Roe Deer


When we got home from our trip to Roa Island it was to discover one more wildlife treat awaiting us – a pair of roe deer in the garden.


Deer visit from time to time. Sometimes they sleep on our lawn. We’d seen them a few times recently, but it was pleasing that they visited whilst our guests were still with us – putting on a show as it were.


The slightly scruffy look is because they are shedding their darker, winter coat in anticipation of warmer weather (which we are still anticipating patiently).

Roe Deer

Whitsun Treadings VI: Roa Island


We went to Roa Island again (after a tip-top picnic on Birkrigg Common – we really must go and explore more thoroughly there). It wasn’t a particularly low tide and the water was pretty cold. Even so, there was, as ever, plenty to be seen.


Rhizostoma octupus – not an octopus at all, but actually a jellyfish.

As always, there were lots of shore crabs to be found – many were females carrying a clump of eggs. Many others seemed to be at that vulnerable stage where they had recently shed a shell and their new shells were still soft.


Their markings and colouration vary enormously.


Lots of the rocks we turned over were smothered with these…..


…presumably eggs of some sort. Not crabs, I don’t think, but I don’t have an alternative suggestion.


Not sure at all about this either.

Look carefully into this shallow pool…


..can you see something snaking across the middle of the picture?

It’s a greater pipefish….


Every visit seems to deliver something we haven’t seen before. This one was spotted by our friend TJF/








We walked farther down the beach than we ever have before, eventually reaching the harbour wall, where judging by the stench, untreated sewage was flowing into the channel. (I’d be pleased to know that my suspicion is wrong about that, if anyone knows better.)


A whelk?

It’s entirely possible that the huge clusters of eggs we saw were whelk eggs. Whelk roe anyone?


A shanny.


Also a shanny, possibly the same one.


We found quite a number of these large, appealing shells – wrinkled and rippled without, shiny and super-smooth within. Oysters I presume.


We often see, and catch, prawns and shrimps, but I’ve not had much luck with photographing them before. I think that this is the former – maybe a common prawn.


Always a grand day out. Hopefully we’ll be there again before the summer is out.

Whitsun Treadings VI: Roa Island

Whitsun Treadings V: Burton Well Cliff Cave, Woodwell Newts, Green-winged Orchids on the Lots


It’s all there in the title really. Another local walk – we might have gone further afield more often, but the weather forecasts were often pretty poor, so a short wander not too far from home often seemed like a safer bet.


We were joined for this walk by our friend G and her kids. G grew up here in Silverdale and remembers crawling through the narrow cave which runs through the cliff near Burton Well and which I only discovered a few weeks back. We decided to mosey over that way and let some of the current generation of Silverdale’s youth experience that same thrill. I think they enjoyed it. They certainly wanted to go back and through several times over.

From there we went over to Woodwell. The sun shone, and for once it actually felt quite warm. We were lazing and watching the fish in the shallow, silted pond there, and I was busy telling everyone that I’d often seen newts here, twenty-odd years ago, when I first moved to the area, but not since, when….

‘There’s a newt!’

‘There’s another one!’


It was newts on parade day. We watched for a while. I took several photos, of which this is probably the sharpest. The UK has three species of newts. And the newts we watched  were…..almost certainly one of those three.


Anxious not to be left out, a damselfly joined the party by pig-backing on our friend B’s coat. B loves small creatures which he can handle and soon had made a pet of what I think is a female large red damselfly.


It was surprisingly content to sit on his hand. Perhaps it had only recently emerged? So happy was it, in fact, that B was taking her home with him.


I persuaded him it might be best to take her back and leave her by the pond.


We finished with a stroll across the Lots, where the green-winged orchids were looking spectacular.


