Two Walks in the Rain

On Friday evening I was invited to a meal to celebrate the retirement of a a former boss of mine. The meal was in the Ship at Caton (highly recommended if you are ever that way). Since Caton is in the Lune Valley, not far from Lancaster, I decided to stay on after work and then walk along the Lune Valley Cycleway to Caton. However, is was raining and I had forgotten just how long it takes to get out of Lancaster and how few views of the Lune the cycleway provides, despite its proximity. In honesty, for once I wasn’t enjoying my walk.

But then I noticed some bugs on a flower…

….I don’t know what kind of bugs they are – perhaps some sort of Longhorn beetles? – but I have an idea what they might be doing, and they don’t seem to be letting a little drizzle knock them off their stride.

To that point the path had been lined by trees on both sides, but here one side was open and suddenly in one short section of path, there was an astonishing profusion and variety of wildflowers.

Including quite a lot of this…

…which I think is giant bellflower.

Plenty of…

…meadow crane’s-bill.

Willow-herbs including rosebay willow-herb…

Great willow-herb (?)



The delicately veined bladder campion…

Hemp agrimony…

Meadow vetchling…

St, John’s wort (one of them?)…

Thistles of at least two types…


Lots of tall flower spikes of (common spotted?) orchids…

Punky burdock flowers…

Oxeye daisies…

(Field) scabious…


And a host of others. If beetles had originally woken me up to the flowers around me, the flowers were now reciprocating by highlighting the bugs to be seen.


This dapper little chap seems to be all dressed up with nowhere to go…

Perhaps he doesn’t know about the party going on on a flower nearby…

Can’t identify these bugs or flowers. Any ideas?

And all this before I passed under the motorway bridge over the Lune, with its art official and otherwise…


Himalyan balsam, a very successful interloper is common here…


On Saturday TBH and I were free for a walk with kids being supervised by my in-laws. It chucked it down, but after lunch in the Three Shires, we abandoned our plan of a walk in Little Langdale and drove over to Grisedale for a walk in the forest where we would have sculpture’s to distract us from the wet.  We climbed Carron Crag from where the wind tore holes in the cloud to give us partial views of Morecambe Bay and of the streams in spate behind Coniston. Near to the summit of Carron Crag there is an unusual wooden ring sculpture which is very atmospherically sited.

As an added bonus Carron Crag is both an outlying Wainwright and a Birkett.

Two Walks in the Rain

Devil’s Bridge and The Devil’s Tongue

The day after my Quaker Stang walk was sunny and bright (and cold). We drove to the Dales to take a look in White Scar cave, this is the entrance on the slopes of Ingleton. It’s obligatory of course to have named features in show caves and White Scar Cave is no exception. One of the many is The Devil’s Tongue. I didn’t take my camera, it was far too wet in there, but here’s a link to somebody else’s flickr page.

Afterwards we stopped off in Kirby Lonsdale for a short walk by the Lune.

The view from Devil’s Bridge.

It seemed to me that in the sunshine this rook’s plumage was full of purples and greens but in the photo it just looks plain old black.

Devil’s Bridge and The Devil’s Tongue

Crook O’Lune

With A and B…

…back to Crook O’Lune on a glorious sunny Sunday afternoon. We picnicked, they cycled on on the disused railway line, with me trailing in their wake, or running along holding A’s saddle after I took her stabilisers off. She did fine until she realised that I had let go. B meanwhile is already fine without stabilisers.

Lots of people were out enjoying the fine weather. Picnicking, cycling, walking along the Lune…

Ingleborough tends to dominate the view along the valley…

Although there is some competition from old industries…

…and the wind turbines on Caton Moor which for once were actually turning…

We ended our visit on a sand and shingle ‘beach’ by the river. Throwing stones, naturally. For reasons I can’t fathom, I had more success skimming stones than I can remember having for years. A lovely afternoon.

Crook O’Lune

Devil’s Bridge Butty Stop

Being excited by things that don’t cost money – that’s the key

Evan Davis

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

Albert Einstein

These quotes – the latest additions to an occasional series of quotes which strike me as excerpts from a notional manifesto for this blog – were both gleaned from the Guardian: the Einstein quote from a book review, and the other from advice about how to cope with the economic downturn given in an interview.

