A Circuit of Spy Crag

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The (Magnificent) Staveley Seven.

The day after my Sour Howes and Sallows walk, and I’m going back to Kentmere, this time parked in Staveley. A get-together has been organised, TBH is joining the group. B has a rugby match, but the Colts kick-offs are generally in the afternoon, so I decide that I can join for at least part of the walk.

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Hugill Fell, Millrigg Knott, Brunt Knott and Potter Fell, this time from the South. The prominent top on Hugill Fell is Black Crag. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

After much faffing in Staveley, we didn’t get all that far before I had to reluctantly leave the group and head back for the car.

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Timber! There had evidently been a lot of felling in Craggy Wood so I assume that the wood had come from there.

Craggy Wood was purchased, relatively recently I think, by Cumbria Wildlife Trust. I’ve had my eye on a visit there for many years, having seen it so often from Staveley.

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Scout Scar from Craggy Wood.

The path initially climbs steeply through a felled area – the felling I suspect to remove non-native conifers – then rocks-up on the top edge of the wood, giving views over Spy Crag.

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Looking North across Spy Crag.
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Brunt Knott and Potter Fell from Spy Crag.
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In Craggy Wood.

The path weaves its way through the trees and along the edges of some small crags. Now I need to go back in the summer, when the trees are in leaf and, of course, in the autumn when no doubt the colours will be magnificent.

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Reston Scar and Black Crag on Hugill Fell.
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River Kent weir on the outskirts of Staveley.
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An old mill? by the Kent.

More by luck than good judgement, I arrived home at almost exactly the time I’d told B I would. True to form, however, he wasn’t ready anyway. Still, we made it in plenty of time for the match.

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The aftermath of a Kirkby try.

Andy’s account of the rest of the group’s longer walk is here.

A Circuit of Spy Crag

The Knott, Haverbrack, Beetham Fell

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Crepuscular Rays over Silverdale from Castlebarrow.
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Flooded fields, Silverdale Moss and Beetham Fell from by Arnside Tower.
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Arnside Tower, Arnside Tower Farm and Arnside Knott.
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A view over the Kent Estuary from Red Hills Pasture.
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A hedge-laying competition in Dobshall Wood.
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Gummer How, Yewbarrow and Whitbarrow behind the Kent Viaduct.
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Patches of sunlight picking out Cartmell Fell and Yewbarrow.
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Here it’s Whitbarrow catching the light.
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Whitbarrow and the Kent Estuary from Haverbrack.
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Heversham Head and Milnthorpe from Haverbrack.
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Arnside Knott and blue skies after a shower from Beetham Fell.

The day after my late afternoon walk from Yealand and another walk involving a lift. This was a longer local walk on a day of very changeable weather. After I’d passed Hazelslack Farm, the weather took a turn for the worse and seemed set-in, so I took the easy option and called TBH to come and pick me up, which saved me a couple of miles in pouring rain.

The Knott, Haverbrack, Beetham Fell

January, High Tides and Partly Cloudies

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Three days at the beginning of January to finish our Winterval* break. First off, an Arnside Knott walk. As you can see, it was fairly bright, but very cloudy elsewhere, so the views were highly truncated. No Cumbrian Fells on display, and to the south…

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…Warton Crag looking a bit hazy, and the Forest of Bowland, usually the horizon, nowhere to be seen.

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Flooded fields and Silverdale Moss.
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Low winter sun over Humphrey Head.
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Sunset.
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The next day’s walk, our ‘standard’ Jenny Brown’s Point circuit, is represented by this single photo of high tide in Quicksand Pool. A grey day!

The next day, a Monday, in lieu of our New Year’s Day Bank Holiday, we had four Roe Deer in the garden: a male and three females.

He was easiest to photograph, since he didn’t move about too much, often sitting quite still…

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…also giving himself a thorough grooming…

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…occasionally shaking himself in much the same way a dog would, and every now and then having a bit of a snack…

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The females were much more intent on feeding themselves. They have a long gestation period and so maybe they were all pregnant and that was the reason for their greater appetite?

