Home from Milnthorpe

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The River Bela and Whitbarrow Scar.

After our swim, A had to get home, I forget why now, but I was in no hurry, so asked TBH to drop me off in Milnthorpe, so that I could walk back. I followed the River Bela through Dallam Deer Park and out towards it’s confluence with the Kent. The path then picks up the embankment of the old Arnside branch line, rejoining the road near the ‘orchid triangle’ at Sandside, a small section of roadside verge renowned for the orchids which appear there, not that I could find any on this occasion.

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Common Blue butterfly on unopened Oxeye Daisy.

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Oxeye Daisy.

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Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

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When I photographed this flower, I didn’t photograph the leaves; I suspect that I was confident that I knew what I was looking at and, probably, that this was Common Bistort. However, the rounded flower looks more like Amphibious Bistort, a curious plant in that it has two different forms – one adapted to grow on land and the other which grows in water.

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After a lengthy period of dereliction, the Quarry Warehouse was restored as offices several years ago. It stands next to an enormous double limekiln and I wondered whether its presence here was due to the Furness railway line which came right past, but apparently it substantially predates the railway line…

The earliest reference to the warehouse is in a document from 1778 in the form of a lease for 99 years from Daniel Wilson to John Wakefield of Kendal, a shearmandyer. The document is for the lease of a warehouse at Sandside for ‘£5 15s and 10d yearly’. John Wakefield was listed in Bailey’s Northern Directory (1781) as a merchant and manufacturer, and again in 1790 ‘Wakefield, John and Sons’ were still listed as merchants in Milnthorpe.

Source

It’s amazing what a little lazy internet research can throw up isn’t it? I was intrigued by the word ‘shearmandyer’: another search led to lots of references to former residents of Kendal, so perhaps it was a very local term. I presume it refers to someone involved in the wool trade. John Wakefield has a short wikipedia entry. He was quite the entrepreneur: he owned a cotton mill in Burneside, a brewery in Kendal, set-up a bank, invested in a turnpike and owned five ships trading between Liverpool and the West Indies, taking Kendal cotton out and returning with sugar. Strange to think that the cotton was almost returning to where it had presumably come from. He also ran the Gatebeck Gunpowder Mill near Endmoor, for which he was censured at a meeting of his fellow Kendal Quakers.

Milnthorpe itself was once a port, which seems very unlikely now, but the building of the railway viaduct significantly changed the estuary. The Quarry Warehouse apparently once had its own wharf.

Anyway, back to my walk, I’d come this way to try to find a path around the western edge of Sandside Quarry, which Conrad had written about. This is it…

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I was very pleased to find a route close to home which I’d never walked before.

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Yellow Pimpernel.

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Sandside Quarry. Still a working quarry, unlike the many others in the area.

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Limestone pavement.

I had intended to go to the top of Haverbrack to enjoy the splendid view of the estuary from there, but it now occurred to me that I still had quiet a way to go and that it was hot and I didn’t have a drink with me, again, so I decided to head fairly directly home via Beetham Fell and its Fairy Steps…

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…down to Hazelslack Farm and then along the side of Silverdale Moss to Hawes Water and home from there.

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Buzzard.

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Painted Lady – I haven’t seen many this year so far, after a bumper summer last year.

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On the verge of the lane from Hazelslack Farm I enjoyed this mixture of Crosswort and Forget-me-nots. I was confused by the white flowers in amongst the blue until I realised that they too were Forget-me-nots which had faded in the sun.

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I think that this is a Mistle Thrush, rather than a Song Thrush, but that’s because of the ‘jizz’ of the bird on the day rather than anything specific I can pick out on this photo.

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Squirrel in the woods near Hawes Water.

Home from Milnthorpe

The Lazy Trumpeter

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Early light on the new leaves at the circle of beeches.

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Squirrel.

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Pano from Castlebarrow. (Click on this, or any other, picture to see a larger image on flickr)

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Orchids on the Lots.

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Early purple orchid.

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Welsh poppies.

