A Wastwater Stroll

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Bank Holiday Monday brought lots of packing-up to do, but there was still time for a bit of a stroll to Wastwater. No kids with us this time, just lots of crumblies, a great opportunity for a proper chinwag.

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Buckbarrow and Middle Fell.

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Whin Rigg.

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River Irt.

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Bluebells in Low Wood.

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Wastwater.

As we stopped to admire this view a noisy squabbling drew our attention to a group of feuding Dippers.

Another great Wasdale weekend, even if we didn’t manage to fit in our planned ascent of Scafell Pike with the kids. It will happen soon, though – it’s on our hit list.

A Wastwater Stroll

Irton Pike

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Bluebells in Birks Wood.

During the night I lay awake listening to the wind gathering in the valley, shaking the trees and then a tell-tale roar and moments later the latest gust was upon us, making the tent shake and rattle, creak and groan. Our tent has survived several such windy nights, both here and at Towyn Farm, but this time was once too many it seems and at around 5am the awning came crashing down. Many of the elastic pegging points had given up the ghost, but in other places the pegs had been ripped from the ground. Our folding table had blown clear across the campsite and was looking slightly crumpled. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining and TBH and I quickly stowed away our possessions in the car and then went back to bed for some more fitful ‘rest’.

Later, when we had surveyed the damage – the canvas seemed sound but some of the awning poles were bent and one had snapped – and the wind had moderated a little, we headed out for a walk.

It was gloriously sunny, and at valley level, the weather seemed quite benign, the woods were full of butterflies and the chatter of small birds, but even on the modest heights of Irton Pike you can perhaps tell…

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…there was still a fierce wind blowing.

Andy went to investigate a sheltered looking spot in amongst the trees…

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…which turned out to be a perfect spot for some lunch, a snooze and a bit of unscheduled bird-watching when a Kestrel ‘rebuffed the big wind’ and hovered over the hillside ahead of us.

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In Santon Bridge TBH and I stopped in at this little hall to peruse an exhibition by local artists…

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A walk and some culture, can’t be bad!

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us, The Shandy Sherpa and The Ginger Whinger were corrupting our kids by taking them to the pub for a drink. A soft drink no doubt. I suppose they might claim that they were shanghaied into taking on the child-minding duties.

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Anyway, this had the unexpected side-effect that TBH and I had a very quiet and peaceful walk back along the River Irt on our own, enjoying fine sightings of a pair of Mergansers and also a Buzzard.

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More Bluebells, this time in Great Coppice.

Since this was April’s final fling, walking wise, with a bit of guestimation and ignoring the to and fro I do at work, when I am generally on my feet all day, I’ve arrived at a total mileage for the month of just over 110 miles. Doesn’t seem all that much on the one hand, but it’s more than enough to take me to the magic total of a thousand miles for the year, so – job’s a good’un.

Irton Pike

Buckbarrow and Seatallan

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The first day of our annual Mayday camping weekend in Wasdale and the party had split.  Well, some had not yet arrived, having opted to stay in Harrogate to watch the Tour de Yorkshire whizz by. Others, including most of the kids, had decided upon a trip to the Sellafield Visitor Centre. It closed years ago, but TBH had read on the internet that it had been reopened by Brian Cox and that he had described it as ‘awesome’. However, when they arrived at Sellafield they were greeted by high fences and stern security guards. It turned out that Professor Cox had been at the opening of a display at the Beacon Centre in Whitehaven, of which he had actually said: “The new exhibition is absolutely wonderful.” So they went to have a gander at St. Bees instead, having already visited the excellent ice-cream parlour in Seascale which the kids now regard as an essential part of the weekend. The photo above shows the rest of the party, just off the top of Buckbarrow enjoying a leisurely lunch-stop and snooze out of the cold wind. Well, not quite all of the rest of the party…

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…B didn’t fancy Sellafield. He didn’t really want to go for a walk either, truth be told, but had found some scrambling near the top of Buckbarrow and had really enjoyed himself. He didn’t think much to our lackadaisical approach and was racing around looking for more bits of crag to scamper up whilst we lazed around.

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Yewbarrows and the Scafells.

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Wasdale Screes.

From Buckbarrow the walk over Glede How and up Seatallan was a long steady pull.

