A brief interlude from Wainwright-bagging for a throwback post from the days when I used to do local walks! The walk was short, with hardly any up and down, and all the photos, taken with my camera not my phone, are of wildflowers not mountain views.
I wanted to visit the largest patch of Green Hellebore I know, in Middlebarrow Wood. I was late this year in going to see them, which you can tell because the flowers already have large pea-like seed-pods protruding from them.
I’m reasonably confident that these are Wych Elm seeds. Wych Elm seems pretty common locally. Other Elms have similar seeds, so I could be wrong, but Wych Elm grows further north than other species and is also more resilient to Dutch Elm disease.
As a butterfly fanatic, it’s good to see these trees doing well locally because the White-letter Hairstreak is solely reliant on Elms, it’s the food-plant of the caterpillar and apparently they thrive on Wych Elms particularly.
Not that I’ve seen many White-letter Hairstreaks though, just the one in fact. They’re usually quite elusive because they tend to be high in the trees.
I’m sure I’ve read, somewhere, that you shouldn’t identify Willows just from their catkins, but I think, thanks to this very handy guide, that these photos all show Goat Willow catkins. It should be easy to check, since other willow species in Britain seem to all have thin leaves whereas Goat Willow leaves are rounded.
Goat Willow is a dioecious plant, with each tree having either male or female flowers. Dioecious is one of the many botanical terms I’ve learned as a consequence of writing this blog. It’s a shame that my family won’t play me at Scrabble, because that would be a handy word to have up your sleeve when you end up with a fistful of low-scoring vowels.
Goat Willow, if these are Goat Willow, is one of the species also known as Pussy Willow, because of the hairy nature of the male catkins.
A post to (almost) clear-up November. On three successive weekends TBH and I got out for short local walks. Here she is on what was evidently a glorious Sunday at the Pepper Pot.
The week before, the day after my exhausting wander around Gait Barrows in the sun, we completed our standard Jenny Brown’s circuit.
It was a grey day and the only photographs I took were of these large toadstools growing on a tree in Sharp’s Lot.
On the final weekend in November A had a challenging journey, during storm Arwen, to collect B and I from a do at Kirkby Rugby club. Then, at around 2am, TBH and I were out in the gale, dismantling the trampoline which had begun the evening at the bottom of the garden, but which was now flying around our patio (which is several feet higher than the lawn where it started). The storm did quite a bit of damage – knocking out the downpipe from our gutters, moving a shed a few inches, destroying a section of fence as well as a gate etc. What’s more, we were without electricity for a quite a while – not quite 24 hours.
The path through the fields behind the house was closed due to felled telephone and powerlines, but since I could see all of the fallen lines, and avoid them, I decided to go that way anyway. One of the line of oaks had fallen…
And another, larger oak was down in the fields between Bottom’s Lane and The Row…
It was quite sad to see these trees, which I’ve photographed so many times, so swiftly destroyed.
We were actually meant to be away on this Sunday – TBH had managed to transfer our hotel booking from our postponed anniversary celebration a month before. But we didn’t get off until after dark, because B had an emergency appointment due to a suspected broken nose – a rugby injury. We might as well have gone anyway: the doctor told B that, since his breathing wasn’t affected, he could get his nose straightened out when he stops playing rugby, but not before.
Anyway, we did eventually get away – more about our brief trip in my next post.
The first full day of our staycation was TJF’s birthday. Accordingly, Andy had a day of delights meticulously planned. The Herefordshire Hominids, and our kids, all enjoy climbing, swinging, dangling and sliding in tree-top adventure playgrounds. So we had Go-Ape booked in Grizedale forest.
I have neither the physique nor the temperament for such antics. TBH has been known to join in, but on this occasion opted to keep me company. We had loaded our heavy e-bikes onto Andy’s very sturdy bike-carrier and, whilst the others were monkeying about, went for a ride around one of the forest’s bike trails.
We chose The Hawkshead Moor Trail, which, after some fairly relentless climbing, gave brilliant views of the Coniston Fells…
And then the Langdale Pikes too…
Better with or without the Rosebay Willow Herb? I couldn’t decide.
We’d actually considered hiring e-mountain bikes but they were very pricey. We did meet quite a few people riding them and they were clearly higher-powered then our bikes, seemingly making the ascents virtually effortless.
