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.

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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

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Hagg Wood – Clifftop Path – Wolf House – Jack Scout – Lindeth Road

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Bank Holiday Monday, as is so often the case, was a bit of a wash-out, weather-wise at least. What better way, then, to spend a wet day in May than chatting and playing daft games with old friends?

The Shandy Sherpa and The Beach Funster and I did escape for a shopping trip, incorporating a wander to The Cove and across The Lots.

These photos are from the day after, when the weather improved somewhat.

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These Sycamore keys – ‘helicopters’ when I was a nipper – have appeared on the Mystery Tree, or perhaps I should say Former Mystery Tree, which is by Hagg Wood.

I’ve been mulling over an idea on recent walks about why I prefer Spring to Summer, or at least one reason why I do. In Spring there’s an orderly progression of events: Snowdrops appear in the lanes and then in the woods by Hawes Water; then I expect to see Daffodils, Toothwort and Green Hellebore in short order; swallows will arrive around my birthday, Beech leaves shortly after. I know what to expect, roughly when to expect it and where I might find things. The changes are familiar, and reassuring, and limited in number.

But when summer comes around, I can’t keep up. There are new flowers everywhere, in profusion and a myriad of forms, many of which I can’t identify. One moment the new oaks leaves are yellow and wrinkly, the next they’re lush and green and obscuring the birds in the trees. Changes seem to happen at a bewildering rate. It’s not that I don’t like Summer, it’s just that I wish it would take its time a little more.

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Gibraltar Farm.

Anyway, this is now sounding like a moan, which wasn’t really my intention and which doesn’t fit at all with these photos from what was really a very pleasant stroll down to Jack Scout to watch the sunset.

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Swallows by Gibraltar Farm.

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Blackbird.

Except I missed the sunset: by the time I’d walked around the landward side of the field and reached the clifftop at the southern end of the site, the sun had already disappeared. The after show was pretty good though.

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In among all of the Foxgloves, which seem to have crept up on me and arrived tall and all-grown-up without warning, there was a single specimen with white flowers…

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Less whinging in the next post, I promise.

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Helicopters

Teesdale – an Embarrassment of Riches

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Low Force.

Make a cup of tea, maybe grab a biscuit to dunk or an apple to crunch: this is a long one with a lot of pictures, but I think it’s worth a few moments of your time. OK, settled, ready? Then we’ll begin.

I’ve mentioned before that when I read John Fisher’s ‘Wild Flowers in Danger’ last year, and realised that many of the flowers in the book grow reasonably nearby, I resolved to make an effort to see some of those flowers this year. This trip was planned to, hopefully, find one of those rarities. Once I’d decided to drive up to Teesdale, I searched my bookshelves, wondering whether I might have a book with a suitable route to follow. I found one in Christopher Somerville’s ‘Somerville’s 100 Best British Walks’. (It is, I realise now, an anthology of walks from The Torygraph – you can find the Teesdale one here.) Somerville’s description made me all the more determined to come this way, but I really wanted to incorporate High Force and so devised a longer version. Then I decided I couldn’t omit Low Force, so extended the walk again. The trouble was, I already had things to do in the early evening, so an early start was necessary. I was walking just after seven (after a drive of about an hour and a half, mostly through rain, wondering what I was playing at.)

I parked in the picnic area near the visitor centre at Bowlees. They have a ‘donate and display’ scheme, an excellent idea I thought. As I arrived, the rain cleared and the sun began to shine, just as the forecast had predicted, although a little earlier than I had anticipated.

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This is Wynch Bridge, just below Low Force. I have a picture of my Dad here (well actually he has it) taken in April 1985 when we walked the Pennine Way together. He was a little younger then than I am now, a sobering thought, and like me, he had a white beard, although his was temporary, tolerated only until we returned home from Kirk Yetholm.

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Because I had a relatively long walk planned, and wanted to get home reasonably early, I knew that I couldn’t afford to hang around taking lots of photographs.

Some chance! There were just too many distractions.

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Low Force again.

In the first instance, the falls and the river. Low Force and High Force are the consequences of volcanic activity:

“High Force is a great place to see the famous Whin Sill. This is a layer of a hard, dark rock called dolerite, known locally as ‘whinstone’. The Whin Sill formed about 295 million years ago, when molten rock at over 1000°C rose up from within the Earth and spread out between layers of limestone, sandstone and shale. The molten rock cooled and solidified underground to form a flat sheet of rock, known as a ‘sill’. After millions of years of erosion the Whin Sill is now exposed at the Earth’s surface, forming dramatic landscape features such as High Force”

Source

Then, there was an absolute abundance of wild flowers. Some familiar: Bluebells, Wood Anemones, Primroses, Marsh Marigolds, Pignut, Early Purple Orchids…

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White-lipped Banded Snail.

