A Good Friday on Whitbarrow

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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

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Scout Scar from Lord’s Lot.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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Spoil?

This one had what at first seemed like useful information.

DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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Whitbarrow.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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This…

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

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Does anybody have any idea what this is?

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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.

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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.

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

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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…

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

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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…

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River Keer from Warton Crag.

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More Tree-felling.

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Quicksand Pool and Quaker’s Stang.

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

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

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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

Sun-melt

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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…

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

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…the light was still spectacular.

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

‘Lose words
Cease’

And later, ‘Be…’

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

Finally…

‘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’

Sun-melt

Wade Into Underbeing

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These photos are from the day after our High Cup walk and a few days after the boys had been kayaking in the field behind our house. Our friends E and C had declared themselves not prepared to go walking on both days of the weekend, but were enticed out for a local ramble by the prospect of flooding at Lambert’s Meadow. The weather was very changeable: in the first photo you can see that the sun was shining, creating reflections of the trees in the temporary lake; in the one below, taken a few moments earlier, the splashes of raindrops on the surface of the water are evident.

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A and Little S, the only members of the party in wellies, had to wade across of course. Little S predictably filling his boots with water in the process.

Having persuaded the girls to come so far we managed to drag them a little further to see the rift cave in Burtonwell Wood. The Hardman and I were wondering, as I often have, about the rings attached to the base of the cliffs and also to some boulders below the cliffs here…

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My only theory has been that they have something to do with the Scouts, who have a camp nearby, at the top of the cliffs in fact, and maybe are for belaying? But The Hardman pointed out that a 1270kg maximum load is way over the top for that purpose. And anyway, why put them at the bottom of the cliff?

With the weather clearly deteriorating everyone but The Hardman and I turned for home. We extended our walk a little, chatting and doing our best to ignore the rain. Without the rain we wouldn’t have seen the rainbows…

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…this is a double one, although the second is only just visible here. Or am I imagining it? It was taken from near Woodwell. After we got back to the house there was a second, full, double rainbow which was very impressive, but short-lived.

We’ve had a lot of wet weather of late, as usual. I’m just back from another walk in the rain, and whilst I was out, I was thinking that I would need some more titles for posts abut wet walks in the ‘dale. As I often do, I thought of looking for a suitable poem and in the process stumbled across ‘Go Fishing’ by Ted Hughes. It seems to me to be a poem about losing yourself in nature and I’m very glad to have found it. I can’t find a full version online, although I did find this image of an early draft…

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Maybe I’ll type-up the final version and post it some time. Or perhaps just cherry-pick phrases for post titles, depending on how lazy I’m feeling.

‘Join water, wade into underbeing                                                                                                   Let brain mist into moist earth’

 

Wade Into Underbeing

Far Other Worlds…

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I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to think what I did with the rest of the weekend after my walk by the Lune. It took a a while, but it’s come back to me. I had things to do in the garden. My Dad had pointed out that the woodwork around our garage roof is need of a coat of…..varnish? Woodstain? Treatment? Anyway, whatever the stuff is that woodwork generally gets painted with. With a recommendation from a knowledgable friend I’d been to buy the requisite ‘stuff’, between dropping B off for his match and my walk by the river. When we got back, I set about preparing the ground; pressure washing and then sugar-soaping all of the woodwork. Then I read the instructions on the tin and discovered that the ‘stuff’ shouldn’t be applied when the temperature is below eight degrees. It was five. Bother. Is almost what I said at the time.

Not to worry. There were leaves to be swept up and composted and the Virginia Creeper which is supposed to climb attractively up the garage wall, had overstepped the mark and was now enveloping the entire roof, like some many tentacled Kraken, and threatening to lever off some of the roof-tiles. Before I could get in to hack that back, I had to lop another belligerent shrub, an overgrown Viburnum which was preventing me from reaching parts of the creeper.

That, and other odds and ends, kept me occupied for the Saturday afternoon, and for most of the Sunday, and, in honesty, whilst most of the cuttings have gone in the green bins, or been through the shredder and then added to the compost, the larger branches from the shrub are sitting in an unruly pile on the patio waiting for me to do something with them.

Anyway, the point is, when I finally called time on my ‘uncessant labours’, I took a wander down to the Cove, arriving just as the sun disappeared.

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find,
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that’s made
To a green thought in a green shade.
from The Garden by Andrew Marvell
I know that I’ve quoted bits of this poem here before. The whole thing is here.
Maybe, the busy day which had preceded it made sitting on the bench watching the colours change in the sky and reflected in the water and the mud all the sweeter?
Far Other Worlds…

Only the Wanderer

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A late wander, along the road bordering the Kent. Dark skies and squally showers, but patches of blue too; gulls and cormorants out on the mud and skeins of geese following the estuary towards the Bay.

“Only the wanderer
   Knows England’s graces,
Or can anew see clear
   Familiar faces.
And who loves joy as he
   That dwells in shadows?
Do not forget me quite,
   O Severn meadows.”
Ivor Gurney.
Only the Wanderer

Find Your Hope.

“Find your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.”

Wendell Berry  from A Poem on Hope.

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A third unexpected bonus in as many days – this visit to Foulshaw Moss came hard on the heels of the tiny lizards by Hawes Water and the heron at Bank Well, even though the respective blog posts have been more temporally spaced. The day had started wet, but then brightened enough, whilst I was at work, to kindle some optimism about the prospects for an evening walk. By the time I dropped off our budding ballerina for her classes in Milnthorpe, however, it was already raining again. Clutching at straws, I drove to Foulshaw anyway. In the wind and the rain, Foulshaw was a bit bleak, to say the least.

But then, and only for a moment, the sun dropped low enough in the western sky to suffuse the cloudscape with a hint of colour…

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And I was pleased that I had made the effort.

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By the car park at Foulshaw, as is the case at many nature reserves, there is a chalk board for recording sightings, to which somebody had added: ’93 Common Lizards’, which is exactly the kind of precise one-upmanship that these boards seem to invite. The one at Leighton Moss often makes me chuckle, when the numbers of common birds like Starlings, or some of the overwintering ducks, are numbered in huge round numbers into the tens of thousands, as if anyone can count those huge flocks even remotely accurately.

Find Your Hope.