Three Weeks Under Canvas: Camping Maisonneuve.

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So – you’re on a peninsula in the extreme north-west of Wales, where do you go from there? Southern France of course! I’m glossing over the epic journey, the overnight camp in Kent, the ineptitude of Eurotunnel and the one a.m. arrival at Camping Maisonneuve. Suffice to say, it was a very long way.

The campsite was Andy’s find (as was all the planning for the trip*), and what a good find it was. Situated near the village of Castelnaud-la-Chappelle, on the banks of the River Céou, a tributary of the Dordogne, it had a heated swimming pool, but we were all much more taken with the pool in the river itself. And with the diving platform by that pool…

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I have lots of photos of various members** of the party jumping in, but I’ve used one of B because he particularly loved jumping, bombing or somersaulting into the water, something he seemed content to do all day long.

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The water was surprisingly cold, much colder, we discovered, than the nearby Dordogne, but even Little S, who suffers particularly in cold water, all skin and bone as he is, coped well with it, probably because it was so warm out of the water. So warm, in fact, that even TBH and our friend J got in on the action. Well, I say ‘action’…

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The heated pool, and the wooded slopes of the Céou valley.

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Our pitch. This must have been early on, it got much more untidy than this: knowing that it probably wasn’t going to rain made it very tempting to leave stuff lying around outside. It did rain overnight, once, during the week that we were there, but otherwise the weather was superb.

I have lots of photographs from our two weeks in France, well over a thousand (don’t worry, I won’t post them all), so I’ve decided, I think, to stick, on the whole, to short(ish) posts, with just a few photos in each.

*Planning and organising stuff is another one of his strong suits and this trip was researched and planned impeccably. All went very smoothly, despite our best efforts to misread, misinterpret or otherwise not follow his careful instructions. Cheers Andy!

**Of the seventeen who put in an appearance in Wales, twelve continued to France. If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll see some familiar faces in the posts which follow. Unlike our annual gathering in Wales, this is not a long-standing tradition, but a new venture, although, if you go back far enough, some of us us have made summer trips down to the Alps together before, long before any of the kids were born.

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Three Weeks Under Canvas: Camping Maisonneuve.

Three Weeks Under Canvas: Kubb at Towyn Farm

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So, as the title implies, we’re recently back from three weeks of camping. The late-evening photo above shows our trusty Conway Countryman trailer tent, with Carn Fadryn in the background. Long-suffering readers will know that this was the thirteen annual get together at Towyn Farm near the village of Tudweiliog on the north coast of the Llyn Peninsula (although, only our twelfth, because we skipped 2009 to go to Germany for my aunt’s birthday instead.)

This year we were a party of 17, at least when everybody was there. Different members of the group arrived and left at various times, some only there for the weekend, others staying for longer. We were late, the boys and I arriving early on the Sunday after an early-hours start. We should have been there on the Saturday, but muppetry on my part, including not being able to locate the pump for the tap (it was in the sink) and not remembering, until B reminded me as we were about set-off, that the number plate on the trailer needed to match the ones on our new (to us) car. TBH and A arrived later still, on the train, having stayed behind because A had her DofE Bronze expedition that weekend.

Anyway, once we were safely pitched up, we had the usual marvellous time. The mornings were often misty and damp, but the weather always improved by the afternoon and we spent our afternoons on the beach. In fact, we settled into a rhythm of a late and leisurely breakfast, a late lunch and a very late evening meal, usually followed by one final visit to the beach, in the gloaming, and a late retirement to bed. I’m not sure whether the prevailing weather dictated our behaviour or if it just fit in conveniently with our lazy inclinations.

After so many visits, we have a routine for the beach too, alternating swimming with games of tennis, cricket and some frisby throwing. I don’t have any photos, because I don’t like to take my camera to the beach. After all of the fresh water swimming we had been doing, the temperature of the Irish Sea came as something of a shock – it was freezing. But that didn’t prevent some of the kids from spending hours in there.

