A clear frosty morning. Out before work. To watch…
…from beside the Pepper Pot on Castlebarrow.
Now why don’t I do that more often?
A clear frosty morning. Out before work. To watch…
…from beside the Pepper Pot on Castlebarrow.
Now why don’t I do that more often?
Or: Not fixing the summer house roof.
One day left of half-term, and now I really will have to fix the summer house (read: glorified shed) roof. It needs re-felting – just the kind of DIY fun I really relish. But then, at the eleventh hour, a phone call from our friend C, the painter, “We’re going for a walk tomorrow and we wondered whether A might like to come with us. Or you could all come?” Hmmm – tough decision.
The plan was to park on the Clawthorpe road, between Farleton Fell and Hutton Roof Crags – to explore Farleton Fell in the morning, return to the car for a picnic, and then to have a wander around Hutton Roof Crags in the afternoon.
Despite having had an extra hour in bed, with the clocks going back the night before, both families managed to be late for the rendezvous. Still, we were eventually underway, with occasional blue-sky and sunshine.
If you have being paying very careful attention, you will know that back in August, after we last came this way, I discovered this detailed map, which shows some of the many paths on the fell. I was looking forward to trying it on the ground. A cautious person might have compared it with the OS map and discovered that it has some walls missing. I chose instead to lead two families of small children around in circles, thoroughly confused by the fact that usually reliable linear features like walls seemed not to conform to reality at all. Taking the OS map with me to supplement the new untried map might have been wise with hindsight. Eventually we found the route we were looking for however, a new one to me, taking a line to the top which was further west than the path I have used before. This route had the advantage of a final climb to the summit along a ridge of limestone pavement.
Kent Estuary from the summit.
It was quite late for lunch by now and the kids were starving, so we took a more direct route back to the cars. Although when we came across this ‘shark sculpture’…
..the kids were captivated and temporarily forgot their grumbling stomachs.
C had suggested stoves and a cooked lunch, which seemed like a very fine idea, so I had knocked up a Dutch Hotpot in preparation. This is a very cheap and cheerful dish which I’ve been making for years and which usually goes down well.
Bung it all in a big pan then simmer it for half and hour. Simple. It’s nice with some Gouda cheese grated on top, and the recipe suggests that it should be served with bacon, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried that.
I’ve had this dish in my repertoire since my student days when I found it in ‘Grub on a Grant’ by Cas Clarke, the book which was the basis of most of my early attempts at cookery. It was a good starting point, mainly reliable, although I should warn the curious that nobody had a good word for the Carrot and Banana Curry.
We’d found a sheltered little spot on the verge, by a gate, and after hotpot and tea and sundry supplementary snacks, the kids played hide-and-seek whilst the adults lay on picnic rugs and enjoyed the sunshine and a few moments of relative peace and quiet.
Time was marching on, however, and if we wanted to make the top of Hutton Roof Crags at S pace we needed to be on the move.
Because most of Hutton Roof Crags is covered in dense scrub, and the OS map doesn’t show any of the paths, it was useful to have this map along. We followed the re-entrant which crosses Uberash Plain, and is named (on the OS map) as Potslacks.
The second right turn of this path heads onto limestone pavement and if I hadn’t been here before and known how hard the turn would be to spot, I’m not sure that we would have found it.
Just short of the top the path emerges from the trees and wider views open out.
We returned via Uberash breast which is a long low cliff, and later disturbed a roe deer shortly before arriving back at the car.
In all, a grand day out. But not half as much fun as mending the shed roof would have been, obviously.
Our path had been running almost parallel to the Settle-Carlisle railway line and also to the river Eden. When it finally brought us to the banks of the river we were close to the viaduct where the railway line crosses the river. The step bank is wooded however and we couldn’t get a clear view of the viaduct. The Eden is a substantial river by local standards and when we came level with a weir on the river it was possible to scramble down the bank to get at least a partial view.
Shortly beyond that point the bank became less steep and we had our first view of Lacy’s Caves.
These curiosities were hollowed out in the 18th Century for the local landowner Colonel Samuel Lacy and it’s rumoured that he even paid someone to live here as a ‘hermit’. There is a series of connected rooms, some of which, alarmingly with S hurtling about in high excitement, have openings looking out over drops into the river. Fortunately, for once he didn’t fall in.
From the caves it seemed like quite a long way, first along the river a little further…
…and then back up the hill to the car. It can’t have been however, since the whole walk is a mere four and a half miles. Four and a half miles which punches well above it’s weight.
