Bowland Bronzed

Castlebarrow – The Cove – The Lots – Spring Bank

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A very short walk this one, memorable for two reasons, firstly the perfect timing which saw me arrive by the Pepperpot just as the low sun burnished the Bowland Fells with a glorious bronze light.

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It was very fleeting, lasting long enough for me to take a couple of snaps, then it was gone. The photographs don’t begin to do it justice – the colour was amazing, I can’t think that I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.

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The second notable feature of the evening was the sunset, witnessed through April showers of snow and hail.

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I wouldn’t generally consider hail as ‘A Good Thing’ but this was surprisingly gentle and serene and quite out of the ordinary, so that I found myself enjoying it, despite my misgivings.

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Yet another sunset over Morecambe Bay, but somehow they are always a bit different.

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Bowland Bronzed

Grand Designs – An Igloo on Wansfell

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A superb forecast for the weekend had me thinking about getting out to The Lakes for a walk. TBH had already planned her own walk with a couple of friends, part of an ongoing scheme to keep in touch by walking together once a month. I thought I might initiate a similar programme and asked the Tower Captain how he was fixed. Having both recently escaped for an entire weekend, it fell to us to take responsibility for the ankle-biters. And the Tower Captain’s dogs.

Somehow, independently of each other, both groups lighted on Troutbeck as their choice of destination. And so it was, somewhat comically, that we were all parked next to each other, by Church Bridge heading for Troutbeck Tongue and Wansfell respectively.

We hadn’t set off particularly early, and Little S was immediately pestering me about stopping for lunch, which we duly did, not far above the village on Nanny Lane.

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It was surprisingly hot for late March. Further up the lane we spotted a Peacock butterfly, my first butterfly of the year. There was still some snow on the higher fells, however…

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Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke.

And when we came across a couple of isolated patches of snow, the boys were picking up lumps of it to suck on and rub on their foreheads and arms in order to cool down. (It wasn’t as hot as that suggests!)

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Red Screes, Stony Cove Pike and part of High Street.

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When we reached the highest point, some of us decided to sit down and drink in the view…

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Whilst the boys immediately started to build snowmen…

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Well, not just the boys…

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The Tower Captain suggested that there was sufficient snow for them to build an igloo. Some children might have spotted this for the sarcastic comment that it was no doubt intended to be, but B, typically, took it as a personal challenge.

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The Tower Captain tried to resist…

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…whilst B enlisted the other children’s help…

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…but soon he was embroiled in the construction project too…

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I supervised from a supine position. It’s possible that my eyes may have closed for a while, so that I could concentrate on the logistics of the situation, obviously.

Soon, B deemed that the igloo was complete and it was time to try it out. Plenty of room for Little S…

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…a bit tighter for B…

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Oh…

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I neglected to mention that B had incorporated a window into his design.

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The igloo was altogether more ‘cosy’ for the Junior Tower Captain…

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..and A…

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And when the Tower Captain tried to squeeze his not inconsiderable frame into the igloo…

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…the inevitable happened…

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…and much hilarity ensued. A captured the whole thing on video, and very funny it is too. Maybe she’ll get round to posting it on her own blog one of these days.

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Fairfield and its ridges.

We followed the ridge to Wansfell Pike, which is a better viewpoint than the actual summit, and more popular with visitors.

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We had intended to drop down to Ambleside and then come back round to Troutbeck via Jenkin Crag and Skelghyll Wood, but we were running short of time, so took a direct route back down onto Nanny Lane instead.

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The amazing display of daffodils in the churchyard of Jesus Church in Troutbeck.

Apparently, the walk on Troutbeck Tongue was very pleasant, but I can’t imagine it was as much fun as our outing.

Grand Designs – An Igloo on Wansfell

Beinn Dubhchraig

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Sunday of our Bridge of Orchy weekend and we’re all out in one massed outing of Muppets.

