Towards the Waking

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – Ring O’Beeches – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Thrang Brow – Yealand Allotment – Yealand Storrs – Leighton Hall – Summer House Hill – Warton Crag – Crag Foot – Quaker’s Stang – Heald Brow – Woodwell – The Green

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The forecast for last weekend wasn’t dreadful, but it didn’t create much gleeful anticipation either – it was for dry weather, but cloudy and dull. Actually, on the Saturday morning (when I was busy) there was a bit of sunshine, but when I got out for a walk in the afternoon it was so gloomy that I didn’t bother to take any photos at all.

On the Sunday morning, neither of the boys were playing rugby and I had contemplated setting off early and heading out for a walk in the hills, but, given the forecast, decided to walk from home instead. I was still out quite early, in time to catch the sunrise from Castlebarrow, by the Pepper Pot, or so I thought, but perhaps due to the cloud low in the eastern sky, the sun didn’t actually appear until I was heading through the woods towards the Ring O’Beeches.

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I suppose it was the low trajectory of the winter sun which enabled me to apparently take several sunrise photos, each from a new vantage point, with probably about 50 yards between them.

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This was a bit of a surprise: pale blue sky and clear sight of the sun.

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From the boardwalk by Hawes Water, Challan Hall was catching the early light. Two Cormorants were interrupted by my presence and circled above the lake, before roosting in their usual spot in the dead tree on the far shore.

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Hawes Water and Challan Hall.

In the fields near Hawes Water, I was entertained by a pair of Buzzards, one of which eventually  flew across my view, tantalisingly close to my lens, but sadly the only photograph I was quick enough to take came out blurred beyond recognition.

I was a little concerned that the forecast had misled me into making a poor choice and thought that a short diversion to the minor hummock of Thrang Brow would give me a clearer idea. I haven’t been there for a while; it has a view of the Lakeland hills, although nothing to rival the view from Arnside Knott or Haverbrack. Or rather, sometimes it has a view of the Lakeland hills; on this occasion I couldn’t see anything much beyond Arnside Knott and even that was a bit lost in the haze.

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Arnside Knott from Thrang Brow.

I’m glad I went that way though, because then I remembered a small trod which wends it’s way through the woods and limestone pavements of Yealand Allotment and which I haven’t followed for quite some time.

My original plan, when I reached Yealand Storrs, had been to follow the road for a while and then climb into Cringlebarrow Woods, but for some reason I decided instead to cross the road and follow the path across the fields towards Leighton Hall. I hoped that the fields might have dried out a bit after a relatively rain-free week, but actually the going was very heavy. My hastily amended plan involved turning left at Leighton Hall Farm to cut up to Deepdale and so to Cringlebarrow Woods that way, but I could hear heavy machinery in operation and, thinking that there was some tree-felling underway, changed my mind again. Past the Hall and up Summer House Hill it was.

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Leighton Hall and Leighton Moss from Summer House Hill.

The view from Summer House Hill can be a cracker, but once again, anything at all distant was looking a little murky.

The field at the top of the hill had bluey-green, or greeny-blue….stuff…spread across the surface…

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This…

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…is the base of the former summer house which gives the hill its name. It had been very liberally…blued…

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Does anybody have any idea what this is?

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I’d just said hello to a couple who were walking with their dog, when I was surprised to see a Jay sitting calmly in a tree relatively close by. It’s not that I don’t see jays – I do – but that having seen them, I then usually almost immediately lose sight of them, because they are generally very shy and soon make themselves scarce. Since this one didn’t fly off, I thought I would play my customary cat-and-mouse game of edging forward with my camera and taking another photo every couple of strides. To my surprise, the Jay flew  toward me, down to the ground and then continued to hop in my direction before stopping to grub around in the leaf litter.

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It was a shame that the sun wasn’t still shining: Jays are so unlike their monotone Corvid cousins, with their pink and blue plumage and their striped head.