The game of Kubb has become part of our regular routine too. My brother bought us a set several years ago, and it has to be one of the best presents ever (and he excels at presents). I’ve never seen anyone else playing it and our games always seem to attract attention and questions wherever and whenever we play. (As does Andy’s enormous space-age trailer-tent).

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It’s a good game for parties like ours, since up to twelve can play, in two teams. Essentially it involves knocking down wooden blocks by throwing wooden batons at them, which makes it sound rather dull, but it isn’t at all. When we play, it also involves a great deal of barracking, banter, gamesmanship and accusations of cheating and, in the case of the game in these photos, a fair deal of hubris too. The team on the right here, who had, in fairness, won once already, had been ahead in this game too, but are now on the point of losing.

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You can find the rules here. Andy will be disappointed to find that ‘kubbs that right themselves due to the momentum of the impact are considered knocked down’ since that happened to him and, despite his quite correct insistence, we overruled him and let the offending kubb stay upright. Disappointed is probably the wrong word. Disgruntled, unsettled, indignant, might all be closer. Indignation is one of his strong suits, though, in truth, his bark is much worse than his bite. Once he knows the truth, we will never hear the end of it, that’s for sure.

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During one of our late trips to the beach, I think on the same evening that I took this photo, we saw several seals popping above the surface briefly to watch us, watching them. I’ve seen seals along this coast before, but usually early in the mornings, and not by this relatively busy stretch of beach.

Three Weeks Under Canvas: Kubb at Towyn Farm

At Swim Two Becks

Skelwith Bridge – Elter Water – Elterwater – Little Langdale – Slater Bridge – Stang End – Skelwith Bridge.

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Continuing the theme of my last post – novelty versus familiarity – this is a route I’ve walked countless times over the years, but this iteration was unlike any previous version. It was late afternoon, after work, but still very hot. Skelwith Force was a bit of a misnomer for the normally thunderous waterfall, now relatively tame. I was heading for this large pool in the River Brathay.

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Purple Loosestrife.

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Purple Loosestrife – Emily – is this what’s in your garden?

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Before I got to this point in the river, I was examining another clump of Purple Loosestrife when this Shield Bug landed on my hand and then on the path. I think it’s a Bronze Shieldbug, but I’m not entirely confident.

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Harebell.

Anyway, the reason I’d strayed slightly from the path and stuck to the riverbank, was that I was looking for a place for a swim. This looked perfect…

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And it was! The water was deep and quite warm, but cool enough to be refreshing. It was almost immediately deep, straight from the bank, but I found a place where I thought I could ease myself in, except that the riverbed was so slippery that I lost my footing, both feet sliding out from under me, and fell in anyway. It was a beautiful spot for a swim, with stunning views and a host of damselflies and dragonflies keeping me company.

A short walk upstream, past what looked like another ideal place for swimming, brought me to Elter Water…

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The lake, not the village. I’d had an idea that I might swim here too, but, as you can see, the water was very shallow close in and further out I thought I could see a great deal of weed, which I found a bit off-putting; I decided to bide my time.

If I wasn’t swimming, there were plenty of fish that were…

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I still had my wet-shoes on and paddled into the water to take some photos. The fish weren’t very frightened of me…

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I changed back into shoes more suited for walking, but retained my rapidly drying trunks; I had plans for more swimming.

In fact, before I’d left for this part of the Lakes, I’d been poring over the map, looking at blue bits which promised the possibility of a swim. As is often the case, I’d got carried away and had identified numerous potential spots and was toying with the idea of linking them together in an extended walking and swimming journey reminiscent of the central character’s trip in the film and John Cheever short-story ‘The Swimmer’, with your’s truly in the muscular Burt Lancaster role, obviously.

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Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. I saw, and photographed, loads of them.

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Silver-Y Moth. I saw lots of these too, but they were very elusive to photograph.

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Lots of Harebells too!