The weather had started with great promise – some cloud, but also lots of blue sky and sunshine – but as we’d climbed the cloud had dropped and eventually it began to snow a little. But then, as we approached the end of our climb, the sun appeared as a watery disc in the cloud above. Sometimes lightening skies can be deceptive, but on this occasion rents in the cloud began to appear and partial views, both of the ridge and of the valleys below, were revealed.

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The mass Muppetry? – we’d set off intending to climb one of Beinn Dubhchraig’s ridges and descend another, but had instead ploughed up the hillside between the two. So what happened to our navigation skills? It was one of those cases of…

“Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.”

Except, I don’t think anybody was even remotely angry.

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The Tower Captain on the summit.

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Just off the top, we found a place out of the wind for the latest of many butty stops.

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The lifting clouds gradually revealed more and more of our surroundings in an exhilarating and tantalising display.

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We descended by the ridge we originally intended to climb. In places it was quite steep. And icy…

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The views just got better and better.

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Loch Lomond.

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Ben More and Stob Binnein.

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Ben more and Stob Binnein again.

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Beinn Challuim. (I think).

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Beinn Dorain and Beinn Odhar.

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More butties.

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Beinn Dorain and Beinn Odhar again.

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Beinn Dorain and Beinn Odhar. Again. I liked that view.

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Beinn Challuim again. I think.

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Alpenglow on Ben More and Stob Binnein. I suspect.

After two great days last year (accounts here and here), I was a bit shocked that we were lucky with the weather again. What’s more, I felt much fitter than I did last year, despite my lack of recent hill days, and so was able to enjoy it all the more.

Looking forward to next year’s trip already!

Beinn Dubhchraig

Meall Glas

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Ben More.

Another day of blue skies and sunshine! Another marvellous walk.

When we reached this collection of boulders it seemed like a fine place to stop to admire the view.

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Actually, when the others reached this collection of boulders, I presume that it seemed like a fine place to stop to admire the view and wait for Tail-End Charlie, i.e. me. When I finally caught up, I declared my intention to spend the remainder of the day there, or thereabouts, sunning myself, snoozing, taking in the scenery etc..

It seemed like a fine idea, but in the eventually, when the others had set-off, I decided to follow on anyway to see how far I might get.

They were headed for Meall Glas…

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…and some of the party were intending to climb…

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…Sgiath Chuil too.

Here they are together, along with some more vertical stripes…

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I have a feeling that when I first climbed these hills, many moons ago, there might have been three Munros here, and that one of them has subsequently been downgraded, but I’m too lazy (and unconcerned) to look it up.

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The rest of the party must have realised that I was still, despite what I’d said, dogging their tracks, like Frankenstein’s creature trailing across the ice, so when they found a snow free patch they waited for me again.

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The final push!

By the time I reached the top though, only the Tower Captain was waiting, the rest having gone on.

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Obligatory summit photo number three.

If anything, I think I enjoyed this second outing of the weekend even more than the first.

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If I’m allowed to quibble, perhaps the views were a little more hazy compared to the Saturday.

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Three…

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…stripy…

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…summit panoramas.

But I can cope with a little haze!

Amazing weekend.

Meall Glas

Meall a Choire Leith and Meall Corranaich

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When you book* a weekend away in the Scottish Highlands, at the tail end of winter, months in advance, you are inevitably making yourself a hostage to fortune. Over many annual visits to the Killin area, our group of old friends have enjoyed quite variable weather, with days out memorable for both fine conditions but also sometimes for some pretty wild and unpleasant wind, rain, hail, snow – not necessarily all at the same time. We have never however, experienced a weekend on a par with this year’s superb trip. Days like these come far and few between.

On the Saturday we split into several groups with one party heading for Ben More and another for Beinn Dorain. The Tower Captain and I meanwhile opted for the two ‘spare’ hills at the North-Western end of the Ben Lawers range. This has the advantage of a very high start, although the road past Lochan na Lairige eventually became impassable and we first helped to push another car which was stuck and then had some dodgy manoeuvres of our own to negotiate before we found a good place to park off the road.

