Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens

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Many moons ago, we toured Doddington Hall with my Mum and Dad. It’s not too far from where they live. On the second day of our trip to Lincolnshire this summer, TBH and I were eager to go again. For some reason, Dad wasn’t so keen, and kept turning up alternatives which he thought might appeal to the kids. He balked however, at the idea of accompanying them on a treetop trek, so in the end Doddington Hall won out.

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There was a wedding in the hall that day, so we were restricted to the gardens, but that kept us well occupied beyond the advertised closing time, so it wasn’t really a problem.

Be warned, if you’re planning a visit: there are signs near the entrance forbidding picnics in the gardens. There’s a lot of green space at the back of the carpark though, which was a halfway decent alternative, but a bit rough on my Mum and Dad who prefer not to sit on the ground these days (or prefer not to have to get up again, anyway).

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There is a cafe in one of the many estate buildings, which looked to be doing a roaring trade. I’m told that the cakes that some of the party sampled there later in the day were very good. The wasps certainly liked them.

Just by where we picnicked, there was a small pond…

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And so some potential for flora and fauna…

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Common Darter (I think).

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Tachina Fera on Mayweed – both very tentative identifications.

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Tachina Fera again.

This photo shows the strong black stripe on an orange abdomen which makes me think that this fly is Tachina Fera. The larvae of this fly parasitise caterpillars.

The plant is Gipsywort…

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“Rogues masquerading as itinerant fortune-tellers and magicians used in past centuries to daub their bodies with a strong black dye produced from gipsywort, in order to pass themselves off as Egyptians and Africans. Swarthy looks were supposed to lend greater credibility to these vagabonds when they told fortunes; it was this use that gave the plant its names of gipsywort and Egyptian’s herb.”

Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain

Moving into the gardens…

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Little S was particularly impressed with the huge…

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…squashes, pumpkins? I’m not sure which.

He won’t really remember our last visit, since he was barely a year old at the time.

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Small Tortoiseshell.

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Large White.

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Moorhen.

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Another Tortoiseshell.

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This bee was absolutely coated in golden pollen, having just emerged…

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…from a courgette flower.

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Something that really stuck in my memory from our previous visit were these gnarly old Sweet Chestnut Trees.

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They predate the hall, making them very, very old indeed.

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One more Tortoiseshell.

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The gatehouse.

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Unicorn topiary.

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The Hall is Elizabethan and was built, between 1595 and 1600, by Robert Smythson, who was the master stonemason when Longleat was built and who also designed the highly impressive Hardwick Hall, among others. Apparently, it has never been sold, which must be highly unusual. These days it seems to be the centre of a thriving industry, with several shops in the grounds, as well as the cafe and weddings. Not to mention the biennial sculpture exhibition in the gardens….of which, more to follow…

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Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens

The Helm

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Kendal nestling in the hills.

A Saturday morning, during our May heatwave. A had another DofE practice – she and her companions walked from Windermere to Gilpin Bridge, with a camp en route at Great Tower Scout Camp. Our involvement mainly consists of hoping that her knee holds up, but she did first need dropping off at Oxenholme Station near Kendal.

Above Oxenholme there’s a small hill (185m) called The Helm, which I have long intended to climb without ever actually getting round to it. TBH was taking the boys to BJJ, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to put right that omission.

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A female Orange-tip. I think.

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An information board close to where I parked – just off the minor road north-west of the Helm – informed me that the rock underlying the hill was Silurian, which confused me: isn’t that a geological period rather than a type of rock? Anyway, that sparked my interest and an app on my phone informs me that the rock is ‘interbedded siltstone and mudstone’ which was indeed laid down during the Silurian period. I’ve always just assumed that the Helm was another of our little local limestone hills, but this makes it older than the Carboniferous rocks of its neighbours.

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Looking south along the ridge to Castlesteads. Arnside Knott in the distance.

The sign also informed that dogs should be kept on leads at all times to protect ground nesting birds. An edict which was cheerfully ignored by the many dog walkers who were out enjoying this splendid morning.

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The west side of the hill is a common and is laced with paths, but initially I stuck to the broad ridge, which had brilliant views.

In the photo above you can see what looks, at least, like a rampart of Castlesteads, an Iron Age hill-fort, which, according to Historic England, is an ‘exceptionally small’ example of its type.

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South from the top. Arnside Knott again and the Kent Estuary.