I took hundreds of photos, many of them very poor, but it was interesting to be watching them. I was surprised by how catholic their tastes were. We are all too aware that in the spring and summer the deer will come into our garden and eat lots of flowers, but in the middle of winter they seemed keen on just about anything green.

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Even the rather leathery looking leaves of our large Fatsia japonica didn’t escape unscathed.

Brambles and Ivy too were firmly on the menu…

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Through my zoom lens I could see the deers’ long tongues, seemingly well adapted for grasping leaves and tearing them from the plants.

Two of the does roamed the garden together, never straying from each others’ sides.

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The other female occasionally joined them, but mostly plowed her own furrow. Then she joined the buck on our lawn…

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And they sat, companionably ignoring one another…

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I’m not sure how long I would have sat watching the deer, but then I got an offer of a lift to Arnside from A, who is working in a Care Home there. It was raining a little, but the forecast was for better to come, so this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

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High tide – the Kent viaduct. Gummer How, Yewbarrow and Whitbarrow behind.
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Arnside Prom. This was a very high tide, the slipway here was almost submerged.

I walked around the coast, as far as the Coastguard station, from where I had to turn inland since the path was underwater.

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I followed the road to New Barns. The tide had receded somewhat, although the salt marsh was still inundated…

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From New Barns I was able to follow the shore again. It had stopped raining, and some blue sky started to appear.
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White Creek.
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Hampsfell and Meathop Fell across the Kent Estuary from White Creek.

The remainder of the walk was enlivened by my attempts to capture the crepuscular rays illuminating Morecambe Bay.

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Today is one of those excellent January partly cloudies in which light chooses an unexpected part of the landscape to trick out in gilt, and then shadow sweeps it away. You know you are alive. You take huge steps, trying to feel the planet’s roundness arc between your feet.

Anne Dillard from ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’

I’ve quoted this before, but, somewhat to my surprise, it was ten years ago, so I think that’s okay. I’ve been slowing rereading ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’, which put it in mind, but anyway I’ve come to think of days like this as Partly Cloudies.

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When I eventually got home, the three does had disappeared, but the buck was still stationed on our lawn, bold as brass. Nowhere else to be, no calls on his time. Nice work if you can get it!

*Winterval – not a term I ever normally use, but I thought I’d put it out there and see if anyone would bite!

January, High Tides and Partly Cloudies

An Early Purple, Atomic Eggs and Morecambe Skies

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Early Purple Orchid, The Lots.

A post to round of the final week of April. The orchid is from and a short Sunday afternoon stroll across The Lots. Earlier in the day I’d had a walk along the Lune with The Tower Captain, whilst our respective lads were training at Underley Park, home of Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC.

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River Lune near Kirkby Lonsdale.
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Pipe Bridge over the Lune…
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Carrying water from Haweswater to Heaton Park reservoir in Manchester.
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Harmony Hall and Laburnum House in Milnthorpe.
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These last two photos from a lazy evening stroll whilst A was dancing.

The next time she has a lesson, I was more ambitious and drove to park by Leven’s Bridge for a walk by the River Kent.

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Force Falls, River Kent.

This circular route was a firm favourite when the kids were younger. It’s around three miles – not too taxing for little legs. Not bad for an evening stroll either.

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Solomon’s Seal by the Kent.
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River Kent.

Later in the walk, I encountered both the Bagot Goats and the Bagot Fallow Deer, both unique to the Levens Deer Park. I took photos of the goats, but it was too dark by then. (This post, from the early days of the blog, has photos of both, and of the boys when they were cute and not towering teenagers)

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Midland Hotel Morecambe, from the Battery. It’s here that, hopefully, the Eden Project North will be built.
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Lake District Fells from Morecambe Prom.
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Midland Hotel again. Arnside Knott behind and right of the small building on the Stone Jetty.

TBH and I had a half-hour stroll along Morecambe Promenade, prior to picking up B from meeting his friends in Heysham.

