Sussed

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Eaves Wood from the Coronation Path.

I don’t know if you’ve played the card game Sussed? It’s like the old TV quiz show ‘Mr and Mrs’, if you’re old enough to remember that: on your card are various multi-choice questions on a wide-range of subjects (and there are numerous editions available), the other players score points for correctly guessing what your answers will be. I’ll never win it, not when I’m playing my family anyway, because they are entirely too good at anticipating what I will say. Apparently, I’m completely predictable, or so they tell me.

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Early sun in Eaves Wood.

I can see their point. I’m certainly a creature of habit. Take this weekend back in January.

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On the Saturday I was up early and at the Pepper Pot a little after sunrise…

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The Dale.

I took the boys to their BJJ lesson and had a wander around Lancaster, as I did most Saturdays, when such things were allowed.

Then later, I was back at the Pepper Pot…

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…and down to The Cove for the sunset.

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On the Sunday, I was out and about early and…

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…you guessed it, at the Pepper Pot again…

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The frosty Dale.

Took B and his friend E to their rugby match as I do most Sunday mornings…

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Rugby pitches somewhere in Southport. Note the clear blue sky.

And when we got home? Well, of course, I went out for another walk, this time a circuit of Eaves Wood and Middlebarrow.

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Arnside Knott and Arnside Tower. The Knott, all 150 odd metres of it is partially veiled by clouds.

That’s me. Steady-Eddy, predictable, unswerving, humdrum. The weather, on the other hand, was far from predictable that weekend, particularly on the Sunday. We had sunshine and frost in the morning; dense fog most of the way to Southport; glorious sunshine, clear blue skies and a biting wind in Southport; and finally rotten gloom and low cloud when we got home. Fickle and capricious as it is, I wouldn’t swap our weather for a totally settled climate. How dull that would be!

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.

John Ruskin

I’m not sure I can agree whole-heartedly with this much repeated old saw. Rain gets tedious after a while. I’m much more in agreement with this one…

Bad weather always looks worse through a window.

Tom Lehrer

A tune, which isn’t really about the weather…

And, just in case anybody hasn’t heard this…

Might be useful if you are home-schooling Chemistry? I was tempted to include his song “We’ll All Go Together” but thought it might be too bleak in the circumstances.

Sussed

Zest

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An early start in Eaves Wood. All the photos are from the third of January.

When I started blogging, back in 2008, I anticipated that I would be principally keeping a record of  local walks. I’ve branched out since and many posts have covered walks a bit further afield as well has family holidays, and occasional detours into recipes, card games, museums and whatever else takes my fancy, but in 2020, more so than in the intervening years, my walking has mostly been from my doorstep.

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Later in the day, Arnside Knott from near Hollins Farm.

We are lucky to have a host of walks to enjoy in the area and quite a diversity of habitats with woods, wetlands, meadows and low limestone hills. Most of the paths have become very familiar over the years, so you can expect lots more posts featuring well-worn images of Hawes Water, Eaves Wood, Arnside Knott etcetera, I’m afraid. Often though, there are new things to notice, or seasonal changes to note, and even if all else fails, then the skies are ever-changing and sometimes even dramatic…

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“The more things a man is interested in, the more opportunities of happiness he has, and the less he is at the mercy of fate, since if he loses one thing he can fall back upon another. Life is too short to be interested in everything, but it is good to be interested in as many things as are necessary to fill our days.”

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Grange from the cliff-path.

“It is quite impossible to guess in advance what will interest a man, but most men are capable of a keen interest in something or other, and when once such an interest has been aroused their life becomes free from tedium. Very specialised interests are, however, a less satisfactory source of happiness than a general zest for life, since they can hardly fill the whole of a man’s time, and there is always the danger that he may come to know all there is to know about the particular matter that has become his hobby.”

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And again from down on the sands.

“Young children are interested in everything that they see and hear; the world is full of surprises to them, and they are perpetually engaged with ardour in the pursuit of knowledge, not, of course, of scholastic knowledge, but of the sort that consists in acquiring familiarity with the objects that attract their attention.”

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Heathwaite.

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Looking South down the coast.

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Silver Birch on Arnside Knott.

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Kent Estuary and Whitbarrow Scar catching the sun.

