One Summer Evening


There were lots of climbers enjoying the evening sunshine at Trowbarrow. Sadly, down in the base of the quarry it was already shady. I had come in search of Bee Orchids…


And found that there were lots flowering, more than last year I think.

Almost as an afterthought, on the way home I called in at Leighton Moss to take in the view from the skytower…


I thought I might see some Red Deer out amongst the reeds and meres, and sure enough, there they were…


What I hadn’t anticipated was the commotion caused by a Marsh Harrier making regular raids on a group of nesting Black-headed Gulls.


The photos didn’t come out very well, but watching the acrobatics of the harrier and the organised and vociferous defence of the gulls was breathtaking.


When the harrier stayed away for a while, some of the gulls turned their attentions to the deer and attempted to drive them away too. The deer looked more bemused than worried.


The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver



One Summer Evening

Croak and Wither


Summer grows old, cold-blooded mother.
The insects are scant, skinny.
In these palustral homes we only
Croak and wither.

from Frog Autumn by Sylvia Plath


Palustral – Pertaining to or living in marshes; marshy.

I do enjoy a new (to me) word.

This frog was sitting smack centre of the path which runs between Emesgate Lane and Cove Road and didn’t move whilst I took several photos or when other people passed, even those with dogs, which makes me think it must have been unwell in some way.


As you can see, I did get out again, although I must have left it fairly late, the sun was very low in the sky even as I set off. I walked along the coast from Far Arnside…


Until the sun dipped behind Humphrey Head…



And then walked back along the beach to Shore Lane.



The light was gradually fading, but the moon was bright.


Fisherman’s Cottages.

As usual, a bit of music with a sunset post; I was intending to continue the Soul and Funk theme, but I love the album this is from and it seemed quite appropriate:

Maybe don’t watch the video, it’s made me feel that the song is uncomfortably misogynistic. Perhaps, I shouldn’t be surprised given that it’s from an album called Casanova?

Croak and Wither



Sunset photos from the Lots and the Cove, from the Monday evening the day after my Heathwaite stroll in the previous post.

I’m just reading Ted Hughes’ ‘Tales from Ovid’ and so have recently discovered that Phaethon was the son of the god Phoebus who drives the chariot of the sun through the sky. Phoebus grants Phaethon one wish and the son rashly chooses to take his father’s place for one day to drive the chariot, which all ends rather messily. That tale of reckless aviating seemed appropriate for this post because, earlier in the evening, before my walk, I’d dropped A off in Milnthorpe and watched this hot air balloon flying at an altitude which, it seemed to me at least, was dangerously close to the roofs of the town’s taller buildings.


The photo, incidentally, was taken with my phone without the benefit of any zoom and has not been cropped; the balloon was much lower than it might appear in the photo.


Whilst it’s still mid-October here on the blog, obviously in reality we’re between Christmas and New Year. For my present, TBH took me, this weekend, for a mini-break in Glasgow. She had tickets for the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show, which was an inspired choice. If you can access the BBC Sounds app and listen to his Radio 6 New Year’s Eve, Eve, Eve Show , you’ll get to hear many of the tunes he played that night. Here’s one to be going on with: a remix of The O’Jays ‘For the Love of Money’ which mashes in ‘The Message’ by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Fabulous.


A Fawn, Branched Bur-reed and More Orchids.


A couple of days before I took these photos, we were seated around the kitchen table, which is right beside our patio windows, when a Roe Deer doe walked rather brazenly across the patio, as if we weren’t even there, just a couple of yards away. I didn’t take any photos, because I didn’t want to move and risk breaking the spell. She clearly was carrying a good supply of milk and when she took exception to one of our cats and chased it off the patio I wondered if she had a fawn hidden away somewhere nearby. Later, I checked, without really expecting to find anything, so wasn’t too disappointed when I didn’t.


But the idea of finding a Roe Deer fawn was planted in my mind and, when a walk through Eaves Wood and along The Row brought me to Lambert’s Meadow, I was particularly aware of that possibility, perhaps because I’ve often seen Roe Deer in Lambert’s Meadow before.


So, at the edge of the meadow, I stopped to look about and whilst I didn’t find a hidden fawn, I did see a fawn and it’s mother.


Admittedly, they were quite far away, but I think these are still the best photos I’ve taken, so far, of a fawn.