An Early Purple, Atomic Eggs and Morecambe Skies

November: On the Home Patch

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Sunset from The Cove
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Post sunset light from The Lots

People were going further afield for their daily exercise. I knew this. Every day we drove past the Eaves Wood car park and it was full. I could read about it on blogs. People I met on my walks recounted trips to the Dales and the Lakes.

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Post sunset light from The Lots

And I would be doing the same. Soon, very soon.

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Tree trunk near the mouth of the Kent.

But somehow, I didn’t get around to it.

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Flooded fields from Arnside Knott

I wasn’t particularly worried about what might happen, or any potential consequences.

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Late afternoon skies from Castlebarrow…

I’m a creature of habit. I just seemed to be stuck in a rut of sorts.

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And The Cove.
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Fungi.

Still, there are worse ruts to be in!

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I was still getting out a lot. Frequent visits to The Cove, The Pepper Pot, and around Jenny Brown’s Point, usually with TBH.

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The weather was a bit mixed, to say the least.

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“See that storm over yonder, it’s gonna rain all day.”

This was a memorable walk. The tide was exceptionally high. So much so that we had to turn back and couldn’t get around Jenny Brown’s because the the salt marsh was inundated.

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All of this is usually green!

It was also very windy and squally, with very heavy showers.

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We walked across Quaker’s Stang which was completely exposed to the wind off the sea, and made for very bracing walking.

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The RSPB car park for Allan and Morecambe hides was flooded.
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More fungi.
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Waves (of a fashion) at Jack Scout.
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The lights of Heysham and Morecambe from The Cove.
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Another high tide at Jack Scout.
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The salt marsh when it isn’t underwater! Warton Crag behind.
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Warton Crag again, across Quicksand Pool.
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Jack Scout Rainbow.
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Towering cloud catching late light from The Cove.
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Arnside Prom.

So – I’ve dismissed November with a solitary post again.

What would break my out of my routine? I needed an external stimulus, an intervention you might say…


Here’s something I haven’t done for a while – a tune for the end of the post. I absolute love the interplay of voices on this Levon Helm track….

November: On the Home Patch

Where’s You Bin?

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Snails galore!

These first two photos represent our first fortnight of September – stuck at home quarantining and, like these snails, inseparable from our home. I walked around our garden a lot, listening to podcasts as I stomped. The snails (and there were quite a few more than those in the photograph) had all been resident inside the lid of one of our garden waste wheely bins. Since the bins were empty, I’d decided to remove the snails and put them into the flowerbeds where they might find something to eat (don’t tell the gardener!) I’m not sure what the diddy one is, but the rest are (I think): Copse Snail, White-lipped Snail, Garden Snail, another White-lipped and finally a Brown-lipped Snail. Not bad variety for a garden safari.

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The hills of home from Farleton Fell.

When we were eventually permitted to venture a bit further, I had a post-work wander up Farleton Fell, while A was at a dance class. It was gloomy, cold and a bit damp, but I was happy since I found some Autumn Gentians…

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I couldn’t decide whether the flowers were closed because of the lack of sun, or because they hadn’t yet opened, or because I was too late and had missed them at their best. But I’ve not seen them before, so was happy to know where to look on another visit.

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The Dale from by the Pepper Pot.

The following weekend brought some glorious weather and, for me, a wander around the coast to New Barns and an ascent of Arnside Knott.

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Rosehips
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The view from Arnside Point.
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Bryony.
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A Hawkweed?

I spent quite some time taking photos of spectacular webs and large diadem spiders on these weeds and am disappointed that none of the photos have come out at all sharp.

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River Kent.
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The view from the Knott.

Springing forward to the present, it’s the start of ‘British Summer Time’ and it’s throwing it down, cold and windy. Yesterday was brighter, and we had both Roe Deer and a Sparrowhawk in the garden. The gardener (TBH) is miffed though since the deer have eaten all of her new, purple tulips.

