A Picnic and a Swim.

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Around when the rules got really silly, well, when they started to get incomprehensible, I wouldn’t like to pretend that they are any more intelligible now, anyway, when they first stopped making much sense, we decided that if we could meet a parent singly in a garden, and, as we had been doing all along, could go for a walk as a family group and bump into another family group and then stand and have a socially distanced natter, then bending the rules a little to meet both of my in-laws together for a socially distanced picnic would be okay. We met at Tebay, where we were very politely, and understandably, ejected from the truck stop car park, which turned out to be a blessing, because we found a parking spot which, after maybe a 50 yard walk, brought us to an idyllic spot on the banks of the River Lune. Admittedly, we were very close to the M6, but the sun was shining, we had the place to ourselves and it was very pleasant.

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There were lots of white flowers at the margins of the river. I’d left my camera in the car, but I suspect a close up would have confirmed that they were Common Water-crowfoot. No photographs here of the focaccia I’d made to take for the picnic, which, due to an oversight on my part had turned out more like salty biscuits.

I’d held out the possibility of a swim after the picnic to the kids and they were very keen, A and B anyway, S had elected to stay at home and exercise his thumbs on his XBox. Now I needed to find somewhere that we could stop which was not too far off our homeward route. Luckily, I stumbled upon this blog post, which hinted at a perfect swimming hole in the Lune Gorge, so perfect, in fact, that the location is withheld, but which also has photographs of two bridges either side…

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…which rather gives the game away, with the aid of an OS map and a bit of patient sleuthing.

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It really was a great spot and clearly not well known; the only drawback was the stuff floating on the water, I’m not sure what it was, some sort of vegetation I think, perhaps due to the unusually dry weather we’d had? TBH chose not to join us, but three of us had a marvellous, refreshing dip and B even managed to find somewhere to jump in from, so he was happy.

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Goldenrod.

The next day, S, now, I think, regretting his previous decision, was keen to get out for a swim. I took the kids to Levens, for a dip in the Kent. We’d heard that it was busy, so we went late in the day, hoping that the crowds would have dispersed. I think they probably had, to some extent, there were very few people actually in the water, but the banks were exceptionally busy with some large groups obviously making no attempt to socially distance. In the end, only S and I swam – A and B were so incensed by what they’d seen that they decided to wait whilst we had a very brief dip.

Where could we go locally to avoid the crowds?

A Picnic and a Swim.

These Hills Are Ours

I’ve put the music at the top of the post for once: I think it deserves pride of place.

So, as advertised, finally, here it is. Back in March, I signed up for a brilliant project which combined singing and hill-walking. There were just two rehearsals, the second of which I couldn’t make because I was in the Tower Captain’s car on the way up the M74 for our weekend at Bridge of Orchy.

Actually, there was a third, very last minute, practice, on the morning of the event, in the Morecambe lifeboat station…

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…for which purpose, the lifeboat people had very kindly moved their hovercraft out…

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Then we wandered down to the end of the stone jetty for the first performance…

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It was wet and windy and  absolutely perishing. Sounded good, though, to my untutored ears.

And, through the wind and the rain, our destination, Clougha Pike, briefly appeared above the buildings along Morecambe’s seafront…

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“Breakers, rollers, pebbles, sand, Half at sea and half on land,”

Admittedly, it is a bit hard to pick out in the photo, but it is there.

I lived for a while in a third floor flat on the promenade and the views of the Bay in one direction and across Lancaster to Clougha in the other were superb.

Anyway, our aim was to climb Clougha starting from the sea front and then get down safely before it got dark, so there was no time to hang around. We passed the Midland…

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And joined the network of cycle tracks which connect Morecambe and Lancaster.

We crossed the Lune by Carlisle Bridge…

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And then set-off on a long loop along the quay and then a footpath to Freeman’s Wood, where we sang again.

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The graffiti is part of the lyrics from the song.

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Freeman’s Pools.

The route had been cunningly devised to bring us all the way through both Morecambe and Lancaster on either footpaths or very quiet bits of road.

An arrangement has been made with the Fox and Goose pub, on the outskirts of town, so that we could use their beer garden for a quick break and use their loos. We’d been walking for a few hours without really stopping and I was more than ready for a sit down, a drink and a sandwich.