Some less familiar, like this Globe Flower…

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It’s a kind of buttercup, but is relatively tall and has quite large flowers. It’s found in the north, mainly in wet, upland, limestone meadows.

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There were lots of birds too, many singing from the trees by the river, Lapwings and Curlews in the meadows, Dippers, Oystercatchers and Sandpipers by the river.

I have a strong feeling that this…

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..is a Garden Warbler, but the only thing I can say categorically is that it wasn’t a Chiff-chaff, its song was far too musical.

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Cowslips.

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Curlew.

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More Globe Flowers.

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Water Avens.

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More Cowslips.

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Common Sandpiper.

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I was surprised to see this Scurvy Grass here (the other flower is Cuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock). I thought that Scurvy Grass was a plant confined to coastal locations, but I think that this is Mountain Scurvygrass – the leaves are a slightly different shape from Common Scurvygrass.

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Even more Globe Flowers.

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When I was a boy, Lapwings – or Peewits as we called them – were a common farmland bird. Even then numbers were in decline and sadly that decline has continued. We’re fortunate to still see them close to home, and in the fields and skies around Roeburndale they had been present in great numbers.

But in Teesdale they were not only plentiful, but also less wary about human visitors.

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I took lots of photos of this individual, and as I did so, it moved towards me, not away as I would have expected.

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Rabbits too were both numerous…

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…and less wary than those I usually encounter.

This…

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…I’m hoping, is yet another phenomena which I’ve noticed several times over the years: when I manage to put a name to something, or notice it for the first time close to home, I then find that it is much more common than I previously realised. It happened with Bee Flies, Eyebright, Gatekeeper butterflies and I could probably quote a host of other instances if I put my mind to it. The surprising thing about this is that each of these things was apparently invisible to me for a period before I suddenly cottoned on to its presence. Now I think the same thing may happen with Wild Privet (supposing that is what this is!).

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What’s this ball of fluff?

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A fledgling Lapwing, watched over by a cautious parent.

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Bugle.

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Lady’s Mantle.

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Mountain Pansy.

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I came across Mountain Pansies several times during the day, at various altitudes. They were numerous and very variable in colour. Sadly, many of my photos didn’t come out too sharply.

As I approached High Force, I entered England’s largest Juniper woodland.

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I’ve never thought of an area of Junipers as woodland before, but I suppose it is. This one was rumbustiously alive with bird song, but the songsters were very well hidden on the whole. Only this Song Thrush showed itself for more than a brief moment.

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I’m hoping that somebody can help me with an identification for this tree. It was growing through a Juniper. I suppose it superficially resembles Elder, but I don’t think it is Elder.

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Sadly, the Junipers are under threat from a disease which is killing them off. At either end of the wood there were boot cleaning stations to be used as you exit, to stop the spread of the disease.

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I saw several Junipers with these orange fungal fruiting bodies on them and wondered whether this might be the pathogen.

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It isn’t, but I’m glad I photographed it, because these are telial horns of one of the species of Gymnosporangium. These fungi infect Junipers, produce these fruiting bodies which release spores which go on to infect a different plant: apples, pears, hawthorn, rowans…trees which are all from the same family (and a different species for each different species of Gymnosporangium, I think). There they produce a rust, galls on the leaves and then new fruiting bodies which produce spores which complete the life cycle by infecting Junipers. A parasite with alternating host species – where is the evolutionary advantage there?

Down below the Junipers, this…

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…had me puzzled. But I think it is a white flowered Bugle. Is that possible?

I’d finally reached High Force…

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Ironically, this view was taken from behind a safety barrier, but at the top of the waterfall, I could lean out and take a view straight over the drop…

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Just beyond High Force I witnessed a family meal for four. I actually thought I was watching some sort of territorial dispute, so aggressive were these juvenile Dippers.

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They kept up a constant racket and shook those stubby wings angrily.

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Eventually, one of the adults took some time out to preen itself close to the river bank…

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This was close to the incongruous scar of Dine Holm Quarry.

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The path climbed away from the rive for a while, on Bracken Rigg, before dropping down to the farm at Cronkley.

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Green Hill Scar and Cronkley Scar.

