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

October 2020: More Showers, Rainbows, and Big Clouds.

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The view from Castlebarrow.

The title pretty much sums it up. Photos from lots of different local walks, taken during the second half of October. I was aware that some people were beginning to travel a little further afield for their exercise, but somehow my own radius of activity seemed to shrink to local favourite spots not too far from the village.

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Crepuscular rays on the Bay.
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Rainbow over The Lots

This is my mate D and his pug. I often meet him when I’m out for a local walk. I think I’ve mentioned before how much bumping into neighbours whilst out and about has helped during the lockdown in all of it guises.

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The sun dips towards the sea, from Castle Barrow.

I can’t remember exactly when this happened – let’s assume it was October: I bumped into a chap carrying a fair bit of camera gear in Eaves Wood. He asked if he was going the right way to the Pepper Pot. He was. I saw him again on the top. It turned out he’s working on a book, one in a series, about where to take photos from in the North-West. Based in Lancaster, he’d never been to the Pepper Pot before. Funny how that can happen. Cloud had rolled in and the chances of a decent sunset looked a bit poor. I saw him again, a few weeks later, this time he’d set up his camera and tripod a little further West, in a spot I’d suggested. I hope he got his sunset.

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A paper round rainbow. Just prior to a proper drenching.
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TBH in Eaves Wood.
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Among all the changes which Natural England have been carrying out at Gait Barrows – raising the water level, felling trees, removing fences, putting up new fences in other places etc, they’ve also renovated this old summer house by Hawes Water. Presently, it’s still locked, but eventually it will be an information centre and a vantage point to look out over the lake.
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Around this time, TBH started to take a regular weekend walk together around Jenny Brown’s Point. It was interesting to watch the channel from Quicksand Pool change each week and to contrast the weather and the tides each week.
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Traveller’s Joy by Jenny Brown’s Point.
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From Castlebarrow, heavy showers tracking in from The Bay.
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Late sun from Castlebarrow again.
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The lights of Grange from The Cove.
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Sunrise from our garden.
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TBH by the Pepper Pot on Castlebarrow.
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Post sunset from Castlebarrow.
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The last of the light from The Cove.
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Silverdale Moss from the rim of Middlebarrow Quarry. It had just finished raining, or was just about to rain, or probably both.
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Autumnal birches with a rainbow behind.
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The Shelter Stone Trowbarrow Quarry.
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Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.
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The Copper Smelting Works Chimney near Jenny Brown’s and more heavy showers.
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Jenny Brown’s Cottages.
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The Bay from The Cove on a very grey day!
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Cows in the rain.

The brown cow at the back here is a bull. I’d walked through the fields on Heald Brow where they were grazing a few times and he’d never batted an eyelid. But on this day he and a few of his harem where stationed in a gateway. I was considering my options and wondering whether to turn back, but when I got within about 50 yards the bull suddenly started to run. At quite a canter. Fortunately, it was away from me and not towards – he was obviously even more of a wuss than me!

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A White-lipped Snail – the rain isn’t universally disliked.
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Clougha across the Bay.
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Little Egret.
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The yellow feet are a good distinguishing feature.
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Picnic lunch – apple, mushroom soup and a selection of cheeses.

I decided that the best way to make the most of sometimes limited windows at weekends was to head out in the middle of the day and to eat somewhere on my walk. This bench overlooking the Kent Estuary was a particular favourite. Haven’t been there for a while now – must rectify that.

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The tide had heaped up fallen leaves in a long sinuous line.
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Scot’s Pines on Arnside Knott.
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Birches on Arnside Knott.
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Whitbarrow from Arnside Knott.
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River Kent from Arnside Knott.
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A flooded Silverdale Moss from Arnside Knott. Ingleborough in the background
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Arnside Tower.
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Clouds catching late light.
October 2020: More Showers, Rainbows, and Big Clouds.

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