Baby Drivers

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Once the Red Rose camp was over, we headed down to Lincolnshire to visit my Mum and Dad for a couple of days. On our first day there, TBH, A and my Mum went into Lincoln to watch the second Mamma Mia film, Mamma Mia Money, Money, Money*. The DBs and I weren’t so keen. I think it was my Dad who suggested that we go karting, partly because the boys had enjoyed it so much when they tried it in the spring, and partly because I missed out on that occasion and the DBs were eager to show me how much faster than me they could drive.

There were quite a few karting tracks to choose from, but once we’d surveyed the options, we all favoured ELK Motorsport near Newark. It was the 1.2km course which enticed us…

I’ve filched this overhead shot from their website. I hope they won’t mind: I only have nice things to say about the experience. It was terrific, especially since the boys weren’t faster than me after all, although it was a close run thing. Places were allocated on the basis of a fastest lap; mine was just under a minute, which, with a bit of simple arithmetic, translates into an average speed of about 45mph. Not bad, I thought, what with all those tight hairpins, but then I noticed that times posted earlier in the day went as low as 47 seconds for a lap. More practice required, obviously.

The weather was very changeable and the squally showers made for exciting racing conditions. It’s surprisingly easy to spin a kart, I found, as you brake into, or accelerate out of, a corner.

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The rest of the photos, taken on my phone, originate from a walk I took after our karting trip. I’d had it all planned out: Dad would drop me off on our way home and I would walk back to their house. In the end, I can’t remember why, I elected not to do that, but to walk after we got back instead. It’s likely that the weather was a factor.

So, I walked from Welton, to Dunholme – the two villages have merged – and hence to the Ashing Lane Nature Reserve. Despite the photos, I actually had glorious sunshine, but I could see this ominous block of very dark cloud which was clearly heading my way and equally clearly dumping a lot of rain not too far from where I was walking.

To my relief, the cloud eventually brought rainbows rather than rain…

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Aside from a few odd drops, I had a lucky escape.

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Lincolnshire is famously flat, and whilst that isn’t the whole story, there are large parts of the maps of the county which aren’t overburdened with contours.

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Which makes for fantastic views when the skies are dramatic…

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This…

Seems apposite, plus it’s a cracking tune.

*Or was it ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme’?

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Baby Drivers

Souther Fell, Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell

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The Tongue and River Glenderamakin.

As I drove through the Tebay Gorge, the cloud was virtually down to the road and it was tipping it down. So I was pleased to arrive in Mungrisdale in sunshine. The rainbow was a forewarning of what was to come, however, and along the ridge of Souther Fell I had first rain, then sleet and finally snow. The view back to Bowscale Fell kept partially clearing but Bannerdale Crags and Blencathra were well hidden by cloud.

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Bowscale Fell.

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Souther Fell after the weather had brightened again.

Down in Mungrisdale I’d seen a sign warning of bridges which had been washed away by floods. Almost immediately after I saw the sign, I crossed one of the bridges, which must have been replaced, so I knew that the warning wasn’t necessarily up to date, but it was still a relief to find that this bridge…

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…over the River Glenderamackin had also been restored. It was raining again at this point, but this was to be the last shower of the day, and it was short-lived.

Wainwright describes this route, via White Horse Bent,  as ‘tedious’ and recommends the East Ridge. It suited me well on this occasion, but I will come back to try the East Ridge when it’s not so likely to be plastered with ice.

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Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell.

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Bannerdale Crags and it’s East Ridge – looks worthy of a return visit. Note Great Mell Fell catching the sun behind, which it continued to do all afternoon.

I stopped for a cup of tea near the top of Bannerdale Crags. There was little shelter to be had, but I donned every layer I had, so that I was layered up with a thermal, a shirt, two jumpers my cag, a snood and even an old balaclava under my hat. It wasn’t as windy as it had been on Selside Pike, but it was very, very cold. In the end, I kept all of those layers on for almost all of the remainder of the walk. I can’t think when I last felt so cold on the hill.