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Looking towards Silverdale Moss.

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Arnside Tower.

Zest

2020: Little and Often Rides Again

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What a difference a day makes: the view from the Cove on New Year’s Day. Not as clear and  colourful as it had been the day before. Even on grey days though, I find the view of the bay compelling.

I was out three times on New Year’s Day. And the day after. And the day after that. And on many days in January.

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A screenshot of my January walks from MapMyWalk.

In 2018, when I was completing the 1000 mile challenge, my ‘Little and Often’ approach served me well. In the first half of 2019, in training for the 10in10 charity walk, I tried to make my walks longer, but maybe didn’t squeeze as many in. Never the less, I was still well on course to walk a 1000 miles last year. But then the MapMyWalk app packed up on my ageing phone, so it became more difficult to keep track of my milage, and the nature of our summer holiday wasn’t too conducive for getting a lot of walking in.

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Brown Rolls

In September, back at work, I should’ve picked up the cudgel, but didn’t.

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January 2nd. Another early start.

In December, B and I availed ourselves of free trial membership of a Cross Fit gym in Kendal. We enjoyed it so much that, when we were offered discounted membership, I was sorely tempted to join, even after I’d worked out that there were no classes, aside from the introductory lessons we had already done, that we could actually make.

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I contemplated giving the Cross Fit gym in Lancaster a whirl, but then over Christmas, when I had time to consider my options, I began to rethink.

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I read this interview with Neuroscientist Shane O’Mara, who advocates walking both for mental health and for maintaining cognitive abilities. I was so impressed that I borrowed his book ‘In Praise of Walking’ from the library, although I have to confess that I didn’t finish it: it’s wide-ranging, I would recommend the sections on neuroscience.

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I also read this long article, also from the Guardian, and was impressed with its reasoning. The principal argument, it seems to me, is that it is inactivity which is the enemy, and that periodic bouts of intense activity are not the answer, and may even be counter-productive:

For those of us who can’t move to Sardinia and become a shepherd, a review published in the Lancet in 2016 found that “high levels of moderate-intensity physical activity (ie, about 60-75 min per day) seem to eliminate the increased risk of death associated with high sitting time”.

So even if we go to the gym on a Saturday morning, our absolute inactivity at other times can still be damaging to the body. Low and moderate activity for longer or sustained periods seems to produce the best results. It looks like excessive high-intensity activity (the kind we see in elite athletes) drives metabolism and cell turnover, and may even, when all factors are taken into account, accelerate the ageing process.

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‘High levels of moderate-intensity physical activity’ sounds like walking to me. Indeed:

So far, researchers agree that sustained periods of low-level activity seem to work well. Aiming for 10,000 steps a day is a good idea, but 15,000 better resembles the distances likely covered by our prehistoric ancestors, and indeed by those Sardinian centenarians.

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A trial suggested to me that 15,000 steps equates to about 6 miles for me. (I’ve subsequently realised, if I believe MapMyWalk, that it’s actually a bit further). I’m sure that I was also influenced in my choice of that distance, by my fondness for this quote from Bertrand Russell:

Unhappy business men, I am convinced, would increase their happiness more by walking six miles every day than by any conceivable change of philosophy.

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So I resolved to attempt to walk 6 miles every day. I knew that it was probably a quixotic enterprise, but I’m fond of those too. And actually, in January I very nearly averaged that distance each day. Since then, things have got busier and I haven’t done quite so well, but I’ve still been out and about a great deal.

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Hawes Water

Many of those walks have been in the dark, but few, surprisingly, given how much rain we had this winter, in a downpour. Even so, I have lots of photographs, and lots of walks to report. I’m going to have to be selective, and will probably concatenate several walks into single posts as I have done here, whilst ignoring others altogether.

2020: Little and Often Rides Again

Farewell to 2019

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It seems odd to start a post with a sunset, given that I often finish with one. This was taken at The Cove on the day that all of our guests left us.

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Homemade pizza is a staple at our house, particularly on Friday nights, but we’ve run out of white bread flour, so we may be struggling tomorrow. Back at the tail-end of December, of course, we had no inkling of the coming crisis.

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Moroccan Spiced Rolls – flavoured with Ras-el-Hanout. A bit odd frankly.