The short climb from the village of Elterwater over to Little Langdale was hot and sticky work, but brought the reward of views of Little Langdale Tarn and the Coniston Fells…

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This…

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…is the River Brathay again, flowing out of Little Langdale Tarn.

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Slater Bridge.

I thought that this pool…

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…just downstream of Slater Bridge, might have swimming potential, but couldn’t be sure that it was deep enough, so wanted to check the pool I’d seen before, back toward Little Langdale Tarn.

The ground beside the river, even after our long dry spell, was still quite spongy and full of typical wet, heathland vegetation, including lots of Heath Spotted-orchids.

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Good to have an opportunity to compare these with its close relative Common Spotted-orchid which I’ve photographed around home recently.

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This pool turned out to be ideal again. I dug my stove out of my bag, to make a cup of tea ready for when I’d had a swim. Whilst I was busy, a dragonfly landed on a nearby boulder. I grabbed my camera, but the photograph came out horribly blurred.  It does show a dragonfly which is exactly the same pale blue as a male Broad-bodied Chaser, but with a much narrower abdomen, making it either a male Black-tailed Skimmer or a male Keeled Skimmer, probably the latter, based on the distribution maps in my Field Guide, which makes it a first for me.

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White Water-lily – the largest flower indigenous to Britain, but it closes and slowly withdraws into the water each day after midday.

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Yellow Water-lily.

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Once again, the water was deep right to the bank, but somebody had piled up rocks under the water to make it easier to get in and out. The water here was colder than it had been further downstream, quite bracing even, somewhat to my surprise. I enjoyed this swim even more than the first. The low sun was catching the Bog Cotton on the bank…

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…and was also making reflected ripple patterns on the peaty exposed bank, which were stunning, but which I can’t show you because they were only visible from the water. In addition, the Bog Myrtle bushes growing along the bank were giving off a lovely earthy, musky fragrance.

It was eight o’clock by now, and I expected to have the river to myself, but a couple arrived for a swim and once they were changed and in the water, I got out to enjoy my cup of tea.

Returning to Slater Bridge…

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I watched two large dragonflies rapidly touring the area. They were so fast that my efforts to take photographs were doomed to failure. I thought that they were Golden-ringed Dragonflies, like the ones I saw mating near to Fox’s Pulpit last summer. At one point, one of them repeatedly landed momentarily on the surface of the water, or rather splashed onto the surface, making a ripple, and then instantly flew on again, only to almost immediately repeat the procedure. I have no idea what purpose this behaviour served. It was very odd.

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I still had a fair way to go to get back to the car, but also the last of the light to enjoy whilst I walked it.

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The post’s title is meant to be a punning reference to ‘At Swim Two Birds’, Flann O’Brien’s wonderfully nutty book, which some people claim is even better than his ‘The Third Policeman’. I probably should reread them both to see what I think now, after a break of a few years; if the house weren’t stuffed to the rafters with books I haven’t ever read, I would set about that task tomorrow. ‘At Swim Two Becks’ seemed appropriate when I thought I had swum in Great Langdale Beck and Greenburn Beck and before I had examined the map again and realised that in fact I’d swum in two different stretches of the River Brathay.

Of course, Heraclitus, whom I am fond of quoting, tells us that you can never step into the same river twice. You can, however, walk the same route twice, but it will never be the same each time. Previous blog-posts of much the same route, none of which involve swimming, Burt Lancaster, John Cheever or the novels of Flann O’Brien:

A walk with my Mum and Dad.

A walk with TBH.

A snowy walk with friends

A more recent walk with different friends.

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At Swim Two Becks

Returns Policy

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“I try not to repeat previous routes.”

Fellow blogger, and almost neighbour Conrad, is of an adventurous bent, a novelty seeker, a risk taker. I only know Conrad online, so I shouldn’t really presume to know, but I imagine that his ‘never go back’ approach is driven by the impulse which once made him a climber and which has seen him set-out on some truly mammoth walks (of which I am very jealous).

