Paddling the Periphery*: Harrow Slack, Lilies of the Valley, Belle Isle.

Once we’d decided that we would spend some time at home together over the summer, we resolved to try to get out and be active, turn our hands to something new from time to time, generally make the most of what’s on offer on our doorstep. We tried archery, not once but twice. We cycled along the shore of Windermere, and would have cycled again, but for difficulties with a defective cycle carrier. The boys and I dabbled in gill-scrambling. All good. But top of our wish list of things-to-do was a spot of canoeing. Attentive readers will be aware that as long ago as last New Year I expressed a yen to go “messing about in boats: to do some sailing; to buy, beg, borrow, blag, build a Canadian Canoe”.

Well we sailed on the Kent Estuary back in May – I don’t think that ever made it on to the blog – but it was terrific fun. And now we have some Canadian canoes, inflatable ones, having decided to take the prosaic approach of buying them.

 DSCF3188

We’ve two canoes, a two man and a three man. I don’t intend to review them, we’re very happy with them, but I don’t really have anything to compare them too or sufficient knowledge to to give an objective assessment. However, there do seem to be some real bargains out there and if you’re interested in some details leave a comment and I’ll get in touch.

We’ve had them out three times so far; twice at Fell Foot Park and, sandwiched between those outings, another trip on Windermere, but this time starting on the Western Bank from Harrow Slack car park. We travelled across to it on the Bowness Car Ferry (above).

DSCF3198 

These photos are from that second trip. It was pleasantly sunny, but very windy.

DSCF3191 

We paddled along the shore with the wind behind us, took a tour around two small islands called Lilies of the Valley and then landed back on the lake shore….

DSCF3199 

…to stretch our legs, climb trees….

DSCF3206 

…and photograph the local fungi….

DSCF3200 

DSCF3201 

Back in the boats we cruised past the two small islands again and then followed the western shore of Belle Isle, keeping out of the wind which was funnelling down the lake.

DSCF3208 

Belle Isle is comparatively large and is privately owned, with a house on it. Here we are (some of us anyway) hugging its sheltering bank. The two islands behind are the Lilies of the Valley.

DSCF3210

This photo…

DSCF3225

…is from our third trip. The people in the boat in front are our friends B and M. (Tempting now to add ‘Bargains’ to that, but if instead, I call them M and B I shall only think of Mitchells and Butlers – I dread to think what these low rent free associations say about my character and misspent middle-age?) Anyway, that’s our friends B and M, M and B. We’re canoeing on the River Leven. We did that the first time we launched the boats from Fell Foot Park too. Then, the water levels were much higher and there was quite a strong current. We managed okay, but we met others who were struggling. B, who had two kids in an inflatable dinghy which was rapidly deflating, was making no headway at all, and in the end we gave him a bit of a tow to the shore.

I’ve since found a copy, stashed away sometime ago, just in case I ever got around to buying a canoe, of John Wilson Parker’s ‘Atlas of the English Lakes’.

An Atlas of the English Lakes

This clip of the front cover pretty much sums it up. It’s a lovely book, a sort of ‘Wainwright for the Lakes’ with hand drawn maps, handwritten text and lots of detail about access, boat launching etc. All that, and it’s published by Milnthorpe’s Cicerone Press.

Anyway, he warns against paddling downstream in the rivers flowing out of the Lakes in general, and down the Leven in particular, precisely because there can be a strong current and you’re then faced with paddling back against it. It is a pleasant trip down to Newby Bridge, and just about the right distance for us at the moment, but perhaps we shall have to be a little more circumspect in future.

DSCF3228

Fell Foot Park has the advantage over Harrow Slack of other facilities besides somewhere to launch – toilets, a play area, a cafe, an ice cream shop, room to throw a Frisbee, picnic tables etc. We try to not be in a position to need the cafe however – brewing the tea is part of the experience.

*So will the blog now have a sub-title “Paddling the Periphery?” Credit where credit’s due – this suggestion is from Alan Sloman’s comment on my January 2013 post about wanting to do some sailing and canoeing. Hopefully, there will be many more  ‘Paddling the Periphery’ posts to come.(Probably only when the weather is kind though).

Paddling the Periphery*: Harrow Slack, Lilies of the Valley, Belle Isle.

Fell Ten Foot Park

IMG_0006

I found some more pictures from A’s birthday outing, as related in the previous post. These were on TBH’s camera, although I took quite a few of them.

IMG_0007 

These show our makeshift tarp lean-to. You can see it was pretty marginal. Subsequently I bought some more guys, taught myself some knots (with a little online tuition) and, on another trip to Fell Foot Park we built something much more sturdy.

IMG_0011 

The kids took great delight in building themselves a mock campfire.

IMG_0016 

So much so that A tried again when we got to Aldingham, but she struggled with the wind.

IMG_0017 

More photos from Roa Island….

IMG_0043 

A Butterfish and a Shanny.

IMG_0055 

Broad-clawed porcelain crab. Apparently those long whip-like antennae are indicative of the fact that this is not a true crab, but is in fact more closely related to lobsters. It’s very flattened body and claws are an adaptation for living under rocks .

IMG_0056 

The ‘porcelain’ refers to the texture of the exoskeleton. It’s a very hairy crab, but this one was so coated in mud that we couldn’t really tell.

IMG_0109

A spider crab. They attach weed and pieces of sponge to themselves as camouflage.

