Little and Often: Lilydale

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These photos are from a couple of weeks ago now. The dying embers of a beautiful sunny evening. As usual, I was in Kirkby Lonsdale for the boys Rugby practice on a Wednesday, and went for a wander along the Lune…

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…past Ruskin’s View, through the churchyard and on to Devil’s Bridge. The display of Daffodils by St. Mary’s, and other flower strewn churchyards I’ve seen since, have had me digging out Francesca Greenoak’s book ‘God’s Acre’ which is about the flora and fauna likely to be found in a British churchyard, and, in turn, the title of that book put me in mind of the 10,000 Maniacs song ‘Lilydale’.

Come as we go far away
From the noise of the street
Walk a path so narrow
To a place where we feel at ease

Strange how my mind works: I haven’t listened to that album, ‘Songs from the Wishing Chair’, for years, but, at one time, I listened to it so frequently that I seem to be able to play it mentally on demand on some kind of internal radio.

Meanwhile…

 

April’s milage keeps me on course for my arbitrary 1000 mile target for the year. Once again, I didn’t match the early enthusiasm of January or February, despite the lighter evenings, but a couple of bouts of illness go some way to account for that. Not to worry, as of today I’ve clocked just over 450 miles so far, so I’m still ahead of schedule.

Right – off to find ‘Songs from the Wishing Chair’, time to get reacquainted with an old favourite.

Steep is the water tower
Painted off blue to match the sky
Can’t ignore the train
Night walks in the valley silent…
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Little and Often: Lilydale

Eaves Wood Sunset.

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Looking to the Bay and Humphrey Head from Castlebarrow.

A late stroll around the woods. The sun had already set when I set-off.

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I made a point of visiting the Toothwort.

And then found a track into an open area which I haven’t visited before…well, not from that direction anyway.

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But mostly I enjoyed the afterglow of the sunset in the skies above the trees.

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And the cacophony of some Jackdaws and Rooks…

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…who were having a final squabble before settling down to roost…

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Eaves Wood Sunset.

Tour de Farleton Fell

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Being the further adventures of a taxi-Dad. A Monday night, dance lessons for A in Milnthorpe and I decided, once I’d dropped her off, that I would drive over and make another visit to Farleton Fell. It was a gloomy evening with odd spots of rain in the breeze, but too good an opportunity to pass up.

Though I make weekly visits to Milnthorpe, and have often been to nearby Holme, I’ve never driven between them before and I was inordinately pleased to discover that there’s a tiny hamlet named Whasset along the road. I’m not sure why it amused me so much*.

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I’m also quite chuffed with how well this capture from Mapmywalk shows my route, although, it’s annoying that Newbiggin Crags have somehow been labelled as Heysham Limestone Pavement.

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From the Clawthorpe Fell Road, I followed the right-of-way over towards Holme further than we did on our Easter visit, then turned right on a promising trod which didn’t fail to deliver on that promise.

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I’d originally intended to come up below the limestone edge, something I must do another time, but this path brought me on to a wide shelf, which gradually narrowed to a broad ledge, part way up the crags.

I followed a Green Woodpecker up the edge. I got one photo, but the bird was just a black silhouette against the sky. They almost always seem to elude my camera. Almost.

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Arnside Knott, Beetham Fell, Haverbrak, River Kent, Whitbarrow.

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The ledge at its narrowest.

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Middleton Fells and Ingleborough.

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Summit pano.

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Looking back along the edge to Warton Crag and the Bay.

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On our last visit, we turned right roughly where I was stood when I took the photo above. This time I carried on.

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It was a delightful choice.

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Ingleborough from Newbiggin Crags.

My path continued to the right, but the path heading downward looked attractive too and it was clear that the slopes below had several paths to explore.

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I’ll be back.

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There’ll be other Mondays.

This was quite a high level tour. I also would like to try a much lower one, incorporating a visit to Lupton Beck and Whin Yeats Farm

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…where they make two different cheese with their own unpasteurised milk. I’ve been eating a lot of cheese recently, and when I say recently I’m referring to any period during the last fifty years, but I’ve also been seeking out unpasteurised cheeses, because I’ve read that they are good for my gut microbiome, and any excuse will do me. Local unpasteurised cheese seems like an even better bet. I’ll report back.