I understand this school of thought: there are so many places to visit, even locally, and so little time in which to visit them all: why repeat yourself? But, at the same time, I love the comfort of the familiar: places I’ve visited time and again, in every season, every hour of the day and every kind of weather.

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As Conrad pointed out, in a comment on a recent post, there are advantages to this repetitious beating of the bounds – knowledge accumulates and you begin to know what there is to see, and when and where it can be seen. For example, when I started this blog, just over 10 years ago, I don’t think I’d ever encountered Cinnabar Moth caterpillars; now I expect to find them every summer. Last week they were out in numbers, seemingly stripping every available Ragwort plant in Redhill Pastures on Arnside Knott.

I was there to help again with the Limestone Grassland monitoring project I signed up for last year. The pasture was absolutely parched and it was very difficult to identify the herbs we were looking for. As is my wont, I was crawling around on hands and knees looking for some of the tiny flowers which are important indicator species, when I discovered that both of my forearms were covered in minute specks of pollen. Except the ‘pollen’ was moving. It wasn’t pollen; they were ticks. Hundreds of the them. Since we live in an area where deer are quite common, I’m used to finding the odd tick, but I’ve never seen them in this kind of profusion. It was a bit disconcerting, and I had to excuse myself to go home for a shower.

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This final photo was taken the day before my tick-infestation and is off an altogether happier occasion and another slight return – we went back to High Dam for a swim. This time all five of us went and the sun shone and there were no midges. We were there for a couple of hours and it was very refreshing.

Who knows – we may be back there soon? We’ll certainly return at some point – we like to go back.

Returns Policy

High Dam and Thornton Force.

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We didn’t visit High Dam and Thornton Force in the same trip, but on two consecutive days over half-term. The Wednesday was overcast, but still warm and sticky and the boys and I decided to check out High Dam. It’s above the southern end of Windermere near Finsthwaite.

As the name suggests, it’s a reservoir, with a dam…

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…but don’t worry, it’s not drinking water.

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Columbine on the dam.

The water is relatively shallow (but deep enough to swim in), peaty, and was surprisingly warm – in other words: not freezing.

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We started from the small bay southwest of Roger Height…

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…and swam across to visit the two little islands. On the second a fallen tree, laying out over the water, gave the boys a chance to jump in, which seems to be essential. We swam back, and then back across again, by which time Little S was worn out. So we swam to the southern shore exiting close to the western end of the dam (which looks further on the map than back across the lake would have been, but Little S was happy with it).

Having said the water was warm, I should perhaps qualify that admitting that Little S’s fingers were a bit blue by the time we got out of the water.

As well as being a bit muggy, it was a windless day and I had been surprised that we weren’t attacked by midges when were changing to get in the water. We weren’t so lucky when we were changing back again. Overall, though a great place to swim, which is not too far from home.

Talking of which…

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…this is Thornton Force, on the River Twiss above Ingleton. My cousin R is lucky enough to own a house nearby and generous enough to invite us to visit during half-term. The invite was an open one, but since his sister, my cousin K, was also visiting with her family on the Thursday we decided to crash their family get together. It was great to see them again.

I’d already bribed the boys with the possibility of a walk to Thornton Force and Little S almost immediately started to drop not so subtle hints like: “I’ve got a good idea – we could walk to the waterfall and have a swim.”

Eventually, we let him have his way. The pool below the force turned out to be of a good size and ideal for swimming. The photo was taken when I visited one evening last summer. It was much, much busier this time. But we were the only ones swimming and the falls had a lot less water coming over them so that we could duck our heads into them, which was very bracing. I entrusted TBH with the camera, but she took lots of close-ups of peoples heads – all very well, but not really showing where we were swimming.

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That evening TBH got a fire going in our new fire-pit and the kids lit sparklers and tried making campfire popcorn (not entirely successful, well, actually, not remotely successful, but maybe the fun was in the trying)

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Those are both swimming spots we will visit again, I’m sure.

High Dam and Thornton Force.

Small Water Camp and Swim

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On Piot Crag, Haweswater behind.

