Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh

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A cast of thousands (well a dozen or so) assembled for our winter gathering, this year held once again at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel and, as ever, superbly organised by Andy. On the Saturday, The Tower Captain and I decided to tackle the two hills which tower over the hotel to the East – Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh.

The route was extremely simple: follow the path beside the Allt Coire an Dothaidh into the slightly forbidding looking Coire an Dothaidh…

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Turn right at the col for the long haul up to Beinn Dorain before returning to the col to nip up Beinn an Dothaidh via a circuit of Coire Reidh.

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Looking down Glen Orchy.

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Looking across Loch Tulla.

Towards the top of Corie an Dothaidh I was really surprised to see, emerging from the snow, the flowers of what I assume to be Purple Saxifrage, familiar to me from the limestone crags high on Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent.

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We stopped for a while, behind a boulder near the top of the corrie, for a drink and a bite to eat.

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Lochan on the ridge, unnamed on the OS map.

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Beinn a Chuirn and Beinn Mhanach, with Beinn Sheasgarnaich behind TC.

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Looking up to the steepest section of the climb on Beinn Dorain.

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Looking back towards Beinn an Dothaidh.

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Across Loch Tulla again. Ben Starav, Stob Coir an Albannaich and Stob Ghabhar.

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Pano. Click on this, or other pictures, to view a larger image on flickr.

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Looking south-west, Ben Oss and Ben Lui prominent.

The weather was pretty changeable and we had a few showers of snow, hail and rain, but on the whole that just added to the drama of the views.

The false summit of Carn Sasunnaich came as a surprise, in mist I can see that it would be very easy to be fooled by it.

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I was feeling in particularly fine fettle along this section of ridge, like I was really in my element.

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In fact, here I am, feeling very pleased with myself. The Tower Captain took the photo, I don’t think he’ll mind that I’ve used it.

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Looking back along the ridge to Carn Sasunnaich.

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Across Loch Tulla again – the weather coming in.

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Looking toward Ben Oss and Ben Lui again.

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Looking South from the top.

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Ice formations on the slopes of Beinn an Dothaidh.

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Looking back to Beinn Dorain.

I was hoping that Beinn an Dothaidh would give us superb views across the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor, but, by the time we had reached the top, the weather had closed in again and our views were a bit limited.

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Looking down to Loch Tulla.

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Beinn Achaladair.

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Large cornices and the summit of Beinn an Dothaidh.

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The Tower Captain on the summit of Beinn an Dothaidh.

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Looking towards the hills around Loch Lyon.

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I’m not sure what kind of rocks the hills we climbed are composed of, but they seemed to glitter in the combination of damp and sunlight we had, with lots of silvers and golds on display. Eventually, it occurred to me to try to photograph them, but I only took one photo, which hasn’t really captured the effect very satisfactorily.

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When we got back down to Coire and Dothaidh the snow had mostly melted and the late afternoon light put a completely different aspect on the views.

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We sat by the same boulder as we had on the way up for one final rest stop…

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…before returning to the pub for food, drink and a convivial evening with old friends.

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Beinn Dorrain

Can’t be bad.

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Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh

March Many Weathers (Take 6)

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Daffodil season is just about over and I don’t seem to have taken many photos of daffs this year. So here’s some which were sat in our porch – I noticed the light as I was setting-out for a wander and I couldn’t resist.

Of course, normally I fret about the fact that I continually post photos of the same old things over and over, ‘leaves and stuff’ as TBH has it; ironically, this year I’m worrying that I haven’t taken enough photos of daffodils, one of my usual spring staples. Something else I ponder from time to time is whether it’s best to restrict each post to a single walk and each walk to a single post, and whether or not I ought to cover every one of my walks on the blog. I realise that if these are the things I worry about then I’m a very lucky man, but even though these things are obviously trivial, and nobody really cares whether blogs have rules or not, these are still matters that I mull over occasionally. Not that I’ve ever reached any sort of satisfactory conclusion.

All of which waffle leads up to the fact that this is a portmanteau post which covers several mid-March walks whilst also ignoring a number of others.

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Several of those walks involved ascents of Arnside Knott. Multiple ascents on some occasions. Six in all.

One of them was with TBH, as you can see.

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It’s often said that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only weather. So I’ll refrain from suggesting that we had some rotten weather in March, but I can at least say that we had a lot of weather. Some days, the weather was very changeable, with big clouds and showers blowing through.

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I like those kinds of days, because of the rainbows, dramatic lighting and impressive cloud formations which often accompany them.