*I apologise. This was completely disingenuous. I absolutely know why I was amused. It was the prospect of annoying the residents by getting the name wrong. Whass’at? Whass’up? Was it? Wha’at? No? I’ll get me coat.

 

Tour de Farleton Fell

Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill

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A Saturday which, forecast wise, hadn’t promised much, suddenly brightened around lunchtime. Over our bowls of soup, I quizzed the family about their plans for the rest of the day, but for one reason or another they were all indisposed. I wanted to make the most of what was turning into a glorious afternoon, and it didn’t take me long to decide what to do: another hunt for Purple Saxifrage, having been a little too early for it on Ingleborough just over a week before.

I hadn’t actually made my mind up whether to tackle the walk on the western slopes of Ingleborough, which had been the original plan for my previous outing, or to head back to Pen-y-ghent where I first saw the saxifrage last year, but as I drove north from Ingleton I noticed that the Hill Inn was doing a roaring trade, likewise the Station Inn at Ribblehead. More importantly, there was a distinct lack of parking spaces and some of the roadside parking was decidedly dodgy, so I opted for Horton and Pen-y-ghent. As I drove down Ribblesdale towards Horton, I passed scores of walkers coming the other way up the road. Presumably, many of them were ‘doing’ the Three Peaks. They’d picked a fine day for it, but to these eyes at least, a lot of them looked hot and knackered and not particularly happy.

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Anyway, Horton was relatively quiet and I was soon climbing the nice steady Brackenbottom path, stopping regularly to take photos of the changing views of Pen-y-ghent.

There were still quite a few people about; mostly, but not exclusively, on their way down. I was quite surprised that there seemed to be a few parties following me up the hill, given that I’d only set-off from my car at around 3.30pm and most walkers seem to be fairly rigid about the times which are suitable for beginning and ending a trip.

As I was taking this photo…

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…a couple stopped to ask me if I was “walking or sight-seeing?” They also wanted to know about the zoom on my camera.

“It’s huge,” I told them

Although, in retrospect, it’s actually more true to say that, of its kind, it has a relatively modest zoom. I thought I might be able to demonstrate.

“You see that limestone cliff pretty much directly below the summit? I’m looking for Purple Saxifrage, and I think maybe I can see a bit of purple from here – the camera should tell me whether I’m right or not.”

I probably sounded like a pompous buffoon, but anyway…

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Taa-dah!

This not only impressed the punters, but also settled my immediate plans: I would stick to the path as far as the lower line of cliffs and would then traverse across beneath those cliffs in search of saxifrage to photograph. After that? Well, time would tell: maybe I could continue below the cliffs as far as the next path up to the summit; or perhaps I would retrace my steps; or maybe, seeing how broken those cliffs are, I could work out a route up through them to the top.

It can be a quixotic business this flowering hunting lark: when I got there, the slope just below the cliffs, which I knew would be steep, seemed maybe a bit steeper than I would have preferred…

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I don’t think it helped my aching calves and slightly wobbly knees that I kept staring up at the cliffs searching for purple…

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I think the sheerness of the rocks was magnifying, in my mind, the gradient of the mossy ground beneath.

At least the treasure I’d come seeking was there, in some abundance….

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I was just pondering on what might be pollinating these early flowers at this altitude when a Bumblebee buzzed over my shoulder in search of nectar.

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I suppose coincidences like this, when the workings of the old grey matter and events in the outside world somehow conspire to run in tandem, only seem eerily common because whenever they happen it’s striking and we remember it.

This bee might be a Buff-tailed Bumblebee, or a White-tailed Bumblebee, or a Northern White-tailed Bumblebee, workers of which species, I’ve just discouragingly read, are ‘virtually indistinguishable in the field’. Or maybe it’s none of the above. Bumblebee identification is very tricky.