TBH dropped me off on her way to Carnforth. I was trying to increase my daily mileage a bit and had decided to walk back over Warton Crag. I took only one photo…

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…but I enjoyed my walk despite the fog and damp.

On New Year’s Eve I got out for three strolls. I’d climbed to the Pepper Pot before sunrise…

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And then took numerous sunrise photos as I progressed via the Circle of Beeches path…

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Later, TBH and I went for a sunny Hawes Water wander.

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This time last year, I was struck by the number of plants I found incongruously flowering, seemingly out of season. I didn’t notice the same variety this year, but I was very surprised to find Honesty flowering along the Coronation Path, which climbs into Eaves Wood.

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Honesty

Later still, but before the partying began, I was up at the Pepper Pot again, to watch the sunset. The light was glorious.

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Looking towards the Forest of Bowland.

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The sun sets over the bay. The prominent headland is Humphrey Head.

From Eaves Wood I continued down to The Cove, wanting to enjoy the last of the light.

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Finally, a tune…

Farewell to 2019

Breaking Bread at Christmas

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Christmas Eve Baguettes

Over Christmas, we had a houseful of guests: my brother and his family flew over from Switzerland and my mum and dad joined us too.

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Christmas Day at The Cove.

We managed to get out for a short walk every day. I baked bread most days* and did a lot of cooking, often with my brother.

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Christmas Dinner – clean plates all round

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Cinnamon and Raisin Bread

We played a lot of games, Mexican Train, played with dominoes, I think being the one we played the most.

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Yorkshire Puds – haven’t made these for years and I don’t think I’ve ever had them rise this much, hence the photo!

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Sunrise at the Pepper Pot

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Fougasse

There was a family trip to the flicks to watch the latest Star Wars offering and another to an Escape Room (although I took one for the team and missed both of those).

One day two of my cousins and their families joined us, which was terrific. We had our first chance to meet the newest member of the family.

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A family walk to see…

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Sunset from the shore

*My bread making has had new impetus since I picked up a second hand copy of Richard Bertinet’s book ‘Dough’. His recipes give very wet doughs. Here he is demonstrating slap-and-fold kneading:

And a tune:

Breaking Bread at Christmas

Stupidly Happy

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Two walks, the first, a longish one, taking in Castlebarrow, Eaves Wood, Hawes Water, Trowbarrow, Leighton Moss, Bank Well, Lambert’s Meadow, Burtonwell Wood and Hagg Wood, is represented by this sunrise photo, taken near the Ring of Beeches in Eaves Wood.

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Crepuscular rays shining on Morecambe Bay.

The second was a shorter affair, acros The Lots from The Cove, down to Woodwell and then back along the Clifftop via The Green.

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A Song Thrush on the Lots.

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During the long hot, dry spell last summer the pond at Woodwell dried out completely. I spent a while staring into the shallow pond hoping to work out how that had affected its various denizens. The most striking thing was that there are no minnows anymore. I chatted to a chap who reckoned that they would eventually return when eggs are carried in on the feet of a Heron, or other waterfowl. There was also no frogspawn, although that may just have been late this spring.

Other things seemed to be present. I spotted a Newt and a Diving Beetle.  And lots of these snails. I think this is a Great Ramshorn snail. There are several other species of Ramshorn snail in Britain, but most seem to be quite diminutive. Great Ramshorns are apparently often red, as you can just about see this one is, due to the presence of haemoglobin. Their shells are usually brown, apparently, possibly with a tinge of red, and not green as all of the snails at Woodwell seem to be, but I think the green may be due to a coating of algae or something similar.


 

Stupidly Happy

A Little Piece of Heaven*

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Sunrise from Castlebarrow.

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Actually – it wasn’t quite sunrise, this is ‘the climbing tree’ taken a few moments before the previous photo and clearly already catching early rays.

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It wasn’t that early of course – the sun likes a long lie-in in this neck of the woods in November.

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But now that the sun was up, it was providing some lovely light, here bathing the Pepper Pot.

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Castlebarrow.

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Sun seen through the trees.

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Beech trees.

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In Eaves Wood.

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The Ring O’Beeches.

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And again.

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The ruined cottage. Might the MBA be interested?

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Oak trees, Eaves Wood beyond.

