A Long Awaited Visit.

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Mum and Dad by the Pepperpot.

At the end of August, my Mum and Dad came to stay for a few days. It was the first time we’d seen them for quite some time, so it was great to have them with us, and also very handy that we had some pretty good weather for their visit.

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Coming down from Fleagarth Wood towards Jenny Brown’s Point.

I think we sat out on our patio quite a bit, but we also managed to get out for a number of walks.

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Sea Aster.
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Dad near Jenny Brown’s Cottages.
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Warton Crag and The Forest of Bowland on the horizon.
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Roadworks – the wall at Jenny Brown’s point was repaired. Signs said that the road was closed, even to pedestrians, but that turned out not to be the case.
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Colourful hanging baskets at Gibraltar Farm.
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Little S passing Woodwell Cottage.
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Another walk.
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Half Moon Bay. Sadly, there’s a Nuclear Power Station just to my left and behind me when I took this photo.

I think Mum and Dad were particularly impressed with our walk on Heysham headlands.

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Ship – Anna Gillespie.
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Across the Bay to the hills of the Lake District from Heysham Headland.
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Another view across the Bay.

B likes to come to Heysham headlands with his friends to watch the sunset and to swim when the tide is in, and I can see why.

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Rock cut graves.
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St. Patrick’s Chapel.
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The Spirit of Heysham by Michael Edwards.

I should mention that we had lunch at Tracy’s Homemade Pies and Cakes cafe, which was amazing value and very tasty. Highly recommended.

We had a day out in Kirkby Lonsdale too, although I don’t seem to have taken any photos. I was shocked by how busy it was; we did well to find car-parking spaces. I knew that it was touristy, but hadn’t expected it to be so thronged.

Looking forward to some more blue sky days, and for infection rates to settle down so Mum and Dad can visit for a few more walks and a postponed Christmas dinner.

A Long Awaited Visit.

The Bug Hotel

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Copper Underwing.

The day after my Hawes Water wander. Another attempt to replicate the fun I had in the meadows of the Dordogne. It started, in rather gloomy conditions, in our garden.

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Long-tailed Tit. Not all that blurred!
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Possibly the same Long-tailed Tit. But they’re usually in groups, so it could just as easily be another.
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Mating flies in the beech hedge.
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Speckled Wood butterfly.
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Hoverfly on Montbretia.
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Common Carder Bee on Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’.

When the weather brightened up, I set-off for a short wander, taking in Lambert’s Meadow, my go to spot when I’m hoping to see dragonflies in particular, and a wide selection of insect life in general, and a trip to the Dordogne is not on the cards.

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Lambert’s Meadow.

In my post about the meadows around the campsite we stayed on in France, I began with a photo in which I’d caught five different species all in the one shot, which I was delighted by, because it seemed to represent to me the sheer abundance and variety of the wildlife to be seen there.

I’ll confess, I was bit shocked that Lambert’s Meadow could match that tally…

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So…what have we got here? I think that the two black and white hoverflies may be Leucozona glaucia. I think the bug closest to the middle could be the sawfly, Rhogogaster Picta. I wondered whether the tiny insect at the bottom might be a sawfly too, but the long antennae and what looks like an even longer ovipositor have persuaded me that it is probably some kind of Ichneumon wasp. But that’s as far as I’ve got (there are apparently approximately 2500 UK species). I think the social wasp at the top is probably Vespula Vulgaris – the Common Wasp. And about the insect on the top left I have no opinions at all – there isn’t much to go on.

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I always assume that very pale bees like this are very faded Common Carder bees, but I’m not at all sure that’s correct.

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Large Rose Sawfly?

I think this might be a Large Rose Sawfly, although surprisingly it seems like there might be several UK species of insects which have a striking orange abdomen like this. I’m also intrigued by what the funky seedheads are. I suspect that if I’ve written this post back in August, I probably would have had a pretty fair idea because of where they were growing in the meadow.

