Between Coats

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So, with the electricity out in Lancaster I found myself off work with some unexpected free time. When it became apparent that this would happen, my first thought was, “I’ll paint the kitchen.”

Well, that may have been my second thought, after “I can have a lie in.” Or third perhaps, after “I could get out for a good walk”. And if not third, it was definitely my fourth or maybe fifth, well, not more than my eleventh thought. It occurred to me just after TBH said: “You could paint the kitchen,” as she lugged paint tins, brushes, etc in from the garage, wearing an expression which brooked no argument.

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I did get out for some short strolls, between showers.

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Down at the Cove I could see various large bits of flotsam, presumably washed into the channel by the storm. I could also see the next shower advancing across the Bay…

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Time to get back to the painting!

The kitchen does look spick and span though. It’s white now. Much better than before.

What’s that? Before?

Oh,…

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…it was white.

Between Coats

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

Over the Knott

A Friday commute. I stayed on the train an extra stop to Arnside. A wet day seeming to be improving. On the banks of the Kent a cormorant was hanging out to dry – I wanted to get a photo but wasn’t quick enough. I did get his neighbour though…

…a heron having a bad hair day. Bit disappointed with this one since I was relatively close to the heron when I took it. Next time!

I climbed Arnside Knott, from where the views weren’t as spectacular as they can be, all the distance hills being lost in a cloudy miasma.

Descending towards Hollins Farm, I exchanged salutations with a lady walking in the opposite direction. We agreed that the weather had brightened considerably since earlier in the day.

Moments later I was anxiously tracking a fierce looking rainstorm as it tracked towards me across the bay, and moments after that I was hastily clambering into waterproofs as the deluge struck. Fortunately, it was very short-lived and I was soon enjoying the way the low sun in the western sky was dying the clouds with pink whilst the clouds to the east were still a forbidding rain-soaked purple.

Over the Knott

Strange Bore

Friday night. Another afternoon commute walk. From the station I followed the main road as far as Hollins Lane and then took the path down through Fleagarth Wood to the salt-marsh. The weather was quite odd again: it was overcast, but looking east across Leighton Moss the sky was clear and blue. The limestone hull of Farleton Fell was shining white in bright sunshine, thrown into relief by the starkly contrasting black clouds behind.

I hope it has come through in my posts, but September seems to have been something of a bumper month – I’ve managed to get out for many walks and each seems to have brought something fascinating or surprising to see or experience. In fact, I’ve been thinking back over the year so far and realising that much the same can be said for the whole year. Am I on an astonishing run of good fortune, or am I in some way more attuned to and observant of what’s going on around me? It would be nice to think that persistence pays off and that sustained attention promotes a connection which brings greater rewards over time.

On Friday, however there seemed at first to be nothing particularly diverting to see and I was preparing myself for a walk which would be – not mundane exactly – pleasurable, but perhaps run-of-the-mill. But then the skies started to clear overhead and the simple alchemy of sky reflected in water, which I have been very conscious of during my recent visits to Leighton Moss, worked its magic…

Warton Crag seen across Quicksand Pool.

…and everything was once again on the up and up.

There’s usually a heron in or around Quicksand Pool. Today was no exception. What was unusual was that when the heron was spooked by my presence and laboriously heaved its way into the air, it didn’t do so silently but loosed a series of harsh protesting calls. It came to rest out on the bay:

Grey Heron with Morecambe dragged closer than it really is by the wonders of telephoto.

Self-portrait with Warton Crag.

Morecambe Bay. Clougha Pike on the horizon right of centre.

Just past Jenny Brown’s cottages the road is screened by a row of trees, giving a good unseen vantage point out over the bay. A small flotilla of diving ducks (well six) were swimming down the channel towards me.

They dived continually, but the water is very shallow here and each dive was short-lived. Since they often went straight back into the water after surfacing, they looked a little like they were swimming butterfly. At any one time, two or three of the birds might be underwater. Occasionally they all were, but they still came relentlessly upstream and could be seen as a strange bore…

 

An egret joined the party. My colleague M, who is a proper birder, tells me that the comical movements of the egret are because the bird stirs up the bottom with its feet, hoping to disturb flatfish and other bottom feeders which it can then grab in its beak. This opportunistic egret followed along the channel clearly using the disturbance of the diving ducks to serve the same purpose.