These pictures were taken early on the November Sunday morning, on the day after the walks in the previous two posts. As you can see, the weather was glorious again. With B away there was no rugby, but S has climbing sessions on Sunday mornings, in the sports centre at Lancaster University, so I was taking him to that. That still left time for a respectable trundle prior to breakfast though.

A Little Piece of Heaven*

Northern Sky

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Early October, (am I catching up?) and an early, pre-rugby outing to watch the sun rise over Ingleborough.

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And to admire the fungi in Eaves Wood.

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As I’ve noted before, by dropping down the hill a little, I can experience the illusion of multiple sun rises.

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At the circle of beeches the light was lovely…

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…and the ground sprinkled with small white toadstools.

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Long before I began to piece together some knowledge about other local flora and fauna, I tried to get to grips with fungi, mainly for culinary purposes; if I could identify the species of toadstool then I could safely find the ones which are safe and good to eat.

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I even went on a foraging course and learned to take spore prints.

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But Britain has thousands of species and I find them almost impossible to distinguish between, so these days I generally settle for taking photos and buying my mushrooms from the supermarket.

On the other hand, I know where I stand with deer, and this pair…

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…are unmistakably Roe Deer.

 

Northern Sky

Skiddaw Bivvy

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Keswick and Derwentwater – it was quite a bit darker than this photo suggests.

Friday evening. S has a class on the climbing wall in the Sports Centre at Lancaster University. It had been a busy week: S had been the Artful Dodger in his school’s production of Oliver (which was brilliant, although I may be a little biased). I’d also had a late evening at work, so hadn’t managed my usual evening walk(s). What’s-more, the nights had been hot and sticky, at least by local standards, and I’d been finding it hard to sleep. Driving home with S I had an inspiration – a way to get out for a walk and get a cooler night. Back at home I hurriedly grabbed something to eat, threw some things into my rucksack and set-off for Keswick.

I parked in the high car-park behind Latrigg, which was quite full. There were several occupied campervans which I guessed were staying the night, but numerous cars also. A couple approached me and asked about potential wild-camping spots. They’d ended up here by default after having problems with closed roads. It occurred to me afterwards that they may have been heading for the end of Haweswater, because when we were there a few weeks ago, somebody had been larking about with road-closed signs and diversion signs even though there was actually little or no work going on. Anyway, I wasn’t much use to them; I haven’t camped in this part of the Lakes before and haven’t climbed Skiddaw in an absolute age. They decided to try Latrigg, but soon overtook me on the broad path up Skiddaw, looking for a spot on Jenkin Hill, where I saw them again with their tent just about pitched.

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The moon rising over the Dodds.

It was already after sunset when I started my walk and I was surprised by the freshness of the breeze, so much so that I hastily stuffed an extra jumper into my bag which I happened to have in the boot of the car. TBH and I had noticed that the moon was full when we went out for a short stroll after Little S’s theatric triumph, so I was anticipating a light night and that’s how it turned out – I only used my headtorch close to the top of Skiddaw when the ground was rocky and I wanted to avoid a trip.

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I arrived on the top at around half twelve. Even then the sky to the north still held a good deal of light. There were a few people about – I suppose that this is a traditional weekend for fell-runners completing the Bob Graham Round.

I was after something much more modest – a place to kip-down for a few hours. I’d remembered that the highest parts of Skiddaw are very rocky – like a slag heap, one friend has subsequently described it – but felt confident that I would find somewhere. Ironically, given my enthusiasm for wild-flowers, it was the sight of tiny white stars of the flowers of a bedstraw – there are many species – which stood out in the darkness and led me to a spot with at least a thin covering of soil. It’s wasn’t a spot I could recommend – sloping, uneven, hard, stony and not entirely out of the, by now, pretty fierce wind, but, somewhat to my surprise, I not only slept, but slept quite well. It was cold though – I discovered that when needs must I can get right down inside my sleeping bag and close it over my head. Between my sleeping bag, the thin pertex bivvy bag I have and the extra jumper I’d brought I just about stayed on the right side of comfortable.

I woke at around three, momentarily panicking a little because it was so light that I was worried that I’d missed the sunrise, despite the fact that I’d set an alarm for 4.20am, precisely to avoid that eventuality. I should have taken a photograph at three – the colours in the northern sky were superb, but I’m afraid my head was soon down again for a little more shut-eye.