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Bottoms Farm.

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Post sunset at The Cove.

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The entire beach has acquired a silver-grey crust. Not the best light to show it, I know.

So, back to my wish list of lockdown activities. Have I ‘practiced my trumpet playing’?. Have I heck. It sits in its case under my desk, just as it has for years. Perhaps I should explain – in my teens I was in a brass band. It was great fun, but I was a lousy musician: I didn’t practice enough. I didn’t play the trumpet. I started at second baritone horn and slowly progressed to first euphonium, not because of any progress on my part, but because it was a junior band and the other players grew up and left for pastures new. Mostly the senior band which practised in the same hall. I don’t remember anybody playing the trumpet, the closest we had was a solitary flugelhorn and a host of cornets. In good time, I moved away myself, and for many years didn’t play an instrument.

Anyway, some years ago, when all our kids were learning to play various instruments,  I decided that it was a shame that I’d ditched mine and decided to buy a trumpet – that being smaller and cheaper than what I’d played before. I did practice for a while, but my enthusiasm didn’t last all that long. I thought while we were off that I would have loads of time on my hands and would get started again, but it hasn’t really played out that way. Tomorrow though….I’m bound to pick it up again. There’s always tomorrow!


This…

…as well as providing the title for the post, is the piece which I remember most affectionately from my brass band days.

This is obviously very different. I saw Kid Koala live down in London many years ago with my brother. I think he was the support act, but I can’t remember who it was he was supporting. I do remember being spellbound when he performed this.

And from ‘Drunk Trumpet to ‘The Piano Has Been Drinking’:

The Lazy Trumpeter

The Other Kingdoms

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Cheery cherry blossom on Cove Road.

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Grange-Over-Sands from the Cove.

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The Bay and Humphrey Head from the Cove.

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Eaves Wood – the path to the beech circle.

The Other Kingdoms

Consider the other kingdoms.  The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals.  Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze.  Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be.  Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.

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Squirrel.

Another item from my list was ‘read more poetry’ a goal which I have singularly failed to meet.

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New beech leaves.

It’s usually at this time of year that I become most enthusiastic about poetry, habitually scanning through my e.e.cummings collection, looking for something new about spring to furnish a post full of photographs of the usual collection of my favourite springtime images. Newly emerged beech leaves, for example.

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This year cummings should have had a run for his money because I’ve acquired large collections by Frost, MacCaig and Oliver all of which I was very keen to dip in to.

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Caledonian pines.

However, I have been reading ‘War and Peace’, another item from my list, which has turned out to be pretty all-consuming. Fortunately, I’d already read quite a chunk of the Mary Oliver collection before I completely submerged in Tolstoy.

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My first speckled wood butterfly of the year.

I’ve finished now. Well, I say I’ve finished; in fact I have a handful of pages of the epilogue left still to read. Which probably seems a bit odd, but in the last 50 or so pages Tolstoy abandons his characters (again) and turns back to tub-thumping. Historians have all got it wrong and he is just the man to set them straight.

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Speckled wood butterfly – my first of the year, looking newly minted.

Don’t get me wrong: although it took a while, I was completely hooked by the book and really enjoyed the various intertwined stories of the characters. But there are many lengthy historical sections about the stupidity, vanity and in-fighting of generals which are not so interesting. In particular, Tolstoy is at pains to dismiss any notion that Napoleon was is any way a military genius and spends many pages making his point. There are also several philosophical digressions about history and what drives the actions of nations and peoples. Whenever I was reading these sections I was reminded of the Gang of Four song ‘It’s Not Made by Great Men’, which makes the same point but way more succinctly.

Whilst these digression are often interesting in themselves, I did find they were often a frustrating distraction from the story. Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’ has sections of polemic laced through the story which, it seemed to me, are entirely redundant. And I’ve heard it said of Moby Dick that it’s best to skip the chapters which are solely Melville’s detailed descriptions of Atlantic whaling. Having said that, Tolstoy’s character assassination of Napoleon is hilarious, and I’ve just found a guide to the book which says, ‘Anyone who tells you that you can skip the “War” parts and only read the “Peace” parts is an idiot.’ It also says that the book will take 10 days at most to read and I’ve been reading it for more than a month. So, doubly an idiot, obviously.

