; that kind of thing. What possessed me then, on the way home, to turn left onto the M6 at Penrith and tootle blissfully along, Scotland-bound I shall never know. I might have got away with it: our boys were happily listening to a story and wouldn’t, I think, have twigged that I had made a preposterous error, but we were giving a friend of theirs a lift and he was soon wise to my buffoonery. Since then I’ve faced a certain amount of ribbing from the parents of the rest of the cub-scout troop. (Is troop the right collective noun? Band? Mob? Cell?)

Anyway, a grand (half) day out. Roll on the next BWOO.

A Hazy Day on Lord’s Seat

Foulshaw Moss and Meathop Moss

Pond at Foulshaw

Two nature reserves, which, as the crow flies, are close to home, but being on the other side of the Kent estuary, have mainly passed under my radar until recently. Foulshaw Moss figures prominently as a vast yellow expanse in the winter view from Arnside Knott.

 Foulshaw Moss 

Whilst there’s potentially a wealth of wildlife to spot here, the most notable inhabitants on my recent evening visit were the damselflies.

Large Red Damselfly 

The large red damselflies were numerous. but quite hard to spot since they seemed to prefer a partially concealed perch, under a leaf or in the midst of a clump of reed or grass stems. 

Large Red Damselfly III 

Large Red Damselfly IV

The blue damselflies were much more brazen, with clouds of them occupying prominent positions across a bush or some reeds.

Azure damselfly I 

Azure damselfly II 

Since there are several species of blue damselfly I’m usually very tentative in any identification.

Azure damselfly on bog myrtle

But I’m reasonably confident that these are azure damselflies, the U shape on the second abdominal segment is the give away. There were some blue-tailed damselflies about too, but they were very wary of me and my camera.

As for this one….

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…I’m not sure…a female?

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I’ve had no luck with the identity of this fly or this…

Unidentified Moth

….delicately pretty small moth.

But I think that this…

Broken-barred Carpet?

…might be a broken-barred carpet moth.

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I guess that this is a hoverfly, but that’s as far as I’ve got.

Bog myrtle flower (?)

Male catkin, bog myrtle.

Bog myrtle

There’s quite a bit of bog myrtle about. It has a wonderful pungent aroma when the leaves are brushed. Apparently it was used to add bitterness to beer in the days before hops were used. (And, I’ve discovered, Fraoch’s scrumptious Heather Ale uses bog myrtle as a well as heather.)

Meathop Moss is, like Foulshaw, a raised mire, with sphagnum moss retaining water and creating peat – up to a depth of six metres apparently.

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Vegas-era-Elvis insect. You’d think this would be distinctive enough for me to be able to find it in my field guide. You’d think.

Meathop looks more like a sphagnum bog than Foulshaw….

Meathop Moss Boardwalk, views to Cartmell Fell 

…with the kind of plants you would associate with that environment.

Like…

Sundew 

Sundew.

Cranberry 

Cranberries 

Cranberries.

Bilberry 

Bilberries.

Seadhead 

And others which I don’t know, like this grass.

This had me flummoxed…

Mystery flower 

…but…

Mystery flower II 

…I’m now thinking that it’s cross-leaved heather, and that these flowers aren’t open yet.

Another mystery flower 

These curious green-yellow flowers (?) are still puzzling me.

A curled leaf on a low shrub attracted my attention; inside this attractive spider…

Spider in rolled leaf 

The hedgerow near the entrance to the reserve (with it’s contradictory notices “Welcome” and “Members Only”, I chose to believe the former) was liberally arrayed in small silken nests.

Tents 

No residents evident, so I tore one open and found lots of small caterpillars…

Tent caterpillar

Foulshaw Moss and Meathop Moss

Climbing Up on Coppet Hill

Coppet Hill

South of Goodrich, the Wye twists and turns in a series of extravagant meanders, almost enclosing Coppet Hill and Huntsham Hill. We’d finished our exploration of the castle just as a heavy shower began. We waited it out in the visitor centre before picnicking in the sunshine.  From the car park at the castle, a short stroll into Goodrich village brings you to the lane which climbs up Coppet Hill.

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A bee spotted on a road-verge flower – could it be a honey bee? It isn’t very yellow.

It’s clear from the map that there are several options for walks on Coppet Hill, one of which would traverse the ridge before returning along the banks of the Wye. On this occasion, we needed a shorter route. We climbed steeply up to the trig point, the views and the weather improving as we did.

B on Coppet Hill 

The kids all had several turns at climbing onto the trig pillar.

Chilling out 

The Shandy Sherpa gave an expert commentary on what we could see – the Forest of Dean, and the Malverns, amongst them, as well as the more immediate wooded hills of the Wye valley.

Coppet Hill view I 

We watched a kestrel hover over the tangle of bracken and foxgloves on the hillside.

Coppet Hill view II 

Speckled yellow 

Speckled yellow, a day-flying moth. It’s food plant is wood sage, of which we had seen plenty.

We continued a little further along the ridge, past ‘the folly’, which is little more than a wall.

The path on the common 

The Wye from Coppet Hill 

Looking down on the Wye.

Common vetch 

Common vetch, with an ant! Confusingly, common vetch isn’t actually all that common and isn’t the most common British vetch. It’s not something I would expect to see near home for example.

Down again... 

The west side of Coppet Hill is a common, and seems to be criss-crossed by many paths. The one we took, which cut diagonally down across the hillside and back towards Goodrich, was at a delightful angle.

Wasp

A cracking little walk that. Both Offa’s dyke and the Wye Valley Walk pass nearby. The latter really appeals to me. It also occurs to me that a detour over Coppet Hill would make for an interesting variation in this part of the route.

Climbing Up on Coppet Hill