I think we’re all braced, locally, for a very busy Easter period, with lots of extra parking organised in anticipation of the invading hordes. I note that the Times has listed Arnside and Silverdale as one of ‘Other best places to live in the Northwest’ behind regional winner Altrincham (I know where I would choose!) and that a Guardian article listing ‘Seven extraordinary villages to visit in England and Wales’ is headed by Arnside. Neither of which will help. Batten down the hatches!

Where’s You Bin?

The Bay and the Kent.

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Gratuitous picture of homemade bread. Made with malted bread flour because that was all I managed to buy, and lucky to get that I think. I’ve decided that I prefer bread with at least some malted flour in it.

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Looking back to Silverdale.

A sunny but windy day: on the sands it was cool; in the trees, with a little shelter, quite warm.

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The long ridge of Heathwaite and Arnside Knott.

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Know point and Clougha Pike beyond. I was following the tide line, but in the opposite direction.

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The channel and Humphrey Head beyond.

I felt sure that, the water levels having dropped due to the prolonged dry weather, I would be able to find a place to cross the stream, but it was always a little bit too wide and a bit too deep for me to even contemplate trying.

So I followed it back towards the shore and Arnside Knott…

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When I reached the shore I discovered the source of the water, a deceptively small spring…

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…carving its way through the sand. Not sure how I missed it before.

I noticed the where the sands had been dry for the longest, on the highest ground, it had begun to acquire a greyish crust…

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I followed the thin strip of sand between the cliffs and the channel again, heading for Park Point. The dropping water level had exposed a muddy island in the channel which was popular with red shanks…

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Rounding Park Point.

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A dog whelk shell?

On my previous wander this way I had watched a runner make a beeline for Grange. At the moment, the River Kent swings away from the Arnside shore and curves seemingly almost to Grange. I didn’t want to go quite that far, but I set off from Park Point towards the river, weaving a little to check out any obvious shapes on the sand, which usually turned out to be driftwood…

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Looking back to Park Point.

I haven’t been out into this part of the estuary before and, although more enclosed than the bay itself, I was surprised by how vast it felt…

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Eventually, I reached a slight dip, beyond which the going looked very wet and muddy…

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River Kent and Meathop Fell.

I turned and followed the edge towards Arnside…

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A skeletal flounder perhaps – know locally as fluke?

I’d originally intended to return home via the Knott, but I’d spent so long on the sands that it was now getting on in the afternoon and I wanted to get home to cook tea. I thought I knew a spot where I could access the cliff-top path and was very chuffed to hit the right place, where a break in the cliffs gives access, at the first attempt.

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The shingle beach at White Creek, much like the one at the Cove, is still liberally covered with the flotsam washed up by this winter’s Atlantic storms.

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Peacock butterfly.

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Pied wagtail.

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White Creek.

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I think that these are emerging leaves of lily-of-the-valley.

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Having followed the cliffs for a while, I dropped back down to the beach and returned to the village on the sands again.

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Another dead flatfish. I’ve often wondered how they cope with the huge tidal range in the bay. I know that a lot of them end up in the river channel, because I’ve watched people fishing for them barefoot at Arnside. There are some many fish that it’s efficient to plodge about until you stand on a fish, then you simply bend over and grab them and chuck them to an accomplice on the river bank.

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Approaching the Cove.


The Bay and the Kent.

Too Far?

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Notices like this went up around the village in the early days of the virus. With the twenty-twenty vision which hindsight provides, and in light of the clarification subsequently issued to police forces, it’s easy to see that the notice is not entirely correct. But it’s not my intention to criticise: the Parish Council and the Neighbourhood Watch were simply doing their best to interpret instructions which were clear in their intent but completely lacking in detail. To some extent, we’ve all had to make our own decisions about exactly what constitutes ‘staying at home’, when, in fact, we don’t actually have to stay at home all the time.

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Whelk Eggs.

Apparently, my Dad tells me, one of my second cousins was stopped by the police, only this week, and told that cycling isn’t exercise and that he should go home.

