If It’s Not Broke…

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The Thursday of half-term, the weather forecast was set fair, so we had decided to get out for a walk (well, four of us anyway, TBH was back at work, Cumbria having had their half-term a week earlier). I think it was Little S who first mooted a local stroll, pointing out the advantage of not wasting time in the car. So it was that we set off on a very familiar route: up to the Pepper Pot, via ‘The Climbing Tree’, around the coast…

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…and along the Kent to Arnside…

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For lunch in the Pie Shop, or the Old Bakery as I think it’s properly known (sadly, it transpires that they don’t do giant Scotch Eggs midweek much to my disappointment).

And then home over Arnside Knott.

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Arnside Knott Panorama – click on the photo, or any others, to see an enlarged version on flickr.

It’s a route we’ve walked, with slight variations, many, many times before, but so far none of us has tired of it. Photos of the kids in the tree at the top of the post are a staple of this blog; the tree hasn’t changed much over the last ten years, not the kids enthusiasm for climbing in it or swinging from its limbs. When they were tiny, I worried that when they were older they would be climbing way out of sight and terrifying me, but although they still like to climb it, they don’t seem any more intrepid now than they were then, not that I am complaining. In fact, when she was just a tot, A climbed along that left-hand branch to well past where B is sat in the picture and then declared herself stuck, and I had a merry time coaxing her down. It’s good that they still enjoy clambering around in trees, although I did get a bit chilled on the Knott waiting for them whilst they explored the possibilities of a tree they hadn’t climbed before. At least I had the view to distract me from the cold.

Elsewhere, we found great piles of leaves and B found some pretext, an imagined slight, to begin a leaf war, so we charged around kicking them into the air and just occasionally managing to successfully shower them over another member of the party. Another childish pleasure which they haven’t grown out of. And, to be fair, neither have I it seems.

 

 

 

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If It’s Not Broke…

Gurnal Dubs

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Gurnal Dubs.

Something close to a Proper Walk to report on tonight, so I shall attempt a Proper Post to do it justice. This was still, however, another case of making-the-most-of-a-window-of-opportunity provided by Taxi Dad duties; it’s just that this was a slightly longer window than usual, and in a location with lots of potential for a good walk. It was a Sunday in early October, so ordinarily I would have been ferrying one or both of the boys to a rugby practice or match, but B had elected to take part in a charity mountain bike ride with his Scout group instead. Here he is…

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…in Staveley Mill Yard, before the ride. And here again…

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…afterwards. He’s disappointed with this second photo, because, he tells me, it doesn’t show the full extent of the cuts and bruises he picked up. Nor does it convey just how wet and muddy he and his bike had become.

They were raising money for Papyrus, a charity which works to prevent young suicide. Since then, B has also participated in a night hike over our local 3 peaks: Arnside Knott, The Pepper Pot and Warton Crag. There’s a collective JustGiving page here, should you feel inspired to sponsor B.

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Reston Scar and part of Staveley from Spy Crag.

I had a few hours, then, whilst I waited for his return, and set off on a beeline for Potter Fell and its tarns.

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Kendal.

The initial blue skies and and strong sunshine slowly disappeared behind a layer of cloud, but, fortuitously, the cloud cleared again just after I’d arrived at Gurnal Dubs, where I intended to break for lunch and a brew.

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The very tidy boat house on Gurnal Dubs.

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The tarns here were dammed and enlarged to supply water to the paper-mill at Burneside. The mill belongs to James Cropper PLC, set-up in 1845 by a man of that name and still managed by the Cropper family. I wondered whether J.A.C. might be the James  Cropper who managed the company relatively recently, a descendent presumably of the original James. Whoever owns it, I imagine it’s a lovely spot for boating; it was certainly a very pleasant place for lunch.

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I had leftovers from the evening before: humus, guacamole, roasted carrot dip (very peanutty, nobody but me liked it), crudities, and a little bit of fried chorizo. TBH and A had recently embarked on a Vegan October. A Vegan October, I might add, which has now lasted right through November too, and which shows no sign of coming to an end any time soon. The Dangerous Brothers are beginning to adjust, but, back then, were not very supportive of the idea, and the fried chorizo was one of my attempts to placate them.

Whilst I tucked into my lunch and made a brew, a family of three arrived, changed into wetsuits and swam in the tarn. I’ve visited Gurnal Dubs many times, but it’s never really occurred to me to consider it as a place to swim. Next time, however…

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Potter Tarn with the Coniston Fells behind..

Eventually, I headed back to Potter Tarn and then turned south past Ghyll Pool.

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It was noticeably Waxcap season, with small fungi half-hidden in the grass in many places along my walk.

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Crimson Waxcaps.