Some days, however, just brought a lot of rain. B’s rugby was often cancelled due to water-logged pitches and the fields east of Arnside Tower farm and adjacent to Silverdale Moss were all flooded…

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Still, if it means we get days of high contrast, when louring skies…

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…clear…

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…but I can still see showers, falling on someone else, whilst I have sunshine…

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…then I’m quite happy.

The Lune at Kirkby Lonsdale…

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…was running very high and swift, but even that looked less threatening a few minutes later…

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…when the sun came out.

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The view from the Knott was also always changing. Sometimes there was hardly any view. At others times only the higher hills were obscured by clouds, or they were cloaked in snow, or both.

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Another spring staple of the blog, much shyer than daffs, is Green Hellebore…

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I made several visits on the way to and from the Knott to check that it was still there. It was. Very reassuring.

This is Davy Graham’s version of ‘Take 5’…

…it seems like he was in a hurry to finish!

March Many Weathers (Take 6)

Take 5

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The weather’s dreadful, the forecast is for worse to come, but you’re desperate to get out and put some miles beneath your feet and, perhaps more importantly, to include plenty of up in your route. What do you do?

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Climb Arnside Knott, obviously.

Five times.

Not that I’m obsessed or anything!

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The Pepperpot was barely beneath the low clouds and the Knott was hidden as I approached it, but began to clear after I’d arrived on the top for the first time.

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By the time I’d reached the toposcope I almost had a view.

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I didn’t set my camera phone to monochrome, this is just what the weather was like!

And down at Far Arnside…

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The sun was shining a little on the daffodils.

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Perhaps things were looking up?

But by the end of my second ascent, heavy snow was falling, somewhat to my surprise.

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Over the course of the six hours of the walk I had snow, hail and, as you can see, some pleasant spells too. But mostly I had rain, increasingly so, and lots of it.

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I did contemplate calling it a day at times, but mostly I was enjoying myself. I also found one or two bits of path which I’d not walked before.

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Eventually, I stopped taking photos, with the exception of a series of selfies by the trig point on the Knott. I’m not sure why. I’m not normally one for taking selfies at all, and since you can’t actually see the trig point in any of the photos, they don’t really prove anything at all. In the first couple I look a bit sweaty and more than a bit gormless, in the penultimate one I look quite wet, and by the last one it was clearly chucking it down…

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…but I still managed to look quite pleased with myself.

That’s my new coat, by the way. Picked up for a snip from Mountain Warehouse. It did surprisingly well, but by the time I got home I was saturated. No coat will keep you dry forever, especially not one that costs £35.

Would I do it again? Without a doubt! Maybe tomorrow, if I can swing it.

This is Val Bennet’s ‘The Russian’s Are Coming’, but obviously it’s actually a reggae cover version of Paul Desmond’s ‘Take 5’.

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Oh. 15ish miles and about 2600′ of ascent, according to Mapmywalk, for those of you who like stats. Which, I’ve just realised, puts me almost bang on Naismith. Almost. Hurrah. There’s hope for me yet.


In the summer, I shall be attempting to complete the annual 10 in 10 challenge. Briefly, the idea is to walk a route over 10 Wainwrights in 10 hours or less.  You can find out more here.

The event is a fundraiser and I’m hoping to get some sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. My Just Giving page is here. All donations, however small, will be most welcome. I should add that the sponsorship is not a condition of my entry and that I’ve already paid a fee to enter which covers all costs, so all sponsor money would go directly to charity.

Take 5

February Heatwave.

Castlebarrow – Arnside Tower – Arnside Knott – Arnside Moss – Hazelslack – Beetham Fell – Hazelslack – Silverdale Moss – Hawes Water – Eaves Wood.

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Lesser Celandines performing their salute to the sun.

Obviously, the words ‘February’ and ‘heatwave’ simply don’t belong together, at least, not in Britain. But this year we really did have a few days of genuinely warm weather at the end of that month.

My brother and his kids had flown home to Switzerland on the Saturday. We’d booked a family trip to the escape room in Lancaster to end our half-term on a high note. Since I’m in training, I wanted to squeeze in as many miles and as much ascent as I could in the limited time available.

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The forecast seemed to have brought out the crowds and the Pepper Pot was about as busy as I’ve seen it. Later, on Arnside Knot there were numerous groups sitting in the sun, apparently enjoying picnics or just sunbathing and enjoying the slightly hazy views.

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Arnside Tower.

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Arnside Tower Farm and Arnside Knott.

There were quite a lot of butterflies about.

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Red Admiral.

I didn’t want to hang about chasing them with my camera too much, but couldn’t resist this Red Admiral which was sunning itself by the trig pillar on Arnside Knott.