Never-the-less, we knocked off the trail in around an hour-and-a-half, not the stated two-and-a-half, so we had some more time to kill prior to our planned rendezvous with our Arboreal Allies. We decided to have a go at the Grizedale Tarn Trail, with the perhaps predictable result that both of our batteries ran out of fizz.
Carrying-on without power was a non-starter as far as I was concerned. We found a path which seemed to be heading in the right direction (i.e. downhill) and walked the bikes across a couple of fields, before having to manhandle them over a gate (quite challenging), leaving a short, steep, stoney descent back to the visitor’s centre. TBH wasn’t keen so I rode both bikes down in turn.
The next element of Andy’s cunning plan was a drive (along some very ‘interesting’ narrow lanes) to Brown Howe car park on the shore of Coniston Water for a swim. I’m not sure to what extent it made us smell any sweeter, which was Andy’s stated intention, but it was a very refreshing dip, with great views of the surrounding fells.
Finally, to round-off a fabulous day, Andy had booked a table at Betulla’s an ‘Italian-inspired’ restaurant in Ulverston. I can’t speak highly enough of the meal we had there. Mine was battered calamari followed by hunter’s chicken which came served with bolognese sauce so tasty that I’ve decided next time we visit I shall just choose the bolognese. Everybody else’s meals looked great too. I gather the cocktails were rather good as well.
I hope that TJF enjoyed her day. I know that I did. With hindsight, it stands out as one of my highlights of the year. I’m considering hiring Andy to plan my Birthdays in future.
The title pretty much sums it up. Photos from lots of different local walks, taken during the second half of October. I was aware that some people were beginning to travel a little further afield for their exercise, but somehow my own radius of activity seemed to shrink to local favourite spots not too far from the village.
This is my mate D and his pug. I often meet him when I’m out for a local walk. I think I’ve mentioned before how much bumping into neighbours whilst out and about has helped during the lockdown in all of it guises.
I can’t remember exactly when this happened – let’s assume it was October: I bumped into a chap carrying a fair bit of camera gear in Eaves Wood. He asked if he was going the right way to the Pepper Pot. He was. I saw him again on the top. It turned out he’s working on a book, one in a series, about where to take photos from in the North-West. Based in Lancaster, he’d never been to the Pepper Pot before. Funny how that can happen. Cloud had rolled in and the chances of a decent sunset looked a bit poor. I saw him again, a few weeks later, this time he’d set up his camera and tripod a little further West, in a spot I’d suggested. I hope he got his sunset.
The brown cow at the back here is a bull. I’d walked through the fields on Heald Brow where they were grazing a few times and he’d never batted an eyelid. But on this day he and a few of his harem where stationed in a gateway. I was considering my options and wondering whether to turn back, but when I got within about 50 yards the bull suddenly started to run. At quite a canter. Fortunately, it was away from me and not towards – he was obviously even more of a wuss than me!
I decided that the best way to make the most of sometimes limited windows at weekends was to head out in the middle of the day and to eat somewhere on my walk. This bench overlooking the Kent Estuary was a particular favourite. Haven’t been there for a while now – must rectify that.
One route into Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve leaves Red Bridge Lane, crosses a small field and then the railway line and then you are into another field, but this one s part of the reserve. Cross that field and you come to a gate in a hedge beside which stands this big old Ash tree.
As I approached the tree, I could see, on the trunk, an adult Nuthatch passing food to a fledgling. I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo, but then watched the pair for quite a while, taking lots of, mostly unsatisfactory, pictures.
Both birds were on the move, but more so the adult which moved both faster and more widely around the tree. The youngster seemed to be foraging for itself, whilst also emitting high-pitched squeals to encourage the parent to keep it supplied with tasty grubs. Their meetings were so brief that this is the only one I captured, and even then the exchange of food had already happened here.
This is the juvenile. I’m sure of that fact, but can’t really put my finger on why I’m so confident. I suppose, like a lot of juveniles, it’s a little smaller and dumpier, its colours slightly duller. I think the eye-stripe is shorter and not quite so bold. Looking for some confirmation in my bird books, I came across a distribution map, from a book published in 1988, which shows Nuthatches as absent from this area and only resident further south. I’m quite surprised by that, because when I moved to this area, just a few years after that publication date, one of the first things that struck me was how often I spotted Nuthatches, a bird which, until then, I had only seen relatively infrequently. I see that the RSPB website has a map which shows that they have subsequently extended their range into southern Scotland.
