Sunday, 6 January 2019

New Year, Hartington Youth Hostel. Day 2

A frost greeted us this morning, the first we have seen in a while as the weather has recently been mild, grey and overcast.  Although cold, however, the promised sun did not appear and this and the following day were to be cold but still, grey and gloomy under the high pressure air.  The fields in Dovedale were frosted, though as we approached from the village.  Our walk today followed the river there and back (mostly) rather than the very steep variation up Gypsy Bank to Alstonfield and back down to the River and the awkward walking up Biggin Dale on the way back.  This is because I am under orders to take it easy as I am waiting for open heart surgery for an aortic valve replacement - joy!!
To view large, please click on an image.

Despite being circumspect, however, the walk was extremely rewarding on the wildlife front.  Herons were plentiful all along the river often paying us little heed.  Several dippers were showing well, all paired up and ready for the breeding season.

As we entered Wolfscote Dale we were surprised to see a crayfish by the side of the path aggressively waving its claws at us as we approached.  Judging by its size and bright red backs to its claws we identified it as an American interloper, the signal crayfish.  These are an invasive species and can destabilize riverbanks by their burrowing and carry crayfish plague.

Further along we came across a female goosander which we saw on a couple of occasions.  We were also delighted to have excellent views of a kingfisher as it patrolled its territory.  We particularly enjoyed watching it fishing and I ached for my 500mm lens.

As always the walk along the river continued to delight and I enjoyed photographing the waterfalls and dying vegetation.  The alder catkins were ripening and endowed the river bank with purple tinges.

Once back at the entrance to Wolfscote Dale we climbed up and then walked along beautiful green lanes lined with ancient stone walls back to the hostel, pausing to photograph an old and decaying railway carriage which at some time in the past has been pressed into use as a farm building.  I love photographing this type of subject which is very rewarding in close-up revealing beautiful textures, shapes and colours.  Although only 3 o'clock the lowering skies meant that the day was nearly over.

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