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Meadow Waxcaps.

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Apparently, these are quite nice to eat, although they are also under threat and so perhaps best left alone..

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The striking green of the grass growing in this old nest really stood out against the bracken covered hillsides and red haws on the small thorn tree.

 

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I liked the cheery request on this gate. That’s Cunswick Scar above Kendal behind.

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I’m guessing this is a Common Darter, an older female perhaps. It also liked the gate.

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Big barn at Hundhowe.

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I anticipated having a choice of which bank of the Kent to follow back into Staveley, but the bridge at Hagg Foot was washed away by the floods of Storm Desmond and hasn’t been repaired, so I stuck to the north bank and the woods of Beckmickle Ing.

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River Kent.

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A posh stile with handrails.

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A handsome tree (and house) on the outskirts of Staveley.

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Gurnal Dubs

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

Levens Deer Park and Force Falls

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Force Falls River Kent.

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Bullfinch.

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River Kent.

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Avenue of trees (Oaks and Sweet Chestnuts).

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A hollow tree (one of many).

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Bagot Goats.

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River Kent.

This little outing has appeared on the blog many times before. These photos are from the Monday immediately after our Howgill camping trip. A had dance lessons, which meant I had a two hour window and this walk proved to be easily manageable in that time frame, actually with time to spare without hurrying unduly. A perfect, peaceful leg stretcher.

Levens Deer Park and Force Falls

In Praise of Limestone

Castlebarrow – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Gait Barrows – Silverdale Moss – Hazelslack – Beetham Fell – Beetham – Dallam Deer Park – Milnthorpe – River Bela – Sandside Cutting – Kent Estuary – Arnside – Arnside Knott – Heathwaite – Holgates

This could have been ‘A Snowdrop Walk’ but I think I’ve already had at least one of those in the last nine hundred posts (the last one was number 900, I now realise). It might also have been ‘The Ruined Cottages Walk’ since I passed three ramshackle buildings, generally not too far from where the snowdrops were.

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Before I departed, I’d already been for a wander to the Co-op to pick up croissants, rolls and eggs for everybody else’s breakfast. After a second, leisurely cup of tea, I set-off at around ten and was soon at the edge of Eaves Wood, by a substantial patch of snowdrops, donning a coat as it began to first rain and then hail.

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It had been sunny only moments before and I decided to head up to Castlebarrow – not part of my original plan – to get a higher viewpoint. Just short of the top, I disturbed a Buzzard which flapped lazily out of a tall standard left in an area which had otherwise been cleared of trees.

When I reached Castlebarrow and the Pepperpot…

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…it had stopped raining, but it looked like Lancaster was probably getting a hammering.

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The weather seemed idyllic again when I reached Hawes Water.

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Another pair of Buzzards were circling overhead, but by the time I had dug my camera out of my rucksack, they had disappeared behind the trees. I would hear the plaintive kew of Buzzards several more times during the walk, but this was the last time I saw any. Nor did I see the Sparrow-hawk which I saw here last week and forgot to mention in the appropriate post.

Having stopped to look though, I now realised that atop one of the trees down by the reed fringed shore of the lake…

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…perched a Cormorant. I’ve seen them here before and they’re hardly uncommon on the Bay, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised (and delighted) to find one here.

In the woods there was a Nuthatch and a Treecreeper, both too elusive for me and my camera. And of course…

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…more snowdrops.

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Looking back across Hawes Water to Challan Hall. (The Cormorant was still on its high perch).

By the bench on the boardwalks near the lake another walker had stopped for a breather. He had company…

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Although I was heading for Beetham Fell, I didn’t feel any need for urgency and took a detour across the meadow, by the hedge…

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…wondering about the very tall cloud above the Gait Barrows woods, and whether it might be an ill omen, weatherwise…

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I was heading for the Gait Barrows limestone pavements…

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It’s not all that far from there to Silverdale moss, but you can see that in the meantime, the weather had taken another turn for the worse…

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The Cloven Ash.

It was pretty gloomy, but I could pick out a few Greylag, one of them clearly sitting on a nest, also a distant white bird, probably a Little Egret, and what I could identify, with the aid of the camera, as a male Golden Eye.

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I turned to take some photos of these King Alfred’s Cakes on some logs left from the demise of the Cloven Ash and, as I did, it began to hail, soon quite ferociously.

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I pulled my coat back on again, and then turned back to the Moss, because the nesting Greylag was clearly upset about something and was honking vociferously. A Marsh Harrier was quartering the reeds, at one point dropping and spiralling down to a spot very close to the excited goose.

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It was gloomy and chucking it down, so none of my photos came out brilliantly, but it was fantastic to watch.