The journey of the central characters is totally absorbing though, so I would definitely recommend it.

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Untidy nest.

Anyway, back to the walk: when I first spotted this nest, it had two crows in it and I got inordinately excited, as I always do when I find an occupied nest. However, they soon left the nest and on subsequent visits the nest has always looked empty. Now the leaves on the surrounding trees are so dense that I can’t even see the nest.

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Crow.

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On our walks together TBH and I have frequently found ourselves passing comment on the fact that livestock seem to be being regularly moved about. I don’t know whether that’s standard husbandry or perhaps because of the prolonged dry spell we’ve had.

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There’s a herd of young calves, for instance, on the fields between Holgates and Far Arnside which seem to have been moved into just about every available field at some point.

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I was examining these trees, trying to work out which was coming into leaf first, and only then noticed all the splendid dandelions.

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Dandelions.

Of course, once you stop to look at the flowers, then you notice other things of interest too…

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Red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius))

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Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum).

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Daisies (of the Galaxy)

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Ash flowers.

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Silver birches line a path on the Knott.

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And have come into leave.

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Beech buds.

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Partially opened.

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Opened.

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Hazy views from the Knott.

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Herb Paris…

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…flowering this time.

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Bramble leaf.

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Linnets. (?)

I got very excited about this pair, purely because I didn’t know what they were. I’ve subsequently decided that they are linnets, but I have a poor record when it comes to identifying this species, having previously incorrectly identified red poll as linnets on more than one occasion. If they are linnets, then they’re missing the striking red breast and throat of a male linnet in its breeding plumage.

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There were several small groups of birds flitting overhead, including, I think, more linnets and, without any doubt, a small charm of goldfinches.

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Goldfinches.

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I also caught a fleeting glimpse of what I think was a redstart – I’ve only seen them in the hills before and was doubting my own eyes to a certain extent, but they do arrive in the UK in April and the RSPB distribution map does show them as present in this area, and mentions that they favour coastal scrub when in passage, so maybe I was right after all.


One of my favourite Clash songs…

“You see, he feels like Ivan
Born under the Brixton sun
His game is called survivin’
At the end of The Harder They Come”

Ivan is the character played by Jimmy Cliff in the film ‘Harder They Come’, so it’s entirely appropriate that Jimmy Cliff eventually covered the song…

I always enjoy Nouvelle Vague’s unique take on punk and post-punk songs, it’s well worth a trawl through their repertoire..

And of course, the Paul Simenon’s, bass line was sampled by Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, for Beats International’s ‘Dub Be Good to Me’…

It’s been covered by German band Die Toten Hosen and live by the Red Hit Chilli Peppers, and Arcade Fire, and probably lots of others. There’s a nice dub version out there and Cypress Hill didn’t so much sample it as rewrite the lyrics for their ‘What’s Your Number?’.

The Other Kingdoms

Third Stone From The Sun

Hagg Wood – Burtonwell Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Bank Well – Myer’s Allotment – Trowbarrow Quarry – Eaves Wood – Elmslack.

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I watched this blue tit going in and out of a narrow crevice in an oak tree close to home. I took several photos, all blurred, except for the ones where the bird was too quick, or I was too slow and all the pictures show is a tree trunk. These two are the least bad. I assumed that there must be a nest here, but on subsequent visits I haven’t noticed any further activity.

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Marsh Marigolds at Lambert’s Meadow.

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Female Chaffinch with nesting material.

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New sycamore leaves.

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Dog Mercury – virtually ubiquitous in our woods, with nondescript flower so easily overlooked.

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Buzzard.

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Myer’s Allotment.

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Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.

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Silverdale Station with train – any passengers?

