Stob a’ Choire Odhair

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Loch Tulla, Beinn Achaladair and Beinn an Dothaidh.

Our annual walking weekend in Scotland was back on the menu, after a Covid absence last year. On the Saturday, with a mixed forecast, but with the potential for clearing skies later in the day, most of the party were heading for Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh, opposite our accommodation at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. The Tower Captain and I had ticked those off on a previous visit, and he was keen for fresh ‘bags’, so instead, we parked down by Loch Tulla, intending to climb Stob a’ Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar.

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Abhainn Shira

As we were on the bridge over the Abhainn Shira, four Red Deer stags waded across up stream – you can just about see them in the photo.

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Abhainn Shira and Araich

We started out in a light rain which quickly became a bit of a downpour. Not to worry, the scenery was still pretty spectacular despite the weather. Particularly the waterfalls…

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Allt Coire na Muic and Creag an Steallaire.

…of the Allt Coire na Muic.

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Aonach Eagach and Allt Toaig.

All of the streams seemed to be running pretty high, including the ones we had to cross…

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Allt Caolain Duibh.

The ascent route has some excellent zig-zags, which took some of the sting out of a steep slope. The rain desisted, but we soon into the cloud and a fairly strong wind.

By the time we reached the top of Stob a’ Choire Odhair it was extremely windy, the sort of wind which has you staggering about, and the wind was driving icy precipitation – either soft hailstones or hard snowflakes – into every nook and cranny of our clothing.

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Stob a’ Choire Odhair.

It was pretty fierce, and given that our ascent had taken rather a long time, I wasn’t at all keen on continuing to Stob Ghabhar. I was quite surprised, when I mentioned this, that TC immediately acquiesced.

We decided to drop down the ridge towards Stob Ghabhar, giving us a slightly different descent route. At one point, we dropped down a fairly steep, rocky section of path and suddenly the howling gale was stilled. The absence of the noise and the buffeting felt quite odd. We took advantage of this sheltered haven and stopped for hot drinks and butties.

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The bealach between Stob a’ Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar. TC mid-stagger.
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The onward ridge?

The respite was short lived however, as soon as we resumed our descent we were back in the powerful hold of the storm and staggering about again.

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Allt Coirein Lochain.

And then we dropped slightly below the bealach into Coire Toaig and relative peace and calm…

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Coire Toaig.
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Aonach Eagach and Allt Toaig, again.
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The Tower Captain recrosses the Allt Caolain Duibh.
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Sunshining, but more weather to come.

Despite the fact that we had a couple more showers, the descent was delightful.

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Allt Coire na Muic and Creag an Steallaire again.
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Beinn Achaladair, Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain.

Our enjoyment was only tempered by the realisation that the others were probably enjoying superb views from their chosen hills, which had cleared and were bathed in sunshine, whilst our own route, or at least the higher part of it, remained stubbornly in the cloud…

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Stob Ghabhar – still in the cloud.
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What’s the opposite of schadenfreude? Rather than pleasure found in the misfortune of others, pain occasioned by another’s good luck? Of course, the Germans have a word for it – Gluckschmerz, literally luck-pain. You can see that TC is upset by it here…

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The Tower Captain following the Abhainn Shira.

Actually, I think we were both enjoying this part of the walk, now that it wasn’t raining and the views and scenery were rather good.

The shed behind TC is the Clashgour Hut, a corrugated iron monstrosity which belongs to Glasgow University Mountaineering Club. It’s bookable. Maybe it’s much more comfortable on the inside than the exterior suggested, but, frankly: rather you than me.

We saw a number of Red Deer stags as we neared the end of our walk, including one in the garden of one of the remote houses we passed.

Then, as we sat in the car gently steaming and finishing off the contents of our flasks, one wandered through the car park…

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Red Deer stag.
Stob a’ Choire Odhair

Aysgarth Falls and Castle Bolton

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Wensleydale. Penhill and Height of Hazely in the background.

Every year, at the start of December, I get a Monday off work. Actually, this year, it was the last Monday in November. It’s intended as a Christmas shopping break, which is anathema to me, and I habitually moan about it, but despite my indifference to the idea, since the inception of this one day holiday, I’ve had a string of great days out.