Lots of free fun today. With the in-laws stopping over TBH and I were able to head of for a stroll together. We needed to visit Kirkby Lonsdale to check out an item being offered on Freecycle, so killing two birds with one stone we found ourselves beginning our walk by the 14th Century Devil’s Bridge….


…and the river Lune…

We crossed the bridge…

…and then followed a narrow bridleway intriguingly named Laitha Lane. A series of field paths climbed up through High Casterton, under a dismantled railway, across a road following the course of a Roman road, and eventually onto another bridleway called Fellfoot Lane. The view ahead was dominated by Brownthwaite Pike…

…which for all its prominence is not actually the top of the hill – there’s a higher point with a trig pillar just behind and that in turn is dwarfed by Crag Hill further back still. Fellfoot Lane follows the obvious line where the comparatively level fields steepen into a hillside. It was pleasantly quiet and green, but pretty wet and muddy underfoot – the morning’s frost having melted away. Aside from the extensive views looking homewards towards Scout Hill, Hutton Roof and Farleton Fell, the track is enlivened by a series of sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy: sheepfolds with boulders in them. We passed three…

The first sheepfold.

Looking across the first sheepfold to Bindloss Farm

Each sheepfold has through-stones jutting out of the wall to act as steps. The second sheepfold presented something of a challenge because the area by the wall was overgrown with brambles…

…but a little effort revealed…

In all honesty we were bemused by these art works. I was more taken by the wall alongside the track which at one point was built on top of a wider wall or embankment…

Our final sheepfold was on a corner where Fellfoot Lane crosses the minor road which climbs up to Bullpot Farm. It was shaded by a holly tree, and we decided that it was our favourite, perhaps because of the moss…

In all there are sixteen of these folds along this lane, and lots more spread around Cumbria. Presumably there are Goldsworthy sheepfold baggers out there somewhere. Hmmm…could be another blog project….

Minor lanes brought us down the hill and back to Laitha Lane. Back at Devil’s Bridge, with the sky brightening, we rounded off our outing with a cup of tea, an egg and bacon bap and a chocolate brownie from the butty wagon.

Addendum – The Legend of Devil’s Bridge

In common with many bridges of the same name, legend holds that the Devil appeared to an old woman, promising to build a bridge in exchange for the first soul to cross over it. When the bridge was finished the woman threw bread over the bridge and her dog chased after it, thereby outwitting the Devil.

Found here

Devil’s Bridge Butty Stop

Reflected Sky

After our day out today (see previous post), I managed to find time for a late short walk to the Cove.

I’ve posted another photo of this view before, but it was taken in very different conditions. I was interested in the different textures of the mud and the water and the ways in which they both reflected the light.

I also held back some photos from earlier in the week, specially for Skywatch Friday.

This is the sky reflected in the River Lune from our visit on Wednesday.

And this is Cirrus cloud taken by the Kent estuary on Tuesday.

Reflected Sky

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Ben joined Sam and I for our morning walk today. We were a bit tardy and didn’t leave the house until half past seven. Ben decided that he wanted to take his bike across the Lots so that’s what we did.

It was beautifully bright and clear and we could see large groups of birds dotted about the bay.

In the strip of trees on the clifftop near to the Cove someone has planted some flowers. It must have been very recently because they weren’t here when we last came this way. It seems an odd spot in which to start gardening, I wonder if they have been placed here in memory of someone for whom this was a special place?

I certainly know how easy it is to develop affection for this spot. The views are ever-changing and always interesting.

In the foreground is the Cove. The dark ellipse on the cliff opposite is a small cave. Northward across the bay is the town of Grange-Over-Sands. ‘Over sands’ is appropriate because that is how travellers used to arrive in Furness. Sobering to think that this great empty space was once a major thoroughfare with carriages and livestock regularly crossing. Wordsworth describes make a crossing, on horseback I think. Stories abound of the perils of the swift tide and the treacherous quicksands. The sands still have an official guide, and on summer weekends you can see long strings of sponsored walkers making the journey across to Grange. Amy’s school are organising an event so I may be posting about making a crossing myself in the summer.