Whilst I took these pictures, a second bee, some kind of Red-tailed variety, began to forage from the same clump of flowers, but proved too elusive for me and my camera.

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There seems to be something small and orangey-brown attached to the bees behind, and in this photo…

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…although they are hard to see, several more clinging to her neck. I wondered whether they might be mites, so did a little lazy internet research. Apparently Bumblebees do sometimes host mites, but, somewhat to my surprise, the mites are thought to be generally benign. They live in the bees nests, subsisting on honey and wax and then, at certain times of the year, piggyback a lift to flowers in order to jump a ride on another bee and find a new nest. Free-loaders! However, whether these are mites or not I’m still none-the-wiser.

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Whilst the airiness of my position had upped my pulse a bit, when I stopped staring up at the flowers, and stepped down a yard or two from the cliff I kept feeling that the next section didn’t look too bad after all. Once or twice I decided to descend to easier ground, but always shortly found easier going without that necessity. So, in fits and starts, I made it round to the base of the big crag where I had first spotted the flowers from below…

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Down below…

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…it seemed that Pen-y-ghent, like Ingleborough, has had a substantial landslip, something I shall have to come back to investigate another time.

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At first, I thought that this feature, on the left of the cliff, might be a tower, but in fact it’s a large fissure, what climber’s would call a chimney, I believe. Just beyond here the cliffs, which had always been rather intermittent, gave out altogether, at least for a while. Above I could see more steep slopes and then the second line of crags, presumably of gritstone. These were taller crags and fairly imposing, but on the left you can see the edge of a wide gully which looked like it might be a chink in the mountain’s armour.

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Close to the gully…

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I probably could have got up the gully, it was neither particularly steep or very exposed, but the first little scramble required a large step-up which, not as agile as even the clumsy, inept scrambler I once was, I decided not to attempt. Instead I contoured out on the ledge roughly half-way up the crag opposite.

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And turning the corner, found that I’d also turned the crags and was faced only with a short walk, admittedly up a steepish and unpleasantly loose slope, to the summit plateau.

A wall runs across the top…

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…and a clever S-shaped bend makes two shelters one facing east and one west. I sat in the west facing one, with the sun and a hazy Ingleborough in view.

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It was around 6.30 in the evening. I put a brew on and sat back to enjoy the fact that, after all the crowds I had seen earlier, I now had the top entirely to myself. It can be done, even on this most popular of hills.

Well, not entirely to myself: I could hear the accelerating croaky-rattle of grouse and then heard and felt, rather than saw, something whirr over my head. Thinking that the bird had been so close that it must have been intending to land on the wall until it saw my head, I stood to take a look around…

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Skylark.

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As I was finishing my brew, I heard a runner coming up the path behind me. He’d been surprised by the heat and was gasping for a drink. Fortunately, I had two bottles of water with me – far more than I was ever going to need, so I was able to help out.

Leaving the top of Pen-y-ghent I had to cross the end of this small pond…

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…but as I approached, something jumped from a nearby rock and splashed into the water. Only then did the constant rhythmic droning sound, which I had vaguely attributed to a distant tractor engine or perhaps an unseen drone or helicopter, properly come into focus. And looking along the pool, I could instantly recognise its source…

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My presence caused many of the Frogs to submerge and disappear, but some were not so easily discouraged and I watched, listened and took photos for around twenty minutes.

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I’ve seen this before, once in Wark Forest back in 1985 when my Dad and I were close to finishing the Pennine Way, and the other time at Lanty’s Tarn when we were staying in Patterdale YHA for a big family Easter get-together, which must be of a similar vintage.

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I did think I’d seen Frogs mating much nearer home at Leighton Moss a few years ago, and then again a year later, but now I’m completely convinced that those were in fact Toads.

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What the photos can’t capture is the singing and the frenetic activity, with balls of frogs rolling and surging and other frogs pushing and jumping to join in.

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Frogspawn.

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I think the Frog on the right here has his throat bulging pre-song like a tiny Pavarotti.