We eventually arrived at the end of Haweswater late on the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon. The car park was still fairly busy, but was also noticeably emptying. We chose to revisit Small Water, the site of A’s first wild-camp, two year ago, for the same reasons we’d chosen it then: it’s a short walk-in, starting from quite high altitude. In addition, we now knew for sure that there were a number of good spots in which to camp by the tarn.

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An early rest during the ascent to Small Water.

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Looking back to Hawes Water from close to the top of the climb to Small Water.

It was still hot, so when we arrived at Small Water, we dumped our heavy bags in a suitable looking spot, and made a bee-line for the lake. The southern side of the tarn was still bathed in sunlight, but the sun would evidently soon disappear behind the hills, so we made the most of the opportunity and dived in for a swim. (Except TBH, obviously). The water was cold, but not at all bad, once you were in, and the surroundings were superb.

The place we’d selected to pitch our tents, which was close to where A and I camped last time and which I’d ear-marked then as a likely place to get two tents comfortably, was still in the sunshine fortunately, at least for a little longer. The Quechua tent we bought A goes up very quickly and A has the process down to a fine art, having used it several times now. The boys and I took a little longer with Andy’s tent, but felt that we’d made some progress with how to do the trickiest part of the process, so that was something.

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We enjoyed our pasta tea whilst watching pink clouds drifting overhead. The boys went through their usual routine of running around excitedly, exploring our surroundings and climbing every boulder and small crag they thought they could manage, whilst the rest of  us filtered water for the morning. One final, short outing, to circumnavigate the tarn, the boys constantly on the look out for places where they might jump in, and then we turned in.

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Our pitch.

The next morning brought low clouds and, in our tent at least, recriminations: the boys and I all felt that we’d had a poor night made worse by the snoring and tossing and turning of the other two, who had, in our opinions, both clearly slept soundly and loudly. We can’t all have been right. TBH and A, meanwhile, who both sleep like proverbial logs, slept on after we’d got up, and eventually I steeled myself and woke them up.

We’d all put together our own versions of this porridge mixture. B was adamant that the edition of powdered milk, which we didn’t have when he’d tried it before, had transformed the result so that it was “as good as porridge at home”. A meanwhile, had ground up her oats so that, after the addition of hot water, her’s actually looked like proper cooked porridge. She’d also added chocolate chips and I have to confess that, having tried it, the result was delicious. TBH’s innovation was powdered coconut milk, which I didn’t even know existed. That worked too. You’ll have to excuse all of the details about food, but if you’ve ever been back-packing, you’ll know how vital getting that right is to the success or otherwise of a trip.

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The boys loved these slabs, right by where we camped. Here, Little S is shouting “Look at me Andy”, which he seems to have adopted as a catch phrase. I think the first time he did it, he will have been only about three and had just scaled a small cliff above a beach at Towyn.  I don’t know if, even then, he was being mischievous and deliberately trying to frighten our old friend Andy, but that’s been his intention ever since, so that now he sees it as an in-joke and will shout it even if Andy is not with us.

After our leisurely start we set-off up Piot Crag. It looks fairly intimidating from below, and perhaps more so when you are part way up, but we knew that the route ‘would go’ as A and I came this way last time.

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You reach a point where the way ahead seems barred by crags…

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But in fact there are two lines of crags and if you head right you reach the bottom of a stone-filled gully which leads up between them, steeply, but safely.

I had been quietly hoping that we might find…

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…some Roseroot having read that it can be found on the steep crags above neighbouring Blea Water.

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It’s a member of the stonecrop family, many of which are quite small, but this is fairly sizeable by comparison. It’s a succulent and has thick leaves, like a Sedum. The Wild Flower Key lists it with Orpine, which grows abundantly on walls near home. Apparently, its roots, when dried, smell like roses, hence the name. I’m sure that I’ve seen it before, but can’t think where. I think it’s quite rare in the wild, but is also grown in rock gardens. The flowers weren’t fully open, which was a shame, but gives me something to look out for in future. I wanted to climb above it to get better photos of the flowers, and Little S, naturally, was keen to come with me. When the first hand-hold I grabbed, a very substantial lump of rock, started to come away from the rockface, I abandoned the idea.