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Blencathra threatening to appear.

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Bowscale Fell.

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Bannerdale Crags and Blencathra (almost).

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Bowscale Fell East Top, Carrock Fell behind.

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Bowscale Tarn.

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Looking back to Bowscale Fell.

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The East Ridge of Bowscale Fell.

My descent, by the East Ridge of Bowscale Fell was an absolute delight. Bar one final steep step, it was a pleasant steady route all the way down, and the views of the distant snow-capped Pennines was superb.

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Time for one last cup of tea stop.

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Looking past Great Mell Fell to the High Street range.

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The Pennines over Eycott Hill.

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St. Kentigern’s Church Mungrisdale.

A quick peek in the church and then back to the car. My photos of the Winter Aconites in the churchyard didn’t come out too well unfortunately.

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Souther Fell, Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell

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

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

First Name Terms*

A hawker

A little while back now: a drizzly weekend was rescued by the visit of many old friends (of which more later perhaps) and by a bright and sunny Friday evening. From my home-bound train I spotted a red deer stag in the reed beds of Barrowscout Fields and so it seemed the obvious choice, once off the train, to head away from home and towards the reed beds of Leighton Moss. Crossing the causeway at Leighton Moss between tall reeds, meres and occasional stands of alder, what struck me was just how quiet it was – no cacophony of gulls, no scratchy of warbler’s songs. But there were a few dragonflies about.

A hawker again

I watched the jinking flights of two dragonflies for a while. They disappeared together amongst the alders at the side of the path and when only the larger of the two re-emerged I looked for the other amongst the alder saplings. Without that clue I don’t think I would have spotted this elegant chap resting on this stem, despite the striking blue blobs. I’m pretty sure that this is not a migrant hawker, like the one I photographed at Gait Barrows back at the end of August. I think that it might be a common hawker, but frustratingly, because of the angle it was perched at, and because it was above head height, I couldn’t see the distinctive markings on the abdomen which might confirm that identification.

Leighton Moss view

My favourite Leighton Moss view.

A friend who lives nearby, but not all that nearby, was telling me recently that she had seen the egret roost at Leighton Moss, and that she was suitably impressed. I was a bit put out – egret roost? Really – how come I haven’t seen, or heard about, this? From the public hide I thought perhaps I could see some egrets in distant trees. I walked around to the Lower Hide, thinking I would have a better view from there, but although I was sure that I could see the relevant clump of trees, now I couldn’t see any egrets at all. A marsh harrier flew low over the far side of the mere, close to the trees where I thought there might be egrets and in the wake of the harrier’s passing a host of pure white birds flew up from the trees and briefly circled, seeming to savour the heavy wind, playing as rooks and jackdaws will in gusty conditions.

I continued from lower hide, on the path which curls around to Storrs Lane and which has recently become a favourite. I noticed several places where the rich black mud close to the perimeter fence had been heavily churned. Whilst examining the prints in the mud, I looked up and looking back at me, not 10 yards away, were three red deer hinds.

Red deer hinds

Of course, they were away pretty swiftly, but they stayed in view and I eventually found a vantage point where I could see them through the trees.

Three red deer hinds

It soon became apparent that these three were part of a larger group and I watched perhaps 20 deer as one after another they elegantly hopped over a fence and disappeared across a field. The last across was a fine stag.

Red deer stag

Whilst I took the photos I was noticing that the scene behind the deer was also impressive – late sun illuminating autumn colours with dark sky behind and a sliver of rainbow. Rainbow? Hang on…

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It was soon raining, and continued to do so as I passed the gnarly old horse chestnut onto Storrs Lane.

Storrs Road Rainbow

But there was the compensation of a full rainbow however (couldn’t squeeze all of it into a single frame sadly).

And as I walked along the lane I did finally have a good view of the egret roost…

Egret roost

Could there be a better way to relax at the end of a working week? What a privilege it is to have this on our doorstep.