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Fortunately, the rotten weather didn’t last too long, and soon I was shedding layers for the long climb from Hazelslack to the top of Beetham Fell.

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Arnside Knott, Kent Estuary and Hampsfell from Beetham Fell.

Last Easter, when A and I came through this way on our walk to Keswick, we noticed a huge area of Snowdrop leaves, though the flowers had long since finished. I decided then that I would be back this February to take another look.

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I think that this was the largest single patch, but the Snowdrops extend over quite a large area.

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The climb from the outskirts of Beetham uphill to Dallam Deer Park was hard work because the ground was super-saturated, a bit like your average Highland hillside. I think it was mainly due to the extent that the ground had been trampled by the sheep in the field, because once I crossed the ha-ha wall into the Park the going got much firmer.

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Dallam Deer Park, the River Bela and Milnthorpe.

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Farleton Fell.

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The Deer.

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This unusual building…

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…is a shelter for the deer.

From Milnthorpe I turned to follow the Bela, first across the park and then out to where it meets the Kent on the latter’s estuary.

In the park, a single Canada Goose joined a flotilla of ducks, mostly mallards but with a group of four diving ducks amongst them, the males black and white, the females a dull brown: tufted ducks.

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River Bela and Whitbarrow Scar.

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Greylag Goose.

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A little further along, on the Kent, a group of six small fluffy diving ducks gave me pause. Even with the powerful zoom of the camera I struggled to get decent photos, but I think that these are Dabchicks: Little Grebes.

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I was a little torn here: I had wanted to climb Haverbrack, but I also wanted to include Arnside Knott and didn’t think I had time for both. In the end, I decided to walk along the embankment (an old railway line, a Beeching casualty) which follows the Kent Estuary. The walk was delightful, but a low blanket of cloud was flattening the light so I didn’t take any pictures for a while.

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Silverdale Moss from Arnside Knott. A snow dusted Ingleborough in the background.

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In Praise of Limestone

Silverdale to Keswick I: To Kendal

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With Lancashire playing silly b*****s with the Easter Holidays this year, the boys have a completely different fortnight off to the rest of the family. A and I decided to make a virtue of necessity and head off on our own little holiday jaunt: a walk from Silverdale to Keswick. Here she is setting off, on the Tuesday after Easter Monday, fully garbed in waterproofs since the sky was a monotone grey and a light rain was falling.

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We walked past Challan Hall…

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…and Hawes Water, diverting ever so slightly to check whether the toothwort which appears here every year was flowering…

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It was…

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From there we continued alongside Silverdale Moss…

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I can’t recall having seen it so flooded before, though I suspect that had we visited midwinter, the meres would have been even more extensive. A couple of spots of brilliant white in amongst the reeds were Little Egrets, whilst a Heron flapped away in that laconic, slow-motion fashion that they have.

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The bridge over Leighton Beck. A did all of the map-reading on this first day and some of it thereafter.

We passed Hazelslack Farm with it’s Peel Tower and then began the ascent of Beetham Fell. This old coffin route finds a fault in a line of crags…

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…which leads to a bit of a viewpoint…

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…and hey-presto, the clouds have broken, there’s some blue sky at last, it’s stopped raining and there’s an odd moment of sunshine.

The Fairy Steps…

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…brought us to the top of the Fell and an improved vista…

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…of Arnside Knott, the Kent Estuary and Hampsfell.

Dropping down the far side of the hill we encountered our first clumps of daffodils, which would become something of a feature of the walk.

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Another feature of the walk were the frequent stops for both of us to take photos.

Close to the boundary of the woods there’s a ruined building with a huge patch of snowdrops below it. Sadly, they’d finished flowering, but I’ve made a mental note to come back and take another look next February.

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By the time we’d reached Beetham, it was spitting with rain again.

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Beetham.

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St. Michael and All Angels.

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In addition to stopping to take lots of photographs of flowers, birds, butterflies, leaves etc whilst I’m walking, I also like to take a proper look around any interesting places I pass. There was a tension here though between exploring thoroughly and reaching our night’s lodgings, so we didn’t look into the church. It’s well worth a look however. Photos of the interior here, from a previous visit.

The optimism about the weather which I’d felt on Beetham Fell had been a little premature it seemed, and as we walked through Dallam Deer Park the heavens really opened.

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Most of the Fallow Deer were sheltering under the trees looking slightly forlorn, although some were still out in the open…

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As we dropped down the hill past Dallam Hall and towards the River Bela…

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…one decision seemed to have been made for us. We’d been debating where to buy lunch, but although it was still quite early our minds were being made up for us by the inclement weather. Booth’s in Milnthorpe had become the new favourite in the bidding.