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The next part of the walk was inevitably confined to the roads, there being an unfortunate lack of paths linking Lancaster to the hills above it. At least we could see Clougha more clearly now and the weather was improving too.

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We stopped again at the Rigg Lane car park, where the ascent would begin in earnest, and where we were offered an impromptu stretching routine…

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Some people had opted to miss some parts of the walk, and joined us again at the car park.

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“The brook is from a picture book”

An unnamed (on the OS map) tributary of The River Conder, which itself drains into the Lune near Glasson Dock; which makes this walk one of my Lune Catchment walks.

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Clougha Pike.

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Morecambe Bay.

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“Rocks like booby traps.”

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The going was pretty rough here and the pace predictably slowed. I’d been feeling a bit bushed, but picked up now that we were off the roads.

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Approaching the top.

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Most of the people I talked to seemed to belong to at least one of the, I discovered, many choirs in the Lancaster area. I used to sing with the Carnforth Community choir for a while, and enjoyed it enormously, but the meetings changed to an evening which I can’t really make. One positive outcome for me of joining this project, aside from the fact that I had a great time, is that I was told about a choir which sounds very welcoming and which meets in Lancaster on a night which is much more convenient. Well – used to meet in Lancaster and will, at some point presumably, be meeting again.

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“Rain will slick the stones, Wind will wind around your bones.”

We sang one last time on the top and then it was just a matter of wending our way back to the car park and then the logistics, thankfully well organised by Dan, of getting everybody back to their cars and/or homes.

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We were none too soon heading down – the sun was getting low in the sky.

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Some links to the creatives…

Daniel Bye who wrote the words.

Boff Whalley who wrote the music.

and Bevis Bowden who made the film.

Maps:

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Mapmywalk gave a little over 16 miles all told, from car to car. Dan told us that from the end of the stone jetty to the top of Clougha was 13 miles, which sounds about right. You could shorten it a fair bit by taking a more direct line through Lancaster, which would be pleasant enough, although that would also necessitate a fair bit more up and down I think.

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Have you ever climbed a hill with a choir? Or tried a sea to summit ascent?

These Hills Are Ours

The Unattended Moment

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The Bay from Castlebarrow, late evening.

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Millennium Bridge over The Lune, Lancaster.

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.

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Daffodils at Far Arnside.

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High water in the bay again.

The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale’s backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
Many gods and many voices.

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The view from Park Point. With added whitecaps.

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Looking to Grange-Over-Sands.

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Looking south along the coast.

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River Kent from Arnside Knott. Lake district hills lost in cloud.

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River Lune. Ruskin’s view.

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St. Mary’s Kirkby Lonsdale.

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The Bay from Castlebarrow.

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Arnside Tower.

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Whitbarrow from Arnside Knott.

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The River Kent from Arnside Knott again.

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The bay and Humphrey Head from Arnside Knott.

For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.

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Looking south along the coast.

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Sunset from Emesgate Lane.

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These last two images are actually videos. I don’t think they’ll work, because I’m too tight to fork out for a premium account. But click on the pictures and that should take you to the relevant flickr page where you can hear the sound of the wind and the breaking waves, some of the many voices of the sea, should you wish.

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The photos here are mostly from the ‘leap day’ weekend at the end of February and the start of March, except for the first which is from earlier that week.

The quotations are all from ‘The Dry Salvages’, which is the third of T.S.Elliot’s Four Quartets. To be honest, I stumbled across it when looking for something about the sea – or so I thought. It turns out, what I was really looking for was that passage about ‘the distraction fit’, ‘the unattended moment’. I’m sure I’ve read the poem before, but I’ve never been struck so forcibly by this section as I was on this occasion.

I remember trying to capture something like this idea in a post way back in the early days of the blog. Perhaps, in some ways, it’s always the ‘unattended moment’ I’m writing about, or seeking when I go out for yet another walk, or crawl around taking yet more photographs of orchids, or of leaves, waves, clouds etc when I have thousands of images of exactly those things already.