There was a Starling flitting in and out of the tree too and a Kestrel hovering above the field beyond.
Once I was into the woods near Hawes Water I watched several more Nuthatches. All adult birds I think, but all equally busy and perhaps seeking food for nestlings or fledglings too. I took lots more photos, but in the woods there was even more shade than there had been under the Ash and they’re all slightly blurred.
Common Blue Damselfly
The flowers of Common Gromwell are hardly showy, but they have succeeded in attracting this very dark bee…
…at least it’s a bee, but it’s colouring doesn’t quite seem to match any Bumblebee, so I’m a bit puzzled. Any ideas?
A crow by Hawes Water.
In the meadow beyond Hawes Water I was very pleased to spot a single Northern Marsh-orchid.
I assume that this is a day-flying moth. There were loads of them in the meadow, obvious in flight, but then apparently disappearing. I realised that they were folding their wings and hugging grass stems and were then very difficult to spot. I have two photos of this specimen and both seem to show that its head is a tiny hairy outside broadcast microphone, which seems a bit unlikely.
There are huge warrens and large numbers of rabbits at Gait Barrows. Every now and again, you see a black rabbit in amongst the crowds; a genetic remnant of an escaped domestic pet?
I think that this is a female Northern Damselfly, and am now wondering if the ‘Red-eyed’ damselflies I posted pictures of recently were the same. Maybe.
With more certainty, this is a Northern Brown Argus. I’ve pored over this guide, and for once, the ocelli seem to exactly match, making me feel more confident than usual.
Anyway, what ever species it is it looked pretty cool with its wings closed and even better…
…with them open. In most guides these are brown and orange butterflies; I suspect that the rich variety of colours on display here is due to the deterioration of the scales on the wings, but, truth be told, I don’t really know.
There were several Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries around. Two in particular kept me entertained for quite some time.
One soon decided to settle down and tried out a few likely looking perches, without moving very far.
The other was flitting about far more, now close by…
…then ranging a bit further, then back again. I thought the first had chosen a final spot, although, looking again, you can see that it’s feeding here…
…not that I can see a flower. Maybe drinking?
The second SPBF was still haring about…
Every now and again it would ‘bounce’ the settled butterfly, which at first would provoke a brief flight, then progressively less energetic wing-flapping until almost no response followed; just a short of dismissive shrug.
Eventually, the second butterfly found a perch and stopped moving too. I’ve watched a SPBF do this in the late afternoon once before. I didn’t realise that was so long ago!
Late afternoon light on Gait Barrows limestone pavement.
Another portmanteau with photos from various days and walks.
I spent ages photographing a wide assortment of bees on a cotoneaster in our garden. I’ve noticed whilst walking through the village that bees seem to go mad for cotoneasters; every one I’ve passed has been thronged. The light wasn’t ideal and bees will dodge about, so this is the only sharpish picture. And it’s of….a white-tailed bumblebee, or a northern white-tailed bumblebee, or a cryptic bumblebee or a buff-tailed bumblebee. Apparently, the workers of all four species are virtually indistinguishable, and it may require a DNA test to separate them. I haven’t quite got the lab set up yet, so it will have to remain a mystery.
I keep seeing a coal tit, or possibly different coal tits, dipping in and out of the drystone wall across the track from home, but it isn’t the same hole each time, so maybe there’s something tasty in there, rather than a nest? I am pretty sure that there are both great tits and coal tits nesting either in, or near, our garden because there seems to be a constant chattering of young and I’ve frequently seen both kinds of tits carrying food into shrubs by our neighbour’s fence.
This is my flagrant attempt to plagiarise a photo I saw of the orchids on the Lots by a local photographer. His picture was absolutely stunning. I shall have to try again another time. I think I probably shouldn’t have had the setting sun actually in the picture.
The Bay from the Cove.
This is the tree, in the corner of a field close to home, in which I watched a tree-creeper earlier in the spring. It’s a lime, I don’t know which kind, but I have found how how to tell – it’s all down to the hairs on the underside of the leaves apparently. I shall probably check tomorrow.
