Birds by the Bela

River Bela – ‘Orchid Triangle’ – Dallam Bridge

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A dance lesson for A and a short stroll for me, with more gawking than walking. I wasn’t too surprised to see the Pied Wagtails by the River Bela, but I was slightly taken aback moments later to spot a Wheatear – a passage bird?

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Whitbarrow Scar across the Bela.

On the ‘Orchid Triangle’ some orchid leaves in evidence – heavily spotted Early Purple and what I assume is Common Twayblade. No flowers yet, but plenty of other flowers incuding Cowslips and Bluebells. The latter in particular were attracting this very handsome bee…

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…which was quite small. I assume that it’s some sort of Solitary Bee. It has the ginger thorax of a Tree Bumblebee, but not much white on the tail and a good deal of very pale yellow hair too.

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Marsh Tit.

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Grey Heron and Little Egret perched at the Heronry.

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I walked past a substantial Oak which was liberally festooned with Gall Apples like this one. I was surprised by how fresh and apple-like they looked.

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Birds by the Bela

A Family Outing to Whitbarrow

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The title pretty much says it all, so I could just let the pictures do the talking, but I rarely miss an opportunity to pontificate, so: no such luck.

When I lived in Arnside, I could see Whitbarrow Scar from my living room window. Not that surprising then, that I used to come this way often. Far more surprising, is the fact that, since I moved back to Silverdale, I’ve rarely been back, and until just after Christmas, the kids had never been at all. The path in the picture above, not a right-of-way and not shown on my OS map, but as you can see, extremely well made, winds it’s way up the steep hillside without, mercifully, ever becoming steep itself. Leading to…

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…an old bench with a bit of a view…

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…presently of flooded fields. The hillside here was, long ago, the coastline. The river in the distance is the Kent, with Arnside Knott and Beetham Fell beyond.

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A short climb from the bench, and then a slight detour from the main path, leads to the top of the scar and even more expansive views.

I was playing with the panorama function again…

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We found a sheltered spot for a brew and some left-over goose sandwiches and then continued across the plateau towards Whitbarrow’s highest point.

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The view behind of the Kent Estuary was magnificent. (You probably need to click on the photos to see bigger versions in flickr to get the full benefit of the panorama shots.)

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Looking towards the top.

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Eastward: floods in the Lyth valley.

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At the top.

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Heading for the descent route…

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…which cuts very steeply through the trees.

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Two more panoramas. Light a bit too low at this point I think.

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On the outskirts of the hamlet of Beck Head we found this…

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…very well appointed self-service cafe with honesty box.

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I shall have to contrive a walk which arrives here in the middle, rather than near the end, so as to feel justified in partaking of what’s on offer. (Purely for research purposes you understand).

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The boys were very taken with the actual Beck Head, where the stream appears from underground.

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A slightly longer version of this walk appears in Wainwright’s ‘Outlying Fells’ and he says of it:

The walk described is the most beautiful in this book; beautiful it is every step of the way.

Can’t say fairer than that.

A Family Outing to Whitbarrow

Whitbarrow Scar

My friend X-Ray confided in me a while ago in the pub.

“I’ve bought a set of the Wainwright guides and I intend to climb all of the Wainwrights.”

I volunteered myself as a suitable companion and than waited for him to invite me out for some child-free days in the Lakes. When the call never came, I reminded him of his resolution and we arranged to bag our first Wainwright this Saturday. Thanks to the out-laws excellent baby-sitting service A was able to join us too.

It transpires that X-Ray has climbed many of the Wainwrights before, but has decided to start again. I’ve don’t own a set of the books – when all my friends were buying them I was too contrary to join in – so although I know that I must have climbed many of them, I have no idea how many. But having stalled with the Munros ten years ago at about 184, (Well…ok, exactly 184 not that I adopt a train-spotterish approach to ticking off mountains on lists….honest!) I could do with a new and more manageable challenge.

I had seen a forecast of dire conditions earlier in the week, but in the event the cloud broke up and cleared and we even had a little sunshine. There was quite a sharp breeze on the plateau, but after the steep pull up through the woods that came as a welcome relief.

Like Scout Scar – which I climbed with the kids a few weeks ago – Whitbarrow Scar is the result of the Limestone bedding planes having tilted over so that on the eastern side the ground rises gently and on the west there are cliffs. Whitbarrow Scar covers a larger area and has higher cliffs than Scout Scar though.

The limestone of Whitbarrow Scar sits on a bed of slate. Water percolates down through the porous limestone and then when it hits the slate is forced back out onto the surface in many springs and streams, most dramatically at Beck Head, where the stream, significantly swollen by Friday’s rain, emerges directly from under a small crag.

The stone garden shed which can just be seen on the right of the pictures has two frogs surmounting either gable end.

Some local citizen has been designing their own roadsigns to safeguard the beck’s other denizens.

Whitbarrow Scar