I’ve been intrigued by our local bus and train services. Both the buses and the trains seem to be travelling without passengers, at least most of the time. There’s something very poignant about the apparently futile, but quietly heroic effort to keep these services running in the present circumstances.

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Trowbarrow Quarry.

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Dandelions?

Yellow dandelion-like flowers are often still a bit of a mystery to me. With tiny leaves and very-short stems, these didn’t look like very typical dandelions, but I think that may just be down to the impoverished soil of the quarry floor.

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Comma on willow catkins.

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Peacock.

This was an excellent walk for butterflies. There were brimstones about too, but they wouldn’t pose for photos.

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Bee fly.

Three years ago I didn’t know what a bee fly was; now I realise that, in early April, they are everywhere. Another indication of the value of putting a name to the things that you notice whilst out and about.

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Coltsfoot.

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Forget-me-nots.

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Violets and celandines.

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Primroses.

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Grey squirrel.

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Wren.

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Woodrush.

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Elmslack.

This roadside verge is one of the most cheering sights when the sun is shining and the celandines are flowering.

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Celandines.

The flowers close when the sun isn’t shining, but the way they strain towards the sun when it is on show is almost comical: like a class full of primary school kids with their hands up, all earnestly entreating their teacher, “Pick me, pick me”.

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Quince.

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Definitely dandelions.

The tune was supposed to be ‘Third Stone from The Sun’ by Jimi Hendrix, but I can’t find an original version. Nor can I find either BBC session version of his ‘Driving South’ one of which was on the original ‘Jock Hols’ tape.

(“But who is Jock Hols?”, asked TBF)

So, here’s a highly enjoyable alternative, ‘Back Off Boogaloo’ by Ringo Starr:

Third Stone From The Sun

Mending Wall

Eaves Wood – Ring O’Beeches – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – Trowbarrow Quarry – Storrs Lane – Red Bridge Lane – Golf Course – Bank Well – Lambert’s Meadow – Burtonwell Wood – Hagg Wood.

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A half-term Monday, no work, not a cloud in the sky: better get out for a local walk!

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In Eaves Wood.

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The circle of beeches.

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Waterslack.

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Woods near Challan Hall.

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Exmoor ponies, used for conservation grazing.

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The only fly in the ointment that day was the new fencing and padlocked gate near Hawes Water. It looked as though the intention will be to keep the public off the grassland which borders the lake which the old boardwalk used to cross. That will protect the habitat of the plants which grow there – Bird’s-eye Primrose at the southern end of its range and Grass of Parnassus for example – but will also mean that people like me who enjoy seeing those plants will no longer enjoy that simple pleasure. I could be wrong of course, I hope I am: the fencing was far from finished and I haven’t yet been back to check.

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,”
from ‘Mending Wall’ by Robert Frost

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The bright sunshine went some way to alleviate my concern about the number of poor photographs of fungi I’ve taken this autumn; with better light the camera coped admirably.

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Birch polyps.

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Hawes Water.

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Trowbarrow Quarry.

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This female pheasant seemed unusually sanguine about my close proximity. I couldn’t decide whether or not she might be sitting on a very late clutch of eggs.

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I rather liked this new (to me) carving on a dead tree by the visitor centre at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve.

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By contrast, the following day the whole family went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach in bitterly cold weather. We’d bought tickets from a charity auction.

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Poor Little S wanted somebody to accompany him on all of the white knuckle attractions, but the rest of us were relatively cowardly. TBH did eventually agree to join him on the ‘Ice Blast’.

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Here they are, both looking very nervous, shortly before being sent hurtling skyward…

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I was up for taking him on ‘The Big One’ – I like rollercoasters, but it was shut due to the high winds. We had to settle for the old rickety wooden ones, which left me feeling pummelled and slightly nauseous. I must be getting old.

Here’s the rest of the family on something much tamer, but wet, which is why I refused to join them.

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To finish, another snippet of my diverse musical taste, in contrast with the previous post, this harks back to the late eighties when I waited eagerly for each addition of Maximumrocknroll where I could discover obscure punk bands, like, for example, Angst.