I’ve read that last summer’s long hot spell benefited some species of butterfly, but I can’t imagine that this spring, which continues to have alternate periods of unseasonably warm weather, followed by some very cold snaps, can have done our butterflies much good.

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There were lots of Crocuses in flower on the driveway of Arnside Tower Farm, but I was surprised to find them at the base of a sapling near the top of the Knott. Crocuses are not a native species, so either these have self-seeded here, or somebody has planted bulbs, but that seems like an odd thing to do. Either way, they looked fantastic.

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Arnside Moss.

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Hazelslack Farm and Tower.

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A path runs along the lefthand (west side) of these fields. It’s not one I walk all that often, but I used it on this occasion so that I could make a circular loop taking in Beetham Fell.

After this, it began to cloud up and by the time I was walking alongside Silverdale Moss towards home there was a nip in the air. It began to feel like February again.

Mapmywalk tells me that I had walked a little over 10 miles, with considerably over 1100 feet of ascent in a little under 4 hours. I was chuffed with this, since it’s the sort of pace I’ll need for the 10in10 challenge. Admittedly, that will involve a great deal more climbing, but this was a start at least.

At the escape rooms, I found myself handcuffed and apparently accused of murder. Fortunately, we were able to locate the key to the cuffs, escape from the police cell and even identify the actual culprit. I can’t say it was really my cup-of-tea, but it was an interesting experience and I think the rest of the family were much more impressed than I was.


In the summer, I shall be attempting to complete the annual 10 in 10 challenge. Briefly, the idea is to walk a route over 10 Wainwrights in 10 hours or less.  You can find out more here.

The event is a fundraiser and I’m hoping to get some sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. My Just Giving page is here. All donations, however small, will be most welcome. I should add that the sponsorship is not a condition of my entry and that I’ve already paid a fee to enter which covers all costs, so all sponsor money would go directly to charity.

February Heatwave.

Tramp

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A bit of a wander from the end of January. Before I left the house I’d been watching a large flock of Curlews in the field behind the house. Here’s a portion of them…

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Snowdrops.

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Pepper Pot.

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Slime mould?

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Goldcrest.

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Jelly Ear fungus.

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Stinking Hellebore.

I’m not sure that Stinking Hellebore is really a local wildflower – it likes alkaline soils so grows well here, but not in may places, so is probably a garden escapee. It’s apparently best seen on the chalk hills of Hampshire.

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Jackdaws.

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Snowdrops.

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More Hellebores, this time from our garden. 

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And the title? Well, it all came from mishearing….

‘The Champ’ by The Mohawks on Radio 6. My mistake is not too surprising, since this is a cover of ‘Tramp’, first recorded by Lowell Fulsom and cowritten by Fulsom and Jimmy McCracklin (who recorded the album ‘High on the Blues’, a favourite of mine) and most famously performed as a duet by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. The song has had quite an eventful history, with lots of versions recorded, some of which have also been heavily sampled. Salt and Pepa recorded a reworking of the tune, but when the b-side started to get more airtime that was released separately as a single. And the b-side was…Push It, their big hit.

Anyway, enough pop trivia for now. I really like The Mohawks cover, but for me nothing will ever top the moment in the Thomas/Redding version when Otis’s voice soars into the line ‘I’m a lover’.

Tramp

New Year Floral Survey

Eaves Wood – Castlebarrow – The Row – Burtonwell Wood – The Clifftop – Heald Brow – Quaker’s Stang – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – Gibraltar Farm – Woodwell – Emesgate Lane.

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Quince Flowers.

After a string of grey, overcast, foggy, damp days, New Year’s Day was a corker: bright, sunny and, out of the wind, even quite warm at times. TBH was wiped out by a rotten cold, but the rest of us had been out on New Year’s Eve and the children, lightweights to a man, weren’t up very early. Eventually, Little S emerged into the light and I told him I was heading out to take advantage of the sunshine and asked him to ring me when the others got up, chiefly because the day before we’d got halfway through a game of Pandemic, a board game my brother sent us for Christmas, and I’d promised to finish it with the kids when they were ready.

The first surprise, apart from the glorious sunshine, was the thicket of Quince on the  corner of Elmslack Lane which was studded with bright red baubles. I suppose it must have been flowering when I walked past it earlier that week, but it took some brighter conditions to draw my attention to that fact. When I spotted a Marigold (I think?), which must have self-seeded where it sat at the end of a gravel drive….