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Crane Fly – Tipula Paludosa Male?
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Crane Fly – Tipula Paludosa Female?

There’s around 300 species of cranefly in the UK. Me putting names to these is essentially a huge bluff – I have even less idea than usual. I’m reasonably confident that they are at least craneflies and that the first is a male and the second female, but after that I’m pretty much guessing, based on a little bit of internet research.

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Volucella Pellucens on Mint.

This is a hoverfly which I often see and which is sufficiently distinctive that I can actually be confident about my identification. Especially since I found this very helpful guide. The common name is apparently Pellucid Fly, which is odd; pellucid means translucent or clear, as in a pellucid stream, or easy to understand, as in pellucid prose. I’m not sure in which sense this fly is pellucid. The females lay their eggs in the nests of social wasps like the Vespula Vulgaris above. The larvae grow up in the nest, from what I can gather, essentially scavenging – so a bit like wasps round a picnic table. Even wasps get harassed!

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I am going to have to bite the bullet and shell out for a proper field guide to hoverflies I think. They are so fascinating. Well, to me at least! These two, at first glance both black and yellow, but then so differently shaped and patterned, but I don’t have a clue what species either might belong to.

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This, on the other hand, also black and yellow……

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Tachina Fera

…is clearly not a hoverfly. Don’t ask me how I know. Well, go on then: it’s extremely bristly, and it has a chequered abdomen. At least it’s quite distinctive. My ‘Complete British Insects’ describes it as ‘handsome’ which even I can’t quite see. It’s a parasitoid, which is to say that its larvae will grow up inside a caterpillar.

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Possibly Eristalis arbustorum.

Apparently Eristalis arbustorum “can have quite variable markings on its body and some can be almost totally black”. (Source) Which makes my heart sink a bit – what hope do I have if members of an individual species can vary so much? At least this genuinely is handsome.

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A couple more unidentified bees to throw in.

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The Guelder Rose hedge.

Up to this point I’d been slowly pacing around the meadow, snapping away. I hadn’t walked far at all. As I approached the large area of Guelder Rose in the hedge, my pulse quickened a little, whilst my pace slowed even more. This is an area in which I frequently spot dragonflies. And the area just beyond, of tall figworts and willowherbs, is possibly even more reliable.

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Guelder Rose berries.

There were a few dragonflies patrolling the margin of the field. And a some Common Darters resting on leaves quite high in hedge, making them difficult to photograph from below. But then…result!

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Migrant Hawker.

Sometimes hawkers visit our garden, but it’s rare that I spot them when they aren’t in motion, hunting.

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And again.

An absolutely stunning creature.

A little further along…

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Migrant Hawker on Figwort.
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And again.
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Honey bee, I think.

Our friend P has hives in Hagg Wood, not too far away. Minty honey anyone?

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A very tatty Skipper.
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Small White.
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Common Darter on Figwort.

Views from the walk home…

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Looking a bit black over The Howgills.
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But the sun catching Farleton Fell.
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Rosehips.

Well, I’ve enjoyed choosing this selection of photos from the hundreds I took that day. I hope you did too. I don’t know why I didn’t spend more time mooching around al Lambert’s Meadow last summer. I’m looking forward to some brighter weather already.

The Bug Hotel

Green Dock Beetle

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Hawes Water

I was missing the flower rich meadows of the Dordogne and the multitude of butterflies and moths and other insects which the abundant flowers attract. So I set out for a short meander around Hawes Water, with my camera with me for once, with the express intent of finding something interesting to photograph.

Some patches of knapweed growing between Challan Hall and Hawes Water gave me just what I was after.

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Tree Bumblebees? On Common Knapweed.

Mainly bees, which by late summer have faded quite a bit and so are even harder to identify than they are earlier in the summer.

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Common Carder Bee? On Common Knapweed.

Not to worry – I very happily took no end of photos.

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Tawny Mining Bee? On Common Knapweed.
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Another Common Carder Bee? On Common Knapweed.
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Not-even-going-to-guess bee. On Ragwort.
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A drone fly, a bee mimic – one of the Eristalis species?
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Green Dock Beetle

I think this is a Green Dock Beetle. Pretty colourful isn’t it? I took lots of photos of this charismatic (or should I say prismatic?) little fella. With hindsight, I think the patterns on the knapweed flowerhead are pretty special too. Apparently, the larvae of these beetles can strip the leaves of a dock plant in no time flat. Likewise the massive leaves of a rhubarb plant. I don’t recall seeing them before, but shall be checking out docks more carefully this summer.

More about dock beetles here and here.

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Green Dock Beetle.
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Episyrphus Balteatus? In flight!
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Not sure about the bee – but look what’s lurking below the flower – an orb-web spider.
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Phaonia valida?
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Devil’s-bit Scabious.
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And finally, the hedgerow close to home which was cut down has new fences along each side and there’s plenty growing in that space – whether or not that’s the hawthorns and blackthorns of which the hedge was originally composed remains to be seen.

Green Dock Beetle

Cark to Grange with X-Ray

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Cark Hall.

TBH had missed out on our walk from Cark to Grange via Cartmel and I thought she would enjoy it. X-Ray was keen to meet us for a walk, and perhaps a bite to eat, and I was pretty sure he would enjoy it too. Actually, as I recall, I presented X-Ray with a number of options and this was the one which most appealed. He hopped onto the Northern Fail service at Lancaster and we joined him at Silverdale for the short journey around the bay.

Cark has a pub and a cafe and I made a mental note that an evening repeat of this walk could start with a meal at one or the other. Cark also has Cark Hall, an imposing building which is now three dwellings. It dates from 1580 with a Seventeenth Century wing and alterations. Three hundred year old home improvements! The doorway looked really imposing, from what we could see of it, but good old-fashioned English reticence prevented me from wandering in to the garden to have a proper gander. (Historic England listing)

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Hampsfell from just beyond Cark.
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TBH and X-Ray sat on the fish tables (apparently) outside the Priory Gatehouse in Cartmel.

We bumped into a couple of old-friends and former neighbours in Cartmel who had won (in a raffle?) a meal at L’Enclume, Cartmel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. When we spoke to them later in the week they were highly impressed. Might have to check it out, if I win a booking in a raffle. Or rob a a bank.

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Cartmel Priory
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Cartmel Priory interior.
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Inside the church there was an exhibition of painted masks. They’d been there on my previous visit, but I paid a bit more attention this time. Collectively, they were very striking.

Ironically, the forecast was much better for this walk than it had been a few weeks before. On that occasion, the showers held-off. This time, sod’s-law was in operation and it rained quite a bit as we climbed Hampsfell. On the top we were shrouded in clouds and it was very cold for August.

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There’s a small hearth in the Hospice and somebody had laid a fire, it was very tempting to light it while we sheltered inside and made a brew.

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On our descent, at least the cloud lifted a little and we saw fleeting patches of sunlight on the Bay. It was actually quite striking, but sadly the photo doesn’t begin to do it justice.
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We came a slightly different way down in to Grange.

We were hoping to enjoy some lunch in a cafe near to the station which we used to bring the kids to when they were small, but were disappointed to find that they had nothing vegan on the menu for TBH. With a train imminent, and a long wait for the next one, we reluctantly had to abandon our late lunch plans. Maybe next time.

Cark to Grange with X-Ray

Coniston to Ambleside

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Coniston – a gloomy start.

This was the day after the second of our walks from Brockholes. TBH and I had dropped B off there again, and had decided to spend the day in the Lakes before picking him up at the end of his shift. We’d had the bright idea of using the local buses so that we could do a point-to-point walk.

We parked up in Ambleside and then got thoroughly lost in the vast Hayes Garden World complex looking for the loos. Due to a lack of clarity on the bus timetable, and possibly a degree of muppetry on our part, we missed the first bus and ended up playing silly golf in a very busy Ambleside to pass the time until the next bus.

The bus didn’t take the most direct route and I felt both sorry for, and amused by, some of the tourist traffic which met the bus. The driver didn’t take any prisoners, but could squeeze the bus through gaps with only a few millimetres to spare.

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Tarn Hows Cottage.

From Coniston, we followed the Cumbria Way past Tarn Hows, stopping very early for a brew and a bit of lunch. The minute we stopped, of course, it began to spit with rain. I’d originally had grandiose plans to climb either Holme Fell, or Black Crag, or both, but the time we’d lost and the need to be on time for B, prompted us to abandon those options.

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Holme Fell. catching some sunshine.

Tarn Hows was predictably busy, but the rest of our route was very quiet. We left the Cumbria Way after Tarn Hows, and bumped into a family of runners who we know from B’s rugby team. Small world!

Our route actually took us most of the way to the top of Black Crag. Once we’d crossed the watershed, the Langdale fells dominated the views for most of the rest of the walk.

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Bowfell, Lingmoor, Langdale Pikes.
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Jay feather.
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Low Arnside.

There’s no village of Arnside here, but High and Low Arnside farms, High Arnside Tarn, Arnside Intake and Arnside Plantation.

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On this long section, with its great views, we saw one other walker, a dutchman on his first visit to the Lakes, who was, he told us, very taken with what he had seen.

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Pano.
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Stepping stones.
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Possibly the reason this path is little used is that it deposits you on to the busy road between Ambleside and Coniston. I’d thought we would be able to get back on to the Cumbria Way, but I was mistaken. Fortunately, there is a permission path alongside the road for much of the way.

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Fungi.

On the lane up to Skelwith Fold we witnessed some more motoring muppetry, with one car having to reverse around another, the driver of which had admitted defeat, to allow a van to pass. People got out of vehicles, examining bodywork which had at no point been in any danger of being scuffed, and some heated exchanges took place, but only, I think, between two occupants of the car whose driver had been apparently paralysed, like a ‘cragfast’ sheep.

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The view from Skelwith Fold.
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With a handy guide to the view – what a lovely memorial.
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Skelwith Fold.
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River Brathay.

A permission path took us, from the wonderfully named Bog Lane, down to the Brathay and a spot which I’ve earmarked as a fine looking swimming hole for when it’s warmer again.

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I may have told TBH that a walk from Coniston to Ambleside would be 6 miles, prompted by a route description I’d found online which said the same. It seemed wise, in the circumstances, to stand in front of this signpost to hide the evidence to the contrary, especially since we still had some way to go.

We very much enjoyed this walk and I can definitely see us using the buses in the Lakes again to enable us to walk similar point-to-point routes.

No map from MapMyWalk showing the route since it had one of its occasional tantrums and refused to work.

Coniston to Ambleside

Cark to Grange via Cartmel

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Arnside through the train window, crossing the viaduct.

With a pretty dismal sounding forecast, we couldn’t persuade any of the younger members of the party to join us for walk from Cark to Grange. So it was only Andy, TBF and myself who caught the train from Silverdale to Cark.

I remember the walk from Cark to Cartmel being very pleasant, if perhaps unremarkable, but I don’t seem to have taken any photos until we reached Cartmel…

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The Priory gatehouse, built around 1330.
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Cartmel market cross.
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Cartmel Priory Church.

The Priory Church was built between 1190 and 1220 and was part of an Augustinian monastery, but most of the monastic buildings were destroyed after the dissolution of monasteries.

I haven’t been inside the church for far too long, and was very pleased to have a little nosey on this occasion.

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The choir stalls.
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A green man?

I took lots of photos of the amazing intricate carving in the church, but the light was very low and they didn’t come out too well.

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Looking back to Cartmel.
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Hampsfell Hospice.

Built in 1835 by George Remington, a former pastor of Cartmel Parish, Hampsfell Hospice has verses on boards around the walls inside, which make a puzzle, and on the roof, accessed by a narrow flight of stone steps, a view indicator.

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I think it was pretty windy up there on this occasion. But the forecast showers held off and the views were still quite good.

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Looking south to Humphrey Head.
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Looking North – Newton Fell.
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Looking West – How Barrow and the high moorland west of Ulverston beyond – if you click on the photo to see a larger image, you can just about pick out the wind turbines on Lowick High Common.
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Looking East – the limestone hills of home and the Kent Estuary.
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Heading down to Grange pano.
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Arnside Knott across the estuary.
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Grange Station.
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Yewbarrow and Whitbarrow Scar seen through the train window from the viaduct.
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Kent Estuary seen through the train window from the viaduct.

A terrific walk which packs a lot into its slightly more than six miles.

Cark to Grange via Cartmel

Back to Gurnal Dubs

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On the ascent.

We set-off for a swim at High Dam, but the traffic on the A590 wasn’t moving, so a last minute change of plan found us back at Gurnal Dubs.

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Benson Knott, Scout Scar, Gummer How.

It was probably serendipity at work: High Dam is lovely, but it’s surrounded by trees so we would’ve missed the lovely late sunshine and may have had much more of an issue with midges, although they did eventually rear their ugly heads at Gurnal Dubs.

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Benson Knott, Scout Scar, Gummer How from a little higher up.
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Gurnal Dubs
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Swimmers – do I need one of those dayglow floaty things?
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Packing up to go, under attack by midges.
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Leaving Gurnal Dubs.
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Potter Tarn, Coniston Fells, Scafells.
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Barn at Hundhowe catching the late light.

Happy New Year folks!

Back to Gurnal Dubs

Gardadale – Local Walks

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When the Herefordshire Holidaymakers had to cancel their planned summer trip to Lake Garda, due to Covid restrictions and uncertainties, and us with no plans of our own, for the same reasons, the obvious thing to do seemed to be to invite them to join us in Sunny Silverdale instead. Happily, they agreed. We drove home from Towyn to tidy up a bit and inflate some airbeds, whilst they had the more onerous task of returning home, getting all of their washing done and hoping back into their cars for the long drive north.

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In the early part of the week, we even had some half-decent weather, and, I think fairly soon after they had arrived, we had a wander up to the Pepper Pot and then down to The Cove.

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Slowworm.
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TBH insisted that we should have a wander on the sands, which turned out to be quite wet and very sticky. Andy was in new shoes. It seems to me that it’s the destiny of walking shoes to eventually get muddy, but Andy was mortified that his pristine trainers were sullied by Morecambe Bay sludge and complained bitterly at every opportunity for the rest of the week.

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Later in the week, we repeated our favourite route, around the coast to Arnside and back over the Knott. It was raining when we came over the Knott, so I understand why I didn’t take any photos then, but it’s a bit rum that I only took one as we walked around the coast. Probably too busy wittering.
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Knapweed in Clark’s Lot.
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Towards the end of the week, when we walked around Jenny Brown’s Point, the weather was decidedly un-Italian. Still, with good company, you can still enjoy a walk and I quite like some dark clouds when there’s some sunlight to reflect off the sea.
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We finished the week (I think) with another short climb up to the Pepper Pot. It was a lovely week, as always when the Herefordshire Hearties visit. We had a number of trips out too, so more posts to follow.

Gardadale – Local Walks

Scrambling and Swimming above Grasmere

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Sourmilk Gill

The day after our swim in Gurnal Dubs. This time I was on my own. It was very hot. I got comprehensively sun-burned.

I thought I would string together some of the blue bits on the map. I parked in the lay-by north of Grasmere, called in at the village to supplement my liquid supplies in the village shop, then walked up Easedale to the base of the steeper, scrambling section of Sourmilk Gill. It’s easy, grade 1 stuff, which is probably all I’m up to these days, but I had it to myself and it was very entertaining.