*The title is filched from the post – On the Benefits of Exploring your own Backyard – a book review, but a lot more besides.

First Name Terms*

A Haweswater Round

Regular visitors will know that a walk around Haweswater is a regular pleasure for me, since there is a small lake of that name perhaps a mile from our house. Last weekend however I had more ambitious plans – a high level circuit of it’s Lakeland namesake. I had driven up in intermittent rain, thinking that I was destined for a rainbow day, but parked close to the village of Burnbanks, which lies below Haweswater’s dam, in pleasant sunshine. I hadn’t gone far when I encountered this chap, who seemed to be in some sort of hurry. I reckon it’s a garden tiger moth caterpillar.

This caterpillar is often called a woolly bear because of its dense coat, with long white-tipped black hairs on the back and chestnut hairs on the sides. The head is shiny black….Mature caterpillars are often seen trundling over the ground at high speed in search of pupation sites.

Collins Complete British Insects Michael Chinery

Burnbanks gives a satisfyingly high start and I was soon crossing rough slopes with the white of bog cotton and cuckoo flower waving in the stiff breeze and the small pink flowers of what I was pleased to recognise as lousewort down among the grass. I made a slight detour to pick up Pinnacle Howe (a bit of an insignificant knoll to be honest) and then cut back on a good track to do the same for Four Stones Hill. This at least has the benefit of a good view along Haweswater. Nearby the map shows ‘Standing Stones’. Given the name of the hill you might think that there would be four stones. But….

The map also shows ‘Cairn’ in the same gothic script and with a star which I think indicates some sort of ancient monument.

From there a short climb brought me to what felt like the first substantial fell of the day. It’s unnamed on the OS map. Birkett calls it Bampton Common, but in Aileen and Brian Evans ‘Short Walks in Lakeland – Book 2 Northern Lakeland’ it says that local farmers call this Great Birkhouse Hill, a name which has been used for one of the many knolls near Four Stones Hill on the OS map, apparently incorrectly.

Looking east towards Cross Fell in the Pennines.

It rained on and off as I traversed Low Kop (another slightly inexplicable Birkett) and then the long gradual moorland climb toward High Kop and Wether Hill. The latter has two broad grassy tops each with a 670m contour. Birkett says that the most northerly ‘is taken to be the summit’. Well I took the most southerly to be the top and I’m counting it regardless of any arguments to the contrary.

Just before I reached Wether Hill I met three walkers who’s first question, very direct, was: ‘Do you know where you are on the map?’ They’d come up from Howtown and were actually exactly where they wanted to be and now were heading down to where I had come from. The next question was: ‘You don’t have 11 friends following on behind somewhere do you? We’ve had a bet about how many people we will meet.’ I had to disappoint the questioner: not only was I alone, but they were the first other walkers I had met.

Now on the main High Street ridge, and following the old Roman road, I crossed Red Crag. Somewhere along the ridge here the nature of the terrain changes and from walking on hills with quite a Pennine character, suddenly there are steeps and crags and a quickening of the pulse. I was enjoying the views of Rest Dodd and The Nab which CJ and I climbed last year. On High Raise it began to rain in earnest. I’d been wearing my cag for some time, more to fend off the cold wind than for the short lived and light showers, but now I needed my waterproof overtrousers too. It continued to rain quite heavily as I contoured round to bag Kidsty Pike and then to climb Rampsgill Head, but here rather magically the rain stopped, the wind dropped and the sun came out, all in very short order. This was all the excuse I needed and I stopped for a first, and quite late, cup of tea and sandwich. Whilst I ate a raven landed close by, but sadly was away again before I could get a photo.

Kidsty Pike

By now, in the throes of Birkett bagging frenzy, I detoured slightly to include The Knott and then continued on to the high point of the day on Racecourse Hill (yes, really: there were race meets held up here in days gone by). I was in the cloud, but frankly I didn’t really mind – I was having a ball. So much so in fact that I blithely continued along the path by the wall which took me in the wrong direction. By the time I realised my daft mistake I was so close to Thornthwaite Beacon that I decided to bag that whilst I was at it. From there a good contouring path brought me to Mardale Ill Bell.