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…I was reminded again, as I often am, of Richards Adams marvellous ‘A Nature Diary’ in which the author, most famous for Watership Down, explores the lanes, hills and coasts around his home on the Isle of Man. His winter entries often gleefully list the flowers he has found unexpectedly in bloom. I wondered how I might fare with a similar scheme on New Year’s Day. Almost immediately, I spotted Snowdrops and a single Celandine. Also…

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…quite a bit of Winter Jasmine in gardens. All of those might reasonably be expected, but I was a bit more surprised by the extent to which the brambles were flowering wherever I saw them in the woods…

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The Jubilee Monument on Castlebarrow.

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In Eaves Wood.

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In Burtonwell Wood.

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I think that this might be Yellow Jelly Fungus, also known as Witches Butter, but I’m not sufficiently confident about that, or hungry enough, to try adding this allegedly edible fungi to my diet.

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Heald Brow.

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Meadow Ant Mounds on Heald Brow.

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Evidence of Badger predation of Meadow Ants? Apparently Badgers are partial to ants.

It was a good morning for birds, if not for bird photographs: I heard and saw Nuthatches, a Buzzard, various tits, several Great Spotted Woodpeckers and one Green Woodpecker.

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Ragwort.

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Dandelion.

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Gorse.

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Daisy.

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Quaker’s Stang and Warton Crag.

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Sea Beet.

It wasn’t just the flowers which caught my attention; Sea Beet is the wild ancestor of Beetroot, Sugar Beet and Perennial Spinach, grows all year by the coast, is packed full of vitamins and is reputedly delicious. Spring is apparently the best time to eat it, so, seeing it growing on the edge of the salt-marsh, I made a mental note to come back this way, later in the year, with some sort of receptacle in which to carry away some forage.

There were quite a few people enjoying a New Year’s Day constitutional down by the salt-marsh, but I felt like I might be the only one who spotted the completely unexpected flight of a Speckled Wood butterfly and, moments later, a Painted Lady…

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Butterflies can only fly when the temperature is high enough, so the fact that they were here at all was testament to the genuine warmth by this sheltered, south-facing bank. It’s still a bit of a puzzle however, since Speckled Wood butterflies are unique in that they can overwinter as either a caterpillar or a chrysalis, but I don’t think they generally hibernate, as some other species do. And Painted Ladies famously migrate northwards from North Africa over several generations during a summer and then return in the autumn. Perhaps this one was a straggler.

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The large tree behind the old chimney had a couple of clumps of…

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…exquisitely ochre fungi.

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Jenny Brown’s Cottages.

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This looks like a Hawk’s-beard, although I’m not remotely confident about that. Maybe Rough Hawk’s-beard, but that’s supposed to flower in June and July, so if it is, it’s a confused specimen.

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Jack Scout.

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I’ve previously reported that the berries on Flowering Nutmeg, here growing close to Woodwell, reputedly taste chocolaty. In the interest of accuracy, I tried a berry and can now correct my error – it didn’t taste at all like chocolate. It was bitter and not at all pleasant. Oh well – you live and learn.

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More flowers. These were staked, clearly a garden plant, but Stinking Hellebore is actually native to the British Isles. This plant is very early to flower and would be one of the few you might expect to see at this time of year.

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Emerging Cuckoo Pint leaves: spring is on the way!

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Hydrangea. In retrospect these are not actually flowers at all I don’t think, but the remains of the large bracts which once surrounded the actual flowers.

We never did finish that game of Pandemic. I eventually rang Little S, when it seemed too late in the day for the rest of the family to still be in bed. It transpired that they were watching a film instead, so I was free to continue my New Year’s Day ramble without feeling guilty about having abandoned them all. We have played several times since.

The following day our old friend X-Ray visited and he and I and B played another new game, sent by my brother, Queen Domino. It’s a companion to, and can be combined with, King Domino, which we’ve enjoyed enormously since we got it last Christmas. Although I won, I didn’t really feel that I’d grasped the strategy for Queen Domino; I think that might take numerous games.

After our game, X-Ray and I went for a rather late wander down to Jack Scout and managed to miss what was, apparently, quite a spectacular sunset.

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Next time will have to do.

A pretty good start to 2019. I hope you’ve enjoyed the same.

New Year Floral Survey

Lest We Forget

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Mean and moody clouds seen from the Cove on a November Saturday with the tide well in.

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Much brighter weather on the Sunday.

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Ragwort.

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These autumnal images come from a walk in Eaves Wood and then down to Woodwell on Armistice Day. Later we we were back at the Pepperpot, where a beacon was lit, one of many around the country, to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Lest We Forget