All three of our native species have their own mite which infests the leaves and induces them to produce these lime nail galls. (In the process of finding this out I’ve discovered a book “Britain’s Plant Galls: a Photographic Guide” – so tempting!)
I took lots more, mostly blurred, photos of roe deer in mid-May. Most often, I saw them in pairs, like these two. I wish I could remember where I saw them.
Post sunset from Castlebarrow.
And from the Lots.
Around this time, when we should have been camping in Wasdale, we had out first zoom quiz with our camping cronies. I think we’ve had four now. It’s no substitute for sitting around a camp fire after a day in the hills and a barbecue, but it’s a lot better than not seeing each other at all. Better yet, we have volunteers to write the next two quizzes. The Silverdale posse are surely due a win.
I can’t claim responsibility for this screen shot and I hope nobody objects to me using it. It occurs to me, looking at it again, that we may be falling down, as a quiz team, due to a significant lack of headgear.
A speedwell. I don’t think it’s germander, the leaves were wrong. But I’m not sure what it is. It was tiny.
This footpath sign is looking decidedly worse for wear.
A magnificent copper beech near Hollins Lane.
I thought these looked a bit exuberant for cowslips. I now realise but they are false oxlips, a hybrid of primrose’s and cowslips. There is a separate plant, the oxlip, but that isn’t found in the northwest.
The plants are tall like cowslips, but the flowers look more like primroses and radiate around the top of the stem rather than drooping all on one side as cowslips usually do.
…here are some shy and retiring cowslips.
…which I saw a little further into the walk, are a bit more vivacious but still not as boisterous as the false oxlips.
Early Purple Orchid.
Carnforth saltmarsh and the Forest of Bowland from Heald Brown.
I was heading for Jenny Browns Point, with the aim of crossing the sands of the miniature bay between Know Point and Park Point.
On Heald Brow many of the grassland flowers had appeared.
Although the wildflower key tells me that tormentil flowers from June to September, I’m pretty sure that this is tormentil flowering in early May.
A buttercup, I don’t know which kind.
Speckled wood butterfly.
Warton Crag and Quicksand Pool.
A small group of greylag geese were sunning themselves on the far bank of quicksand pool. Most moved as I approached, but this one…
…gave me a steady stare…
…then had a leisurely stretch as if to say, “Don’t flatter yourself that I’m moving on your account. ”
Before strolling away nonchalantly.
You can see where I was heading almost dead centre in the photo above. I weaved a bit to investigate any foreign looking objects. Lord knows what this was or where it had come from.
On Heathwaite, I tried a slender path which I haven’t followed before. It gave tantalising views of the sands I had recently crossed.
Eventually I reached the more familiar viewpoint by the bench. That’s Know Point right of centre, so you can see part of my route across the sands.
Nothing – and I mean, really, absolutely nothing – is more extraordinary in Britain than the beauty of the countryside. Nowhere in the world is there a landscape that has been more intensively utilised – more mined, farmed, quarried, covered with cities and clanging factories, threaded with motorways and railway lines – and yet remains so comprehensively and reliably lovely over most of its extent. It is the happiest accident in history. In terms of natural wonders, you know, Britain is a pretty unspectacular place. It has no alpine peaks or broad rift valleys, no mighty gorges or thundering cataracts. It is built to really quite a modest scale. And yet with a few unassuming natural endowments, a great deal of time and an unfailing instinct for improvement, the makers of Britain created the most superlatively park-like landscapes, the most orderly cities, the handsomest provincial towns , the jauntiest seaside resorts, the stateliest homes, the most dreamily spired, cathedral-rich, castle-strewn, abbey-bedecked, folly-scattered, green-wooded, winding-laned, sheep-dotted, plumply-hedgerowed, well-tended, sublimely decorated 50,318 square miles the world has ever known – almost none of it undertaken with aesthetics in mind, but all of it adding up to something that is, quite often, perfect. What an achievement that is.
I have three books on the go at the moment: I’m still reading ‘The Age of Absurdity’ by Michael Foley, I’m well into ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’ by Bill Bryson and I’ve recently started ‘Damned’ by Chuck Palahniuk, of ‘Fight Club’ fame. No prizes for guessing which of the three the quote comes from. I’m a big fan of Mr Bryson – Little Dribbling has a mixture of curious facts, lyrical description and curmudgeonly comedy which I’m finding very absorbing. He does repeat himself a little – he often expresses a fondness for our path network for example, but I’m ready to forgive him that.