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Parsley Fern.

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At the top of the gully there’s a fair bit of spoil and a few structures. There must have been some sort of mining or quarrying hereabouts in the past. We stopped for a quick drink.

From there it’s not much of a climb to the top of Mardale Ill Bell.

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Small Water and Harter Fell..

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High Street and Blea Water.

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Small Water and Haweswater. Piot Crag is the ridge on the left in shadow.

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I quite fancied continuing along the ridge to Harter Fell, but I was in a minority of one.

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A dry Kentmere reservoir. Working on the dam apparently.

The consensus was that we should return to the tents for lunch and then another swim in Small Water.

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Small, odd structures by Small Water, marked on the map as ‘shelters’. By boys decided that they are garages, although they aren’t remotely big enough for anything but a Dinky toy car.

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Lunch was humus and pan-fried bread, an experiment with camping food that I’ve wanted to try for a while. I’d made chapatis with tea on the Sunday night and remembered, or thought I could remember, old friend Geordie Munro once making them in a Trangia pan lid, whilst we were on a backpacking trip, and how welcome they were after a few days of less imaginative fare. So I’d brought flour, salt and dried yeast in a freezer bag and then warmed some water to add to the bag after we’d had breakfast, leaving it to rise in the tent’s porch. When we got back I found that the mixture was so sticky that there was no real way that I could hope to flatten it out into chapatis. Instead I turned lumps of dough out of the bag into a hot pan which I’d sprayed with oil. I couldn’t even flatten the mixture in the pan, because it stuck to my spoon, but, if I cooked it for a while and then flipped it over, I found that enough of a crust had formed that I could then press on the cooked side to begin to shape the loaf. By repeatedly flipping and squishing the loaves I managed to get them to cook through okay. I made three, of which the photo above shows the last and by far the largest. How were they? Well, there was none left and I shall definitely being doing that again. My hands did get a coating of sticky dough, but I found that it soon dried and fell off without my having to worry too much about how to remove it.

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Small Water pano.

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After lunch – another swim in Small Water. It being earlier in the day, we could try the north shore and still be in the sun. Here the bottom shelved even more quickly than it had on the other side, so that two strides in you were already deep enough to swim. Only me and the boys swam this time, TBH and A watched and took photos, including these which TBH took with my camera.

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I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to swim here before. With the steep slopes of Small Water Crag as a backdrop, this is an amazing place for a dip. I was reminded of a larger tarn in a similar, but larger corrie in the Pyrenees, where I swam when TBH and I were there years ago. Without a wetsuit, Little S didn’t last too long, but B and I had a good, long swim. That’s us, the tiny dots in the photo above.

We weren’t the only ones enjoying a swim: we repeatedly saw fish jumping out of the water. Probably after these fellows…

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Mayfly piggybacking on my towel.

After that it was just a question of packing up and retracing the short walk back to the car.

Sadly, one further bit of excitement as we walked down – a herd of sheep went hurtling past us down the hillside with a collie in close pursuit. The sheep gradually split into smaller and smaller groups until the collie was only chasing three, then just one lamb. They were quickly way below us, but I could see that the dog had the lamb cornered against a wall. Still barking furiously, the dog had the sheep turning repeatedly back and forth, back and forth. We carried on down and, when we reached the same wall, I dumped my bag and started to make my way around towards the pair of them. I tried to discourage Little S from joining me, not knowing what frame of mind the dog would be in, but he went racing off and soon B had joined us too. We realised that they’d moved on again and the sheep was in Blea Water Beck, trapped against the fence which continued the line of the wall across the beck. As we neared the stream, Little S, anxious to help the lamb, went haring off ahead, disappearing over a slight rise. He reappeared seconds later, at quite a lick, looking more than a little alarmed.

“The dog’s after me, the dog’s after me.”