This song is the opener from their album “Mending Wall’. The fact that the album was named after the Frost poem was what put it into my mind, but I suppose that the song is also tangentially relevant, since it seems to be, in some way, about an inability to adapt to change (although I don’t think padlocked gates at nature reserves are explicitly mentioned). Angst were on SST records, run by Black Flag’s Greg Ginn and home not only of Black Flag, but also of Husker Du (at least for a while), Sonic Youth (for one album I think), the Meat Puppets, Saccharine Trust and a host of others including, best of all in my opinion, the Minutemen. Simply being on the label was recommendation enough for me and most of the records I bought on spec turned out to have been worth a punt.

Do people still become single-mindedly obsessed by the output of a favourite record label? I hope so. I was quietly pleased to see that Maximumrocknroll is still going strong.

Mending Wall

Serendipty Squared

Eaves Wood – Hawes Water – Gait Barrows – Coldwell Meadows – Coldwell Limeworks – Silverdale Moss – Hawes Water – Eaves Wood

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By rights, this post should have been an account of a walk from the Leck Fell Road taking in Coum Hill and Gragareth via Ease Gill. I had it all planned: I drove as far as Cowan Bridge, but the car was playing up, unexpectedly losing power without warning or any apparent reason; so, reluctantly, I drove home – with some difficulty – left the car outside the local garage, and walked home through the village. Later, I decided to cut my losses by heading out for a local wander.

The previous week, when I’d been in Eaves Wood looking for Cuddlytoy-Makeshift -Orienteering-Controls, I was distracted by a proper hullabaloo issuing from a Birch tree which was listing from the perpendicular. I recognised the commotion as the distinctive uproar of a Woodpecker nest, with what sounded like several chicks demanding food. I scanned the tree and soon found the hole in the trunk which housed the nest. I watched for a while, but whilst both parent birds approached, they became agitated and wouldn’t visit the nest under the glare of my attention, so I left them to it. Now I was back. I could only hear one young bird this time, but it was making-up for having to perform solo by protesting its extreme hunger with remarkable vigour.

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I assumed that the other chicks had fledged and that this one would be on the point of leaving too, but I was back there a few days later, with some old friends, and the single chick was still there, and still every bit as volubly voracious. We watched it poking its head through that porthole and clammering for sustenance. This morning, however, I was back again and all was finally quiet.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

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Amongst the Buttercups near Hawes Water there were many Rabbits, a couple of them black. Escaped pets or the descendants of escapees?

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Blue-tailed Damselflies.

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This…

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…has me stumped. It may be a teneral damselfly, that is, a recently emerged adult which doesn’t yet have its adult colouration.

In Eaves Wood I’d seen many Squirrels. It occurred to me that, although they are always about, there are times of the year, this being one of them, when Squirrels are more active and therefore more evident. I was also thinking about a Squirrels drey and the fact that, whilst in theory I know that Squirrels live in a nest made of sticks, I”d never actually seen one before.

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Ironic then, that when I watched this Squirrel, it climbed up a Scots Pine to…

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…a drey!

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Bird’s-eye Primrose.

I was intrigued by a loud tearing sound in the reeds at the edge of the lake and went to investigate the cause. I was very surprised to find that the culprit was this little Blue Tit…

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Yellow Rattle.

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Because I find Orchids very difficult to identify, but also absolutely fascinating, I’ve long wanted a field guide dedicated solely to them. Usually, if I wait long enough, the Oxfam bookshop in Lancaster will fulfil my needs and this winter that’s exactly what happened. So I am now the proud owner of ‘A Guide to the Wild Orchids of Great Britain and Ireland’ by David Lang and have become an expert.

‘Yeah right’, as A would say. This looks to me very, very like Northern Marsh Orchid, especially the majaliformis sub-species. Except, this was growing in a relatively well-drained meadow, not a marsh, and the sub-species is only found within 100 metres of the coast, and this meadow is a little further than that from the Bay.

