Lancaster: The Heights, Aldcliffe, Lune

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Another taxi-Dad related walking-window which involved staying in Lancaster after work to wait for A. I started on the footpath which runs between this field, which the kids tell me is called ‘The Heights’, and the Haverbreaks housing estate, which my former colleague Dr PH used to call ‘The Magic Kingdom’ when we ran along its private roads during our lunch breaks years ago.

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I’m not sure whether Lancaster is built on seven hills like Rome, but it certainly does lay on a series of modest heights, some of which, like this one, give excellent views. The hills in the background are Arnside Knott and the long ridge of Cartmell Fell, with the higher Lake District Fells behind.

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Lancaster Castle.

The path took me down to the Lancaster Canal and I turned south-west along the towpath for a time. On the far side of the canal, some of the gardens of the Haverbreaks houses run down to the canal bank. The gardens always look very pleasant, but I was more interested in the flowers growing in the shallow margins of the canal itself…

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White Water-lily.

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Flowering Rush

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Meadowsweet and Marsh Woundwort.

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A house in Aldcliffe.

I left the canal to take the lane into the tiny hamlet of Aldcliffe. This is less than a mile from where I’ve worked for the past 20 years (nearly), but I’d never been here before!

From Aldcliffe a path snakes down towards the Lune. For most of its length it was hemmed in by two very tall hedges and seemed to be a haven for a wealth of insect life, notably butterflies including several Red Admirals, some Speckled Wood and…

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Comma.

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Salt marsh by the Lune.

I had a choice of paths around Aldcliffe Marsh, but took the shorter, eastern option because I was already realising that I had underestimated the length of the walk, or at least how long it would take me.

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Rosebay Willowherb.

There were a wealth of flowers and plenty of butterflies along this section of the walk, but I took only a few photos because I was hurrying now.

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Great Willowherb.

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Green-veined White on Bramble.

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Gatekeeper.

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A (very vigorous) Melilot.

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Bumblebee with very full pollen basket.

Embarrassingly, after a stomp through town, I arrived, hot and sweaty, half-an-hour late for my rendezvous with A. Fortunately, she was very forgiving.

This route, and variations on it, have great potential for walks from work, just as long as I’m more careful with my time-keeping in future!

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Lancaster: The Heights, Aldcliffe, Lune

Lancaster: Lune, Freeman’s Pools, St. George’s Quay.

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Comma.

A Friday evening and we’re saying farewell to colleagues who are moving on to pastures new. The plan is to go straight from work: pub, pizzeria, pub. Since I’ve been avoiding both alcohol and pizza this year, this presents something of a challenge. We have to preorder our meal, which significantly reduces temptation, so I decide to skip the ale and just go for a tomato salad and small Quattro Stagioni. So, whilst my friends are collecting in a convivial hostelry, I squeeze in a short walk around Lancaster.

I park down on St. Georges Quay which is reasonably convenient for the restaurant and for a walk along the Lune and has some of the only unrestricted street-parking in the centre of town to boot. I set-off along the banks of the river. The bank here has a substantial area of waste ground, now given over to Buddleia, on which I’m disappointed not to spot a single butterfly. On the far side of the road a former factory site has been built upon; I haven’t been this way for quite some time and I’m surprised by the number of new houses which have appeared.

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Lune.

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Tall (or Golden) Melilot. I think, apparently very difficult to distinguish from Ribbed Melilot. Especially since both are equally tall, golden and ribbed.

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Evening Primrose. Another species, like the Melilot, which is both introduced and confusing: there are four species of Evening Primrose found in Britain, but they are hard to distinguish and hybridise anyway.

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Marsh Woundwort.

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Freeman’s Pools.

Although I know for a fact that I have been along this path before, more than once, I don’t remember the Wildlife Trust Reserve Freeman’s Pools. It’s one of several reserves near to the mouth of the Lune which I intend to explore at some point. I’d originally planned to continue along the river here, but time is tight, so I turn inland on the path which runs through the thin strip of trees which is Freeman’s Wood. In the wood I’m quite surprised to encounter a Jay.