I think that these are goosanders rather than the smaller but very similar mergansers, but as ever I stand ready to be corrected. I assumed that they were all female, since the males are whiter and have green heads, but at this time of year goosanders are moulting, are flightless for a month, and the males more closely resemble the females.

Eventually the goosanders stopped and settled to preening themselves.

I had been very much enjoying the show but was suddenly disturbed by a hullaballoo off to my left. At this point the screen of trees became a disadvantage and I struggled at first to see the source of the commotion, but then saw two birds , apparently locked together, plummeting toward the mud of the bay. The smaller, white and squawking volubly, was a gull of some sort. At first I thought that perhaps the larger, darker bird was a bird of prey – which had perhaps taken the gull in flight, but then it occurred to me that the other voice in the dispute sounded like the same raucous cries that I had heard from the heron earlier. Herons will eat young gulls, but also gulls will harry herons, I assume in an attempt to make them drop food. I lost sight of both birds. When I moved again, I could see a heron roughly below where the two had been falling. It looked unruffled and calm and not at all like a recent participant in a air-borne brawl. It was in almost exactly the same spot as the heron which I had watched earlier, so perhaps it wasn’t the culprit and perhaps I am simply mistaken in my assumptions. When I turned back to them, the goosanders were swimming rapidly downstream away from the fracas, and perhaps away from me now that I had blown my cover. The egret was less perturbed…

…and in fact  a second egret was now also near to the first by the stream.

I walked a little further along the road, my attention still held by the birds in the sunshine on the bay…

It was only when I reached by the small old quarry near to Jenny Brown’s Point that I realised that once again I was on the dividing line between two very different weathers – to the south sunshine and clear skies, the the north:

…the sky was ominously black.

Rainbow weather! But as it transpires, the rainbow never happened, not in a conventional sense anyway, although I did notice that this sign, which is white when seen end-on…

  …produces a rainbow from an oblique angle…

…and what’s more, that by moving to my left to a less oblique angle I could get more of the red end of the spectrum and equally by moving to the right get more of the violet end.

Another pair of egrets kept me amused for a while…

…they seemed to be racing each other back and forth in the stream. Occasionally, one of the birds would propel itself to the front with a quick flurry of wings…

…only to be thwarted in its ambitions by a similar tactic from the other bird.

I rounded Jenny Brown’s point and entered Jack Scout to find that I wasn’t the only one gazing out at the dramatic sky…

The strange garb is a costume – this is a performer in an outdoor dance piece which was being performed at Jack Scout all last week.

Jack Scout views.

Apparently there was a stunning sunset later, which I missed, having reengaged with quotidian necessities.

Strange Bore

A Sharp Shower

A late evening walk – I had to be in Arnside so walked over via Eaves Wood and Arnside Knott. As I entered Eaves Wood I was greeted by the disappearing behind of a roe deer, bobbing away in that graceful fluid way that they do, which has as much of flight in it as running. That aside the drama was all in the sky.

I arrived on the top of the Knott with the last of the light. Across the estuary the Lyth valley was obscured by a shower…

…which was all well and good until I realised that the wind was blowing from the North and the shower was heading my way.

The views from here are always great, but in near darkness and a stiff wind this little hill takes on a surprisingly wild and elemental character.

I didn’t get too wet and my camera seems to have survived the damp (I was ill-prepared for bad weather).

The lights of Grange across the Kent.

A Sharp Shower

Brimfull

Brimful Beck living up to it’s name.

The better weather duly arrived, although not everyone was getting it. In fact the weather was quite odd – we could often see very black skies to the east and south, where as we often had blue skies and out to the west over the sea the weather looked to be brighter still. The high tops were mostly clear after the cloud lifted early on, but some of the lower hills were occasionally half shrouded in cloud.

Our route in brief was: skirting Yewbarrow above Over Beck to Dore Head…

  Wastwater and the Screes from above Over Beck.

Yewbarrow from Dore Head…note the cows, not often seen on Lakeland Fells.

From there up to Red Pike….

X-Ray on the first (801m) summit.

Haycock and Scoat Tarn from the same spot.

Scoat Fell, Red Pike, Pillar.

X-Ray above the precipitous Mosedale side of Red Pike – note the black skies behind the Scafells.

From Red Pike we climbed Scoat Fell…

Scoat Fell. Red Pike on the right, Scafells in the background.