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In the event, I didn’t need the alarm: two groups of people walked past my little hollow about 10 minutes before it was due to go off, timing their arrival on the top just about perfectly for the sunrise.

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It’s a while since I’ve watched a sunrise from a mountain. Perhaps I won’t wait so long this time to repeat the experience.

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There was evidently a layer of cloud hanging low over the Solway Firth to the north and the Eden Valley to the east and odd wisps of mist closer to hand.

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Bassenthwaite Lake.

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An early party on the summit.

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Derwentwater and the surrounding hills.

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Derwentwater and the Fells pano.

For reasons which now escape me, I climbed Skiddaw Little Man in the dark on the Friday night, but I’d stuck to the main path which omits the top of Jenkin Hill, and avoids Lonscale Fell and Lonscale Pike altogether, so on my way back to the car I diverted slightly to take them all in.

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Jenkin Hill, Lonscale Fell and Blencathra behind.

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Looking back to Skiddaw Little Man and Skiddaw. 

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Derwentwater and the Fells from Jenkin Hill.

From Lonscale Pike, I found a slight path, which followed the wall down close to the edge of Lonscale Crags. Part way down, I realised that the weather had already warmed up considerably and decided to sit down to admire the view with a bit of porridge and a cup of tea.

Nearby, I spotted this large caterpillar…

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…which I think is of the Hairy Oak Eggar Moth. B and I saw some similar caterpillars on Haystacks two summers ago.

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Foxglove.

As I got close to the car park again, and was down amongst the bracken covered hillsides, there were numerous moths and some Small Heath butterflies and a host of small birds about. Sadly none of my photos turned out very well.

Back at the car, I dumped my rucksack and set-out to tick-off Latrigg, it being so close by and the weather so favourable. Incidentally, the car park was already full, at 9 in the morning, breaking the usually reliable rule that car-parks in the Lakes are almost empty before 10, I presume because people were seeking an early start to escape the heat of the day. There’s a direct path to the top, not shown on OS maps, but also a more circuitous one, which I chose, partly because I wasn’t in a hurry and partly because I thought it would give better views.

Latrigg was busy with walkers, runners and Skylarks.

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I watched this Skylark in flight and then, after it had landed on a small mound, walked slowly toward it, taking photos as I approached.

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This Skylark…

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…didn’t require the same effort. It landed quite close to the path and then flew just a short distance further on, before having a ‘dust bath’ on the path. Although it was much closer than the first bird, it wouldn’t pose and look at the camera in such an obliging way.

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Keswick from Latrigg.

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Keswick from Latrigg pano.

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Skiddaw massif from Latrigg.

Highly enjoyable, although it did leave me a bit wiped out for the rest of the weekend. Hopefully, I’ll try another summit bivvy, if the opportunity arises – without a tent I can manage with my small rucksack, which wasn’t too heavy, aside from the two litres of water I was carrying.

Skiddaw Bivvy

Sunday Triptych: an Early Outing.

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Saturday was another grey and damp day. I was taken in by the hype and watched the Six Nations opener, Scotland versus Wales, expecting a close match. Then was out for a late walk in the rain and the gloom and eventually dark.

When I woke up early on the Sunday and looked out to see completely clear skies, it was too good to resist and set off for a circuit of Hawes Water before the usual Underley Rugby trip.

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When I set off the moon was still high in the sky, although it wasn’t as dark as this photo suggests, since I’d switched the camera to black and white mode and dialled the exposure down to minimum, which seems to give best results.

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From Eaves Wood I could see mist rising off the land and the sky lightening in the East.

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Near Hawes Water, out of the trees, there had clearly been a sharp frost.

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Roe Deer Buck.

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Cormorants.

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This ruin in the trees by the lake has long been surrounded by a high fence and Rhododendrons. Both have now been removed, although to what end I don’t know.

I was aware that the sun had come up, although I couldn’t see it, or feel its warmth, because it was painting the trees on the slope above me in a golden light.

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Hawes Water.

Back to the house, quick cup of tea, off to rugby.

 

Sunday Triptych: an Early Outing.