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B on Seatallan – the black shadow on the horizon is the Isle of Mann.

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Great Gable, Yewbarrow and the Scafells from Seatallan.

By contrast, the descent from Seatallan to Greendale tarn was very steep. Old Father Sheffield, who seemed to be on a mission to climb every hill in the area, took the logical route from there over Middle Fell, while the rest of us took the lazier option down by the beck, meeting OFS again for the walk over the fields and back to Nether Wasdale.

A fine walk – you might even say ‘awesome’.

Buckbarrow and Seatallan

The Late Show

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When I returned from my stroll by the Bela I wasn’t going out again. I had things to do. Important things. Household chores and work and stuff. But the low sun was painting the trees gold with dark eastern skies behind.

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So – another quick wander. I headed east first, towards Hagg Wood, but then turned down Bottom’s Lane and then back along Cove Road towards the coast.

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Female Blackbird.

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Hagg Wood.

I bumped into the Tower Captain, out walking his dogs, and he guessed, correctly, that I was sunset hunting.

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The night before I had been walking without my camera, thinking that the mass of cloud meant that the sunset wouldn’t be up to much. I was wrong, it was quite spectacular.

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But not up to the show that the skies put on this evening.

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The clouds which provided the drama were also bringing rain, although the rain never made it to me, and a faint rainbow apparently arcing down directly onto our house.

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Well worth another trip out.

The Late Show

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.

Birds by the Bela

Bowland Bronzed

Castlebarrow – The Cove – The Lots – Spring Bank

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A very short walk this one, memorable for two reasons, firstly the perfect timing which saw me arrive by the Pepperpot just as the low sun burnished the Bowland Fells with a glorious bronze light.

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It was very fleeting, lasting long enough for me to take a couple of snaps, then it was gone. The photographs don’t begin to do it justice – the colour was amazing, I can’t think that I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.

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The second notable feature of the evening was the sunset, witnessed through April showers of snow and hail.

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I wouldn’t generally consider hail as ‘A Good Thing’ but this was surprisingly gentle and serene and quite out of the ordinary, so that I found myself enjoying it, despite my misgivings.

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Yet another sunset over Morecambe Bay, but somehow they are always a bit different.

Bowland Bronzed

Little and Often – Tuning In

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A cool, bright and sunny day, mostly spent at a Rugby tournament at Preston Grasshoppers.

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I was out early for a short walk, but not early enough to catch the clear skies with which the day began. Whilst I was drinking my kick-starting cup of tea, thin high cloud had appeared, spread and, particularly to the east, began to coalesce into a covering layer.

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A Drone Fly?

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This photo, taken from Castlebarrow, clearly shows the ‘sandier’ beach we’ve enjoyed of late along the Silverdale shoreline.

One consequence of my insistence on a daily wander (or two) seems to be that I am tuning in to my surroundings and beginning to pick-up on things I might otherwise have missed. As I came down off Castlebarrow I picked out the tchoo-tchoo of a Marsh Tit and have several poor photos to prove it. Likewise the thin contact calls of Goldcrests – I watched three of them hopping about in the dense foliage of a Yew, failing miserably to get a clear photo of any of them.

Of course, I have many wildlife encounters which fail to produce a photograph. I didn’t manage, for example, to catch the Blackbird which I watched chasing a Magpie above The Lots, apparently pecking at the larger bird’s tail-feathers. Also, I’ve seen Roe Deer in the woods several times of late, but either they have been away too quickly for me, or it’s been too dark to bother trying to photograph them, or I haven’t had my camera with me. (Increasingly, I leave it behind if it’s late and the sky is very gloomy).

I was without a camera recently when, in Eaves Wood, I spotted a Tawny Owl perched on a nearby branch. In fact, at first I didn’t see it, but just noticed that something was awry, out of the ordinary, and that I ought to look again, more closely. The owl’s plumage was extremely effective camouflage against the tangle of branches in the gloomy wood and it took a moment for the shapes to resolve themselves in my brain into an owl, which, due to the steepness of the slope was perched at my eye-level and not five yards away. We stared at each other for a long moment, and then, without ever having made a sound, the owl turned first its head, then its shoulders and then dropped silently from the tree and winged effortlessly away. Magic.

Little and Often – Tuning In