It’s not only the police who have at times been over-zealous however, and there seems to be quite an inclination, in conversation and online, to find fault with other people’s choices. Usually, online at least, swiftly followed by a second wave of condemnation heaped on the whoever dared to criticise and so on.

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The ‘other’ Holgates caravan park at Far Arnside – it looks far bigger from the Bay than it does when you walk through it.

There’s been quite a bit of discussion, in local Faceache forums, about whether it’s acceptable or not to cross Parish Boundaries whilst exercising. Some of it, it’s fair to say, was tongue-in-cheek, but I think it at least echoed the kind of conversations many people have been having.

So, it’s possible that on this walk, and I suppose on a handful of others, I went a little too far?

Initially I walked out into the bay until some dark lines off to my right attracted my attention and I turned in that direction. They turned out to be the far bank of a broad channel…

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Morecambe Bay – the tiny dots on the horizon are Heysham Nuclear Power Plant.

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I turned and followed the edge of the channel back towards the shore north of Far Arnside.

Eventually, I was forced to deviate somewhat in order to cross a meandering side-stream..

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Shelducks and Mallards. Grange-over-Sands promenade behind.

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Closer to shore the channel held a lot more water and was evidently quite deep.

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The bank was crumbling and clearly unstable.

Although the channel eventually ran quite close to the cliffs, it was still possible to keep following it round towards Arnside.

I was a bit nonplussed when I rounded Park Point and saw that the channel simply petered out…

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From this point there’s always a view of part of the Eastern Fells of the Lakes. You’ll struggle to see it in the photo above, but I thought I could pick out some remnants of snow up there. Fortunately, with the magic of the superzoom….

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I could confirm my suspicion.

I keep changing my mind about which hills are visible from Park Point, but my current thinking is that this looks like a view of Fairfield and the western half of the horseshoe.

Just around the point, I was struck by the sudden profusion of shells…

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Cockle shell.

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Mussel shell.

I assume that it’s to do with how the tides flow around the point, perhaps creating eddies or a lull and hence causing shells carried by the currents to be deposited.

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I followed the estuary up towards Arnside.

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Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

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A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers.

Not a great photo, I know. They were on the far side of the river. But I’m never entirely confident about the difference between Mergansers and Goosanders, so I’m hoping that, if I make some brief notes here, then the details might stick for future reference. That often seems to work.

The male Merganser, on the right, has a wispy crest, a white neck-band and an orange-brown breast. The female is quite dark, with no clear delineation between the plumage on her head and neck.

Here’s a pair of Goosanders which I watched as they fished just a little further upriver.

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The male doesn’t have the crest, has a white breast and far more white generally. The female has a very obvious dividing line between the colours of her neck and head.

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Lesser Black-backed Gull, who was every bit as interested in the Goosanders as I was. Whilst I’m making notes – the yellow legs distinguish this from  a Great Black-backed Gull.

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Female Goosander.

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Male Goosander.

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Pigeon.

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Scurvy-grass. Packed with vitamin C apparently.

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Train crossing the viaduct – I couldn’t tell whether it had any passengers or not.

In Arnside I stuck to the edge of the estuary, rather than walking along the Prom. I couldn’t avoid a short road-walk and passing through the railway station however and if I transgressed then I suppose this is where, not that I was ever closer than the stipulated two metres away from any residents of Arnside.

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It looked like the old bridge had been closed off for repairs and replaced with a temporary, scaffolding bridge…

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Which was high enough to give a good view along the Kent Estuary…

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I walked along the old rail embankment which borders the estuary here, eventually turning off to cross Arnside Moss and then follow Black Dyke and the railway line back towards Eaves Wood.

In the fields by Black Dyke which were flooded for several weeks in the winter, there was a fair assembly of Shelduck, Lapwings, Canada geese, Greylag geese, and Herons, almost as if all of these waterfowl were loyal to the erstwhile lake even now that it had drained away.

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Hart’s Tongue Fern.

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New leaves emerging.