Kent Estuary from The Knott.
I’m enjoying ‘Damned’, but probably shouldn’t have read another humorous book so hard on the heels of ‘A Pelican at Blandings’ and ‘Service with a Smile’. Palahniuk is witty, but he’s not Wodehouse.
Lakeland Fells from the Knott.
Whitbarrow Scar. The tree on the right is a Lancashire Whitebeam…
…with silvery leaves.
Later, I defied the lockdown to go out a second time and walk to the end of the lane, about 260 yards perhaps…
….the evening light was lighting the church and the stratus (?)…
I think my eyes were functioning okay.
Two unlikely covers today. First up, Baby Charles’ cover of The Arctic Monkey’s ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’.
And then World Domination Enterprises’ decidedly lo-fi, noise-fest cover of Lipps Inc’s ‘Funkytown’
It was either this or their classic ‘Asbestos Lead Asbestos’. Terrific live band. (In the 80s: I have no idea what they are up to now!)
Aquilegia or columbine. It’s in our garden here – but it is a British wildflower.
The beech circle.
Middlebarrow Quarry – or The Lost World. ‘Every time I see it, I expect to see dinosaurs’, B tells me. I know what he means.
Middlebarrow aerial shelduck display team.
“Keep the formation tight as we come in to land.”
“Quick breather, squadron, and we’re off again.”
Of course, having seen a peregrine once, I now keep going back to peer over the lip into the vast quarry at Middlebarrow expecting lightening to strike twice. It hasn’t. I do keep seeing the close formation aerial skills of the shelducks though. Lord knows why they feel compelled to circuit the quarry so obsessively.
This small plaque is on a house near home. I’m sure I’ve posted a picture of it before. But now I’ve learned that it’s a fire insurance sign – showing which insurance company the house was registered with. It seems more like something you might expect to see in a more urban location, but maybe this is an antique which has been added since the signs were rendered obsolete by the inception of a national fire service? The house is very close to our small fire station, which is manned by retained fire fighters, so they should be okay if the worst happens.
The Bay from The Cove.
Ransoms flowering in the small copse above the Cove.
Orchids on the Lots.
Early purple orchid.
Orange-tip butterfly on cuckoo-flower.
A bedraggled peacock butterfly.
Gooseberry flowers. I think.
The skies above Eaves Wood.
It annoys me, more than it should, that I can never remember the names given to the various types of clouds. All sorts of stupid trivia is securely lodged in my brain, but even though I’ve read a couple of books on the subject, clouds just don’t seem to want to stick. I thought that if I tried to label the clouds in my photos, maybe I would start to remember a few at least. The fluffy white ones above Eaves Wood here are cumulus, right? Although, maybe some stratocumulus behind.
And I assume these wispy ones are cirrus.
And this is maybe cirrocumulus.
But then….? Altocumulus and cirrus?
Hmmm. More effort required, I think.
Oak tree in full summer garb.
Bit obvious I know. But good.
And, completely unrelated, as far as I know…
…the opening track from one of my favourite albums, which I was introduced to by THO, who often comments here, and which I shall always associate with a superb holiday which was split, quixotically, between the French Alps and the Brittany coast.
Consider the other kingdoms. The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals. Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze. Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be. Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.
Another item from my list was ‘read more poetry’ a goal which I have singularly failed to meet.
New beech leaves.
It’s usually at this time of year that I become most enthusiastic about poetry, habitually scanning through my e.e.cummings collection, looking for something new about spring to furnish a post full of photographs of the usual collection of my favourite springtime images. Newly emerged beech leaves, for example.
This year cummings should have had a run for his money because I’ve acquired large collections by Frost, MacCaig and Oliver all of which I was very keen to dip in to.
However, I have been reading ‘War and Peace’, another item from my list, which has turned out to be pretty all-consuming. Fortunately, I’d already read quite a chunk of the Mary Oliver collection before I completely submerged in Tolstoy.
My first speckled wood butterfly of the year.
I’ve finished now. Well, I say I’ve finished; in fact I have a handful of pages of the epilogue left still to read. Which probably seems a bit odd, but in the last 50 or so pages Tolstoy abandons his characters (again) and turns back to tub-thumping. Historians have all got it wrong and he is just the man to set them straight.