It seems entirely appropriate to me that Elliot’s examples of ‘distractions’ should end with music – anyone who’s been to a gig, or clubbing, with me and watched me throwing my ample, uncoordinated frame around, grinning like a loon, might have caught me in one of those moments, if they weren’t too lost in the music and the moment themselves. But equally, they might have shared a moment like that during a wild day in the hills, when, despite, or perhaps because of, adverse conditions, our enthusiasm bubbled over into unexplained laughter and broad smiles; equally I think of a few ‘wild’ swims which sparked the same kind of happy absorption, or quiet moments around a beach bonfire. I’m heaping up examples because I can’t really put my finger on what I’m driving at, but I know it when I feel it.

Usually happens when the horns come in during this tune, for example.

The Unattended Moment

Research Flat Earth

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The first weekend of February half-term. Pretty mixed weather to say the least. I was out several times none-the-less, first of all on my annual pilgrimage to see the display of Snowdrops near Hawes Water.

Later I was out in the garden and was astonished to see that a Brimstone butterfly had emerged from hibernation. Not something you expect to see on a cold, wet and windy day in mid-February.

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(The orange cables are fibre-optic, for a new broadband supply. Might be a while before they get dug in)

With all the rain we were having, the two big seasonal springs had appeared at the Cove:

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Between squalls it briefly brightened up…

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On the Sunday afternoon, I took B to a kick-boxing class in Lancaster, It’s a bit longer than some of the other classes he attends, so time for me to get in a slightly longer walk.

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I followed the Lancaster Canal, as far as the aqueduct…

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…where the canal had been drained whilst some work was underway.

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River Lune from the aqueduct.

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Carrs Billington plant catching the late afternoon light.

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Unnamed (on the OS map anyway) Lune Tributary.

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On the far side of the aqueduct I joined a slightly submerged riverside path.

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I found it quite exhilarating to walk alongside the river as it ran so high.

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Skerton Bridge.

The building catching the light here is new. We’ve christened it the ‘Shreddies’ building, which tells you more about the daft conversations we have in the car on the way into Lancaster in the mornings than it does about the building itself. (There’s another building nearby which looks like a Weetabix. No really, there is.)

 

Research Flat Earth

Sunderland Point

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Looking across the Lune.

Oh, I haven’t done that for a while: this post ought to have preceded my last one. Not to worry.

This was another, short, half-term wander. One of our cars was booked in for a warranty service at a garage on the White Lund industrial estate between Lancaster and Morecambe. At the last minute, the offer of a courtesy car was withdrawn. Since we had other things to do later in the day, that left us with some logistical difficulties. We decided to try to make something of the morning, so TBH followed me to the garage and then we continued south to the small village of Sunderland Point.

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The causeway road which is the only one in and out of Sunderland Point.

It’s a crazy thing that I’ve never been to Sunderland Point before, even though I’ve lived in the area for nearly 30 years. Twice a day, the tide rises over the access road and the village is cut off from its neighbours.

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Sea Beet.

It was an overcast and windy day and we were pushed for time, so we kept our walk short and I didn’t take as many photos as I might have done. I noticed a lot of seashore plants – these Sea-beet, some Horned Poppies, Sea Campion for example – and was thinking that I must return some time to have a more leisurely look around.

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Dryad’s Saddle.

I was keen to see this…

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Horizon Line Chamber by artist Chris Drury.

Which is just a little way around the coast from the village. It’s a camera obscura, with a small lens in the wall which projects an inverted image onto the opposite wall.

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Image inside the chamber.

There’s more about the project on the artist’s website here. Including this delightful film…

Visiting on a gloomy day probably wasn’t a great choice, so I intend to come to have another look when the sun is shining.

The chamber is close to…

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Sambo’s grave.

A relic of Lancaster’s history as one of the ports engaged in the transatlantic slave trade. Sambo was a former cabin boy who came to Sunderland Point in 1736 and, having died of a fever, was not buried in consecrated ground. This plaque…

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…dated 1796, features a poem written by Reverend James Watson.

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Sculpture by Ray Schofield, who lived in the house opposite where the sculpture is now sited.

Sunderland Point

Hornby, Windy Bank and Melling Circuit

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River Wenning and Hornby Castle.

A post-work walk, with, for once during this non-event of a summer, some sunshine.

I’d noticed Windy Bank, the high ground which rises between the valleys of the Lune and the Wenning, when I walked from Claughton this time last year, and thought that it would make a pleasant evening walk.

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Windy Bank from the bank of the Wenning.

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River Wenning.

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Confluence of the Lune and the Wenning.

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River Lune.

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The far bank of the Lune, pock-marked with holes which look prefect for Sand Martins to nest. There weren’t any in evidence, but I should probably go back to check my hunch.

I followed the Wenning down to where it meets the Lune and then turned to follow the Lune upstream.

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Lapwing again. There were Little Egrets and Oystercatchers about too.

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A broken egg.

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Orange-tip butterfly.

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The Lune.

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Loyn Bridge.

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Loyn Bridge – ancient, but of unknown date.

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Melling, with Ingleborough behind.

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My summer evening walks in and around the Lune always seem to bring at least one encounter with a Hare.  Usually, they’re so still and so well disguised that I’m almost on top of them before I spot them and then the Hare will disappear so quickly that any thought of getting a photograph is superfluous almost as soon as I have had it. This Hare, by contrast, was wandering along the path towards me, seemingly quite relaxed and unconcerned, and then, having spotted me, by choosing to squeeze through the wire fence, had to stop for a moment so that I did get a few photos.

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I saw another Hare shortly afterwards, but that was a standard fleeting affair.

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Last summer, I was convinced that I’d mastered the difference between Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, but clearly I was wrong. I think that this is one of those, and I’m leaning towards the latter, but I’m really not sure.

The route comes from Mary Welsh’s Cicerone Guide ‘Walking in Lancashire’. She lists it as 7 miles, but by the time I’d finished that evening, I’d walked over 11, which was really more than I’d intended to do. The reason being that the path became very unclear as it approached Melling. I should never have been close to this railway bridge over the Lune.  (If you examine the map below, you’ll see that I did a lot of faffing about).

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I was also trying to avoid a large herd of bullocks who seemed very agitated by my presence. In the end, I had no option but to walk right through the middle of the cattle, where they were tightly confined between a hedge and a body of water. They surrounded me and were very skittish, with the ones behind me making little feints and charges, which was a bit unnerving.

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Melling.

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Barley (?) on Windy Bank.

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Gragareth and Ingleborough from Windy Bank.

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Hornby, Windy Bank and Melling Circuit

March Many Weathers (Take 6)

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Daffodil season is just about over and I don’t seem to have taken many photos of daffs this year. So here’s some which were sat in our porch – I noticed the light as I was setting-out for a wander and I couldn’t resist.

Of course, normally I fret about the fact that I continually post photos of the same old things over and over, ‘leaves and stuff’ as TBH has it; ironically, this year I’m worrying that I haven’t taken enough photos of daffodils, one of my usual spring staples. Something else I ponder from time to time is whether it’s best to restrict each post to a single walk and each walk to a single post, and whether or not I ought to cover every one of my walks on the blog. I realise that if these are the things I worry about then I’m a very lucky man, but even though these things are obviously trivial, and nobody really cares whether blogs have rules or not, these are still matters that I mull over occasionally. Not that I’ve ever reached any sort of satisfactory conclusion.

All of which waffle leads up to the fact that this is a portmanteau post which covers several mid-March walks whilst also ignoring a number of others.

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Several of those walks involved ascents of Arnside Knott. Multiple ascents on some occasions. Six in all.

One of them was with TBH, as you can see.

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It’s often said that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only weather. So I’ll refrain from suggesting that we had some rotten weather in March, but I can at least say that we had a lot of weather. Some days, the weather was very changeable, with big clouds and showers blowing through.

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I like those kinds of days, because of the rainbows, dramatic lighting and impressive cloud formations which often accompany them.

Some days, however, just brought a lot of rain. B’s rugby was often cancelled due to water-logged pitches and the fields east of Arnside Tower farm and adjacent to Silverdale Moss were all flooded…

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Still, if it means we get days of high contrast, when louring skies…

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…clear…

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…but I can still see showers, falling on someone else, whilst I have sunshine…

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…then I’m quite happy.

The Lune at Kirkby Lonsdale…

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…was running very high and swift, but even that looked less threatening a few minutes later…

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…when the sun came out.

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The view from the Knott was also always changing. Sometimes there was hardly any view. At others times only the higher hills were obscured by clouds, or they were cloaked in snow, or both.

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Another spring staple of the blog, much shyer than daffs, is Green Hellebore…

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I made several visits on the way to and from the Knott to check that it was still there. It was. Very reassuring.

This is Davy Graham’s version of ‘Take 5’…

…it seems like he was in a hurry to finish!

March Many Weathers (Take 6)

Half-term Happenings: Lancaster, Lune, Meal, Murmuration.

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On the Thursday of our February half-term week, we were looking to combine another ‘easy’ walk, which allowed the possibility of shorter or longer alternatives, with a lunchtime meal. We hit upon driving to the park and ride carpark, just off the motorway by Lancaster, which has the advantage of being free, then walking into town. We could then either walk back or catch the dedicated bus service if need be.

From the carpark, after crossing a couple of busy roads, it’s easy to access the path beside the River Lune. That took us to John Rennie’s 1797 aqueduct, which carries the Lancaster Canal over the river.

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We climbed up to the canal and then followed that into Lancaster.

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The River Lune and the (smelly) Carrs Billington plant.

We were heading for the Sun Hotel for lunch. The food was magnificent…

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I’ve included this slightly blurred photo of B instagramming his choice, because I know at least one reader of the blog who appreciates a huge burger.

The vegans were happy too…

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In fact, I think we all enjoyed our meals.

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After that enormous repast, we decided that we were all fit enough to walk back to the car. This time we followed the Lune rather than the canal.

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‘Little’ S and my nephew L. The latter wanted to pose in front of this cafe for some reason?

The dull cloud of the morning had cleared, so we had terrific views of the aqueduct reflected in the placid waters of the Lune to accompany our walk.

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On the way home, as we drove along Storrs Lane by Leighton Moss, I thought I saw a Starling murmuration, so we stopped to take a look. This is definitely a winter phenomenon and even in mid-February I suspect that there were perhaps less birds than we had seen earlier in the year, when we often saw people parked to watch the Starlings as we drove home from Lancaster in the late afternoons.

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The advantage we did have though was clear skies and good light.

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Still photos really don’t do this justice: the way the cloud of birds wheels together and pulses and fluidly changes shape.

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It was an unexpected bonus at the end of a very enjoyable day.

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Half-term Happenings: Lancaster, Lune, Meal, Murmuration.

Devil’s Bridge

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Another Kirkby evening stroll. The heron was there, fishing in much the same spot as last time.

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The water looked cool and inviting. I watched as fish jumped from the water to take flies. I felt sure that I would be able to see them swim away under the water, but I couldn’t. Just once I managed to follow the fish briefly, but it was soon lost against the background of rocks and pebbles.

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Under Devil’s Bridge some lads were swimming. Very wise.

Devil’s Bridge

Dolittle.

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Ruskin’s View.

Another Wednesday evening with training at Underley Park. Once again I walked down to Devil’s Bridge and here I am posting the same views as I have before. But…here’s my excuse – look at the view above: right in the centre is Brownthwaite Pike, the most prominent hill in the view. It’s illusory, Brownthwaite Pike is not half so prominent as it appears to be: there’s higher ground just behind, and much higher hills behind that, but remember Brownthwaite Pike for a forthcoming post.

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Here’s the church again, because….well, because the lengthening evening meant that I was there to see it with the sun still shining on it.

In the Lune, I watched a Heron fishing…

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…seemingly quite unperturbed by my attention, and I wished that I didn’t only have my phone with me. I don’t learn, the same thing happened a week later.

The village center had been closed to traffic and there was clearly filming going on…

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The square looked to have been dressed to hide any modern features with crates and market stalls. The tarmac was hidden under a layer of soil and several horse-riders were whirling around the small space. They must have finished just after I passed, because the horses and their mounts came past me on their own way back to Underley Park…

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I shall look forward to the film.

Dolittle.