A Walk with X-Ray and Boot Review Update.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Yarrow and Oxeye Daisy.
Hoverfly.
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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.

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Grange from the Cove.
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River Lune from Ruskin’s View in Kirkby Lonsdale.
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Market Cross, Kirkby Lonsdale.
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St. Mary’s Church, Kirkby Lonsdale.
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Hoverfly.
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Common Darter.
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Guelder Rose berries.
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Common Darter (on, I think, Marsh Thistle).
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Yet another Common Darter.
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More Guelder Rose berries.
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A shower out over the Bay, taken on a midweek, post-work walk.
September Colour.

My Parents and Other Visitors

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bit low in the water?
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Roe Deer right outside our back door.
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The Lune Estuary.
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Sea Lavender (I think).
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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.
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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.

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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.

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

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The Lune and Aughton Woods.

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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.

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A juvenile Oystercatcher with parent.

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Waterworks Bridge – carrying water from Haweswater to Manchester.

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

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

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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.

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This little footbridge crosses…

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

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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.

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