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Natland with Scout Scar beyond.

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Scout Hill and Farleton Fell.

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The view to the north-east.

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The western slopes were studded with Rowans just coming into flower.

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Helm panorama.

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A very modest walk, but highly enjoyable.

This…

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…is Benson Knott which lies north of The Helm and is another local hill I’ve been intending to climb for an absolute age. Soon…hopefully.

The Helm

With Heraclitus to Arnside

Post Office – The Lots – The Cove – Far Arnside – Park Point – White Creek – Blackstone Point – New Barns – Arnside – Gado Gado – Dobshall Wood – Arnside Knott – Arnside Tower – Eaves Wood

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“δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης.”

This is an oft-quoted statement from the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus which has been variously translated, but the consensus suggests something like:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice”

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It seems apposite here because, hard on the heels of my recent walk around the coast to Arnside, here I was repeating yet again one of my favourite walks in the area.

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Showers track across the Kent Estuary.

This was a very different walk however. Firstly, we began by walking in the wrong direction, posting a birthday card in the village and then looping back across the Lots. Secondly, I had company: Little S and I were off school together for a week. This wasn’t our only walk, we’d been out foraging for Ramson leaves to make soup, something Little S has always been keen to do. (There’s a recipe here in a previous post). And we’d also taken a small ball for a wander around The Lots – Little S is very keen to improve his catching and throwing at the moment – he takes his rugby coaches’ advice very seriously.

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Whitbarrow Scar catching some sunshine amongst the cloud.

The tide too was much further in and we had more difficulty crossing some of the little wet channels around the edges of the river than I had previously.

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Kent Viaduct.

And the weather was a complete contrast: although we had sunshine, we could see dark clouds and obvious showers tracking across the Kent ahead of us.

Another difference was that we had a destination for our walk – Gado Gado, a restaurant on the prom at Arnside. Little S enjoys spicy food, but since his brother doesn’t, he saw our week off together as an opportunity to indulge his tastes. We’d already had a vegetable curry, bread with jalapeño chillies in it with our Ramson soup, and I’d made a spicy roast vegetable dish and a rice and lentil pilaff.

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At Gado Gado we had Chicken Satay and Beef Rendang which were both delicious.

We were very fortunate with the showers, we managed to avoid them altogether, but just as we settled into our seats in the restaurant it began to rain outside.

Like Heraclitus, Little S is something of a philosopher and tends to fire out questions which are almost always off-the-wall, usually both amusing and thought-provoking and consistently undermine any ideas I might have about my status as parental-font-of-all-knowledge.

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I was feeling a little fitter than I have been and Little S was keen to return via the Knott. We took a circuitous route however, to take the sting out of the ascent.

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Arnside Knott view.

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S took advantage of my slow plod by climbing every tree that he could on route, including this one which seemed a bit flimsy and which shed twigs and small branches as he climbed it.

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The views from the Knott are always superb and more than repay the modicum of effort required to get to the top.

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Arnside Knott panorama. Click on the image, or any others, for larger versions on flickr.

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This tree, which is near to the trig pillar…

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…must have fallen over long ago, but has doggedly continued to grow, with all of its limbs  turning skyward and now it’s another great addition to Nature’s Playground.

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Silverdale Moss from Arnside Knott.

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Arnside Tower.

With Heraclitus to Arnside

If It’s Not Broke…

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The Thursday of half-term, the weather forecast was set fair, so we had decided to get out for a walk (well, four of us anyway, TBH was back at work, Cumbria having had their half-term a week earlier). I think it was Little S who first mooted a local stroll, pointing out the advantage of not wasting time in the car. So it was that we set off on a very familiar route: up to the Pepper Pot, via ‘The Climbing Tree’, around the coast…

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…and along the Kent to Arnside…

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For lunch in the Pie Shop, or the Old Bakery as I think it’s properly known (sadly, it transpires that they don’t do giant Scotch Eggs midweek much to my disappointment).

And then home over Arnside Knott.

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Arnside Knott Panorama – click on the photo, or any others, to see an enlarged version on flickr.