As is often the case, I didn’t have an exact route in mind; I’d thought of going to take another gander at the Lady’s-slipper Orchids, but chose instead to take another path through Gait Barrows – one that I knew would take me past several patches of…

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…Lily-of-the-Valley.

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It was getting late, but rather than doubling-back towards home, I took the track out of the nature reserve onto the road, without really knowing where I would go next. When I reached the road, I noticed a small notice attached to a gate almost opposite. It said something like “Welcome to Coldwell Meadows AONB Nature Reserve”. I decided to investigate.

Good choice! In the meadow, no doubt tempted by the lush, un-grazed grass, were a small herd of Fallow Deer…

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These are not a native species, and whilst I have seen feral deer in this area before, the last time I did so was quite a few years ago. I assume that these are more escapees, perhaps from the Deer park at Dallam?

I also saw a Marsh Harrier, and managed to get a photo, but not a very good one.

At the far side of the field from the road a small, and very tempting, gate gave on to woods. I thought I could guess where it would take me, and I was right: a short downhill stroll brought me to the ruined chimney of Coldwell Limeworks and from there it’s only a few strides to the footpath which runs along the edge of Silverdale Moss.

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I was gazing into the distant views of the setting sun and the meres of the Moss, when a crashing sound in the hedgerow focused my attention closer to hand. I couldn’t see anything in the hedge, but there in the long grass, just over the drystone wall….

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…a Roe Deer Buck. He watched me closely for a while, then barked in the eerie way they do, and bounded around the corner – the long vegetation seemingly necessitating a gait more like that of a bouncing gazelle than what I would normally associate with our own Deer.

After he’d rounded a corner and disappeared, another bark surprised me, and then a Doe, or at least, I think it was a Doe, jumped out of the grass, where she had been completely hidden, and also leapt away.

I waited a moment: there were still rustlings in the hedge. Sure enough, a third Deer appeared, quite a bit smaller than the other two…

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…but this one didn’t run away. Retreating rather in small stages, anxiously keeping an eye on me all the while and not really seeming to know quite what to do.

A bit of a puzzle this little group. I don’t think Roe Deer live in family groups and Roe Deer Kids are usually born between mid-May and mid-June, so the third Deer probably wasn’t new-born. But, on the other had, Bucks are territorial in the summer, with the rut running from mid-July to the end of August.

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The former Cloven Ash.

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With the light now very low, this might I suppose, have been enough excitement for one night, but back in Eaves Wood for the final leg of the walk, two different raptors slalomed impressively through the trees. One was a Buzzard…

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…the other, wasn’t a Buzzard, but apart from that I don’t really have any clue what it was.  Very fast and very agile between the tightly-spaced tree-trunks, it will have to remain a mystery.

Ease-gill and Gragareth are both very fine, and will wait for another walk. This last minute replacement worked out pretty well!

‘You can’t always get what you want,
But if you try sometimes, well you just might find,
You get what you need.’

Serendipty Squared

The Wells of Silverdale

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There’s something very satisfying about a hand drawn map, don’t you think? This one is from a leaflet; one from my collection of leaflets detailing local walks, which I have acquired over the years and keep filed away on a shelf. I dug it out because I wanted to compare it with this map…

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Which is from ‘Old Silverdale’ by Rod J. Ireland, which I bought last week, a little birthday present to myself, and which I’ve been poring over ever since. This map shows more wells than the first. At some point, I shall have to see if I can find any trace of the additional wells shown. But on this occasion I contented myself with following the route shown in the leaflet.

 

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Cheery Dandelions.

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Cheery Celandines.

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Elmslack Well.

Yes, I realise that it’s actually a bin. But I’m told that it’s on the site of the old well.

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Inman’s Road.

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Not wells, I know, but these tanks formerly collected and supplied water to Hill House, now the Woodlands pub, so they seem relevant. Mains water arrived in the area in 1938 (there’s still no mains sewers). Until then the wells would obviously have been important. Also many houses had tanks on the roof which collected rain water.