The next section of our walk took us along a track which would eventually bring us on the banks of the River Eden. We watched four buzzards flying along a woodland edge on the hillside above us for quite some time. We also discovered…
…a post with a small bronze etching by Pip Hall:
The idea is that rubbings can be taken from the engraving. Sadly some bozo forgot the wax crayons (mea culpa) and although we stopped in Langwathby and managed to get a box of pencil crayons – they weren’t particularly successful. There are apparently six of these posts on each of the Eden Valley walks, although we only managed to find five.
Here are the five we found:
We were also much impressed by this mosaic map, made by children from local villages.
And I was busy trying to capture the autumn colours…
From the standing stones it was a short stroll to lunch, taken in the cafe at Little Salked Watermill. The food was outstanding – I had Moroccan lentil soup, with four different breads home-made with flour from the mill. The mill also has a little shop selling their own flour, various other organic goodies and a curious mixture of books – some cookbooks and others about watermills and megaliths.
It’s also possible, for a small fee, to take a tour of the mill. It’s advertised as self-led, but we had the great fortune to be shown around by one of the people working in the mill. We were shown all of the machines in operation, and the ingenious way in which various cogs and pulleys could be engaged or disengaged so that the waterwheels could drive everything. There are two wheels, one outside and the other partly hidden away inside the building. Before our tour the outdoor wheel wasn’t running but we saw how simply releasing a chain allowed a sluice to open and very quickly the second wheel was turning and running a winnowing machine.
The kids were fascinated, in fact we all were.
I have been lax. I have taken my eye off the ball. Nature has snuck up on me and summer has crept in unreported. Today was a typical summer’s day in this part of the world. Overcast and hazy, warm sticky and muggy. The threat of showers, occasionally fulfilled. I took the boys out for a short walk which turned into an epic dawdle. Even before we left the track that runs past the house, the weeds on the verges had me stopping every couple of yards.
I blogged a few weeks back about the Green Alkanet that grows in many places around the village, without mentioning (or remembering) that one of the places that it grows is on the wee scrap of ground behind our garage:
I suppose that one advantage of having the recall of a Goldfish is the repeated opportunities to discover the world anew. (Although I do seem to remember reading that a school boy has conducted a series of experiments which prove that Goldfish actually have much better memories than we have been giving credit for – what will we use now as our epitome of forgetfulness?)
In the lane there are also Welsh Poppies:
(A clever blogger would insert a witty and erudite riff here connecting Poppies and Forgetfulness, but I am not that blogger, and besides what is he thinking of – these are not opium Poppies!)
And Hedge Garlic or Jack-by-the-Hedge:
These tiny flowers top tall plants, and in fact the leaves were some of the first to appear in the early spring. The leaves are supposed to be a good addition to a salad, but they are too bitter for me.
Dandelions are of course ubiquitous, but the flowers are cheery…
…and the seed-heads are both beautiful…
…and a fabulous free toy that kept one three year old very happy for quite some time this morning. He didn’t blow them, but swung them back and forth sending hundreds of embryonic Dandelions floating off on the breeze.
We will be popular with local gardeners.
The boys were in the double buggy. As I pushed them through the village, Sam soon fell asleep. A recent development is that Sam will now continue to sleep in the buggy when it stops moving. So at Pointer Wood, Ben and I were able to stop to admire the candles on the Horse Chestnuts:
I’ve always liked Horse Chestnut flowers but examined this closely, the flagrant nature of their soliciting is a little off-putting.
Under the trees the thousand starbursts and the garlic scent of Ransoms:
The fields alongside Bottoms Lane hold a wide variety of Livestock: Chickens and Ducks, Ponies and Donkeys, Pigs, Sheep and Goats – which kept Ben entertained. He was particularly pleased when these Cows came to say hello:
And he also appreciated the snails in the hedge bottom alongside the gate:
The hedgerows also held an embarrassment of riches for someone with a macro lens. There were Cuckoo-Pints (or Arum Lilies or Lords-and-Ladies):
Like the Hedge Garlic the leaves of Cuckoo-Pint appear very early in the spring. After these unusual flowers die back they will be replace by bright orange berries.
There were also Cuckoo-Flowers:
Stitchwort (I think?):
Most of these flowers are very small, but Crosswort makes them look like giants:
I think that’s why I like it so much. You could walk past it every day and never notice that it is there, but when you’ve noticed it once you find that you can’t really miss it again and although the flowers are miniature and very subtle, the way that they ring the stems is very attractive.