Whitsun Treadings V: Burton Well Cliff Cave, Woodwell Newts, Green-winged Orchids on the Lots

Kent Estuary Dolphin

On Arnside Knott

Another half-term stroll, this time for all of the family, which began in Eaves Wood, took us past Arnside Tower and then over the Knott. On the Knott the kids enjoyed the variety of finding some new trees to climb…

Arnside Knott tree climbing 

It was a cloudy day, but the Lakeland fells were mostly clear, and we certainly had better views than on our previous visit with friends a few weeks back. In fact, over Dunmail Raise we could even pick-out Skiddaw in the Northern Lakes.

Big stick 

From the Knott we dropped down to the shores of the Kent estuary where we in for a bit of a surprise. Something floating in the river….

Object in Kent Estuary 

….a dolphin (or porpoise I don’t know which).

A dolphin? 

It must, I think, have been a young one – it was around a metre long. And decidedly dead. Although passers-by were asking whether somebody should be rung to come and attempt a rescue – it was clearly too late for that. I’ve never seen a dolphin or a porpoise in the wild. How sad that my first encounter should be with a prematurely dead youngster.

Evening light on the Row

After tea and cake in the bakery on the promenade, we caught a train back to Silverdale station. From there TBH and the boys used the shuttle bus service to get home, whilst A and I walked across the fields. The sun had sunk below the blanket of cloud and briefly suffused everything with a warm golden glow.

Kent Estuary Dolphin

Towyn Farm – Early Morning Strolls II


One morning I cycled down to the natural harbour of Porth Ysgaden and walked along the coast to Porth Gwylan, another, larger, natural harbour. Between the two, this rocky inlet, unnamed on the OS map, was home to many cormorants with two obvious, large and untidy nests and birds dotted about the cliffs.



Six spot burnet moth

Six-spot burnet moth.

Porth Gwylan

Porth Gwylan

You can perhaps see a small speck in the water almost in the centre of the photo. It’s a grey seal. Sometimes one or two other seals would surface for a while, but this one stayed almost stationary, snout pointing upwards, apparently asleep. I went down to the shingle beach to get a closer view.

Grey seal

And even momentarily attracted the attention of the sleepy seal.

Grey seal 2

But not for long. I watched the seal for quite some time before heading back to the campsite.

Rock samphire

“This is rock samphire isn’t it?” TBH asked.

“I’m not sure. It could be.”

She tasted it. “Yes, it is. You try it.”

So I did, reluctantly. It was foul – tasted like soap.

“It’s foul – my bit tastes like soap!” I said, between all the spitting and retching.

“Yep – so did mine.”

Unopened centaury

I made a special trip to photograph these tiny flowers, which I had seen several times on my way down to the beach, only to find that in the early-morning shade they weren’t open. I got them again later:


I’m pretty certain that it’s centaury, but I’m not sure which one.

Nearby another small pink flower…




I think that this is a centaury again, growing much taller on the rocks where the sheep can’t get to crop it short. Judging by the rosette of narrow basal leaves it would say that it is seaside centaury, which I suppose makes sense.

Towyn Farm – Early Morning Strolls II

Butterbur and Excavations

Woefully behind as ever. A week and a half ago: ferrying A to pre-exam ballet lessons in Milnthorpe again, I took the boys too, knowing that they would enjoy the path beside the Bela I had walked earlier in the week. It gave them an opportunity to lob great boulders into the water and me a chance to take photos of the butterbur whilst the sun was shining.

Later in the week I had a short post-work stroll to Pointer Wood and Clarke’s Lot. There were many more violets…

And an ants’-nest mound which had been comprehensively hollowed out.

I know that both green woodpeckers and badgers will dig into these mounds in search of ants to eat. This time the culprit had left footprints….

….which I don’t think belong to either a woodpecker or a badger, but I’m not at all confident of a positive ID.