So, why ‘Fell Ten Foot Park’? (Those of a nervous disposition might not want to read this part, it involves the clumsiest of the Dangerous Brothers and a trip to A&E).

Cutting a long story short, we’ve been to Fell Foot Park, and indeed several other local National Trust properties, several times this summer. We’d bought some inflatable canoes (of which more anon) and were there to try them out for the first time. We were later arriving than we had planned and decided to have lunch before taking the boats out.

‘Can we go to the park Dad, while you get lunch out?’

Fell Foot has a children’s play area. But they didn’t go to the children’s play area. Oh no. They went and climbed a tree. It had only just stopped raining. The tree was slippery. You can guess the rest. The ‘ten foot’ part is based on B’s estimate as recounted first to the paramedics and then to the A&E doctor. As he fell Little S hit a branch with his chin. I don’t know how the branch came out of it, but it made a bit of a mess of his chin. All fixed now however, although he still has a fairly livid scar, but it’s under his chin and isn’t too obvious.

The National Trust staff, the paramedics, the nurses and the doctor at the hospital, and the people who witnessed his fall and went to help him were all brilliant.

We joked with S that he was banned from any more tree climbing, but we were back at Fell Foot Park before he had his stitches out and what did he do there? Climbed trees of course.

Fell Ten Foot Park

50 things to do before you’re 11¾

45. Find your way with a map and compass

Orienteering at High Dam

A and B seem to have caught the orienteering bug. We’ve been a few times now. Just this month, B and I tried the National Trust’s new course on Sizergh Fell with his Beaver Scout unit. Then both A and B went for a training session in Eaves Wood with a friend who knows about these things. So when we discovered that there would be an event not too far away at High Dam, above Windermere, we were keen to have a go.

Well, three of us were. TBH was under the weather and elected to stop at home. S just wanted to watch the telly. He moaned on the drive there. He moaned on the long walk to the start. But, fortunately, once we began he loved it.

A wanted to have a go on her own, the boys were content to have me tag along, although I let B do the map reading. We all did the white course (a short easy course with all controls lying along a route connected by paths). Both A and B missed the fact that they should have gone through the gate in the photo above, rather then continuing to follow the path we had been on up to that point. By the time we bumped into her, however, A had realised that she had made a mistake and was heading back to this control to have another go.

It was a relatively big event, there was food available at Finsthwaite House where the cars were parked in an adjacent field, and some of the kids friends were also there, so we stayed for quite some time after we had finished the route.

We might then have gone to take a tour around the nearby Stott Park Bobbin Mill which I remember fondly from a visit many years ago, but it was shut. So we went around the end of the lake to Fell Foot park instead.

Windermere from Fellfoot Park

The kids climbed and swang and were temporarily pirates on the extensive playground there whilst I supervised them carefully from a recumbent position. It was warm. The sun shone. How odd.

I must have been in some sort of shock – I forked out for both ice-creams and for a half-an-hour rowing-boat hire.

Lazing on a sunny afternoon

On the coping stones edging the lakeside path B spotted this large critter…

A stonefly - probably an adult female Perlodes microcephala

I think that it’s a stonefly, an adult female Perlodes microcephala. Stoneflies breed in water, in this case in stony streams. There are 34 British species.

And the post title? Well, it’s more Fun With Lists: the National Trust have a campaign to encourage kids to get outside and do…well the sort of stuff which is fun to do outside. I don’t like the idea of ‘Bucket Lists’, but I must admit that this one is quite fun. A went through the list and declared that she has 5 still to do. She has plenty of time.

Here’s the list in full:

  1. Climb a tree
  2. Roll down a really big hill
  3. Camp out in the wild
  4. Build a den
  5. Skim a stone
  6. Run around in the rain
  7. Fly a kite
  8. Catch a fish with a net
  9. Eat an apple straight from a tree
  10. Play conkers
  11. Throw some snow
  12. Hunt for treasure on the beach
  13. Make a mud pie
  14. Dam a stream
  15. Go sledging
  16. Bury someone in the sand
  17. Set up a snail race
  18. Balance on a fallen tree
  19. Swing on a rope swing
  20. Make a mud slide
  21. Eat blackberries growing in the wild
  22. Take a look inside a tree
  23. Visit an island
  24. Feel like you’re flying in the wind
  25. Make a grass trumpet
  26. Hunt for fossils and bones
  27. Watch the sun wake up
  28. Climb a huge hill
  29. Get behind a waterfall
  30. Feed a bird from your hand
  31. Hunt for bugs
  32. Find some frogspawn
  33. Catch a butterfly in a net
  34. Track wild animals
  35. Discover what’s in a pond
  36. Call an owl
  37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
  38. Bring up a butterfly
  39. Catch a crab
  40. Go on a nature walk at night
  41. Plant it, grow it, eat it
  42. Go wild swimming
  43. Go rafting
  44. Light a fire without matches
  45. Find your way with a map and compass
  46. Try bouldering
  47. Cook on a campfire
  48. Try abseiling
  49. Find a geocache
  50. Canoe down a river

The National Trusts website dedicated to the list is here:

https://www.50things.org.uk/

But you have to sign up to access the entire list and then cope with the unedifying, but completely inevitable, hedging of bets as lots of unnecessary safety advice accompanies the list.

Not a bad list though. Any glaring omissions, do you think?

50 things to do before you’re 11¾