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One of the many Loosestrifes. We have something similar in our garden, but the flowers are distributed up the entire length of the stem – I think ours might be Dotted Loosestrife. These look most like straightforward Yellow Loosestrife, except for the orange centre to the flowers, which is characteristic of other Loosestrifes. Ho-hum.

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The Comma again.

Back in town, I walk though Abraham Heights on Westbourne Road, before turning past the railway station to the castle and…

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Lancaster Priory.

Ordinarily, I would pop inside to have a gander, but our booking is fairly soon (and I’ve been in many, many times before). I also don’t divert to take in the foundations of a Roman Bathhouse, but do pause to photograph…

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…the view from by The Priory, across the Bay towards the lake District. The hills of Cumbria look a bit indistinct and unimpressive in my photo, but this view is actually excellent and during the winter I often came here at lunchtimes to take it in.

I head downhill, back to the quay.

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Maritime Museum.

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Richard Gillow was the son of Robert Gillow the founder of a Lancaster furniture company, thought to be the first to import mahogany to Britain. As well as importing exotic timber and exporting Gillows’ furniture, his ships also traded in sugar and rum from the Caribbean, wine from the Canary Islands, and were probably involved in the slave trade.

The old warehouses along the quay have been converted into homes and offices.

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Former Warehouses.

The pub with all of the hanging baskets outside is the Waggon and Horses where I’ve been a member of the Quiz team for many years.

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Lune and St. George’s Quay.

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Lancaster: Lune, Freeman’s Pools, St. George’s Quay.

Firbank Fell – Three Steeplehouses Walk

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Howgill Fells from Master Knott.

Small, unassuming hills often give the best views. The view across the Lune Valley to the Howgill Fells from Master Knott, a little knobble on the eastern side of Firbank Fell is a case in point.

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Panorama – click on the photo (or any others) to see larger versions on Flickr.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This was another after work outing and another chapter in my exploration of the Lune catchment area.

I’d driven up the narrow road from Black Horse on the A684. For once I’d  done a bit of research in advance and had read that it was possible to park on the verge here. And it was, just about, but my car is small and I don’t think I would park here again – it was a bit tight.

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One advantage of this high starting point was the view back down the road of the Lune Valley to the south.

I was here to visit Fox’s Pulpit. The map suggests that it might be a little way from the road, but in fact I could see it as soon as I pulled up. This is it…

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Apparently, the meeting commemorated here, which happened in 1652, is considered by some to be the beginning of the Society of Friends, or Quakers.

This small field…

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…is shown on the OS map as a graveyard, but in Fox’s time there was a Church here.

One gravestone still remains…

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Fox preferred to preach outside in the open, although, it occurs to me that if there were around ‘a thousand seekers’ present then getting them all into a small hillside chapel may have been impractical anyway.

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George Fox had an interesting life but the fact that will stick with me, I think, is that he was born in the village of Drayton-in-the-Clay in Leicestershire, not so far from where I grew up. It’s called Fenny Drayton now and I’m pretty sure that I’ve cycled through the village a few times, although all of them a very long time ago.

On the short walk from Fox’s Pulpit to the top of Master Knott I was entertained by this Silver Y Moth…

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…which proved devilishly difficult to photograph. There was quite a breeze and each time it flew I wasn’t completely convinced that it could control the flight. After landing it would continue on foot, walking surprisingly quickly, often low down beneath the grass and other vegetation. You can just about see the Y on its wing which gives it its name.

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“I try quite hard to learn the flowering plants but must confess to having long ago thrown in the towel when it comes to the pea family.”

A Natural History of the Hedgerow by John Wright

And this from someone who elsewhere in the book talks authoritatively about obscure things like Rusts and Smuts and Lichens and Liverworts. I’m going to tentatively hazard that the single flower above is Bush Vetch (but am ready to be corrected).

From Master Knott I returned to the road, taking the path to the north which heads down into the Lune Valley. It shortly brought me to the field in the foreground here, just beyond the gate, which was decidedly wet underfoot and full of interesting flora and fauna.

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I wasn’t fast enough to photograph the wonderful black and red Cinnabar Moth, the Small Heath butterflies or any of the small birds, but I enjoyed seeing them. Many of the very vigorous plants looked like they had either just finished flowering or were just about to flower. Some were giving a fine display, however…

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Heath Spotted-orchid.