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Lochan na Lairige

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Lochan na Lairige panorama.

I took lots of panoramas. All of them, to a greater or lesser extent, have these vertical lines across them, but I’ve included them anyway because I think they give a better idea of the views we had.

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Meall nan Tarmachan.

We had to descend a little at first, in order to get to a point where we could begin our ascent of Meall a Choire Leith. That climb was a long old drag (much bigger than Arnside Knott! – see last post) and to say that I was very tired by the time we’d finished it, is somewhat of an understatement. The snow was pretty hard in places. On a previous trip the Shandy Sherpa lent me his Kahtoola Microspikes and, impressed with their efficacy, I bought myself a pair almost immediately afterwards. I haven’t worn them in the two years which have elapsed since, and for some reason didn’t put them on as soon as I might have on this occasion either. When I eventually did fit them, I again found they gave great assurance and wished I’d put them on sooner.

If the climb was exhausting, there was some recompense in the views…

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…with ranks of snowy hills stretching away in every direction.

Even this raven…

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…seemed to have paused to contemplate the majesty of it all.

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Meall Garbh, An Stuc, Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas. (I think)

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Obligatory summit photo number one.

We did some hasty mental calculations and decided that, even at my slow plod, we still had plenty of time to include Meall Corranaich.

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Looking back to Meall a Choire Leith.

The climb was long and gradual, and should have been relatively easy, but for, in the latter stages, some energy-sapping, deep, unconsolidated snow.

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Still, we got there eventually…

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Obligatory summit photo number two.

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More stripy panoramas.

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Click on any of the photos to see larger versions.

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Looking across Loch Tay. The two prominent hills are Ben Vorlich and Stuc a’Chroin. (Probably)

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(Soon to be) obligatory summit panorama.

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TC was wearing his own crampon substitutes which seemed to have coiled wire rather than spikes. They worked well, but had an unfortunate habit of coming off from time to time. Here, on our descent, he had just retraced his steps and luckily managed to retrieve them both.

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A final view of Meall a’Choire Leith and our ascent route.

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Fantastic. All that, and we still had the prospect of a delicious meal and a few convivial beers in the bar of the Suie Lodge Hotel to come.

*Not that I booked it. Thanks to the Shandy Sherpa for that. This is (I think) the sixth year that we’ve stayed at the Suie Lodge and it may, sadly, be the last, since the owners have it on the market. The warm welcome and great food there are highly recommended, catch it while you can!

Meall a Choire Leith and Meall Corranaich

Sunshine and Spite on Ben Ledi

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Strathyre and Loch Lubnaig.

Our weekend in the Highlands ended with a day which promised little, but delivered in fine style. The forecast was awful: strong winds and heavy precipitation. We set off in full waterproofs and heavy rain, and although the rain stopped briefly to reveal blue skies above Strathyre and then even a rainbow moment…

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…it was soon raining again and it became a heads-down, plodding onward climb. At least we were soon high enough for the rain to turn to snow.

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A cold lunch stop.

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When we hit the ridge it was extremely windy, but at least some views began to appear again.

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You had to time your pauses for a view though – here’s a lovely view in the general direction of Stirling which is disappearing behind a squally snow shower…

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And then, for half an hour or so, we had a sunny spell as we completed the climb and crested the ridge.

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The sinuous cornice curling away on the continuing ridge was a delight.

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As were the views to Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin.

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I think that this must be Glen Finglas.

Shortly after we began our descent the weather deteriorated again, turning really wild. The wind howled, the snow was driven horizontally and briefly it was very difficult to see the rest of the group ahead. Dropping down into Stank Glen we encountered deep drifted snow and for a while the descent was almost as much hard work as the ascent had been. Somewhere on the way down Grandfather Sheffield and I lost the others. Inexplicably, we ended up ahead of them rather then behind, but met them again just below these impressive waterfalls on Stank Burn.

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Garbh Uisge.

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Our route.

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One last blather before heading off for our respective homes.