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PerhapsĀ this photo, with the boiling surface of the pond and the indistinguishable welter of Frog flesh does go some way to capture their energetic couplings. Hmmm…perhaps ‘couplings’ is the wrong word?

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Some of the Frogs, meanwhile, held themselves aloof. This one seemed to be keeping a beady eye on me.

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Eventually, I dragged myself away. Daylight was short, I knew, and the extension over Plover Hill would add a few miles to my walk, but the light was glorious and it seemed churlish not to continue.

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Plover Hill.

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Red Grouse.

I think that the male, at least, has similar ideas to the Frogs.

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Looking back to Pen-y-ghent.

I suspect I’ve probably been up Plover Hill before, but if I have, I’ve forgotten.

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The descent towards Foxup Moor has one short steep section, but a cleverly constructed section of path cuts down across the slope at an angle, taking the sting out of it.

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Looking back up to Plover Hill.

With both me and the sun losing height, I knew that sunset must be imminent. I kept walking 50 yards or so and then taking another photo.

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Ingleborough on the left. Whernside on the right?

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The last of the sun.

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Afterglow.

Fortunately, sunset photographs can be misleading: I still had plenty of light to walk by…

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The path is Foxup Road, which, at first at least, gave excellent walking through what looked to be very rough and tussocky country. The stream is Swarth Gill Sike…

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…which looked to have waterfalls upstream and would make for an interesting route on to Plover Hill for another day.

At this point I stopped taking pictures and concentrated on getting as far down the hill as I could while the light remained. Sadly, the path eventually became fairly boggy, which was a bit awkward in the poor light. When I reached the end of the walled lane down into Horton, I realised that I couldn’t read the fingerpost and so finally switched on my headtorch. But I knew the walk from there would be relatively easy anyway. My final mile or so, in the gathering gloom, was enlivened by the lyrical calls of Pee-wits and a cacophony of squabbling Jackdaws settling down to roost in a nearby wood.

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Just over 10 miles and 500m of ascent. Not bad for a spur of the moment thing.

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Not that it’s the stats I will remember!

Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill

Let’s Get Lost

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The Bay, Grange and Arnside Knott from Middlebarrow Plain.

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The low, wooded, limestone lump which lies just north of the village has a whole host of names attached to it, not all of them on the map: The Pepper Pot, Castlebarrow, King William’s Hill, Jubilee Wood, The Ring O’Beeches, Middlebarrow Wood, Middlebarrow Plain, Middlebarrow Hill (surely a tautology?), Eaves Wood, The Coronation Path and Inman’s Road. These are the public titles; we have our own landmarks too – The Climbing Tree, The Witches Steps, The Balcony Path, Forest School. In its entirety, it makes sense to call it Middlebarrow, since it lies between the two larger hills of Arnside Knott and Warton Crag.

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It’s criss-crossed by paths, most of them not on the map, and is a fascinating area to explore, which, long-suffering readers will know, I often do.

The wall which runs roughly east-west across the hill is the boundary between Lancashire and Cumbria and more often than not I tend to stick to the Lancashire side of the divide when I’m in the woods.

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But Middlebarrow Plain is managed for butterfly conservation, and has permission paths running through it. I ought to visit more often. It gives new views and has an area of limestone pavement…

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The first time I stumbled across this feature it was entirely by accident, but these days I know where to find it.

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I suspect that this is a Yew, kept in thisĀ Bonsai form by the attention of Roe Deer who seem to love Yew.

Back on the Eaves Wood side of the wall, I decided to try getting a little lost again. I took a faint path past a fallen Beech…

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This tree must have been coppiced years ago and until relatively recently had five huge trunks, now, sadly, all fallen.

I knew that the path would eventually peter out, but rather than turning back, continued downhill, safe in the knowledge that eventually I would have to hit one of the paths below.

En route I discovered a huge Wood Ants’ nest and a large birds’-nest, maybe Ravens’ or Buzzards’.

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Hardly a major adventure.

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But it kept me entertained.

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I’m a bit stunned that I haven’t used this title before, given how much I like the song. Apparently it predates the Chet Baker version, but that’s the one I know…

Let’s Get Lost