Speckled wood butterfly – my first of the year, looking newly minted.
Don’t get me wrong: although it took a while, I was completely hooked by the book and really enjoyed the various intertwined stories of the characters. But there are many lengthy historical sections about the stupidity, vanity and in-fighting of generals which are not so interesting. In particular, Tolstoy is at pains to dismiss any notion that Napoleon was is any way a military genius and spends many pages making his point. There are also several philosophical digressions about history and what drives the actions of nations and peoples. Whenever I was reading these sections I was reminded of the Gang of Four song ‘It’s Not Made by Great Men’, which makes the same point but way more succinctly.
Whilst these digression are often interesting in themselves, I did find they were often a frustrating distraction from the story. Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’ has sections of polemic laced through the story which, it seemed to me, are entirely redundant. And I’ve heard it said of Moby Dick that it’s best to skip the chapters which are solely Melville’s detailed descriptions of Atlantic whaling. Having said that, Tolstoy’s character assassination of Napoleon is hilarious, and I’ve just found a guide to the book which says, ‘Anyone who tells you that you can skip the “War” parts and only read the “Peace” parts is an idiot.’ It also says that the book will take 10 days at most to read and I’ve been reading it for more than a month. So, doubly an idiot, obviously.
The journey of the central characters is totally absorbing though, so I would definitely recommend it.
Anyway, back to the walk: when I first spotted this nest, it had two crows in it and I got inordinately excited, as I always do when I find an occupied nest. However, they soon left the nest and on subsequent visits the nest has always looked empty. Now the leaves on the surrounding trees are so dense that I can’t even see the nest.
On our walks together TBH and I have frequently found ourselves passing comment on the fact that livestock seem to be being regularly moved about. I don’t know whether that’s standard husbandry or perhaps because of the prolonged dry spell we’ve had.
There’s a herd of young calves, for instance, on the fields between Holgates and Far Arnside which seem to have been moved into just about every available field at some point.
I was examining these trees, trying to work out which was coming into leaf first, and only then noticed all the splendid dandelions.
Of course, once you stop to look at the flowers, then you notice other things of interest too…
Red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius))
Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum).
Daisies (of the Galaxy)
Silver birches line a path on the Knott.
And have come into leave.
Hazy views from the Knott.
…flowering this time.
I got very excited about this pair, purely because I didn’t know what they were. I’ve subsequently decided that they are linnets, but I have a poor record when it comes to identifying this species, having previously incorrectly identified red poll as linnets on more than one occasion. If they are linnets, then they’re missing the striking red breast and throat of a male linnet in its breeding plumage.
There were several small groups of birds flitting overhead, including, I think, more linnets and, without any doubt, a small charm of goldfinches.
I also caught a fleeting glimpse of what I think was a redstart – I’ve only seen them in the hills before and was doubting my own eyes to a certain extent, but they do arrive in the UK in April and the RSPB distribution map does show them as present in this area, and mentions that they favour coastal scrub when in passage, so maybe I was right after all.
One of my favourite Clash songs…
“You see, he feels like Ivan
Born under the Brixton sun
His game is called survivin’
At the end of The Harder They Come”
Ivan is the character played by Jimmy Cliff in the film ‘Harder They Come’, so it’s entirely appropriate that Jimmy Cliff eventually covered the song…
I always enjoy Nouvelle Vague’s unique take on punk and post-punk songs, it’s well worth a trawl through their repertoire..
And of course, the Paul Simenon’s, bass line was sampled by Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, for Beats International’s ‘Dub Be Good to Me’…
It’s been covered by German band Die Toten Hosen and live by the Red Hit Chilli Peppers, and Arcade Fire, and probably lots of others. There’s a nice dub version out there and Cypress Hill didn’t so much sample it as rewrite the lyrics for their ‘What’s Your Number?’.
One consequence, apparently, of the current situation, has been the reduction of seismic noise; that is seismic readings caused by human activity. The journal Nature reports a drop by one third in Belgium, and I read somewhere, sorry, I can’t remember where, that in London it’s down by about a half.
Heading towards Hawes Water. A fence on the left has been partially removed. Similar fences, between woodland and pasture, have been removed across the Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve. Will they be replaced or is this part of a new management plan?
