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.

The Sands and The Knott

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The Cove.

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Looking back to the Cove.

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Heathwaite and Arnside Knott.

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Aiming for Humphrey Head.

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Following an old tide-line.

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Cockle shell.

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Common otter shells.

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Tellin.

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In a variety of hues.

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There was plenty of evidence of shelduck. Not only footprints!

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I followed the edge of the channel in again, but this time, hitting land, I took the steep path up to Heathwaite.

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Spring cinquefoil – I assumed I was seeing good old ubiquitous tormentil, but when I looked at the photo I realised that the flower has five petals not four. And then I discovered that tormentil doesn’t flower till June. So – not a rare flower, but new to me, so I’m chuffed.

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New oak leaves.

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I’ve been giving a lot of thought, since a comment from Conrad, about where the best viewpoints in the area are located, which is a very pleasant thing to ponder whilst out aimlessly wandering. The spot this photo was taken from, at the top of the shilla slope on Arnside Knott, would rank high on my list.

It was very hazy on this day, but there’s a good view of the Bay, of the Forest of Bowland, and over Silverdale Moss…

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…to Ingleborough, which you’ll be able to pick out if you are using a large screen. (You can click on the photo to see a zoomable version on flickr)

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Wood sorrel.

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Chaffinch.

I took lots of bird photos on this walk, but they were almost all of them blurred, or photos of where a bird had just been perched. A couple of nuthatches were particular offenders in that regard.

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A very hazy view towards the Lakes.

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Song thrush.

This thrush, unlike most of the birds I’d seen, was very comfortable with my presence and happily hopped about catching small wriggling mouthfuls in the grass.  Absolutely charming to watch.


Now, why would you cover an Otis Redding song? Seems to me you are on a hiding to nothing. But, it happens. A lot. So what do I know?

And having said that, I think Toots and the Maytals do a pretty fair job…

..I am a big fan of the Maytals though. Their version of ‘Country Roads’ is superb. And their own ‘Funky Kingston’ is one of my favourite tunes. There are lots of other covers, by the Grateful Dead, the Black Crowes, Tom Jones for example.

This is not a cover…

…apparently? It has different words and a new title, but I can’t help feeling that it sounds a little familiar?

The Sands and The Knott

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?

Woodwell and Jack Scout

Ramsons

The day after my idle afternoon stroll. The weather was still holding fair, although much colder than it had been. I nipped out for another short wander, calling in on a couple of local spots I haven’t visited in a while. In Bottom’s Wood the ramsons are tall and verdant and almost in flower…

Almost flowering 

Ash buds are bursting open…

Ash flowers, bursting out. 

At Woodwell the pond is silting up, and the water level was very low after the long fry spell of weather. There were very few tadpoles to be seen this year, but even more small fish than ever. I’ve never photographed the fish here. The camera’s autofocus seemed intent on keeping it that way…

Confused autofocus 

But I eventually got some clear(ish) shots…

Fish 

My best guess is that these are minnows, but I’m not confident about that and as ever stand ready to be corrected.

Another fish 

This pond skater seems to have made a catch…

Pond skater 

I think that there are at least three types of snail in the pond. Here’s one of the ‘rounded, green shell variety’ (I’ve got a book with these in somewhere – now what have I done with it?)

Pond snail 

One edge of the pond is greeny yellow with flowering golden saxifrage.

Golden saxifrage 

And some trees are coming into leaf at last…

New sycamore leaves 

From Woodwell I went down to Jack Scout to find some thing of a surprise. The banks and channels have changed. The wall which extends into the bay from Jenny Brown’s Point has all but disappeared, with only a small section close to the shore visible. The rest has disappeared under a new sandbank.

Where's the wall? 

Looking across Morecambe Bay. Heysham power station on the horizon right of centre.

Clougha Pike

Cliffs at Jack Scout. The dark line right of the cliffs is the Bowland Fells, Clougha Pike on the extreme right-hand end.

Shells 

Seashells.

Cow's mouth

A sloppy and muddy surface here has been replaced with a fairly sandy surface, pleasant to walk on. This small cove is Cow’s Mouth which was one of the embarkation points when lots of traffic crossed the sands of the bay bound for Furness.