I didn’t even realise that I had (sort of) caught a spider at work here until I looked at the photo at home.
This is another very small flower, Ground Ivy, which has actually been flowering for some time:
This is a vetch (don’t know which one!):
I think that these are Ribwort Plantain:
…and that these are Wood Avens, but I’m far from confident:
I love the way that the macro lens can reveal images of flowers that seemed familiar but are suddenly seen anew. I think that my favourite from today was this humble clover:
Which I’ve never looked this closely at before.
The hedges themselves are promising colour, with some of the Hawthorn beginning to flower:
And at the bottom end of the lane several stretches of hedge which aren’t Hawthorn, with lots of pink buds:
…some of which are open:
I’ve never noticed them here before trimmed into a hedge, but I think that they are Crab Apples.
Later, a Blackbird on the birdbath again:
(not very Black because she is female)
The title of this post Realms of Day is the end of the last line of Blake’s Auguries of Innocence which begins with the oft quoted:
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
We were out for nearly two hours, and probably didn’t cover even two miles. Sam was mostly asleep, but Ben was patient with my groveling in the hedge bottom in a way that I can’t imagine any adult companion managing. If you’ve managed to persevere through all 27 images, well thank you for your patience too. I did warn you that it was an epic dawdle.
After faffing about on the campsite for most of Sunday morning we set off for a short drive down the Newlands valley. Unfortunately, we timed it so that we hit the early stages of the Keswick half marathon. It’s not so many years ago that I ran this race myself, although I’m sure that it wasn’t staged on a bank holiday weekend then. I do remember that the amount of traffic on the narrow roads rather spoiled what should have been an excellent run.
Sam was asleep when we arrived at our parking spot so while the rest of the party embarked across the Newlands valley, I sat in the car with him and listened to the radio. When he woke up we crossed Newlands Beck:
And soon found the rest of the party having their lunch on the slopes of Cat Bells.
The weather was quite odd with sunshine, but also drops of rain in the air. From our picnic stop it was a short walk…
To Hawes End on Derwent Water – a top spot for throwing stones into the lake:
Having a run around:
Or a natter with your Dad:
At Hawes End we caught on of the scheduled launches that circuit the lake. The front of the boat was open and the very front seats were empty. Naturally the kids were very excited and made a beeline for those seats. Nobody thought to warn us why they were empty. Out on the Lake it was windy and choppy and as we hit the wake of another boat a huge wave crashed over the bows and into our laps. On the first leg of the journey we just about managed take it in our strides and laugh off the discomfort, but after picking-up more passengers at Nichol End the waves were bigger and more frequent. The boat was packed and there was no real way to get the kids out of the way of a proper drenching. Some of them were very wet and cold, and Ben in particular was upset, but kids are remarkably resilient and once we were off the boat they were soon racing around the shore and swinging on a barrier.
In Keswick we had a bit of a wander around a park and a quick stop for a snack.
Captions are invited for this photo, my own thoughts were either:
I thought that you had the meths!
Or, perhaps Jane is thinking:
I never was in favour of Care in the Community
Not all of my friends are scruffy, just the oldest and closest ones.
After several hours of trying it finally began to rain in earnest. We boarded another launch to complete our trip around the lake, but this time got seats inside. The rest of the trip was fun, but as we approached Hawes End the rain showed no sign of abating. Angela, Jane and Matt disappeared to fetch the cars and Andy and I were left to try to maintain the spirits of the flagging children. Ben had slept on my lap around the lake, and not surprisingly didn’t appreciate being woken up to be taken out into the rain. I ended up carrying him up the hill to the road. There was a bit of a mix up with the cars but on the whole the children did very well despite the cold and wet and my rendition of several verses of If you’re miserable and you know it. I did bribe them with chocolate biscuits. And a cuckoo serenaded us whilst we waited – the first that I can remember hearing for quite some time. Given recent gloomy reports about the dwindling numbers of migrating birds it was nice to have the opportunity to hear it, even in the pouring rain.
We arrived back at the campsite to see a short-lived but stunning rainbow over Skiddaw and from that point the sky began to clear in preparation for a glorious day on Monday…
Over the long weekend we were away camping at Lane Foot Farm near Thornthwaite in the Lake District. This is an annual get together which has been going on in various venues for over 20 years now, but which in recent years has changed in character due to the addition of ankle-biters.