Sometimes there can be a fine line between a great day and a poor day. The forecast hadn’t been good, and in the end it wasn’t far wrong, but that half an hour on the ridge made the day. One to treasure.

Sunshine and Spite on Ben Ledi

Wansfell in the Snow

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B was invited to spend a day as a guest of Morecambe FC. Training in the morning, watching the match (against AFC Wimbledon) in the afternoon. I was tempted to join him in the afternoon, I haven’t been to watch Morecambe since they moved into their new ground, which was quite some time ago. But then, the forecast was for sunshine. There was snow on the hills. The temptation was too much.

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It’s just recently dawned on me that, in the same way that I used to manage to fit a pretty good walk in by setting off ridiculously early and then aiming to be home for lunch, now that weekend mornings are dominated by sporting fixtures and/or training for the boys, I can still accommodate a half decent stroll by setting off at lunchtime.

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So that’s what I did. It was around one o’clock when I parked in a little pull-off by Trout Beck (the stream) and set-off up into Troutbeck (the village).

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I like Troutbeck, it’s a handsome place, especially when the sun shines and there’s some white stuff about to enhance the views.

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Nanny Lane climbs out of the village towards Wansfell and Baystones. It was quite busy, although most people seemed to be heading the other way – back down into the valley.

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I kept right, sticking with the lane rather then making a bee-line for Wansfell Pike and when the lane ended and the right-of-way heads up-hill via a stile, I stuck with the wall – just to ring the changes really.

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Red Screes, Broad End, Stony Cove Pike.

On Baystones I was finally exposed to the full force of the wind. It was fairly fierce. So much so that taking photos was quite challenging. I put my rucksack down, and even though it was encumbered with a full load of extra clothing, a virtually full water bottle, ice-axe (unnecessary), micro-spikes (uncalled for) etc, it blew away and I had to chase after it.

Looking at the map I realise that, so tempting is it to climb Stony Cove Pike from the top of the Kirkstone Pass, that I’ve never explored the ridges it throws down into the Troutbeck valley. Broad End – prominent in this picture – is a continuation of the St. Raven’s Edge ridge which I’ve climbed many times from the Kirkstone and I suppose that Baystones and Wansfell Pike are the further continuation of that ridge. There’s definitely scope here for a Troutbeck horseshoe, maybe starting and finishing at Troutbeck Bridge. Hmmmm. If I ever have both the time and the energy…..

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Froswick, Ill Bell, Yoke.

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Looking along the ridge towards Wansfell Pike it was clear that the slopes were being regularly scoured by spindrift. So having had a free, outdoor-gym work-out courtesy of the ascent, I know enjoyed a complementary exfoliating face wash. It was a bit rough going, but still on the enjoyable side of invigorating.

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And the views were pretty good. Especially of the Fairfield Horseshoe which was catching the sun to good advantage.

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Looking back to Baystones.

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Like Black Fell, Wansfell Pike has something of a grandstand view of Windermere. My first walks in the Lake District were somewhere above Windermere, when we were holidaying in Garange-Over-Sands – in about 1978 I think. Wonder if we came up here?

It had been my intention to loop back to Nanny Lane and hence return to the car. But, fortuitously, when I came across a signpost indicating a permission path not shown on my 1:25000, a couple with a newer map showed me that it linked up to another lane, the Hundreds Road, which would take me down to Robin Lane and give a more satisfying circuit. So naturally, I took that.

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The light, and the views across Windermere to the Coniston Fells were lovely.

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Down at the southern end of Windermere, Gummer How was catching the last of the sunshine. But I was using my new camera’s powerful zoom to take a closer look at the islands in the middle of the lake – we’re hoping to be back to explore some of the islands in our inflatable canoes this summer, hopefully on a less windy day than last time.

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Of course, one advantage of a late start is that you inevitably have a late finish too. I think if I’d been half an hour later it would have been really spectacular.

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But I’m not complaining.

Wansfell and Baystones

Wansfell in the Snow