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This photo is the best I managed from a satisfyingly close encounter with ‘the British bird of paradise‘, or more prosaically, a Jay. The Jay moved from branch to branch, but unusually, stayed in sight and not too far away. Sadly, never long enough for me to get any half decent photos.

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This squirrel was more obliging.

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Wood Anemones.

The Toothwort beside Inman’s Road is much taller than it was, but already beginning to look a bit tatty and past its best.

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More Wood Anemones.

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Chaffinch.

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Dogslack Well.

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Comma butterfly.

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Bank Well.

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The light was stunning and making everything look gorgeous.

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Coot chick.

Well, almost everything. This is the kind of face that only a mother could love, surely?

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Lambert’s Meadow.

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I like to think that this is a Raven, sitting atop a very tall tree, regally surveying the meadow and the surrounding woodland. But none of the photos show the shaggy throat which is supposed to make it easy to distinguish between Ravens and Crows. So, I’m not sure.

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Burton Well

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The pond at Woodwell.

There are newts at Woodwell. We hardly ever see them. But today, not only did I see one, but I managed to train my camera on it…

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Blast!

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Golden Saxifrage.

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Woodwell.

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The Ramsons in Bottom’s Wood are looking particularly verdant, but no sign yet of any flowers. On the verge of Cove Road, near to the Cove, the flowers are already on display. The flowers always seem to appear there first.

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Cherry blossom.

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Jackdaw.

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Song Thrush.

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Nuthatch.

On the Lots there were Starlings and Pied Wagtails foraging on the ground.

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Crow – the second evening in a row when a crow has been perched on this branch.

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Pied Wagtail.

It was one of those magical days when lots of birds seemed content to sit still and be photographed. Lots, but not all. The Buzzards were flying above the small copse above the Cove. I watched them through the trees as, once again, they both flew in to perch on a tree at the far side of the wood. This time it was the same tree in which a Tawny Owl obligingly posed for a photo one evening some years ago. They were tantalisingly close, maybe I could get some good photos?

But when I switched on my camera, what did I notice, much closer to hand…

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…a pair of Nuthatches.

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Since I learned to recognise the slightly monotonous song of Nuthatches, I’ve come to realise how very common they are in this area. And I spot them much more often than I used to. As a boy, these were an exotic rarity to me, and fortunately their ubiquity has done nothing to reduce the thrill I still feel when I see them.

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One of the pair sat and pruned itself for quite some time and I took lots of photos before eventually turning my attention back to the tree where the Buzzards…

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…were no longer perched.

I scanned other trees for a while, and then, just as I reluctantly gave up on the idea of seeing the Buzzards again, there they were, not in a tree, but in the adjacent field, one on the ground and the other sat on a dry-stone wall, and showing to much better advantage than before. But before I took any photos, they were off again.

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Starling.

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Bullfinch.

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Morecambe Bay.

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Blackbird – in almost the same spot as the night before.

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Five for silver.

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It was getting a bit dark for bird photos at this point, but this Goldfinch was behaving in a way which I’ve noticed a couple of times recently; it was singing, swivelling sharply through ninety degrees singing again, then back and so on. The precision of it seemed quite aggressive, but at the same time, pretty comical.

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The leaflet says that this walk is ‘about four miles’, but although I’d skipped the out and back to Bard’s Well on the shore, The Move App was telling me that I’d walked five miles. And despite the Jay, the Newt and the Buzzards all evading my camera, this had been a very satisfying five miles.

The Wells of Silverdale

All’s Right With The World

Park Road – Eaves Wood – Middlebarrow – Arnside Tower – Saul’s Road – Arnside Knott – Shilla Slope – Black Dyke – Middlebarrow Quarry – Eaves Wood.

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Oystercatchers and Black-headed Gull.

The day after Boxing Day was the kind of bright sunny day which always makes me feel cheerful.

The lark’s on the wing;

The snail’s on the thorn;

God’s in His heaven—

All’s right with the world!

