More Quick Fixes

Or: Driving Miss A

Scenes from the life of a taxi-driving Dad.

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Guides have a Thursday evening outing to ‘Pets At Home’? Perfect, I’ll nip up Scout Scar to take in the wide-open views.

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Consecutive dance lessons for an hour and a quarter in Milnthorpe on a Monday evening? No worries – a circuit from Sandside Back Lane through the woods to Storth, up to Cockshot Lane and then to the diminutive summit of Haverbrack – another Small Hill with a Disproportionately Good View.

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Panorama from Haverbrack – Kent Estuary, Whitbarrow Scar and the distant Cumbrian Fells.

This photo is from a fortnight ago. I’d also walked the same circuit a couple of weeks before that, under gloomy skies, when I didn’t take any photos.

I walked it again tonight. It had been sunny all day (whilst I was stuck at work waiting for a session of ‘Wellbeing’ training*) but whilst we ate tea the eastern sky had turned an impressively thunderous black.

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I did get rained on a bit, but the dramatic dark skies and fast-moving strips of sunlight were more than sufficient compensation.

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On a whim, I diverted slightly to visit Sandside’s infamous ‘Orchid Triangle’. Somebody (I’m not being secretive, I can’t remember who) told me about this unprepossessing spot years ago, but I misunderstood their directions and could never find any orchids. Then somebody else (again – it’s a mystery who it was) corrected my mistake, but somehow I’ve never gotten around to checking for orchids at an appropriate season.

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But today – what a stroke of luck: lots of orchids. At first I thought that they’d finished flowering, what with the lack of colour in the flowers, but now I can see that in fact many of the flowers have yet to open.

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This is Common Twayblade (I’m pretty sure of that, although I’ve never seen it before) and the flowers are a yellowy-green. Not the most spectacular orchid perhaps, and apparently ‘quite common’, but it made me very happy none-the-less.

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Not so happy with the photos, but that just gives me a reason to go back soon to have another go.

Flowers didn’t feature in the ‘7 secrets of happiness’ talk at work today, although we were exhorted to ‘be mindful’ which seemed to entail noticing changes in the weather and the seasons. (I think there might be a bit more too it than that). Music was missing too. Literature, drama, art – not mentioned. Exercise was advocated, but not fresh air, sunshine, great views…

Maybe I should deliver the training next time?

Oh, and finally…

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…another book recommendation.

Imagine this: a young man goes to University, joins a Hiking Club, becomes a bit obsessed with walking and list-ticking, gets into a few scrapes, garners an assortment of amusing anecdotes. Sound familiar to anyone? Craig Weldon has woven a very readable book out of those youthful exploits. He really does become a bit list obsessed, somewhat of a monomaniac, and it doesn’t always seem to make him happy (the part where he moves to England and seems grimly determined to drive as close as he can to the top of Marilyn’s and then bag them with the minimum of effort or enjoyment is a bit hard to fathom, but mercifully short). On the whole it’s life-affirming stuff, and made me smirk knowingly in several places. Besides which, anyone who singles out Ben Mor Coigach and Ben a’Chrulaiste for praise can’t be all bad. I’m even feeling almost inspired by his determination to go walking in foul weather. Almost.

(Available for loan – first shout).

Oh – of course – Craig Weldon has a blog, so you can sample his writing for free: Love of Scotland.

*Rant edited out. Don’t get me started.

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More Quick Fixes

Staveley to Levens Bridge

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Just out of Staveley, looking back towards the Kentmere valley.

February half-term. TBH and the ankle-biters – I shall have to stop calling them the ankle-biters, they’ll soon be looking down on me and patting me condescendingly on the head – as I was saying, TBH and les enfants terrible were meeting some friends in Staveley to celebrate a birthday with a short stroll, a meal in the marvellous Wilf’s Cafe and a visit to Staveley’s well-appointed children’s playground (they aren’t so grown-up yet that they can’t appreciate swings and slides etc.). I suppose I could, perhaps should, have been sociable and joined the party, but this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss – a chance to walk point-to-point. In particular, to walk the full length of Cunswick and Scout Scars. So that’s what I did.

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I’m still enjoying playing with the panorama function on my camera, even though the results are rarely what I hope for. If you click on the photo (or indeed any of them) you can see a bigger version on flickr.

A scheduled nine o’clock meeting was hastily put back to ten after phone calls revealed that none of the invited parties were remotely ready for the off. We finally made it to Staveley shortly after eleven. Fortunately our friends are very understanding. And almost as bad at timekeeping as we are.

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The weather started very promisingly, with one brief spell of quite warm sunshine. The walking was very pleasant, although progress was slow since there didn’t seem to be any paths heading quite where I wanted to go, necessitating some frantic zig-zagging. Tree-felling in the area around Ratherheath Tarn seemed to be targeting all of the non-native conifers, whilst leaving the rest of the woodland intact.

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The tarn itself still held a thin skin of ice from that morning’s frost.

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Cunswick Scar.

I can’t help feeling that if Cunswick Scar and its neighbour Scout Scar and, across the valley, Whitbarrow Scar were anywhere else in England than on the borders of the Lake District, then these long limestone escarpments would be far more famous than they are.

Much as I enjoy a circular walk, or an elliptical walk, or any closed loop route, there’s something particularly satisfying about walking from A to B. A big part of the appeal are the views ahead to what’s to come and the views behind to what’s been and gone. The wide-open nature of Scout Scar really opens up those long vistas, even when the weather is deteriorating and the clouds are drawing in.

This is the view…

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…from the bench on the northern end of Scout Scar where I stopped for a brew and some lunch, looking back on Cunswick Scar, which in fact is in two sections.

This…

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Is a view south along Scout Scar and across the Lyth Valley. The hill in the distance is Arnside Knott on the far side of the River Kent.

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The interior of the tiny St. John’s church Helsington, which sits in a remote spot on the Scout Scar ridge.

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Some details about the church and the mural here.

The long walk along the scar, gradually heading down towards the village of Levens was very enjoyable, if increasingly gloomy. Much as I enjoyed it, I don’t seem to have taken anymore photos. The anticipated rain finally arrived as I walked through Levens. I’d originally thought I might get to Milnthorpe or even all the way home, but after the late start and with the light fading and the heavens opening, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour. I managed to leave TBH a message on her phone. Fortuitously, she was just about to leave Staveley when she got the message and arrived to pick me up from a layby near Levens Bridge on the Kent only moments after I arrived there myself. Nice to be the beneficiary of a personal taxi service for a change!

I really enjoyed the walk, in fact I’m still enjoying it in retrospect, and really must engineer some more opportunities to walk A to B, or better yet, A to B, B to C, C to D etc over several days…Now there’s a thought!

Staveley to Levens Bridge