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Fortunately, the sun was soon shining again, if perhaps a little weakly in the haze.

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Peter Lane Lime Kiln.

Lime Kilns are a bit of a feature of the area and I often pass them on walks, but rarely remember to take photos of them.

The same could be said of sheep…

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…these few stood out because they are of an unusual breed for this area (I can’t work out which).

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Warton Crag’s Easter Island Heads.

There’s been a fair bit of tree-felling near the top of Warton Crag, which I think will take a little while to get used to. The view from the top was predictably limited…

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River Keer from Warton Crag.

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More Tree-felling.

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Quicksand Pool and Quaker’s Stang.

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Brown’s House and the ‘smelting’ chimney from Quaker’s Stang.

For the last part of my walk the sun came out again.

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Warton Crag and the salt-marsh from Heald Brow.

I like this time of year: it’s still winter, with the possibility of snow and ice, which is fine, but it also feels like we’re sliding inexorably toward spring.

When all sap lies quiet and does not climb,
When all seems dead, I cultivate
The wild garden rioting in my memory,
Count in advance the treasures which
The sleeping sap contains,

And winter runs from now toward
The waking of the sap and spring.

from Garland for the Winter Solstice  by Ruthven Todd.

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Towards the Waking

A Slow Ripening Fruit

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So, here in my online diary we’ve reached the tail-end of September and my memory of that time is slightly hazy. Fortunately, I have photographs to help; here are Little S (who in just a few more years will be towering over me) and TBH approaching the top of Warton Crag.

From where, even on a cloudy day, there’s always some sort of view…

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But we weren’t on our own…

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…oh no!…

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Because this was our annual At Home weekend when some of our old friends congregate at our house.

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I know what happened, for the simple reason that it was undoubtedly the same things that always happen on these weekends: a bit of a walk each day, despite the weather, which actually wasn’t too bad this time around; endless cups of tea, a few beers, loads of food, including a takeaway from the local curry house and the usual recycling of old stories and even older jokes.

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One the Saturday we walked to and from Warton Crag, via Leighton Moss and Summer House Hill.

On the Sunday we must have visited Jack Scout because that’s where this giant limestone seat is, but I can’t recall how we got there or back again.

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“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.”

Aristotle

These curious Turkeys jumped up onto a wall to assail us as we passed their field.

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Must be time for another caption competition…?

A Slow Ripening Fruit

After Desmond

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The storm came, the rains fell and the field behind our house developed a huge puddle. Or a small lake? It has flooded before, although not often, but this is the largest expanse of wet which we’ve seen there. It has never, to our knowledge, burst through the wall and flooded Bottom’s Lane for instance…

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…and I’ve never seen the graveyard flooded before. When you look at the depth of the water compared to the headstones you should bear in mind the fact that the ground in the cemetery is considerably higher than the land around it – soil was brought in to give a sufficient depth to make burials feasible; generally, the bedrock is not far beneath the surface in this area.

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Little S was very taken by the transformed landscape. Waterscape.

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This is Lambert’s meadow, or Lambert’s Lake as it seems to have become.

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Naturally TBH had to wade through the water to get to the submerged bridge.

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Sadly, I didn’t capture the expression on her face when the inevitable happened and the water over-topped her boots.

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Burtonwell.

Later, as the light was fading, I had another short walk on Warton Crag.

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There’s often flooding around Warton, but I’ve never seen it like this. With Kendal and Lancaster both flooded, in Silverdale we had a very lucky escape with no adverse effects at all. The extent of our fortune was brought home to me as the sun sank and the familiar view was eerily unfamiliar because of the absence of streetlights or lighted windows – Warton, Carnforth, Lancaster and many other places south of us were without electricity and would continue to be so intermittently for much of the following week.

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After Desmond

Warton Crag Hill Fort

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Another Heritage Open Day, and another guided walk organised by Morecambe Bay Partnership. I hadn’t booked this one, but having enjoyed the previous day’s outing on and around Piel Island, and having always been intrigued by the presence of a hill-fort practically on our doorstep on Warton Crag, decided that it would be a shame to miss this opportunity to find out more.

Apparently, until relatively recently, the ruins on the crag were obvious on even quite impressive, but….

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….since most of the crag came into public ownership as nature reserves, it has become heavily wooded, and I’ve never been able to find any tangible sign of former occupation. The walk, and the talks which accompanied it, were fascinating. Finding out about this artist’s impression of what the Crag may have looked like…

Warton Crag Fort

…was worth the entrance fee alone. (Not that there was an entrance fee.) The painting is by John Hodgson, and I’d love to have a framed print of it on my wall.

A group from an archaeology evening class in Lancaster have been carrying out what has clearly been a pain-staking and very thorough survey of the remains on the hill. With the help of one member of the class we toured the area and looked for some of those ruins. 

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The walls are extremely difficult to spot, even when you are almost standing on top of them. Apparently, they are a bit easier to find in the winter months when some of the undergrowth dies back. We saw some photos taken after an area of trees had been felled and one section of wall there was quite clear and easy to see.

On our trip, this…

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…was about the clearest view we had. The wall was a bit more obvious than the photo suggests, but it would still have been very easy to walk past it without noticing.

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Bright and sunny like the previous day, it was also reasonably warm, so that bees and butterflies were out and about.

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Warton Crag Hill Fort

Whitsun Treadings IV: Wildflowers and Cuckoo Fanciers On Warton Crag

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It’s a cause of ongoing frustration to TBH that I tend to snap away taking endless photos of distant views whilst neglecting to capture images of our family and friends. On this occasion I not only managed the latter, but also apparently spurned the marvellous views as well. Instead I took lots of photos of flowers.

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Warton Crag is a modest hill and a quick ascent and descent could almost certainly be managed in around half an hour. (Less I suppose given that Joss Naylor could run from Wasdale Head up Scafell Pike and back in 47 minutes.) But we chose instead to sort of spiral in, via the Three Brothers and numerous pleasant copses and glades.

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When we’d arrived in the car-park we heard a cuckoo calling. We heard the same again several times whilst we were out that day. Rather suspiciously we often saw the same two people, away from the principal paths, just before or after we heard the cuckoo(s), and always in roughly the direction we thought we’d heard the cuckoo from. Later, the Proper Birder told me that the BTO were trying to catch cuckoos in the area so that they could attach a tracking device to them. The Proper Birder was very excited because two of the cuckoos they tagged were from close to her home in the Forest of Bowland. On the BTO’s website you can track the southward progress of the birds. You can see also that they didn’t find a bird on Warton Crag. But they wouldn’t have been there had they not had good intelligence that cuckoos were present, so it is possible that some of the calls we heard weren’t recordings being used to lure cuckoos, but actual resident cuckoos, which would make them the first I have heard in the immediate area around home.

Whitsun Treadings IV: Wildflowers and Cuckoo Fanciers On Warton Crag

Clouds, Mist, Sunset, Moon from Warton Crag

A Saturday afternoon early in January. The day after our Black Fell outing in fact. The forecast for the day was pretty dismal, except that around three o’clock the cloud and rain was apparently going to clear to give a final hour of sunshine to close the short winter day. And it did. The transformation was so quick that it was quite stunning: blue sky suddenly seemed to materialise where all had been grey and gloom.

I’d planned ahead – I would head to Carnforth to do some grocery shopping, but pause en route for a quick jaunt up Warton Crag. I found a path I’d never followed before, which gave a very pleasant stroll to the top. I didn’t stop to take photos – the views were clear, extensive and glorious, but they would be so much better from a higher vantage point I thought, and besides, I wanted to reach the summit in time for the sunset.

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But when I got there, a low blanket of cloud had rolled in off the sea. The Cumbrian Fells were obscured.

The bay was only hazily visible…

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And the coast to the south and the Bowland hills were missing from the view too….