“Even if we don’t get lunch from Booth’s, can we just go in and browse?”, was A’s opinion on the matter.

In fact, when we’d bought a bit of lunch, the rain had stopped again and the sun was shining. We found a bench in the car park, spread some gear out to dry and tucked in. A fine time, as we sat mud-spattered and bedraggled, for a friend from the village to roll up in her car, wind down the window and inquire what we were up to.

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The path out of Milnthorpe took us up a slight hill and that modest elevation gave fine views of the Kent Estuary…

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…Whitbarrow Scar, and Heversham Head…

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The next part of the route had been a bit ticklish to plan. We needed to get to Levens Bridge: the Cumbria Coastal way would do that, via a series of minor lanes; we could climb Heversham Head, but the paths we would use zig-zag furiously; we opted for the most direct route, involving some walking along the main A6, but mostly on a parallel road which runs through the villages of Heversham and Leasgill.

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St. Peter’s, Heversham.

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With another daffodil decorated cross.

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The pump, from 1900, at St. Mary’s Well, which according to the sign on the wall behind, supplied the village with water for around 1000 years.

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Whitbarrow Scar.

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Leasgill.

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Leven’s Hall and its famous topiary.

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From Levens Bridge we would follow the River Kent upstream to Kendal.

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The Bagot Fallow Deer in Levens Deer Park.

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Initially, we could choose which bank of the river to follow and unfortunately we chose the West bank, still a source of much recrimination since…

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…a crucial bridge was closed, forcing us to retrace our steps back to a road bridge and then follow the East bank after all.

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All the way along the river we were to see plastic bags, traffic barriers, bundles of twigs and various other detritus in the branches of riverbank trees far above our heads. It was very sobering to see just how high the river-level had reached in last November’s floods.

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Happily we also saw goosander on the river and grey wagtails bobbing about on its margins.

Hawes bridge was also still closed…

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The river eventually brought us to…

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Where we were staying in the Hostel, formerly YHA, now independent, and highly recommended. I’d booked a two-bed room, but we were upgraded to a bigger, en-suite room, the only disadvantage being that it was on the third floor . The shower was very hot and very powerful and very welcome. We just had time to grab a meal in the Brewery Arts Centre (handily close by the hostel) before settling in to watch ‘Batman versus Superman’, about which the least said the better. (Oh alright, if I must, my detailed review: it was rubbish, but I managed to sleep through quite a bit of it, so not all bad).

By popular demand (well Alan and Andy): maps.

Silverdale to Milnthorpe:

Silverdale to Milnthorpe

Milnthorpe to Hawes Bridge:

Milnthorpe to Hawes Bridge

Hawes Bridge to Kendal:

Hawes Bridge to Kendal

 

 

Silverdale to Keswick I: To Kendal

Levens Park and Force Falls

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Another weekend afternoon jaunt, this time with the whole family, on an old favourite walk through Levens Deer Park. The park is a proper deer park, attached to Levens Hall, and has its own herd of domesticated fallow deer, of a breed particular to the park, and likewise it’s own breed of goats, although we didn’t see those on this occasion.

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It’s spread out either side of the River Kent…

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…and this walk follows the western bank for a while, leaves the park briefly, crosses a road bridge and then returns via the eastern bank.

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We met the deer pretty much as we entered the park.

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A nice opportunity to try out my new favourite toy’s zoom facility.

Another chance cropped up after we’d left the park, when we spotted a grey heron sat on the verge of the minor lane ahead of us. It was really very gloomy at this point, both because it was late in the afternoon and also because it was overcast, so I’m quite chuffed with the result…

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The minor lane is extremely quiet since it’s a dead-end, having been chopped off when the A590 dual-carriageway was built. A path continues however, under the main-road’s bridge over the Kent….

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….to Force Falls.

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We stopped here for a while to watch some canoeists shooting the falls.

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I did take some photos, but they were taken through a tall hedge, before a resident of one of the cottages by the falls invited us to watch from their car-parking area.

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There’s a sign at the other end of the park which says ‘No Swimming’. We never ignore that. Not at all.

It looked exhilarating. One canoeist did capsize as he went over, but they’d obviously got a good safety routine organised and he was soon rescued.

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Most of the return leg follows this avenue of magnificent oaks, dating back to 1690 when the park was first laid out.

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Some of the oaks are hollow, and there’s little that’s more enticing to a small boy than climbing inside a hollow tree.

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I was more absorbed by the sun setting ahead of us.

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I’ve taken photos of the boys inside this tree before, when they were tiny-tots…

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….but the opening used to be much smaller and for a time they weren’t able to get inside.

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On the wooded banks of the Kent, snowdrops were flowering. Spring is on its way!

Levens Park and Force Falls