Which is apparently a passage from Browning, although I know it because Wodehouse’s characters are apt to quote it when all is going well (which is to say, just before everything goes horribly, comically wrong).

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And yes, I know that the lark isn’t really on the wing at the end of December, well at least not in its characteristic steep display flight, but sunshine and blue skies just make everything look fresh and special and spring like.

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Reading up on the water tanks in Eaves Wood for my previous post, I was reminded that amongst the former owners of Hill House (now the Woodlands pub) were the Inman family  who were responsible for the planting of many of the trees in the woods.

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I think the circle of trees in the Ring o’Beeches must have been planted. I wonder if it was by the Inmans, who owned the wood in the first half of the Nineteenth Century?

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The larches too must have been planted.

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Arnside Tower.

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Arnside Tower Farm.

The hill behind the farm is Arnside Knott and that steep slope is covered in a very loose scree, known locally as shilla. After I’d climbed the Knott I took a route which looped around and recrossed my ascent route, taking me down to a path through those trees at the bottom of the slope.

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Saul’s Road.

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I’d walked out of the front door before I’d decided where to go, but with a host of competing ideas in my head – it’s nice to have so many options. I’d plumped for Arnside Knott because I’d assumed that there would be great views of the Lakes…

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…but in fact everything beyond Whitbarrow Scar and Gummer How was lost in a grey haze. Never mind: plenty to see close at hand.

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Magic.

All’s Right With The World

The Man In the Ion Mask

Ullswater.

Tiredness dictates a very brief post. Another Sunday off to go list-ticking in the Lakes. The weather was a bit poor, but the company was excellent – CJ and X-Ray completing a Last of the Summer Wine triumvirate.

We climbed Arthur’s Pike, diverted to Loadpot Hill (not part of our original plan) and then returned via Swarth Fell and Bonscale Pike, neither of which feel even remotely like separate hill in their own rights.

It was a rainbow day, although the top half of the rainbows invariably disappeared into the clouds.

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CJ and X-Ray.

We saw a red squirrel on a dry-stone wall near to Howtown and possibly a peregrine on the slopes of Arthur’s Pike.

And the post title?* Well – I finally got round to replacing my last pair of walking boots ,which gave up the ghost at least five years ago. I splashed out on some Hi-Tech boots with the new-fangled nanotechnology waterproofing. A review may eventually follow. Or perhaps not.

* – The pun is entirely CJ’s work.

The Man In the Ion Mask

Autumn Lady Tresses and King Crow

With the kids away at their grandparents’ I was out for an evening stroll earlier then usual, with the sun still shining. As I approached Stankelt Road a mix flock of tits bobbed about overhead in the branches of tree. There were long-tailed tits amongst them and as ever they tantalised me with fleeting photo opportunities.

I dropped down through Fleagarth Wood. At Jenny Brown’s Cottages I could hear an angry chattering – what kind of bird is that? If you put your tongue between your teeth and then suck, and follow that with three loud tut’s, you should get a good approximation. It wasn’t a bird at all though, but a riled squirrel.

Which wasn’t perturbed at all by my interest, but just carried on telling the world how angry he was.

A wader on the sunlight mud-flats.

At Jack Scout, a small sign exhorted me to stick to the path because of the Autumn Ladies Tresses. This is a new flower to me so of course I was anxious to see it. At first I  missed it – I could see plenty of other flowers: harebells, eyebright, wild thyme and more, but not the orchids. But then I tuned in, and suddenly there they all were…

It’s quite a tiny plant, relatively easy to miss. The flowers weren’t all fully open yet, but they seem to spiral like around the stem.

Nearby several low growing thistles, now gone to seed, were silvered by the low sun.

On a sun warmed rocky knoll above me, a crow had found a prominent vantage…

….looking like a cloaked impassive chieftain, master of all he surveyed.

I settled on the stone seat to eat an apple and wait for the sunset.

But was soon up taking photos again when I noticed how the golden light complemented, or maybe complimented, the travellers joy.

And the sun….

…set!

Autumn Lady Tresses and King Crow