I’m pretty confident that this really is Heath Spotted, unlike the last orchid I identified as such on the blog, which I’m even more uncertain about now – I’m more inclined to think that is was Common Spotted after all.

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Ragged Robin.

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Ringlet.

The next field had been recently mown, but was just as busy with butterflies and equally mobbed with dragonflies.

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The trees on the right border a tributary of the Lune, unnamed on the OS map.

These…

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…flew past me and then landed close enough by for me to locate them afterwards. They are Golden-ringed Dragonflies, Britain’s longest species at around 8cm.

This is the male…

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…he has already transferred semen to his accessory genitalia and is grasping the back of the female’s head with his anal appendages in the hope that she will curl the tip of her abdomen forward to transfer that semen.

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Red Admiral.

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Meadow Brown.

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When I reached a road, the path went straight across, but there was a sign warning me that the footbridge over the Lune I hoped to cross, Fisherman’s Bridge, had been damaged during flooding and was unusable. Sometimes, these signs get left in situ even after the damage has been repaired, so I decided to take a look myself.

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Perhaps the completely overgrown state of the first section of the path should have acted as an additional warning. The bridge was more than just damaged, with even the substantial piers have been shorn off – the top of one was lying close by in the river still.

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Back up the hill then to brave the nettles and return to the road. Actually, I contemplated following the former railway line which also runs along the valley – I chose not to in the end, but there’s a brilliant potential cycleway there waiting for development. Anyway, after consulting the map, I decided to head south along the road.

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Stocks.

It’s a B-road, but wasn’t busy, and didn’t make for bad walking at all.

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Another Red Admiral.

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The Old School House and Firbank Church Hall – date stone shows 1860 – possibly also once part of the school?

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Yet another Red Admiral.

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A Carder Bee (?) on Foxgloves.

One advantage of walking on a road is the accompanying hedges – often better maintained than ‘internal’ hedges and full of a massive diversity of life. Having been reading ‘A Natural History of the Hedgerow’ I was more alert than usual to that diversity, and took great delight in noticing just how many species were present. Not that I did it properly; in 2015, I’ve learned, Dr Rob Wolton published an article about a two year study he had carried out of a 90m length of hedge near his home in Devon. He had discovered a staggering 2070 different species in the hedge, and that was with some species still to be identified and having ignored rusts and mildews. Apparently he thinks the actual total might be closer to 3000.

I didn’t spot quite that many on this walk!

The hedges here were full of webs or nests…I’m not sure what to call them. Some were large blanket webs like others I’ve seen this year, but in other cases smaller webs seemed to have been used to knit leaves together to make some sort of home…

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In many of the webs, I could see clumps of pale shapes which I took to be pupae…

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Another advantage of walking on the road was that it brought me to…

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Naturally, I felt compelled to take a peek inside…

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This church, built in 1841, replaced the chapel on the hill, which was destroyed in a storm a few years before. There is no stained glass, but the view from this window more than compensates, although I don’t think my photo quite captures it…

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Stepping outside I found, in an unmown area close to the entrance to the grounds, this…

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…which I believe is a Butterfly Orchid, a first for me. I’m not sure however, whether it’s a Lesser Butterfly Orchid or a Greater Butterfly Orchid. Sadly, it was in deep shade, which is presumably why the photo hasn’t come out too well.

This very large bumble bee was behaving rather oddly, for a bee, sedately exploring this leaf in the hedge.

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The size, and the behaviour, made me wonder whether this could be a queen, but looking at the photo again, I now think that this is a worker, a Buff-tailed Bumblebee. The tail looks white, but there is a subtle line of buff at the edge of that white which suggests that identification.

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Lune Viaduct.

I left the road here, taking a path through more newly mown fields which bordered the Lune. A screen of trees prevented any more than glimpses of the river, but in the unmown fringes of the field there was the compensation of a number of Common Knapweed flowers…

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They seemed to flourish here in this part of the Lune Valley and I would see many more during the remainder of the walk. The bees liked them too. This might be a Garden Bumblebee. Might.

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But this is a Tree Bumblebee, which, I’ve realised this year, are ubiquitous.