Just before I reached Lambert’s Meadow, I passed Bank Well and paused a moment to look for the Newts B and I had seen on a recent visit. They weren’t rising to the surface like they had been, but I did notice this…


Branched Bur-reed, which I haven’t knowingly seen before, but was pleased to see it because I recognised it from a Robert Gibbings wood engraving which is on the front-cover of my copy of his second book about the Thames, ‘Till I End My Song’.

Image result for robert gibbings till i end my song front cover

This isn’t my copy, but an image I’ve pilfered off the internet. I’ve written about my affection for Robert Gibbings writing and illustration before, so won’t repeat myself (for once). I still have ‘Coming Down the Seine’ on my monumental ‘to read’ pile, maybe I’ll get around to it this summer.

Branched Bur-reed has separate male and female flowers, the female ones being the larger globes and the males the smaller ones nearer the tops of the stalks.

Once the deer had disappeared from view, I turned my attention  to the many orchids growing along the margins of the field.


I think that all of the photos below show Common Spotted-orchid, but also show the enormous variability within a single species of orchid.



“The labellum is three lobed, the lateral lobes rhomboidal and the longer central lobe triangular. The labellum is marked by a prominent symmetrical double loop of broken lines and dots in darker mauve.”

Wild Orchids of Great  Britain and Ireland by David Lang.


Colour, shape and markings can all differ from specimen to specimen however, by quite some margin.


The fawn of course, was dappled too, which puts me in mind now, of Manley Hopkins ‘Pied Beauty’. Worth stopping, I thought, to take a closer look at the orchids and notice their fickle, freckled variation.


A view to Eaves Wood.


I noticed, not without some concern, that there was a bull in with the cows, in one of the last fields I needed to cross on my way home.

I needn’t have worried: he was very bashful and much more interested in the longer grass around the perimeter of this recently mown field than he was in me.


A Fawn, Branched Bur-reed and More Orchids.

A Good Friday on Whitbarrow


Chapel Head Scar.

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Robert Burns from  To a Mouse

Poor old Rabbie Burns obviously didn’t have a Plan B. Last year we decided that we would climb the three national highest peaks – Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike. We had a great day on the latter, but any plans we had for the other two went agley.


Farrer’s Allotment.

When Andy got wind of our plans he was keen to gatecrash them, which, of course, he was more than welcome to do. And so we hatched a scheme to head up to Lochaber this Easter to add The Ben to our tally. However, we were concerned about camping over such an early Easter weekend, especially when forecasters started to mention a further return of the Beast from the East.


So, a back-up plan was needed. We decided that, if the forecast didn’t considerably improve, then the Surfnslide crew would head up to ours for the Bank Holiday weekend instead.


Thus it was that we parked on the old road parallel to the A590 close to Beck Head and then climbed through the steep woodland of Buckhouse Wood in a light rain. We hadn’t left the house very early (something of a theme when it comes to family outings, I know), so when we reached the plateau and the rain finally knocked off, we found a spot with an expansive, if somewhat gloomy, view for a brew and some lunch.


As ever, once out of the house, the DBs forgot to resent having been dragged away from their computer games and raced around looking for small crags to scale, of which there were plenty.

The substantial summit cairn at Lord’s Lot…


…also seemed to fit the bill as a small crag.


Scout Scar from Lord’s Lot.


Lord’s Lot panoramas. Click on any image to see a larger version on flickr.


Once the rain stopped the weather continued to brighten, eventually giving us a sunny afternoon in stark contrast to what had gone before.


The Helm near Kendal catching the sun. I’ve never been up there, a very odd omission.


Scout Scar now catching the sun.

We decided to descend via Bell Rake, a route I haven’t followed for years. Beside the path we came across an old mine entrance, which I must have seen before, but have completely forgotten.


Our kids can never pass up an opportunity like this..


And had soon persuaded Andy to join them, he is, after all, an honorary DB.


Apparently, after the low entrance it was possible to stand up and the passage went ‘quite a long way’ but was then a dead-end.

I was convinced that a bit of lazy internet research would unearth some details about the mine. I found a huge document, by Max Moseley of the Northern Mine Research Society which seems to have a lot about mining in this area, around Silverdale and Warton and which I shall peruse at some point. And also another file, this time a mineral reconnaissance report, commissioned by the Department of Industry.



This one had what at first seemed like useful information.