This year was no exception. Happily, TBH, being part-time, gets a Monday off every fortnight and this fell on one of those Mondays. So she had transferred the booking she made for a night away, to celebrate our wedding anniversary, to the Sunday night after Storm Arwen.

We stayed at the Wheatsheaf at Carperby, in the Yorkshire Dales, which was very welcoming and comfortable, with nice beer and lovely food (if somewhat limited for vegans). On the Sunday evening we sat in the bar watching the Ladies’ Darts Team play a match and played cribbage ourselves, before retiring to our four-poster bed. (Don’t think I’ve slept in one before – can’t say I noticed any difference!)

On the Monday, the landlady was happy for us to leave our car in their carpark whilst we went for a walk, so we set-off from there, across the snowy fields and through the snowy woods…

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…to Aysgarth Falls on the River Ure.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been here before, which given that it’s about a forty-five minute drive from home is a bit of an oversight.

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Part of High Force.
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Another part of High Force.
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High Force from Yore Bridge.
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Middle Force.
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River Ure – looking upstream from Lower Force.
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Part of Lower Force.
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River Ure – looking downstream from Lower Force.
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Lower Force.

TBH left me at Middle Force, because she didn’t want to watch me scuttling around on the snow covered banks taking photos – she was worried I would fall in. When I eventually tried to catch her up, I couldn’t work out where she’d gone. It turned out she’d found a rocky little scramble which took us down to the bank of the river. A broad shelf of limestone, wet, icy, snowy, uneven – essentially an accident waiting to happen – gave a route back up toward the falls.

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Could I resist temptation? Could I ‘eck!

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Lower Force.

The steep, rocky bank here was dripping wet and where the water was running down the rocks anything below was liable to have acquired a thick coating of ice. Twigs….

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Even blades of grass…

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Lower Force – from as close as I managed to get.
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The treacherous route back. Amazingly, I managed not to fall over. Or in.

From Lower Force, we climbed away from the Ure and across the fields towards the village of Castle Bolton, which is dominated by Bolton Castle.

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Our first view of Bolton Castle.
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Getting closer.
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Nearly there.
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In Castle Bolton.

I’m almost as much a sucker for castles as I am for waterfalls, and so was once again snapping away like a loon.

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St. Oswald’s Church.
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Bolton Castle is remarkably well preserved for an English Castle, most of which were ‘slighted’ during the Civil War. I shall definitely have to come back to have a proper look around at some point. And a peek in the church too.

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Wensleydale.

There’s a very direct route from Castle Bolton via West Bolton back to Carperby. The wind had picked up and it was now bitterly cold. I really should have stopped and put more layers on.

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The tea rooms at Yore Bridge had not yet opened when we got there, and Castle Bolton didn’t have anywhere serving refreshments (though I think the castle has a restaurant in the tourist season), so once we got back to Carperby, we drove to Hawes for a very late cafe lunch, then hurried home to meet the boys from the train.

Not only had I enjoyed the walk enormously for its own sake, I was also pleased that I’d had no obvious Covid fatigue hangover, and I’d had no problems with my Plantar Fasciitis. I’ve had issues with it for years, on and off, but recently it had been much worse. I’d seen a physio who had me working on a programme of stretches and I was pleased that they were seemingly having a positive impact. (And continue to do so.)

Aysgarth Falls and Castle Bolton

Roaches Romp

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Hen Cloud

Long-suffering adherents of this blog will know that on my birthday I like to climb a hill, preferably with some company.

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Rockhall

This year we interpreted the latest, long-awaited, relaxation of the Covid rules to imply that we could travel beyond our immediate area and also meet up with some friends.

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Hen Cloud again.

The forecast was from from perfect, but the day started very well: cold admittedly, but also bright and clear.

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Little S on the Roaches
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Tittesworth Resevoir – Leek beyond.
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Roaches rock formations.
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The Trig Pillar.
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I have a feeling that these rock towers are probably all named.
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Lunch/brew stop number one.

Out of the cold wind, and in the sunshine, it even felt quite warm.

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The DBs
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Back Forest. Shutlingsloe on the right.
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Lud’s Church.
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The DBs again.
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TBF crossing the stepping stones in Black Brook.

We had a second stop, in a sheltered little lane above the River Dane, if anything even warmer than the first.