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Promising pool in Sourmilk Gill.

I might have been tempted by an earlier than planned dip in this plunge pool, but a couple were just getting into the water as I came past, so I decided to leave them to it, and continued up the rocks.

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Looking back down Easedale from the top of the steep part of Sourmilk Gill.
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Easedale Tarn with swimmers, and Tarn Crag.

There were a fair few people picnicking on the shores of Easedale Tarn, and quite a few more paddling at the edge of the water, but very few swimming out away from the shore. Still, it wasn’t hard to find a quietish spot to change and make a brew.

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Easedale Tarn from my lunch and brew stop.

I can never drink tea when it’s just brewed, so once it was done I swam well out into the lake – roughly level with the boulder you can see in the photo above – then back again to drink the tea and eat some lunch. Then I repeated the swim.

Since I was carrying trunks, a towel and water-shoes, I’d opted to leave my camera at home – which turned out to be frustrating since there were lots of colourful dragonflies about, Keeled Skimmers and Golden-ringed Dragonflies predominantly.

After my second swim, I continued to the base of my second scramble of the day, another pleasant but easy route up Easedale Gill.

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Easedale Gill and Belles Knott, the ‘Easedale Matterhorn’.

In the past, I’ve followed those two scrambles with a slightly harder route on Belles Knott, but I’d decided in advance that I would steer clear of that and, in the event, I felt pretty exhausted anyway by the time I reached the end of the scrambling in Easedale Gill. I’m not sure whether my tiredness was due to lockdown rustiness, the heat, the unfamiliar exercise of scrambling and swimming or a combination of all three.

Fortunately, only a little ascent remained to get me to Codale Tarn….

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Codale Tarn.

Which I had all to myself.

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Codale Tarn from my brew spot.

Again, I made a brew, swam, drank the tea then swam again. Each swim took me across the tarn to the rocky patch you can see slightly right of centre in the photo above, then back again. I think this might narrowly pip the other places I swam this summer for favourite swimming spot.

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The slopes of Tarn Crag, Easedale Tarn and Seat Sandal and the Fairfield Horseshoe.

All that remained was to wind my weary way back to Grasmere.

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Easedale Tarn again.

Another very memorable outing.

Scrambling and Swimming above Grasmere

Gurnal Dubs Swim.

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And then it was hot. We had what passes for a heat wave in this neck of the woods – that is, a few days of what would probably pass for mild temperatures in many parts of the world. Not being used to extremes, we naturally over-react and do everything we can to get out of the heat. TBH and I had a swim in the Lune near to Bull Beck. It was quite pleasant, although not very deep. We were surprised to see two quite large parties camping in the field there by the river.

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On this occasion, I suspect we’d already dropped B off for work at Brockholes. A was probably working too, but Little S joined us. We parked near Hundhowe and walked up past Ghyll Pool and Potter Tarn and, after our swim, back down the same way.

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Potter Tarn.
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First sight of Gurnal Dubs.

I’ve been wanting to come back and swim in Gurnal Dubs since witnessing a family swim here four years ago; it was great to be back and confirm that it really is a terrific place for a dip. (Incidentally, the photo at the top of that post is possibly my favourite of the seventy odd thousand I have on flickr)

I’d recently picked up some full-face snorkelling masks from Aldi, so we’d brought one with us to try it out. I’m pretty sure there are fish here, but I didn’t see any with the mask on.

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Little S snorkelling.

After a fairly lengthy swim, we set-off back towards the car…

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…with great views ahead.

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It’s a great place for a swim, and relatively accessible from home. We were back, with friends, not long after, and I’m sure we’ll swim there again.

A tune. I was going to use Buddy Miles’ ‘Down By The River’, which seemed appropriate for our swim in the Lune, but I’ve gone with ‘Them Changes’ from the same album because it’s such an irresistible riff.

Gurnal Dubs Swim.