Area I (Whitbarrow and Brigsteer)
There are no exceptionally high levels of copper, lead, zinc, barium or manganese recorded in this area. Some of the highest values for these elements, particularly lead and zinc, are recorded on the east side of Whitbarrow, where field investigation identified a disused iron mine [SD 4370 87751]. At this locality (Bell Rake) a 0.5 m wide vein of calcite possibly with some baryte is seen in the roof of an old portal. This isolated vein strikes 140° and is vertical. This is possibily the locality described in a transcript dated 1616 quoted by Wildridge (1975).

“The other place called Whitbarrow Hills, where several dead leaders appear, with hingett and liggett. This hath not been wrought to such profile as were fit, but some further trial were made about it some 10 fathoms deep…… undoubtedly a vein will be found, which by the nature of the stone of these works we conceive will come a lead oare mixt with copper.”

No copper, lead or zinc minerals were seen either at outcrop or in mine dump material during a visit to this site. It is probable that this site was excavated in the belief that it was associated with a metal-containing lode vein.


But Bell Rake is on the west side, not the east, of Whitbarrow. The map reference is spot on however. Also, the passage seems to contradict itself: is it an iron mine as stated at the beginning or an exploratory level as suggested at the end? Perhaps, since no copper, lead or zinc ores were found, this site simply wasn’t very important in a mineral reconnaissance report?

Calcite is a crystalline form of Calcium Carbonate, whilst Baryte is a mineral form of Barium Sulphate and is associated with lead-zinc veins in limestones. I can’t figure out what hingett and liggett might be.

The steep path down from Bel Rake rapidly brought us High Park Wood.


The generally dry conditions underfoot came to an end here, which was no real surprise: previous experience suggests that this path, below the wonderfully named Black Yews Scar, is always fairly damp. I’m sure that I’ve read somewhere that the huge limestone plinth of Whitbarrow sits on a layer of Silurian slate, so that rainwater percolates down through the porous limestone and then rises to the surface as springs when it hits the slate.


Chapel Head Scar.

Near Witherslack Hall, the path emerges from the woods, and with the sun shining, we now had superb views of the cliffs of Whitbarrow.





A short walk, first along the road and then on a track, brought us to the outskirts of the village of Beck Head.


Artwork on the wall of the former Hikers’ Rest Cafe.


Sadly, the Hiker’s Rest Cafe there has had to close because it operated on an honesty box system, but people were not paying for what they took. What a shame.


At Beck Head there’s a particularly large and impressive spring. The boys managed to pick their way across the stream and where keen to explore another cave they could see. Time was marching on however and it was time to return to the cars and then home for some homemade pizzas and an evening of games.




Back at the cars.

Burns rounds off ‘To a Mouse’…

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Poor chap. He needed to get some friends round; share a walk, some games, some simple food, a few laughs. It’s a foolprooof recipe for a happy weekend.

A Good Friday on Whitbarrow

Towards the Waking

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – Ring O’Beeches – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Thrang Brow – Yealand Allotment – Yealand Storrs – Leighton Hall – Summer House Hill – Warton Crag – Crag Foot – Quaker’s Stang – Heald Brow – Woodwell – The Green


The forecast for last weekend wasn’t dreadful, but it didn’t create much gleeful anticipation either – it was for dry weather, but cloudy and dull. Actually, on the Saturday morning (when I was busy) there was a bit of sunshine, but when I got out for a walk in the afternoon it was so gloomy that I didn’t bother to take any photos at all.

On the Sunday morning, neither of the boys were playing rugby and I had contemplated setting off early and heading out for a walk in the hills, but, given the forecast, decided to walk from home instead. I was still out quite early, in time to catch the sunrise from Castlebarrow, by the Pepper Pot, or so I thought, but perhaps due to the cloud low in the eastern sky, the sun didn’t actually appear until I was heading through the woods towards the Ring O’Beeches.


I suppose it was the low trajectory of the winter sun which enabled me to apparently take several sunrise photos, each from a new vantage point, with probably about 50 yards between them.


This was a bit of a surprise: pale blue sky and clear sight of the sun.


From the boardwalk by Hawes Water, Challan Hall was catching the early light. Two Cormorants were interrupted by my presence and circled above the lake, before roosting in their usual spot in the dead tree on the far shore.


Hawes Water and Challan Hall.

In the fields near Hawes Water, I was entertained by a pair of Buzzards, one of which eventually  flew across my view, tantalisingly close to my lens, but sadly the only photograph I was quick enough to take came out blurred beyond recognition.