It’s difficult to gauge whether paths around Silverdale are quieter now than they usually are, because I’m not normally out myself mid-week in the daytime. I think that they have got busier, though, since the extra clarification which has made it clear that it’s okay to drive a short distance for your daily exercise.
I didn’t drive for this walk, in fact I haven’t driven anywhere for weeks, but I did walk a little further than usual, as I have done from time to time.
The cairn at Gait Barrows.
Ash flower buds.
TBH and I have both been noticing on our walks (and runs in TBH’s case) that, when we are beneath Beech trees this spring, every step brings a satisfying crunch. The local Beeches seem to have produced a bumper crop of mast last year. That’s not unusual: every three to five years Oaks and Beeches produce a huge crop and those years when that happens are know as mast years.
It seems that the reasons why this occurs are not completely understood. A Guardian piece on mast years hypothesises that it’s the spring weather which dictates: Oaks and Beeches are wind pollinated, so a warm and windy spring produces a lot of flowers which are successfully pollinated. If that theory is correct then this year ought to be a mast year.
On the other hand, this article, on the Woodland Trust website, posits that the lean years control the population of frugivores*, like Jays and Squirrels and then, in the bumper years, the remaining populations of these creatures can’t possibly eat all of the seeds so that some are bound to get a chance to germinate and grow.
This second theory would seem to require some element of coordination between trees, which in turn would imply that trees must communicate in some way. That might seem unlikely, but that’s exactly the thesis advanced by Peter Wohlleben in his book ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’, which I read last summer while we were in Germany and found absolutely fascinating.
Anyway, back to my walk: I’d left Gait Barrows via the small hill Thrang Brow which is enough of a rise to give partial views of the Lake District hills, but that view never seems to translate well in photographs. From Thrang Brow a slender path heads of through the woods of Yealand Allotment. I don’t often come this way, but always enjoy it when I do.
A bright yellow sign on the far side of a wall attracted my attention…
And I’m glad that it did, because just over the wall was a small group of Fallow Deer…
Sadly, most of the group were almost hidden by trees so I only got a chance of a clear photo of this one individual.
Limekiln in Yealand Allotments.
Peter Lane Limekiln.
I’d been thinking of incorporating Warton Crag into my walk, but I was thirsty and the weather was deteriorating, so took the path which cuts across the lower slopes to the north of the crag. Just as I took this photo…
View of Leighton Moss.
…it began to rain. TBH, bless her, rang me and asked if I wanted her drive over to pick me up, but the rain wasn’t heavy so I decided to carry on.
Tide line on Quaker’s Stang.
On Quaker’s Stang, an old sea defence, previous high tides had left a line of driftwood and dried vegetation right on the top of the wall, and, further along, well beyond the wall on the landward side. I’ve often wondered about the name – apparently ‘stang’ is a measurement of land equivalent to a pole, rod or perch. That sounds like it might offer an explanation, except a pole, or a rod, or a perch, is five and a half yards and Quaker’s Stang is a lot longer than that.
This tree is very close to home. I spent the last part of my ‘walk’ watching and photographing the antics of another Treecreeper in its branches.
I suppose a treecreeper qualifies as an LBJ, a Little Brown Job, except that sounds derogatory and, in my opinion, Treecreeper’s are stunning, in their own muted way.
*Frugivore was a new word to me, and I’m always happy to meet one of those. Apparently, it’s an animal which lives wholly or mostly on fruit.
The idea of compiling a kind of day-y-day playlist originated when Andy and I were discussing a mixtape I made, many moons ago, for our long drives up to Scotland for walking holidays. One of the songs on the tape was The Band’s ‘The Weight’. It’s still a song I adore. As well as the original, there’s a great version by Aretha Franklin, but here (subject to it not getting blocked) is Mavis Staples singing it with Jools Holland’s orchestra from one of his hootenannies:
I’ve seen Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra a couple of times live and can definitely recommend them. Last time I saw them, at Cartmel Racetrack, we went with friends and took the kids with us. There was a fair there too, and several support acts, including the Uptown Monotones who have become a firm favourite. Anyway, the kids were mortified when the adults all had the temerity to dance. In public! One of my sandals fell apart whilst I was dancing, I’m not sure whether that was a consequence of my vigorous enthusiasm or my inept clumsiness. Or both.