It’s a route we’ve walked, with slight variations, many, many times before, but so far none of us has tired of it. Photos of the kids in the tree at the top of the post are a staple of this blog; the tree hasn’t changed much over the last ten years, not the kids enthusiasm for climbing in it or swinging from its limbs. When they were tiny, I worried that when they were older they would be climbing way out of sight and terrifying me, but although they still like to climb it, they don’t seem any more intrepid now than they were then, not that I am complaining. In fact, when she was just a tot, A climbed along that left-hand branch to well past where B is sat in the picture and then declared herself stuck, and I had a merry time coaxing her down. It’s good that they still enjoy clambering around in trees, although I did get a bit chilled on the Knott waiting for them whilst they explored the possibilities of a tree they hadn’t climbed before. At least I had the view to distract me from the cold.

Elsewhere, we found great piles of leaves and B found some pretext, an imagined slight, to begin a leaf war, so we charged around kicking them into the air and just occasionally managing to successfully shower them over another member of the party. Another childish pleasure which they haven’t grown out of. And, to be fair, neither have I it seems.

 

 

 

If It’s Not Broke…

How Do I Get Down?

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We were at Fellfoot park with a bunch of friends from the village, for the annual church picnic. To us the park has become Fell-ten-foot Park because of Little S’s unfortunate experience here: our family has track record with tree-climbing accidents. I spotted A high in the tree and decided to take a photo. She managed a smile, as you can see, but was hissing at me, not wanting to attract the attention of our friends, but wanting a private word with me:

“I don’t think I can get down.”

After taking this ideal opportunity to lecture a captive audience on the inadvisability of climbing anything you aren’t absolutely sure you can definitely climb back down, I relented and helped her find the good footholds on the knobbly trunk which she was having difficulty picking out from above.

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The weather was very changeable and would eventually have us abandoning our idea of a barbecue in the park. However, this didn’t deter The Tower Captain from taking his Mirror Dinghy for a row…

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…or the boys and their friend E from swimming to the far bank. This was some feat, because, after rain, this bottom end of Windermere has quite a strong current.

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A and I also took one of our inflatable canoes out, which she described as ‘extremely relaxing’; presumably much more enjoyable than being stuck up a tree.

I chatted to a National Trust volunteer about photographs of camping pods which were on display and she told me that the plan is for the Park to become a campsite, or perhaps, in part a campsite. Apparently it has been one in the past. The Trust’s campsite at Low Wray, at the far end of the lake, was fully booked for the entirety of August when I tried to make a booking, so more capacity for camping on the lake shore seems like a sensible plan.

How Do I Get Down?

Levens Deer Park and Force Falls

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Force Falls River Kent.

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Bullfinch.

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River Kent.

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Avenue of trees (Oaks and Sweet Chestnuts).

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A hollow tree (one of many).

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Bagot Goats.

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River Kent.

This little outing has appeared on the blog many times before. These photos are from the Monday immediately after our Howgill camping trip. A had dance lessons, which meant I had a two hour window and this walk proved to be easily manageable in that time frame, actually with time to spare without hurrying unduly. A perfect, peaceful leg stretcher.

Levens Deer Park and Force Falls

A Corvid Walk

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Later in the day, after my walk from Brockhole, with the weather now much improved, I was out for another stroll, a standard Hagg Wood, Silverdale Green, Stankelt Lane and across the Lots to the Cove wander.

The trees were absolutely full of small birds, but whilst they were very easy to hear, they were much less easy to see. The Oak above had a family of Blue Tits, which tantalised me by briefly showing themselves then hopping about in the branches, mostly obscured by leaves.

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The Sycamore helicopters which only recently appeared have changed colour already and are now tinged with red.

I watched these two Crows for a while.

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Shortly after I took this first photo, the Crow at the front leant a little too far forward, over-balanced and did an involuntary forward-roll, then sprang back-up and comically continued as if nothing had happened.

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Of course, I’m anthropomorphising, but it’s almost impossible, I suspect, not to project human emotions on to animals when you watch them going about their daily business.

Jackdaws can regularly be found in certain places in the area: Trowbarrow, Arnside Tower, the quarry on Warton Crag. I’ve realised recently that Stankelt Road is another such venue. These chimney pots had four birds perched on them…

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But when all four had flown away, perhaps unnerved by my attention, I could still hear the sounds of Jackdaws from that direction…

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There were more birds in the chimney pots! I think that these are juvenile birds sitting in nests. Some hopped out for a look around…

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…and a bit of an explore…

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When I lived around the corner on Emesgate Lane, I used to get a lot of squawking and detritus down my own chimney, most memorably an abundance of cherry seeds one summer. I suppose that may well have been Jackdaws too.

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A Corvid Walk