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But as you can see, the sun was suffusing the thin layer of cloud with colours and the cloud was still rolling through, shifting and tearing, putting on a real show.

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There were a few other people at the top, chatting, taking photos and enjoying the spectacle.

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Gradually the cloud was thinning and clearing away.

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And the sun was inexorably sliding towards the horizon.

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As soon as the sun finally disappeared, the temperature appreciably dropped. Or maybe it just felt colder. When I checked my watch, I could hardly believe that I’d only been watching for about 15 minutes – I took so many photos, and I felt like I’d been there an age.

In the meantime, the Lake District hills had reappeared to the north…

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As I turned to head back to the car, I noticed that the moon was already high in the eastern sky. The shadowy bulk to the right of the moon is Ingleborough.

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My new camera does pretty well with hand held shots of the moon (switched to black and white mode and with the exposure compensation turned down as far as it will go).

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Having found a path which was new to me on my way up, I followed my favourite old familiar one on the way down. It follows a limestone edge and on this occasion gave great views of a thin smear of mist rising across the salt marsh and the fields.

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And of the lights coming on in Warton, Millhead and Carnforth and the flooded fields which surround Warton every winter.

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The moon and Ingleborough again. It was, for all intents and purposes, dark when I took this shot – I’m amazed how much colour it has in it. I’m quite excited about the potential of my new toy!

Not bad for a walk that lasted around an hour and half.

Clouds, Mist, Sunset, Moon from Warton Crag

Warton Crag and the Three Brothers (2 and 36)

Warton Crag Quarry Car park

Another cold and bright day, just over a week ago now. (I’m getting quite behind, which is good: it’s because we’re getting out together a lot.) We decided to head for Warton Crag. The boys and I had been here just a week before, but fortunately the hill is criss-crossed by paths and it was very easy to ring the changes. We followed a path out of the north side of the large quarry car park and then turned up the hill. I was struck by the profusion and variety of the lichen adorning the scrub here…

Lichen I 

Lichen III 

Lichen IV 

Lichen V 

Very quickly, views opened up to the North….

Coniston Fells from Warton Crag 

Coniston Fells from Warton Crag.

A little further up the slope we met a family indulging in the traditional Easter pastime of egg-rolling. It’s not something I’ve ever tried, but maybe next year…?

There’s been a great deal of moaning, and I’m as guilty as the next man, about our apparent perpetual winter, but I have to say that the snow on the surrounding hills really enhances the view. As well as the Lakeland Fells to the North, we had grandstand views of the Forest of Bowland to the South and in the East the distant sentinel of Ingleborough.

Distant Ingleborough from Warton Crag 

…which is distinctive from just about any direction….

Ingleborough (telephoto) 

As I say, there are numerous routes to the top of the crag, and all of them have some points of interest along the way, like a limestone crag to scale for instance….

A and S investigate a limestone crag 

Fortunately, there’s an easy way up just a few yards along the crag from here.

View from near the summit of Warton Crag 

Like all the local hills, Warton Crag is of very modest elevation and we were soon at the top.

By the trig pillar 

Where alongside the trig pillar stands a replica beacon erected, I believe, in 1988 to commemorate the defeat (by the weather) of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Beacon 

From the top we dived into the woods…

The way through the woods 

Heading for The Three Brothers….

Three Brothers 

…which were a big hit with the kids who saw them as an excellent opportunity to do a little bouldering.

The Three Brothers are a little off the beaten track and take a bit of seeking out. You’ll rarely encounter other walkers in this area. We did meet two groups of roe deer however, first a group of three and then, shortly after, another pair.

Roe deer bottoms

From that point on we were winding our way through the woods back towards the car. Passing a few more interesting features along the way….

Easter Island Heads 

…including a substantial area of gooseberry bushes which I have mentally noted as a destination for a foraging trip in the summer.

Descending through the trees

Warton Crag and the Three Brothers (2 and 36)