It was only a small collie, dripping wet, it had clearly been in the stream. It took one look at me and turned to run back up the hill to its owners. The lamb didn’t seem to be hurt in any obvious way, but nor did it want to budge from it’s position, backed against the fence at the edge of the stream. We left it, and later saw it head up the hill to rejoin the flock. We also saw the feckless dog owners, with the collie now back on a lead, approaching the car park, but chose to head to Shap chippy for some tea rather than staying to get into a row with them.

Small Water and Piot Crag

 

Small Water Camp and Swim

Swindale and Mosedale Beck

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An exchange of text messages and phone-calls with TBH during my walk on the Helm gave some shape to the rest of our day. We would have a barbecue at some point, and either take the boats out or maybe look for a gill to play in. You can see that we chose the second option. I also decided to cook at lunchtime so that we didn’t have to rush home in the afternoon. Hardly surprisingly, this turned into a very leisurely affair and wasn’t very conducive for an early departure, but not to worry: we arrived as most people would be leaving and the sun was still shining.

There’s a sign someway short of Swindale Foot warning that there is no parking further up the valley. The boys were quite happy with where we parked however…

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…since it gave them a chance to crawl through this culvert, which was practically dry after a couple of weeks with little rain.

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I already knew about the new fish ladder in Swindale Beck…

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…because Conrad recently posted pictures – subconsciously, that’s probably what put Swindale in my mind when I was trying to think of stream with falls and pools and an east facing aspect to catch some late sun. The fish-ladder is part of a joint venture between the RSPB and United Utilities. They’ve also put the meanders back into a part of the stream which was straightened some time ago. I assumed that the fisher ladder was intended to benefit Salmon, but it’s won an award from an organisation dedicated to Trout, and there seemed to be a device for counting Eels too, which shows the limit of my knowledge about fish.

We didn’t need to cross the beck…

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…but who can resist stepping stones?

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Gouther Crag.

The RSPB have also created a nature trail, which follows, I’m pretty sure, the track along the valley in the picture above. None of the information boards they’ve put up made that clear though, so we stuck to the road…

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Which was very quiet and pleasant walking.

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Hobgrumble Gill and Dodd Bottom.

Dodd Bottom is pancake flat and must surely once have been a tarn?

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Away from Dodd Bottom, the valley floor is a mass of hummocks which I assume are drumlins. Among the trees on the left we spotted an enormous boulder, presumably another remnant of glacial action….

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We were fast approaching our destination…

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The beck is Mosedale Beck above this steeper section and Swindale Beck once into the valley. Where the transition from one to the other occurs, I couldn’t say.

I’d done a little research online and read that this footbridge…

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…was washed away by flooding some years ago, but clearly it has been reinstated.

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The beck flows through a series of small waterfalls and cascades, with lots of enticing bare rock on either side. The boys and I decided to see how far we could get, without getting wet, by sticking to the rock.

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They soon tired of that though and we turned back. They were much more eager to get into the water…

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I didn’t join them in this pool, it was evidently too shallow for a decent swim.

This one looked much more promising…

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…but whilst it was quite deep, it also contained several very sizable boulders which made swimming quite awkward. The pool above, however, which was sandwiched between two waterfalls, although small, was very deep, and we managed to find a spot from which we could jump in with care, which made B in particular, very happy.

As the sun began to sink behind Hare Shaw, we ate out picnic and then walked back on the other side of the valley, beneath Gouther Crag, on a path not shown on the OS map. Little S had remembered some of the edible wild-plants I introduced to him last year and he gleefully tucked into some Sorrel and Cuckooflower leaves. I’m thrilled with his interest, but wish he would show the same inclination to eat salads and vegetables at home!

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Incidentally, this valley is excellent for both birds and wildflowers. Photos here from my last visit, which I was stunned to find was as long ago as 2011.

Swindale is also almost certainly the last resting place of Little S’s sledge, which he lost to a gale this winter.

Swindale and Mosedale Beck