Sun and clouds

I was able to follow the shore back around to the village, mostly walking on the sand, although a channel under the cliffs necessitated retreating onto the shingle at the top of the beach…

Shingle 

…and then onto the cliff path.

Coastal lichen 

Sea-cliff lichen.

A sizable flock of birds whizzed overhead with an impressive whoosh, then flew low over the water. Very impressive to watch. I was pretty sure that they weren’t oystercatchers. My blurred photos of them in flight showed white edges to the wings and a large white shape on their backs, but the most telling photo was the one I took after they had landed…

Redshank

…redshanks!

Woodwell and Jack Scout

Sea Wood, Aldingham, Birkrigg Common

In the car we’d been listening to Michael Hordern read ‘Prince Caspian’. I suspect that Michael Hordern could have made almost anything interesting to listen to, but the kids are quite Narnia obsessed at the moment. A has begun to read the books, the kids have all seen the films – in fact they had watched ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ at the flicks the day before with their mum whilst I was painting – and they are already busy preparing their costumes as characters from ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ for World Book Day. Today their mum had taken over the painting duties (fiddly stuff involving gloss paints and woodwork – beyond my meagre capabilities) and I was making a virtue of necessity and taking the rest of the crew for a staycation exploration day.

At the beginning of ‘Prince Caspian’ Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy unexpectedly find themselves in a wood, by a shore. They soon find a stream across the beach, and then the ruins of Cair Paravel in which they find a well. In the cold and the mist we embarked into a wood, by a shore. The kids soon found a rivulet issuing from a black plastic pipe. Just into the wood we found a mysterious ditch…

…at the end of which there was……a well!

…or something the kids were happy to believe was a well. I soon found that my companions had been renamed Peter, Edmund and Lucy. Lucy found a rough circle of erratic boulders, which she announced were the ruins of Cair Paravel’s keep and the magic was complete.

Whilst their imaginations ran wild, I was noticing that the Ramson leaves are much more advanced than the ones I spotted earlier in the week in Bottoms Wood near home.

 Spent puffballs.

We followed the lower edge of the woods and when we ran out of wood we turned about and came back along the foreshore.

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Lucy had turned to beachcombing and was filling her pockets with stones and shells…

The boys were enjoying the mud and puddles and scrambling on the low cliffs. They were particularly taken with one twisted oak, the roots of which had been exposed by erosion, leaving a a space into which they climbed – a den which they were very reluctant to leave.

 Crab apples in the shingle.

Sea Wood is a Woodland Trust property, and has been on my ‘to do’ list for quite some time. We would have missed the delights of Aldingham however had we not been alerted to its potential as a lunch spot by Danny at Teddy Tour Teas. So thanks Danny! Our lunch wasn’t as elaborate, or mouth-watering, as Danny’s but we enjoyed it none-the-less.

We couldn’t find all 27 of these, but were fascinated but those we did find.

I think that they might be Large White chrysalides (plural for chrysalis apparently).

Aldingham has a beach of sorts, which was also a big hit. We don’t expect to find sand on the fringes of Morecambe Bay and were very excited to find it here.

 More beachcombing. St. Cuthbert’s in the background.

Parts of the beach were shale. with a fabulous variety of shapes and shades in the stones.

Naturally, beyond the thin strip of sand, the mud and pools of the bay exerted an strong pull on the boys.

They also enjoyed this overspilling trough…

The pipe beyond it seems to be superfluous now.

Superfluous except as a balance beam for S. Both boys were keen to climb on the remnants of this groyne too. Perhaps the explanation for why there is a beach here at all?

We found a few balls like this on the beach…which I think might be fish eggs? That’s what I told my kids anyway, so if anyone can elucidate further…?

On the verge of the lane just back from the beach, butterbur flowers were emerging and by the wall of St. Cuthbert’s (this is one of the spots were St. Cuthbert’s remains are said to have rested apparently)….

….common speedwell?

 Aldingham Hall.

The final part of our triumvirate, another long anticipated visit, was the small stone circle on Birkrigg Common, just above Sea Wood and not too far from the road.

From whence we repaired to Ulverston and ‘soft play’ for them, Earl Grey for me.

We very much enjoyed our day and the strong consensus was that we shall have to return to all 3 locales for further exploration. Perhaps when the sun shines.

Sea Wood, Aldingham, Birkrigg Common