On Saturday we took the assembled clans for a short walk to Braithwaite in search of a playground. The sun shone and although the gorse has been flowering for months (does it ever stop?), this was the first time this year that it has given off its wonderful coconut scent.
There were butterflies about too: peacocks, orange-tips and what I think was a small blue. It’s extraordinary that these are the first that I’ve seen this year – a testament to how unusually cold March and April have been.
We had to settle for a picnic snack in Braithwaite, but who needs a playground when there are woods to explore on the way home?
Worms and beetles are endlessly fascinating to Ben and here he had a willing accomplice. He also made a fine collection of pine cones. The woodland floor was carpeted with wood sorrel:
The tiny flowers are beautiful and the shamrock like leaves have a pleasant sharp grape-skin flavour.
The path follows the bottom edge of the wood and we had great views across the valley to Skiddaw:
We finally found our playground in the last field that we crossed before arriving back at the farmhouse:
As parents we took it in turns to bite our tongues as the kids vied with each other to climb highest up the tree.
The children had organised their own queuing system so that even the youngest of them had his turn:
He was also discovering challenges nearer the ground, where it seemed as if the root system had been exposed or perhaps several trees in close proximity had cooperated and joined to become one:
Later we enjoyed a barbecue…
…and the evening light on Skiddaw:
The kids took seats into the trees behind our tents and took great delight in eating their hotdogs in their ‘den’.
A gloriously sunny day and I was in Ambleside, but sadly stuck inside for a course. On the drive up I stopped in the car park of Sizergh Castle because a friend had suggested that I might see hawfinches there. I didn’t, but there were lots of song thrushes and blackbirds catching worms or singing gleefully. And both a kestrel and a pair of jays graced me with fly-pasts.
The course was in a place called Kelsick Hall on the outskirts of Ambleside on the lower slopes of Wansfell Pike, of which we had tantalising views from the windows. When I arrived this morning two roe deer were crossing the field just beyond the perimeter of the car park.
Made the most of the lengthening evenings tonight with a walk in the owl-light. Parked at Woodwell after eight.
And set off for Heald Brow.
From Heald Brow the path drops down a steep bank densely overgrown with hawthorn, gorse, brambles and ash.
This is the view form the top of the bank looking across the saltmarsh to Warton Crag. In the centre of the picture you can just about follow the sinuous curve of Quaker’s Stang a raised bank that protects the fields behind it from the tide.
The Ash flowers have now fully emerged:
A few weeks ago these were red and purple globes that I assumed were emerging leaves. You live and learn.
The saltmarsh is occasionally inundated by the tide, but sheep are still grazed here. The fences have bits of dried grass and seaweed hung from them by the sea:
Towards Jenny Brown’s Point, near to the old copper smelting works chimney, the bank of Quicksand Pool is eroding rapidly.
At this rate this walk will require Wellies soon.
Turning the corner at Jenny Brown’s Point and entering the scrub at Jack Scout, I was suddenly out of the cold easterly wind for a moment. The air was full of small flies and a bat scuttled across the sky before I lost it in the bushes. The light was fading fast now and in this photo the camera seems somehow to have been able to exaggerate the light levels:
I sat and watched the bay for a while and thought about how lonely it would be out there as darkness descended.
As I was heading back to the car a woodcock flew overhead alternately issuing sharp whistles and a strange low noise which is difficult to describe. This is the woodcock’s display or roding flight and it’s the only time I ever see woodcock.
Apparently when it isn’t almost dark they look like this:
A delightfully sunny walk up Arnside Knot with Amy and Ben.
This is the view northwards over the Kent towards the Cumbrian fells.
This is looking south-west over the Bay.
We saw this little creature on the path.
When Ben (inevitably) prodded him with stick he curled up in a ball. His body seemed to be in segments and he had lots of legs like a woodlouse or a centipede. I have no idea what it is.
There were lots of busy ants and ants nests too. On one section of path we passed three nests in as many yards.
This is the view eastwards form the top of the very steep south side of the hill.
On the horizon you might be able to make out Ingleborough:
From here you look down on Arnside Tower:
Here’s Amy at the trig pillar:
By now the wind had turned very cold and on Helvellyn and Coniston Old Man we could see a touch of snow:
The kids weren’t deterred. There was a bench to balance on:
And the remnants of two knotted larches to investigate: