Swimming Season at Last

20220619_111607
The Dale from the Pepper Pot.

The morning after the Tigers victory over Saracens, and I was up at the Pepper Pot looking over the village. The weather doesn’t look too promising does it?

But later on, when I noticed a deer on our lawn, it had started to brighten up…

20220619_122657
Garden with Roe Deer.

By the time B returned from his shift pot-washing at the local hotel, it was glorious, and hot.

‘Fancy a drive Dad?’, he asked.

This was code for, ”Are you willing to sit in the passenger seat for an hour whilst I drive?”

B has his provisional licence, has passed his theory test, and is very keen to clear the final hurdle and gain the independence which driving would give him.

“We could go to High Dam for a swim.”

20220619_200030
Potter Tarn. Coniston Fells in the distance.

Which seemed like a good idea, except I suggested, given the late hour, that we substitute Gurnal Dubs for High Dam, it being closer to home and not surrounded by trees, so that we might have both later sun and a later onset of midge attack.

20220619_200033
Forest of Bowland, Scout Scar and Cunswick Scar, Arnside Knott, Whitbarrow.

The walk up to the reservoir was very pleasant, if somewhat warm work.

20220619_201025
Gurnal Dubs.

A work colleague, who lives quite close to Gurnal Dubs, had reported a recent swim there and that the water was ‘quite warm’. I hate to think what would qualify as cold in her estimation. It was pretty bracing. But very refreshing and, after a long period where it never seemed to warm up, a welcome and unusually late start to wild-swimming for the year.

20220619_203340
After our swim.

By the time we were out of the water we were already losing the sun.

20220619_204743
Looking back to Gurnal Dubs.

The views on the way down were even better than they had been on the way up, with the landscape decked in dark shadows and late, golden sunshine.

20220619_205047
Potter Tarn, Coniston Fells, Scafell and Scafell Pike.
20220619_205154
Scout Scar and Cunswick Scar, Arnside Knott, Whitbarrow, Gummer How.
20220619_211417
Almost back to the road and the car.

The following evening, a Monday, Little S had Explorers. He’s transferred from the local unit to the one which meets in Littledale, at the very pleasant Scout camp on the banks of Artle Beck. Usually, after dropping him off, I take B to a boxing gym in Lancaster, but for some reason that was off, so I was at a loose end, which gave me a chance to try a spot down in the Lune Valley which I’d previously picked out as having potential for swimming.

20220620_194138
River Lune. Caton Moor wind farm beyond.
20220620_194735
River Lune and Ingleborough.

It was a bit of a walk from the carpark at Bull Beck near Caton, so I didn’t have all that much time to swim, but the walk was nice enough in itself.

20220620_195455
Swimming spot.

How was it? A lot warmer than Gurnal Dubs, quite pleasant in fact. Fairly fast flowing. Not as deep as I had hoped, but just about deep enough. Due to the strength of the current, I found myself walking upstream on the shingle bank and then floating back down river before repeating the process. Not a bad way to spend a Monday evening.

20220620_201418
River Lune.

One more local-ish swim to report, though I’m jumping forward almost to mid-July and another Monday evening. After a hot day at school, B wondered whether I could give him and some friends a lift to Settle to swim. I didn’t have to think too long about that one: too far away. We compromised on Devil’s Bridge at Kirby Lonsdale, as long as they promised not to jump off the bridge.

20220711_203620
Devil’s Bridge.

Whilst they were, I later found out, having a great time, I had a wander down the Lune, enjoying the riverside flowers.

20220711_203646
Meadow Crane’s-bill.
20220711_203655
Giant Bellflower, I think.
20220711_205535
Monkeyflower – naturalised from North America.
20220710_130757
Himalayan Balsam – another non-native plant.

This one is a bit of a cheat, you can perhaps tell by the light; there was plenty of Himalayan Balsam by the Lune, but I’d also photographed some the day before, in better light, when I picked up Little S from another Scout Camp, this one down near Ormskirk.

20220711_204618
River Lune. Too shallow to swim in.
20220711_205712
Pipe Bridge carrying water from Haweswater in the Lakes to Manchester.

I had my swimming stuff with me, and found, as I thought I might, that the water under the bridge, on the right hand side anyway, was deep enough for me to have a dip. In honesty, not one of my favourite swims this summer, but it had stiff competition.

Swimming Season at Last

Fell Head, Bush Howe and White Fell Head

20220326_101509
The Lune Gorge. Blease Fell on the right.

The end of March, and another meet up of our little group of hill-walking friends, expertly organised, as ever, by Andy, even down to finding a perfectly situated little parking area just off the Fair Mile Road in the Lune Gorge. TBH had driven and, as navigator, I had chosen to bring her the most direct way, over the very, very narrow Crook of Lune Bridge*, a choice of which she thoroughly approved, in no way castigating me for my decision or filling the car with invective as she gingerly inched across.

(*Confusingly, there’s another Crook of Lune, near to Caton, much further down the river)

20220326_103922
Fell ponies.

Andy had a box-ticking exercise in mind, wanting to visit a couple of tops which were new to him, but fortunately his route was also a very pleasant walk, so we’ll let him off.

Little S had joined us, mostly, I think, due to the promise of a slap-up meal in Lancaster after the days exertions, and he was appalled by our determination to stop approximately every ten yards for a natter/breather/photo opportunity.

20220326_104053
Dillicar Knott and its mast.
P1340686
The Lune Gorge again, from somewhere in the vicinity of Linghaw.

Little S wasn’t overly impressed either with the long stop we had on Linghaw, ostensibly for drinks and snacks, but quickly becoming a sunbathing/snoozing stop.

20220326_111127

The hill behind our little group here is Grayrigg Forest, which we visited together not so long ago, on what was probably another box-ticking exercise. The weather had been a bit grey that day, but this time we had struck it lucky with plenty of sunshine and blue skies.

20220326_111841
The headwaters of Carlin Gill. Some of us camped just beyond there a few summers ago.
20220326_124847
20220326_125330
I had to crop this photo to remove my finger-end, a bad habit I seem to have recently acquired when using my phone as a camera.
20220326_125500
On Fell Head.

I think of Fell Head as a favourite spot because it’s a great viewpoint, and I used to bring a packed tea up here after work during the few years I lived in Arnside. In my head, I did this many times, but since I only lived in Arnside for four years and the window when the evenings are light enough is quite short, and because I think of other hills with much the same affection, for the same reasons, I suspect I only actually did it a couple of times.

Anyway, back then I would sit and eat my tea, and watch the traffic far below on the M6 and then head back to my car, but we had a ridge to traverse…

20220326_130517
The ridge to Breaks Head.

We had an even longer lunch/nap stop on Height of Bush Howe, which was very relaxing, but which had the consequence that, with a table booked in Lancaster, we didn’t have time to include The Calf in our circuit, and we also needed to get our skates on to get back to our cars.

20220326_145857
I think that long ridge is our descent route on White Fell, which probably makes the top on the right Arant Haw, but don’t quote me on that.
20220326_151101
Descending White Fell.
20220326_153419
Fell Head.
20220326_154625
Chapel Beck – a Lune tributary.
20220326_155335
Chapel Beck again. White Fell on the right.
20220326_155922
Bush Howe, White Fell Head, The Calf, Bram Rigg Top.

A great days walking, in fabulous company. The meal later, at Molly’s in Lancaster, was equally good. The night before, TBH and I had been at a Northern Soul night with our neighbours, and the day after a few of us met for another sunny walk. A perfect weekend!

Here’s our route. As you can see, on the way downhill, I discovered the ability to walk in a perfect straight line. Either that, or I paused the app when we stopped and forgot to start it again.

MapMyWalk tells me that we walked 10.39km, but the map itself seems to be implying more like 12.4 – I’ve noticed discrepancies like this before. Maybe it’s my fault for pausing the app. It also gives 560 metres of ascent, which seems about right.

Fell Head, Bush Howe and White Fell Head

Lune Bridges

20211010_115229
Forest of Bowland across Quicksand Pool

We’ve reached October in the world of my blog now. I’ll soon be caught up!(?)

The photos here are from a day with two walks. In the morning, it was the usual wander around Jenny Brown’s Point. It looks like the weather was good, so I’m surprised that I hardly took any photos.

20211010_121548
A feast of fungi?

Later, B was kick-boxing, I think his first time back after an extended lay-off following his knee surgery and a long course of physio to deal with pain and stiffness after the opp and the muscle imbalances which probably gave rise to the problem to begin with.

20211010_172612
River Lune

Whilst he was sparring, I had a wander along the Lune. This…

20211010_173004
Lune West Bridge

…is the newish bridge built to facilitate the new junction 34 on the M6. I was surprised, when the bridge was built, both by the huge size of the prefabricated metal spans and by the fact that they were already rusted, assuming that is rust?

This is the older M6 bridge…

20211010_173345
Lune Bridge.

…built with parallel spans of concrete. There’s a fair bit of graffiti on those supporting walls above the arches. Whenever I see graffiti in inaccessible places like that I wonder about who gets up there to do it? And how? And why?

20211010_173621

Just a little way upriver from the motorway, some houses in Halton have fabulous looking gardens sloping gently down to the river. I was particularly taken by this fetching boathouse…

20211010_173721

…which looks like it might be a family home too.

Finally, the following photo, taken on the Friday evening after these two walks, is the only one I took during the Lancaster Music Festival.

20211015_183328
The Balkanics at The White Cross.

I should have taken more, it was a fantastic event. By this point I’d already seen, and heard, a couple of other acts, having stayed in Lancaster after work. A met me in the White Cross, and we met X-Ray somewhere after that. Later in the evening, the Herefordshire Hoofers arrived to catch the Uptown Monotones at the Storey Institute (my highlight of the weekend). We caught lots of other acts the following day. After being confined to barracks for so long, it was great to get back to socialising and seeing bands and having a few beers. Having said that, a week later I had Covid. None of the rest of our party did, however, so it’s equally possible that I caught it at work. I’ll never know. What I do know is that the dates for this year’s festival are the 13th to the 16th of October and that I shall be in attendance once again. Any takers?

Lune Bridges

Bike Commute

20210901_081603
Lancaster Canal Aqueduct above the Lune.

The summer holiday came to an end, as it all too inevitably does, but for my first two days back, the boys were still at home, and therefore not requiring lifts, so I decided to cycle to and from work.

20210901_081608
The Lune, looking towards Lancaster.

Both mornings were overcast and surprisingly chilly, which probably suited me, as I was cycling to work and didn’t want to arrive all sweaty and red-faced. But both days brightened up, and the afternoons were very pleasant.

20210901_163054
Denny Beck Bridge, or Penny Bridge, Halton. Recycled from the original Greyhound Bridge in Lancaster. (Source)

On the first afternoon, I cycled along the cycle-way, which shadows the Lune, as far as the former railway station at Halton. Well, across the river from Halton. Then crossed Denny Beck Bridge, which was built with parts of the old Greyhound Bridge, a railway bridge which had crossed the Lune in Lancaster. Denny Beck Bridge was built by the railway company as a toll bridge so that passengers could cross the Lune from Halton to get to the station.

20210901_163042
The Lune upstream of Denny Beck Bridge.

From Halton, it was a steep climb up to Four Lane Ends, where I turned on to Kellet Lane. I knew that the higher ground there would give me good views, although it was quite hazy, and I kept putting off taking a photo, on the basis that the view would probably be better ‘just around the corner’ etc, so that I didn’t actually snap a picture until I’d lost most of the height, was through the village of Nether Kellet, and cycling down Back Lane towards Carnforth.

20210901_165814
Coming Downhill out of Nether Kellet on Back Lane.

On the second day I opted for a longer route home, starting by cycling on the cycle-path between Lancaster and Morecambe, then following the prom and the coast road to Hest Bank were I could rejoin my morning route on the canal towpath.

20210902_170440
View from Morecambe Prom.
20210902_173708
Lancaster Canal.
This is the route I used in the mornings.
This is the return route for the first afternoon.
And the slightly longer route from the second day.

In all, a rather splendid way to start and finish the day. I’m looking forward to doing it again some time, but as a replacement for driving it’s not very practical, what with the dark mornings and afternoons in the winter, and especially considering that I spent at least three hours travelling each day. Still, will definitely do it again sometimes when the weather improves.

Bike Commute

An Early Purple, Atomic Eggs and Morecambe Skies

20210425_164647
Early Purple Orchid, The Lots.

A post to round of the final week of April. The orchid is from and a short Sunday afternoon stroll across The Lots. Earlier in the day I’d had a walk along the Lune with The Tower Captain, whilst our respective lads were training at Underley Park, home of Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC.

20210425_122505
River Lune near Kirkby Lonsdale.
20210425_122150
Pipe Bridge over the Lune…
20210425_122249
Carrying water from Haweswater to Heaton Park reservoir in Manchester.
20210426_200935
Harmony Hall and Laburnum House in Milnthorpe.
20210426_194147

These last two photos from a lazy evening stroll whilst A was dancing.

The next time she has a lesson, I was more ambitious and drove to park by Leven’s Bridge for a walk by the River Kent.

20210427_200957
Force Falls, River Kent.

This circular route was a firm favourite when the kids were younger. It’s around three miles – not too taxing for little legs. Not bad for an evening stroll either.

20210427_201200
Solomon’s Seal by the Kent.
20210427_201425
River Kent.

Later in the walk, I encountered both the Bagot Goats and the Bagot Fallow Deer, both unique to the Levens Deer Park. I took photos of the goats, but it was too dark by then. (This post, from the early days of the blog, has photos of both, and of the boys when they were cute and not towering teenagers)

20210430_202739
Midland Hotel Morecambe, from the Battery. It’s here that, hopefully, the Eden Project North will be built.
20210430_202937
Lake District Fells from Morecambe Prom.
20210430_203733
Midland Hotel again. Arnside Knott behind and right of the small building on the Stone Jetty.

TBH and I had a half-hour stroll along Morecambe Promenade, prior to picking up B from meeting his friends in Heysham.

An Early Purple, Atomic Eggs and Morecambe Skies

A Market, A Fire-pit, Clouds and Sunsets

20210411_111225
Ruskin’s View

Mid-April. Most of these photos are from a single day, which started with rugby training for B in Kirkby Lonsdale. The measures around the pandemic almost entirely wiped-out B’s final season with his age group team, although knee surgery would have kept him on the sidelines anyway. Hopefully he’ll soon be fit to join his contemporaries in the Colts team.

While he was training, I took my usual stroll by the Lune and through Kirkby. It’s unusual to see the river so clear.

20210411_111451
St. Mary’s churchyard, full of daffs.
20210411_111744
The Manor House.
20210411_112733
The Lune.

In the afternoon, TBH and I were out completing a circuit of Jenny Brown’s Point for a change! The sunshine was still with us, but now there were very dark and brooding skies too, a combination I find irresistible.

20210411_160707
Hollins Lane.
20210411_162458
Warton Crag and a snow-dusted Ward’s Stone across the salt-marsh.
20210411_162502
Warton Crag.
20210411_162734
Quicksand Pool and the copper-smelting chimney.
20210411_162917
The Bowland Fells across Quicksand Pool.
20210411_163311
Jenny Brown’s pano (click for larger image).

The remaining photos are from odd days during the second half of our Easter Break.

20210413_200248
Cove sunset.
20210414_194044
Huge cloud.
20210414_201437
Post sunset from Jack Scout.

B often does his best to present himself as a bit of a Philistine, memorably dismissing a stunning cave in the Cévennes, for example, as ‘just rocks and water’, but secretly he’s a bit of a romantic after all. He likes a good sunset and often watches them from Heysham Barrows with his school friends. I think this photo was taken on one of a couple of walks we took together in an attempt to catch the sunset from Jack Scout. We were a bit late on this occasion.

20210417_111813
Saturday market, Dalton Square, Lancaster.

I’m not entirely sure why I was in Lancaster, possibly due to the return of BJJ training on a Saturday morning. What I do remember was how shocked I was to see market stalls and shoppers. Although I’d been back at work for a while, Lancaster always seemed to stay resolutely quiet and traffic free.

20210327_183338
Washing-machine tub fire-pit.

This photos is a bit of a cheat, since it’s from March. Our washing-machine conked out, and, having replaced it, over a couple of Saturdays I dismantled the broken one and salvaged the drum to use as a fire-pit.

It wasn’t until April that we put it to use, toasting some marsh-mallows…

20210417_203447

TBH got a bit carried away…

20210417_203430
Flambéed marshmallow.

Actually, this is typical TBH cooking – she would call this ‘caramelised’.

A Market, A Fire-pit, Clouds and Sunsets

A Walk with X-Ray and Boot Review Update.

20201228_133924
X-Ray on the Lune Aqueduct, just before he produced a flask of tea and two cups from his bag. What a gent.

X-Ray has appeared on this blog from time to time over the years. He’s an old friend who is always great company on a walk. We play in a pub quiz team together, but the pandemic put paid to that and when he rang me over Christmas I realised that I hadn’t seen him since the start of lockdown. A get together seemed called for and we eventually agreed on a walk around Lancaster. It was a glorious sunny day, lots of other people had a similar idea to us and were out for a post Christmas ramble in the unexpected sunshine. I probably should have taken a few more photographs, but X-Ray and I had a lot of catching-up to do, and anyway, whenever we get together we seem to able to fill several hours with non-stop conversation. On this occasion, without really realising it, we managed eight miles of blether before we’d found our way back to X-Ray’s flat.

20201228_115424
Freeman’s Pools

We talked, among other things, about work; the pandemic, of course; pensions I seem to remember – probably an age thing; and about shoes. X-Ray had been reluctant to come for a walk from Silverdale to Arnside because he has no comfortable walking boots. For our walk he was wearing, I think, a pair of trainers with part of the toes removed. He finds it very difficult to buy shoes or boots which are wide enough for his feet, as do I. I told him about my Altberg boots, which I bought at Whalley Warm and Dry and which, after 5 years of use, are a little scuffed but otherwise as good as new. In fact, I’m wearing them more and more, as I find that they are consistently the most comfortable footwear I own. Anyway, X-Ray rang me last week and told me that he has an appointment next week at Whalley Warm and Dry to get some boots fitted. Hopefully, he can find something which is a good fit, and then we can get out for a walk somewhere a little further afield. Remembering our chat has also got me thinking about maybe going back myself to try a pair of Altberg shoes.

20201228_162809

Talking of kit, we were out for a family walk later that same day, after sunset, to try out a Christmas present, a wooly hat with an integral head-torch.

20201228_162828

As you can see, although the sun had already set, the light was rather nice.

20201228_162846

I was jealous of B’s hat which, as well as a light, incorporates bluetooth headphones. What a great idea!

A Walk with X-Ray and Boot Review Update.

September Colour.

P1320569
Evening Primrose.

The day after my Arnside Knott walk was another cracker. I was out three times, twice around home and also for a short stroll in Kirkby Lonsdale whilst B was at rugby training.

P1320570
Creeping Thistle.

I was revelling in the abundance and variety of the wildflowers on my home patch after the relative dearth beneath the trees in the Tarn Gorge. I took a huge number of photos, of which just a small selection have been chosen for this post.

P1320572
Yarrow and Oxeye Daisy.
Hoverfly.
P1320579
Nipplewort.

Nipplewort is a tall straggly weed, without, at first glance, a great deal to offer, but the small flowers are well worth a closer look.

P1320600
Grange from the Cove.
20200920_114953
River Lune from Ruskin’s View in Kirkby Lonsdale.
20200920_122337
Market Cross, Kirkby Lonsdale.
20200920_122417
St. Mary’s Church, Kirkby Lonsdale.
P1320605
Hoverfly.
P1320609
Common Darter.
P1320614
P1320616
Guelder Rose berries.
P1320620
Common Darter (on, I think, Marsh Thistle).
P1320623
P1320626
P1320627
P1320633
Yet another Common Darter.
P1320637
More Guelder Rose berries.
20200924_173452
A shower out over the Bay, taken on a midweek, post-work walk.
September Colour.

My Parents and Other Visitors

20200803_163424
Mum and Dad on the Lots.

My mum and dad spent a week at Thurnham Hall, on the other side of Lancaster. Very generously, they booked us a few nights there too. Little did we realise then that it would be the last time we would see them this year.

P1310338
The River Condor at Condor Green.

How nice then, to get to spend some time together. Most days we managed a bit of a walk, aiming for somewhere without contours, by the Lune Estuary near Glasson, across the Lots at home, or along the prom at Morecambe for example.

P1310345
Gatekeeper on Ragwort.

We did embark on one overly ambitious walk, from Thurnham Hall to Wallings Ice-Cream Parlour on the other side of Cockerham. The long-grass in the fields and the surprisingly sodden tracks which followed were energy sapping for all concerned. Fortunately, once we’d sampled the ice-creams, we arranged a taxi for a couple of drivers to collect our cars and then return for the rest of the party.

P1310349
The Marina at Glasson.

We played ‘Ticket to Ride’ and no doubt other games, and ate out a few times, now that ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ was in full swing. After a curry in Lancaster I had a brainwave about walking back to Thurnham Hall, basing my intended route on a hazy memory of the map. It was much further than I had thought, and it was pitch black by the time I reached Galgate. Fortunately, TBH was happy to come out and pick me up.

P1310350
Bit low in the water?
P1310352
Roe Deer right outside our back door.
P1310362
The Lune Estuary.
P1310363
Sea Lavender (I think).
20200801_155000
Sculpture on Morecambe Prom, ‘Love, The Most Beautiful Of Absolute Disasters’ by Shane Johnstone. Locally known as ‘Venus and Cupid’. It commemorates the 24 cockle-pickers who died in the Bay in 2004.
20200801_155012
The view across Morecambe Bay.

Now, though we won’t see them over Christmas as we usually would, with the vaccines being rolled out, we have the real prospect of safely meeting with my mum and dad again to look forward to. Bring it on!

My Parents and Other Visitors

Bull Beck and The Lune.

P1290996

Small Tortoiseshells.

The day after my ascent of Clougha and A has another lesson. It was even hotter than the day before and I opted for a level walk in the Lune valley. I originally planned to park at Crook O’Lune, but it was heaving, so plan B was to start from the Bull Beck car park near Brookhouse.

P1300004

I followed a simple loop along the Lune and then finished along the old railway line, the Lune Valley Ramble, from Crook O’Lune.

P1300008

The Lune and Aughton Woods.

P1300013

This spot, with a nice view along the valley to Ingleborough and a mile from the car park, would be a good place for a socially-distanced swim. Another time.

P1300021

A juvenile Oystercatcher with parent.

P1300025

Waterworks Bridge – carrying water from Haweswater to Manchester.

P1300027

A pair of Goosanders – I think a female and a male in eclipse plumage.

P1300034

I was a bit confused by this umbellifer which had a very large flower and thick stem.

P1300036

I think it must be common-or-garden Hogweed; I didn’t think the leaves were right, but apparently they are very variable in shape.

P1300037

This little footbridge crosses…

P1300038

…Bull Beck, another tributary for my Lune Catchment collection.

P1300040

You can’t really tell from the photograph, but as I got close to Crook O’Lune both the river and its banks got very busy; plenty of people were enjoying the heat and the sunshine.

I’d faffed about finding a place to park and then dawdled taking photos on a walk which I had significantly underestimated. I was even later getting back into Lancaster to pick-up A. Fortunately, she’d found a bench to sit on in the sunshine and seemed quite sanguine about my tardiness.


Tunes, and a quiz:

Three brilliant tunes – what links them?

Bull Beck and The Lune.