Harter Fell.

Upto this point, this route offers the peak bagger a low effort delight with not a great deal in the way of descent or reascent. Now I faced a couple of slightly more challenging climbs – the first taking me down to the top of the Nan Bield Pass – where I saw my last other walkers of the day – and back up to Harter Fell.

Small Water and High Street from the route up Harter Fell.

As I dropped off Harter Fell I saw three guys on trials bikes roaring through the Gatescarth Pass. Seconds later, to my surprise, they were bouncing and sliding their way over Little Harter Fell and then past me and on towards the summit of Harter Fell. They were noisy and smelly (and so were the bikes) and obviously to be frowned upon by all right thinking and upstanding members of the community. But, I must confess,  it did look like fun.

On Adam Seat I found this…

…which I think is a boundary stone. Later I found another with both L and H on it. I suspect that if I had had the whit to look at the other side of this one it would also have been engraved with an H.

As you can probably tell from the photos, the weather had improved again and on the way down to the top of the Gatescarth Pass I was briefly out of the wind and for a while it even felt quite warm.

The climb from there to Branstree was rather featureless and grassy and with my legs beginning to tire I needed to employ every trick in the book to maintain some interest – I know that I can get disheartened on dull slopes like this one and then my pace can slow as I stop to take frequent rests.

Fortunately, I was distracted, for a while at least, by…

..a spiny caterpillar. I can’t identify this one. Any suggestions?

As I neared the top I was watching this cloud and wondering – is it anvil shaped? The forecast I had heard on the radio had predicted thundery showers in the north in the afternoon and so I wanted to keep a weather eye on….well, the weather.

It was clear that somewhere in the Eden valley was being subjected to a fairly intense shower. And finally there was the rainbow which I had anticipated. As I watched, the colours of the little truncated rainbow became progressively brighter…

I’m not sure that this photo does it justice – at the time I was sure that it was the most incandescent rainbow I had ever seen.

Fortunately, there was little climbing left to do now – just a long walk over High Howes and Selside Pike, from where I liked the look of Swindale…

The Forces Falls on Mosedale Beck looked particularly worth a visit.

And then over boggy ground with many knolls some of which are Birketts and some of which aren’t, without any particularly obvious distinctions between the two.

Haweswater Round

It was half past eight when I finally arrived back at my car. I had been out for ten and half hours. But it had been quite a day. I think about twenty miles* and quite a bit of up and down. 21 Birketts in all, neatly doubling my total for the year. (Although some aren’t new – X-Ray and I did Banstree, High Howes and Selside Pike last year) (Actually I walked this entire route once before, about 10years ago, but that was pre-blog, so doesn’t count.)

*Bing maps said very slightly under 19, my pedometer gave 33.77km. The pedometer also said 49675 steps. Isn’t that 5 days worth of exercise all in one day? If I’d only eaten 25 portions of fruit and veg whilst doing it I could have lived on choc-ice and chips and sofa-surfed until Thursday!

A Haweswater Round

Supernumerary Rainbow

I was sitting with S in his room as he drifted off to sleep, reading, perhaps appropriately, ‘Cosmic Imagery’ by John D. Barrow a great book to dip in to on just such an occasion, when that call went out again – “Dad, Dad come and look at this.”

Two very intense complete hoops – it took me a while to find my cameras and the photos are not a patch on how it looked at the time, but…as well as the reversed secondary it’s just about possible to see inside the principal rainbow a fainter band which is a supernumerary rainbow. There’s a scientific explanation here.

This crop is not exactly sharp but it is possible to see the extra colours inside the violet.

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The next day we were enjoying sunshine in the garden when they were at it again. This time they wanted to show me a slowworm which their mum had found in a flowerbed. Very beautiful – and not particularly slow when we picked it up. No photos  this time sorry – but there is one here from earlier in the year.

Supernumerary Rainbow