If I hadn’t paused to admire the Knapweed and its attendant bees, I would never have noticed…

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…this shield bug. It took me a while to track down the exact species, so that I was tempted to just call it ‘bronze’ because of its colour. And that’s exactly what it is, a Bronze Shieldbug, widespread but not particularly common apparently. Quite similar to the Forest Bug, which I photographed on Hutton Roof some years ago.

The track transferred to the riverbank side of the trees, which meant that I could see these…

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…Monkeyflowers.

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Lincoln’s Inn Bridge.

I joined the Dales Way here briefly, between Lincoln’s Inn Bridge and Luneside Farm.

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Luneside.

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Garden Bumblebee on Common Knapweed (I think).

I detoured a little here, an out-and-back past Prospect House (where the dogs in the garden watched me with suspicion) to…

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St. Gregory’s or the Vale of Lune Chapel. The third steeplehouse on our walk, steeplehouse being George Fox’s preferred term for a church – although none of these have had steeples. Actually, only the Firbank Church is still in use; the first obviously was ruined, although the local Quaker Meeting House at Briggflats still commemorates Fox’s sermon with a June outdoor meeting; and this last, although still consecrated is in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust.

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“This chapel was built in the early 1860s by the Upton family, when the London and North Western Railway was building its Ingleton branch and sent a Scripture Reader to the navvies. Attached to a cottage, it is a plain building perhaps designed by a railway engineer; but inside a delightful and colourful series of stained glass windows by Frederick George Smith depict river scenes, trees and plants, as well as birds and animals found locally. These were installed in about 1900 when the church was refurnished.” Source

The Upton family owned Ingmire Hall which is very close by.

 

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The furniture in the church was apparently by Waring and Gillow of Lancaster. (The Gillow family owned Leighton Hall which is close to home).

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Unusual roof-lights.

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One of the windows designed by Frederick George Smith. I took photos of them all, and can’t decide whether or not to make a fuller post with more pictures of St. Gregory’s; I rather liked it.

In edition to the windows mentioned above, there are also windows featuring personifications of Peace…

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…Justice and Fortitude which one source says are of William Morris design.

It doesn’t take long to look around St. Gregory’s, but it’s well worth a visit. I sat in the porch for a moment or two, to have a drink and decide which way to go next.

Back to Luneside, I decided, where the sheep dogs, all, fortunately, caged securely, went berserk again, although, judging by the wagging tails, they may have been enthusiastic rather than angry.

In the fields south of Luneside I heard a commotion from a Hawthorn. It wasn’t the familiar yaffle, but sounded none-the-less like a Green Woodpecker. Then came an answering call from the hedge ahead of me. As I approached the hedge, a bird within the hedge, tried to fly out, away from me, but flew straight into the wire net fence beside the hedge. It was a juvenile Green Woodpecker…

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After a moment of contemplation it decided to climb the fencepost, somehow jamming itself between the wire and the post so that I couldn’t really see it.

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Those claws are well-adapted for climbing!

The adult meanwhile was even more strident now…

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As I walked away from the hedge, the adult flew ahead of me…

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…before looping back to the youngster in the hedge.

Beside the Lune here, there’s a odd little Nature Reserve, a thin little strip along the riverbank.

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Leading to Killington New Bridge.

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From here I took the lazy decision to follow the road in the most direct route back to the car. It was getting late and the weather had deteriorated, with a layer of cloud spreading in from the west and a few spots of rain in the air

The hedgerows were once again festooned with webs…

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…containing hanging white cylinders…

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But now, perhaps because it was quite late and a bit gloomy, there were moths evident too…

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I think that this is an ermel moth, specifically Yponomeuta Cagnagella. Apparently, the ‘gregarious larvae clothe with extensive silken tents’ the Spindle shrubs on which they live. And looking at the photos, these leaves could well be Spindle.

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Former Country Pub the Black Horse after which the road junction is named.

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A stream, another tributary of the Lune, runs beside the A road here.

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At New Field farm everyone was busy, trying to get the silage in before the forecast rain arrived…

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Juvenile Wheatear, I think.

Fox's Pulpit

Firbank Fell – Three Steeplehouses Walk

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 (?)

Meadowsweet….

 

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…

Lune…

Himalyan balsam, a very successful interloper is common here…

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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