Then an out and back to Steeple…

X-Ray looks back to Scoat Fell from Steeple.

Pillar and Black Crag from Steeple. Great Gable in the background on right.

Looking down Long Crag to Ennerdale Water and the Sea.

On then to Haycock…

Looking back to Scoat Fell and Steeple from Haycock.

From Haycock it was a long walk out, along Nether Beck…

We saw very few other walkers all day, but now we only had dor beetles (of which we saw no end through the day) and small frogs to keep us company….

The rain, which seemed to have been threatening to arrive all day, no finally appeared, starting with the slightest of showers, but getting more persistent and with odd rumbles of thunder to accompany it.

Crossing Ladcrag Beck

Nether Beck

Brimfull

Rain Man

Posts (as you may have noticed if you’re still hanging in there) have been less frequent around these parts for some time. There are two principal reasons, the first is that I’m trying to find a balance between work, play, chores and blogging etc., and the second is that I simply haven’t been out as much. This year I haven’t been commuting on the train, as I did for a while last year, so don’t get a morning and evening stroll then. I’d like to use the train, but I’m too often required as a family taxi service immediately after work for that to be very practical. Another reason is that S is beyond the nap in a pushchair stage so I don’t have that excuse to get out. Also, although he still wakes early it’s no longer possible to bundle him up and take him out in the rucksack for a pre-breakfast leg-stretcher. (He would protest – he likes breakfast early and he doesn’t often like to be carried.) Meanwhile TBH has taken to setting off for early morning runs. Naturally, I’m jealous – I used to be the runner in the family.

On Saturday morning I decided to take a leaf out of her book and get out early once S had woken up. As you can see above, at 6.30am it was still fairly dark, but getting lighter, and the eastern sky was promisingly blue. Naively perhaps I half expected to hear a rousing dawn chorus as I did on an early outing some time ago, but aside from the spluttering calls (not songs) of a few blackbirds it was fairly quiet. From the direction of Hagg Wood I did hear an owl calling though.

I followed the path up the side of Potter’s Field and was surprised in the wood that although it was light enough to see, it seemed to be a little misty. Perhaps an illusion caused by the low light I wondered? A Gamelan orchestra of secondary rain drops splashing from leaf to leaf provided the music which I had hoped the birds would supply. But…..was it secondary rain drops or had it started to rain? Under the trees it was very difficult to tell, but I began to suspect the latter . As I reached the edge of a clearing close to Castlebarrow summit, the hiss of a really fearsome downpour striking the canopy of trees overhead confirmed the worst. I hunched under the the low branches of a yew, which gave reasonable protection. Standing waiting and hoping that the deluge would subside soon, it was interesting to hear not just the percussion of water on leaves but also the gurgle of running water, although I’m not aware of any streams in Eaves Wood at all.

When the rain did ease a little, I continued to the Pepper Pot.

From Castlebarrow the lights of Silverdale, and Morecambe in the distance.

I had envisaged finding a sheltered spot to sit down and watching a spectacular sunrise from the hilltop, but that seemed like an unlikely hope and a daft idea all round now. I could still see one bright spot to the east and….perhaps, just maybe, a patch of blue out over the Bay. Maybe it would head this way. I set-off towards home, just in case things weren’t going to brighten up.

But, it stopped raining, and so I took a right turn towards Cove Road and the Cove.

Looking out over the Bay and…that patch of blue!

There were lots of crows…or perhaps rooks out on the mud. Black-headed gulls paddled in the channel, where the water was not even knee-deep on the gulls. A curlew picked at the mud and loosed the occasional burbling cry. A cormorant winging low over the Bay was perfectly reflected in the wet mud.

As I crossed the Lots, causing a large flock of black-headed gulls to lift and wheel away, I noticed that some of the clouds were tinged with pink, and that the sun was probably still to rise. In fact when I rounded the final corner on to the lane past our house, a view opened up to the east and I could see that the sun was just above the horizon. If I’d stayed out a little longer perhaps I could have enjoyed some sunshine…

But, that would have meant a very late breakfast, and we had things to do….

It was sunny for a while, but it was a very changeable day, with the showers getting longer and heavier as the day wore on. Later we even had hail for a while.

Our bird-bath during the hail shower.

I was back in Eaves Wood last night, in even less light and even more rain, and back at the Cove enjoying some sunshine today, but more of that another time.

Rain Man