The meadows here were resplendent with a yellow wash of Marsh Marigolds.

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I had my first human interaction of the day here, a cheery wave from a very happy looking young lad driving a piece of farm machinery. (It wasn’t big enough to be a tractor, but a bit too big to be a quad bike so…I’m not sure what to call it.)

In the riverside meadows here there were several Redshanks…

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High House and the Scars again.

And lots of Lapwings…

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I also spotted a male Reed Bunting…

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The next long stretch by the river as it curved around Cronkley Fell was every bit as superb for birdwatching as the earlier sections had been, but with a definite change in the kind of birds showing.

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I think this is a Meadow Pippit.

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I would have missed this Frog, but for the fact that it took an extravagant leap into a sidestream as I crossed it, splashing very conspicuously.

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Common Sandpiper again (okay, not all of the birds were different).

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Wheatear.

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I’m even more convinced (i.e. almost convinced) that this is a Meadow Pippit. There were actually two birds which flew along the edge of the river ahead of me.

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More Bird’s-eye Primroses.

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Falcon Clints.

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Raven Scar and Fox Earths.

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Looking back down on Falcom Clints and the River Tees.

I finally left the river for the short climb to Man Gate and onto Cronkley Fell. It was here that I hoped to spot the rare flowers I had set out to find, but I had already enjoyed my walk so much that I decided that if they proved hard to find, I would be none-the-less happy about my decision to come this way.

In the event, I could hardly miss them…

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Spring Gentians.

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On Cronkley Fell several areas are fenced off to protect the flora, presumably from sheep and rabbits.

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The gentians are present here because of the Sugar Limestone…

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A metamorphic rock which has been crystallised by volcanic activity. It produces a fine, granular, almost sandy soil.

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I think that these tiny, delicate flowers…

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…are Spring Sandwort, such a good indicator of the presence of lead that it was also once known as Leadwort.

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More Mountain Pansies.

We are lucky at home, we have Bird’s-eye Primroses flowering nearby, right on the southern limit of their range. But I’ve never seen them growing in such profusion as they were here…

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I tried, unsuccessfully, to find a place sufficiently out of the wind to make it feasible to get my stove lit for a brew. Since I couldn’t, I rattled on, heading back down towards Bracken Rigg.

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Dropping down Birk Rigg I met a couple of walkers, the first I’d spoken to all day. It was around noon – these are lonely moors.

Well, they had been. I was vacillating: should I head back down Bracken Rigg and retrace my steps along the river, or vary the route by continuing along the higher moorland path. I’d enjoyed the riverside path so much that I was very tempted to follow that course, but just as I reached the path junction, a huge party came along the Pennine Way towards me from the river; I changed my mind and stuck with the higher path.

If I hadn’t I probably wouldn’t have seen…

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…this, which I think is a Golden Plover. The only reason I’m unsure is that all of my books show that black patch on the belly extending all the way up to the face. But this is summer breeding plumage, so perhaps this is a transition phase.

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An unusual stile.

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Holwick Scars.

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Holwick.

I turned out of Holwick on a minor lane heading back down towards Bowlees. A small, grey raptor landed in a tree ahead. It was gone almost as quickly with a lapwing in hafl-hearted attendance. It had something clutched in its claws. A Lapwing chick? It occurred to me later that this might have been a Merlin?

The hedge bottom by this same lane had a superb display of very tall Water Avens.

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This Common Carder Bee was enjoying the Water Avens too. Moving with great agility from one flower to the next, without flying.

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Lovely colours!

As I arrived back at Low Force…

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I found myself quickly stripping off layers – it had been sunny for much of the morning, but now it was finally warming up.

I had thought at one point that I might struggle to get back for my later engagement, but now found that I unexpectedly had time for a bite of late lunch at the Visitor Centre…

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I ate outside by a busy flowerbed…

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…with bird-feeders just beyond.

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Nuthatch.

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Siskins.

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What a day!

And it wasn’t over yet: the reason I wanted to get home early was that The John Verity Band were playing at Five O’Clock in the Silverdale Hotel and we’d promised the kids we would take them. (It’s not often a former member of Argent plays in the pub around the corner – and if you know who Argent were, then you are showing your age). In the event, the kids made us leave at the interval – in some sort of weird role-reversal they complained that it was ‘too loud’. I was really enjoying myself. Fortunately, it seems that the band will be returning to the Lower House later this year, maybe more than once.

Teesdale

Teesdale – an Embarrassment of Riches