On Sunday, when Ben last came out for an early morning jaunt, things got a bit fractious when he got hungry and wanted to go home immediately. So today I brought snacks to try to avoid mid-walk tantrums.

The pre-breakfast fruit bars were a big hit, but unfortunately as an anti-tantrum strategy it failed miserably because as soon as his was gone Ben wanted to eat Sam’s. (“He doesn’t want it. He isn’t eating it” – this despite all the evidence to the contrary.)

Fortunately, Ben’s tiff was fairly short-lived and we were soon debating the feeding habits of a great tit we saw perched on a branch.

“Birds eat fish Dad.”

“Some birds eat fish Ben. I think that Great Tits eat insects and seeds and maybe berries.”

Ben thought about this briefly before replying with conviction: “And fish.”

As we arrived home it was beginning to spit with rain and the western sky was very dark and threatening. Regular readers will know that I have been vexed of a late by my lack of knowledge about the presence or otherwise of Rooks in the area.

This was in next door’s garden and is definitely a Rook. The tell-tale sign is the large grey patch on the face above the beak which is there because of the Rook’s habit of feeding by digging its beak into the soft mud of fields looking for grubs and worms.


After a short sharp shower the weather soon cleared up and we decided to take a family trip to Crook O’Lune. Here the river loops back and almost meets itself. There is a road bridge and a former railway line crosses the river twice. There is also a picnic site with a kiosk serving drinks and butties. Turner painted the view from here…

..although I think that that can be said for an awful lot of places. The hill in the background is Ingleborough. (Yet again!)

Sam fell asleep on the way so again Angela took Amy and Ben, and this time their bikes, whilst I waited with Sam. This time I had remembered to bring some poetry. I took a few shots of the view and some of the many birds around the car park. I thought that I heard a Greenfinch rasping away from a high perch. I found the culprit but only confirmed that it was a Greenfinch when I got home and looked at my photos on the computer – strike one for my new camera and one for my burgeoning birdsong knowledge. (Burgeoning from virtually nothing to only almost nothing.). I bought a tea from the Kiosk and went to collect my book from the car, only to find that Sam has already woken up.

A quick nappy change (in the car boot), and we set off to meet the others, following the loop in the river. A grey wagtail sat on a rock near the water’s edge. By the time I had my camera ready it had flown. So I captured this female Mallard instead:

The river bank was steep and wooded and carpeted with anemones.

It was lovely walking, but not at all appropriate for bikes and I hoped that Angela had ignore my advice about coming this way.

This is the road bridge over the Lune:

The second-half of the loop was more open and the sunshine was being enjoyed by Jackdaws:

And more Mallards:

I also saw my first Cuckooflower of the year.

I finished the loop without meeting the rest of the family. In fact Angela had wisely chosen to take Amy and Ben along the old railway line, now a cycle and foot path. I found them playing pooh sticks in the river from one of the bridges:

We had variations on a breakfast bun theme from the kiosk for lunch. (Excellent if you are ever in the area.) They even have Redbush tea. We cam home to do a couple of chores around the house, then Angela took Amy to a local maternity ward to see our friend Emma and her new baby Esther.

Given the option Ben wanted to go to Woodwell – so we did. We were joined initially by Eddie (our cat). She – Eddie is short for Edwina – walked with us as far as the vicarage and then deserted us to explore the garden there.

When we reached Woodwell Ben was initially disappointed:

“This is not Woodwell. There’s no climbing frame.” I don’t know where he was thinking of – possibly the Wolfhouse Gallery which is nearby. He soon cheered up though when the ‘fishing for algae with a big stick’ game evolved into ‘fishing for algae with a big stick and putting it on Dad’s jumper’. Which could have been pretty annoying if he ever came close to succeeding, but he wasn’t really trying, and besides he was too busy giggling to manage it.

We were watched by a family who were there with a Dormobile – camping perhaps. The man fetched an instrument from the van, something like a Bodhran, and proceeded to play it and sing a song. The drum had feathers attached and the song, about an Eagle, was vaguely redolent of American Indians in Westerns. Ben was fascinated and dragged me with him to take a closer look .

Reasons To Be Cheerful