After that, the weather deteriorated rapidly…

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Heavy snow!
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Again, this Tor surely has a name, but it isn’t on the OS map.
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Lunch/brew stop number three. Ill-advised!
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For a while it came down thick and fast, in sharp contrast to what had come before.

We slightly shortened our intended route, taking a more direct route back towards the cars.

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Tittesworth reservoir again, backed by ominous clouds.

Only for the weather to abruptly improve again.

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Hen Cloud again.
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One final view over Tittesworth reservoir.

It as a terrific outing, just what the doctor ordered.

Andy has a fuller account here, with a wider selection of photos and a map of our route.

Roaches Romp

January Sunshine and a Knot Sunset

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The view south along the coast from ‘the dip’, looking to Know End Point.

A quick stop at home, long enough to pack-up a sarnie and fill an insulated mug with tea, and I was out again, heading for ‘the dip’ where a large tree-stump looked very inviting. It proved to be a comfortable spot from which to enjoy the views and soak up some sunshine and quaff my picnic lunch.

From there I set of along the sands/mud…

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…regaining the shore just past Far Arnside.

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The insulated mug had been so effective that I hadn’t managed to drink my tea with my sandwich, which gave me the perfect excuse to lay claim to this bench and have another lengthy sun-bathe.

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I’d been sitting so long that I was now conscious of the fact that daylight was getting short, so rather than continuing around the coast towards Arnside, I took a steep, direct route up to Heathwaite.

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Ingleborough from Heathwaite.
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And again, with a bit of zoom.
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The Bay and the Forest of Bowland from Heathwaite.

I wandered up to the toposcope on the Knott, where someone had scattered some birdseed, which this very tame Robin was not going to be deflected from enjoying, despite the presence of several people and a couple of dogs.

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Alpenglow on Whitbarrow and the Eastern Fells.
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The Coniston and Langdale Fells.
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Around the Kent Estuary and the Howgills on the right.

The small groups of people were there, of course, to watch the sunset.

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And why not?

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Arnside Tower and the moon.
January Sunshine and a Knot Sunset

Winter Aconites

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Winter Aconites, as promised.

After my two walk Saturday – a two walk Sunday. Every year, January always seems to find me at a peak of motivation to get outside, I’m not entirely sure why.

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One reason to get out on Sunday morning was that I’d seen, on a local Facebook page, photos of these very cheery aconites. I believe this field, near the ‘new’ Cricket pitch, was donated to the National Trust, but the owners first planted this strip with spring bulbs.

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I’ve cheated slightly – the photos of the aconites came from the second walk, when the light was better. I’d already seen them on the second of my Saturday walks, but it was virtually dark at that time so I hadn’t taken any photos. Since I knew that TBH would appreciate them, we diverged slightly from our usual Sunday morning routine and set-off that way and then crossed the still snowy Lots…

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A bit of blue sky over Grange – a hint of what was to come.

Our Sunday morning walk, easily completed in an hour and a half, often took over two hours, and on this occasion, admittedly when we took a different, slightly longer, route, stretched to three hours. The reason for this variation being the many conversations we had with friends from the village we met whilst out and about. On this walk we bumped into our friend R, who was walking her dog, and she joined us for a socially-distanced chat. Then we met two groups of mutual friends and stopped both times for lengthy catch-ups. It was all very pleasant, if a little cold.

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Because we were walking around Jenny Brown’s Point every Sunday, we were able to watch the rapid changes of the course of Quicksand Pool and the decay of the steep bank on the far side of the stream. We didn’t have to admire the view for long before we would witness large chunks tumble into the water.

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Although we were now back on our usual route, we were walking widdershins, in the opposite direction to our habitual outing, and now decided to return via Heald Brow rather than up through Fleagarth Wood. I can’t remember why, probably because it’s more direct and and TBH was ready for some lunch, having been out for so long.

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The white hills just peaking above the horizon in this photo are the Coniston Fells.

Conscious of how early it would get dark, I had other plans for my lunch, especially since it had suddenly brightened up. I thought a picnic lunch and another walk would be just the ticket; but I’ll save that for another post.

Winter Aconites

Feet Keep Moving

…which is more than can be said for the poor old blog!

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So..this is the second-half of a snowy January Saturday. Near the end of my morning walk with TBH and A the sun finally made an appearance. After lunch, when I set out again, this time alone, there was still some blue sky in evidence, enough to patch a sailor’s trousers, as my mum puts it. On south facing slopes the snow soon melted, leaving an odd patchwork of green and white.

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Eaves Wood.
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Stinking Hellebore, one of the first flowers of the year.

I was heading, initially, for Gait Barrows. This…

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…is usually a tiny little spring which creates a small pool before disappearing back underground. On this occasion, as you can see, it was creating a stream which had flooded the gateway and was flowing across the adjacent field.

From Gait Barrows, I crossed Coldwell Meadow, heading for the ruin of Coldwell Limeworks in Back Wood, but was distracted by the sound of this cascade on Leighton Beck..

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It’s not very big, but a bit of a rarity in limestone country where the water is often below the surface. No name is given on the OS map, but it’s close to the wonderfully named Creep-i’-th’-call Bridge, so maybe Creep-i’-th’-call Falls, which has a nice ring to it?

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Coldwell Limeworks
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Middlebarrow Quarry, partly obscured by very low clouds.
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Arnside Knott, also hidden in clouds.
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Near Arnside, by Black Dyke, I was fortunate to find a way around this flooded section of path.

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I climbed Arnside Knott, soon entering the cloud to find that the snow had clung on under the cover of the cloud.

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Arnside Tower Farm and a hint of Middlebarrow Wood.
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Whilst I generally enjoy the views from the Knott, it was quite exhilarating to be in the clouds and the monotone woods and apparently cut-off from the surroundings.

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The last of the light from ‘The Dip’, between Far Arnside and Silverdale.

Feet Keep Moving

Snow?

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I know – it’s very odd that I’m posting pictures of our snowy garden when the country is currently experiencing a heatwave. What’s more, whilst I’ve been dashing off whole weeks with a single post, this post only covers the first of two Saturday walks at the end of the working week covered in the previous post.

We all get a bit excited when we have snow, it’s fairly infrequent here, but none more so than A. Here she is making an early morning snowman.

She joined TBH and I for a wander in Eaves Wood, which was surprisingly quiet.

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There was almost no view at all from the Pepper Pot, the cloud was very low.
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Spot the Robin!
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A made another snowman.
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Weirdly, although it remained very cloudy for most of the day, when we walked down to The Cove, we briefly had an outbreak of blue sky and sunshine.

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The Lots were very busy with young and old. The humps and hollows there are perfect for some fairly safe sledging.

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St. John’s.
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In the afternoon, I was out again, on my tod, but that will have to wait for my next post.

Snow?

The Weather is Variable

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TBH by the Pepper Pot.

Photos from a week’s worth of walks from back in January. This first is from the Sunday, the day after the glorious Saturday which featured in my previous post. As you can see, the snow was gone and so too the blue skies and sunshine.

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The lights of Grange from the Cove.

Monday must have been another drear day, because I had a reasonably substantial stroll after work, but only took photos from The Cove when it was almost dark.

On the Tuesday, I didn’t start teaching until after 11 and so took the opportunity to have a wander around Jenny Brown’s Point.

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The path down from Fleagarth Wood

The weather was a complete contrast from the day before. I think it was even quite mild.

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Farleton Fell in the distance.
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Quicksand Pool.

The tide was well in.

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Smelting works chimney.
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Mergansers. I think.
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Jack Scout coast. Coniston Fells on the horizon.
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The drab, dingy weather returned on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Wednesday – Elmaslack Lane.

Around the village, people had put their Christmas lights up early and now left them up late.

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Thursday – The Green, another late afternoon walk.

Using MapMyWalk usually persuades me to take at least one photo on each walk, so that I can attach it the file for that walk. I quite like having a visual record even of the gloomy days.

Friday brought a hard frost in the morning.

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Frosty windscreen.

And the longest walk of the week in the afternoon (only about six and a half miles).

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Wigeon (male).

I actually took lots of bird photos, particularly of a Little Egret which was close in shore, but the light was a bit weird…

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Lovely, but weird.

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Rounding Arnside Point into the Kent I was surprised to see that Hampsfell and the other hills across the river had a covering of snow.

And then, when I climbed to Heathwaite, I discovered that we had some too…

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In fact, on the Knott, there was quite a bit…

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It was getting late, and I had the top to myself. I was disproportionately chuffed to have found some snow to crunch, and had a good wander around the highest part of the Knott.