Butterbur and Excavations


Last weekend (back before Christmas) we travelled up to Allendale for our regular pre-Christmas get-together with old friends. We (well, not me personally: I’m hopeless and would definitely cock-up the organisation if it fell to me) had booked a youth hostel for our sole use – this year Ninebanks hostel. I’m reliably informed, by TBH, that this is the eighth year that we’ve done this. Which is true up to a point, but before we used Youth Hostels we used to gather in one of our homes – this was when we were young and able to sleep on floors, and perhaps more importantly we didn’t have so many kids between us.

It’s as much a social event as anything – communal meals, rehashing old stories, a kids party, a few beers. This year tobogganing and a music intros quiz also featured. There wasn’t really enough snow for the former and every stone and rut bumped and jolted as we slid down the icy field. Frozen mole-hills proved to be particularly hazardous and all of the sleds were fatally damaged over the course of the weekend. I finished the trip with very painful sciatica which I think was probably as a result of the sledging.

I did manage to fit a couple of walks in too though. On Saturday I was up early for a pre-dawn start with the Adopted Yorkshireman (henceforth AYM). We walked a horseshoe around the valley of Wellhope Burn – up to the trig pillar at Hard Rigg, across Hesleywell Moor, over Whimsey Hill and the Dodd before turning North back toward the hostel. It was phenomenally cold – I’m essentially a very warm person and usually find that I can’t wear gloves for long, but on this occasion I comfortably wore two pairs together.

Hard Rigg

Twice – on the way up Hard Rigg and right by the trig point, we saw a mouse darting from a hole in the snow and then disappearing into another hole. Must be a hard won existence.

Where the going underfoot consisted of fresh snow over tussocks (approaching Hard Rigg) or fresh snow over heather and peat hags (the Dodd) it was hard work – letting the AYM break trial is not much help since his legs are about 3 yards long and it’s nigh on impossible to match his stride, and even if you do manage it’s only to find that he walks with his toes pointing out at 45 degrees and you can’t turn your feet to match his prints without the advantage of double-jointed ankles. Fortunately much of our route followed a wall in the lee of which old drifted snow had frozen into solid neve which was a delight to walk on. This was my first time around this moorland but with the boggy bits frozen it was probably an ideal time to visit. True to form however, on the Dodd I did manage to crash through some ice into peaty water which filled one of my boots – it was, needless to say, very cold.

Later on in our walk it brightened up considerably but for some reason I didn’t take any photos – probably too busy putting the world to rights as the AYM and I always seem to do whenever we are together.

After the early start we back in time for a late lunch, some sledging and to cook the curries for tea (my contribution to the weekend).

On the Sunday I was out with the AYM’s other half the Adopted Yorkshirewoman. We were on the afternoon shift having been on child-minding duties in the morning. As luck would have it we hit the best part of the day – it had been rather dull and dour but as we set-off the AYW opined that ‘it might clear up’, and she was dead right.

The confluence of the River West Allen and Mohope Burn….

…still running but with  ice building up under the water.

West Allen Dale

The track which took us up on to the moors. (Remarkably ice-free unlike many of the paths and tracks we followed)

The cloud begins to reassert itself.

We enjoyed the sunshine whilst we could, because when the weather turned again it did so very swiftly. And by the time we were following the edge at Greenleycleugh Crags, visibility was very limited…

Looking along Greenleycleugh Crags to the last of the sunshine disappearing in the North.

On the way back to the hostel we passed Throssel Hole Buddhist Centre which I’m sure I’ve read about before on the interweb but which I wasn’t aware was here. We talked to a couple of people here who I would guess were a monk and a nun from the centre. They were having problems with their water source. The centre is in Limestone Brae which is a small hamlet stretched out along the road on a steep valley side. Having seen the name Limestone Brae on a road sign I had been expecting it to be some sort of interesting geological feature.

At the end of our walk, in almost complete darkness, we came across a gathering of hares – I think seven in all. I thought that hare’s were essentially solitary creatures and was surprised to find them fraternising in a field.

In all a great weekend, and we didn’t get round to exploring Allen Banks or visiting the forts on nearby Hadrian’s Wall. We shall have to return.