I was a little concerned that the forecast had misled me into making a poor choice and thought that a short diversion to the minor hummock of Thrang Brow would give me a clearer idea. I haven’t been there for a while; it has a view of the Lakeland hills, although nothing to rival the view from Arnside Knott or Haverbrack. Or rather, sometimes it has a view of the Lakeland hills; on this occasion I couldn’t see anything much beyond Arnside Knott and even that was a bit lost in the haze.


Arnside Knott from Thrang Brow.

I’m glad I went that way though, because then I remembered a small trod which wends it’s way through the woods and limestone pavements of Yealand Allotment and which I haven’t followed for quite some time.

My original plan, when I reached Yealand Storrs, had been to follow the road for a while and then climb into Cringlebarrow Woods, but for some reason I decided instead to cross the road and follow the path across the fields towards Leighton Hall. I hoped that the fields might have dried out a bit after a relatively rain-free week, but actually the going was very heavy. My hastily amended plan involved turning left at Leighton Hall Farm to cut up to Deepdale and so to Cringlebarrow Woods that way, but I could hear heavy machinery in operation and, thinking that there was some tree-felling underway, changed my mind again. Past the Hall and up Summer House Hill it was.


Leighton Hall and Leighton Moss from Summer House Hill.

The view from Summer House Hill can be a cracker, but once again, anything at all distant was looking a little murky.

The field at the top of the hill had bluey-green, or greeny-blue….stuff…spread across the surface…




…is the base of the former summer house which gives the hill its name. It had been very liberally…blued…


Does anybody have any idea what this is?


I’d just said hello to a couple who were walking with their dog, when I was surprised to see a Jay sitting calmly in a tree relatively close by. It’s not that I don’t see jays – I do – but that having seen them, I then usually almost immediately lose sight of them, because they are generally very shy and soon make themselves scarce. Since this one didn’t fly off, I thought I would play my customary cat-and-mouse game of edging forward with my camera and taking another photo every couple of strides. To my surprise, the Jay flew  toward me, down to the ground and then continued to hop in my direction before stopping to grub around in the leaf litter.


It was a shame that the sun wasn’t still shining: Jays are so unlike their monotone Corvid cousins, with their pink and blue plumage and their striped head.


Fortunately, the sun was soon shining again, if perhaps a little weakly in the haze.


Peter Lane Lime Kiln.

Lime Kilns are a bit of a feature of the area and I often pass them on walks, but rarely remember to take photos of them.

The same could be said of sheep…


…these few stood out because they are of an unusual breed for this area (I can’t work out which).


Warton Crag’s Easter Island Heads.

There’s been a fair bit of tree-felling near the top of Warton Crag, which I think will take a little while to get used to. The view from the top was predictably limited…



River Keer from Warton Crag.


More Tree-felling.


Quicksand Pool and Quaker’s Stang.


Brown’s House and the ‘smelting’ chimney from Quaker’s Stang.

For the last part of my walk the sun came out again.


Warton Crag and the salt-marsh from Heald Brow.

I like this time of year: it’s still winter, with the possibility of snow and ice, which is fine, but it also feels like we’re sliding inexorably toward spring.

When all sap lies quiet and does not climb,
When all seems dead, I cultivate
The wild garden rioting in my memory,
Count in advance the treasures which
The sleeping sap contains,

And winter runs from now toward
The waking of the sap and spring.

from Garland for the Winter Solstice  by Ruthven Todd.

Towards the Waking



A Friday night, after work. I’d had a training day and had been able to head home early after a ‘Continental Day’, but somehow contrived to only leave the house for a walk as the sun was already setting…


I was worried that I’d missed my chance, but when I reached the Cove…


…the light was still spectacular.

More Hughes: ‘Go Fishing’ is full of imperatives:

‘Lose words

And later, ‘Be…’

‘Dissolved in earth-wave, the soft sun-shock,
Dismembered in sun-melt’


‘Let the world come back, like a white hospital
Busy with urgency words

Try to speak and nearly succeed
Heal into time and other people’

There are a couple of benches by the path above The Cove. Because it’s so close to home I never think to take a stove, or a flask, or a bite to eat when I go there. But perhaps I should. It’s probably the most calming spot I know and as good a place as any in which to…

‘Let brain mist into moist earth
Ghost loosen away downstream
Gulp river and gravity’