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Obligatory winter photo of flooded Lambert’s Meadow.

The weekend brought more cloud and damp.

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On the Sunday, I walked our now habitual Sunday circuit around Jenny Brown’s Point not once but twice, in the morning with our neighbour BB…

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And in the afternoon, with TBH.

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The tide well in at Quicksand Pool again.

Over the eight days represented here, I walked around thirty miles. Hardly earth-shattering, but not bad for a week when I was working and when daylight was at a premium. Working form home is a completely useless way to teach, but, from a completely selfish point of view, I was all in favour.

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So, pop-picker’s, the post’s title is from a song which, I’m pretty sure, I’ve shared here before.

The weather’s variable – so are you
But I can’t do a thing – about the weather

Here’s another couplet:

You dislike the climate but you like the place
I hope you learn to live with what you choose

Anybody know it? It’s from an album called ‘Magic, Murder and The Weather’ if that helps?

The Weather is Variable

Snowy Scenes, a Murmuration and a Sunset

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With snow on the ground, a little bit of mist about and a fairly clear sky, worth getting out for an early work. Not that you need to be up that early here in early January to catch the sunrise.

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The mist hides the village.
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I had a short walk, across the fields and then up into Eaves Wood.

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Later I was out again and did a very similar walk with the next door neighbours who had a chore to do at the Silver Sapling campsite, probably breaking the rules in some way into the bargain.

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Our friend BB.
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Silver Sapling.

Later still, I was out on my own again, wandering around Jenny Brown’s Point. The light was superb.

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Right through the winter, there’s a really impressive Starling Murmuration and roost at Leighton Moss. Of late, I haven’t made the effort to get down there to see it often enough. On this occasion, as I walked along the top of the small cliffs of Jack Scout, part of the murmuration flew along the coast behind me and swooped past me following the cliffs. Usually the Starlings fly just above the treetops, but this time, where there weren’t any trees, they were low, hugging the cliffs, and so I was enveloped in the flock and in the astonishing whirr of thousands of wings. It was breathtaking. They came around three or four more times, but never quite so close.

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The sunset was highly impressive. I watched for ages, taking lots of photos (on my phone, I didn’t have my camera with me). When the cold started to seep into my bones, I set off for home, but then, looking behind me, realised that the colours had intensified even further. I went back to the clifftop to take more photos, but then my phone’s battery died.

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Unlike my camera, my phone seems, if anything, to rather underplay the colours of a sunset. This one really was spectacular. Especially after the battery had died. You’ll just have to take my word for it!

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Another very memorable day, chiefly because of the Starlings.

Snowy Scenes, a Murmuration and a Sunset

Walk, Don’t Walk

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New Year’s Day – back on Castle Barrow. Note the snow on Ward’s Stone.

So we went back to work. Then we didn’t go back to work. And so began the second lockdown. In the first lockdown, we were expected to set and monitor work for students; this time the emphasis was very much on live lessons online. I was surprised by the impact of sitting down all day (mostly on my back and shoulders), something I’m not used to at all.

At least, with no commute, I could get out for a stroll as soon as work was done. I have a lot of sunset photos from the Cove from that first week of January…

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Also, because we stuck with our revised timetable, mostly consisting of two hour lessons, when I had frees they were long, sometimes even three hours when lunch was included. This meant that, at least once a week, I had an opportunity to sneak out for a longer walk, deferring my planning etc until the long dark evenings.

It was a cold week: this is Bank Well, frozen over on the Thursday…

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And then, on the Friday, it snowed. A and B were unusually keen to join me for a walk late on a Friday afternoon. (S had already set off to the Lots with a sledge and his friend T).

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By the time we reached Lambert’s Meadow (which, often very wet, was frozen over), it was coming down thick and fast and settling rapidly.

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This…

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Is the last photo I took, principally, I think, because it was getting dark. We headed down to The Lots to meet S and T, and found lots of children and parents from the village sledging on the humps and hollows there in the dark. Everybody was in good spirits and by responding exactly as we usually would to these unusual circumstances, it felt like a moment of light relief and somehow a brief return to normality of some kind.

The next day was a good one too. I took a lot of photos, so I’ll leave that till my next post.

Walk, Don’t Walk