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Willow catkins – with, I think, a honey bee, thoroughly dusted in yellow pollen.

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Ginger thorax, black abdomen, white tail: a Tree Bumblebee. A species which is a comparatively recent arrival in Britain.

I’d been thinking that it was about time that I saw some Coltsfoot flowering, and sure enough, there it was beneath the willows.

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A different willow catkin, or possibly the same species at an earlier stage – but I’m inclined to the former. Willows are a tad confusing.

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A section of Eaves Wood, where most of the trees had been felled, was resplendent with Primroses, which is, I think, exactly the point – flowers of this sort, which seem to prefer open woodland, violets, primroses etc are important food-plants for various butterflies, some of them rare.

And so, a tune: it has to be Little Richard. A has been practising a dance to ‘Long Tall Sally’ and who can resist that? Or ‘Tutti Frutti’ and it’s opening ‘a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom’, a vocalisation, apparently, of the driving drum beat which Richard wanted for the song. However, I’ve gone for something a bit less obvious, which you might not have heard before, Freedom Blues:

Too Far?

Zest

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An early start in Eaves Wood. All the photos are from the third of January.

When I started blogging, back in 2008, I anticipated that I would be principally keeping a record of  local walks. I’ve branched out since and many posts have covered walks a bit further afield as well has family holidays, and occasional detours into recipes, card games, museums and whatever else takes my fancy, but in 2020, more so than in the intervening years, my walking has mostly been from my doorstep.

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Later in the day, Arnside Knott from near Hollins Farm.

We are lucky to have a host of walks to enjoy in the area and quite a diversity of habitats with woods, wetlands, meadows and low limestone hills. Most of the paths have become very familiar over the years, so you can expect lots more posts featuring well-worn images of Hawes Water, Eaves Wood, Arnside Knott etcetera, I’m afraid. Often though, there are new things to notice, or seasonal changes to note, and even if all else fails, then the skies are ever-changing and sometimes even dramatic…

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“The more things a man is interested in, the more opportunities of happiness he has, and the less he is at the mercy of fate, since if he loses one thing he can fall back upon another. Life is too short to be interested in everything, but it is good to be interested in as many things as are necessary to fill our days.”

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Grange from the cliff-path.

“It is quite impossible to guess in advance what will interest a man, but most men are capable of a keen interest in something or other, and when once such an interest has been aroused their life becomes free from tedium. Very specialised interests are, however, a less satisfactory source of happiness than a general zest for life, since they can hardly fill the whole of a man’s time, and there is always the danger that he may come to know all there is to know about the particular matter that has become his hobby.”

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And again from down on the sands.

“Young children are interested in everything that they see and hear; the world is full of surprises to them, and they are perpetually engaged with ardour in the pursuit of knowledge, not, of course, of scholastic knowledge, but of the sort that consists in acquiring familiarity with the objects that attract their attention.”

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Heathwaite.

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Looking South down the coast.

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Silver Birch on Arnside Knott.

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Kent Estuary and Whitbarrow Scar catching the sun.

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Looking towards Silverdale Moss.

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Arnside Tower.

Zest

Out to Lunch

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Here’s TBH on the cliff path round to Arnside, on one of our favourite outings: round the coast to Arnside, lunch in a cafe and then back over the Knott.

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I never fail to take a photo when we reach Park Point, turn the corner into the estuary and a whole new vista opens up.

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This was a very high tide, the stream at New Barns is not usually this full.

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A similar trip featured in my October post, but I couldn’t remember where we’d had lunch. Or rather: I could remember eating at the Wagtail and at the Jazz Cafe, but not which had been in October and which in December. Both meals, incidentally, were outstanding. Looking at the photos, I can tell that this December trip was the time we patronised the Wagtail, because when we remerged on the front, the weather had deteriorated somewhat.

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Not so much that were deterred  from climbing the Knott to take in some snowy views.

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A walk like this and a lunch is something we would normally fit in at some time over Easter, and although we are hardly suffering here, I shall certainly miss it.

Out to Lunch