Sunday 30 October 2016

Viking Way, Stage 10: Honington to Woolsthorpe by Belvoir.

Our walk today began along the green lane of Frinkley Lane, first west and then south for a while where we could see both a Virgin train on the East Coast Main Line and a Virgin hot air balloon, which kept appearing and disappearing through the heavy overcast.  Autumn was in full swing now and ash trees, especially, were displaying excellent colour.  We made our way first past the River Witham and then over fields to the village of Marston.

We continued along quiet tracks and riverside meadows to Long Bennington where we had to cross the busy A1 via a bridge.  Beyond the A1 the route took us along the excellent green lane of Sewstern Lane an ancient Bronze Age drove road and later a Roman Salt Road.  Sadly today parts of it have been used (abused?) by off road vehicles, both two wheeled and four wheel and they have made an appalling mess of it, making it very difficult for walking and impossible for cycling without a great deal of determination.  Surely there is a case for this pastime to be pursued on purpose built courses in order to leave green lanes for less destructive means of transport.

The final section of today's walk was along the old Grantham Canal before climbing up a sunken green lane which was a riot of Autumn colour back up to the car.  The Grantham canal was completed in 1797 to connect Grantham with the River Trent.  It was closed in 1929 , but recently the Grantham Canal Society have been involved in a restoration project.

To view large, please click on an image.

Saturday 29 October 2016

A Week in the Lakes, October 2016.

 At the end of October, Heather and I were lucky enough to be able to enjoy a week up in The Lakes staying in our caravan, which we keep on the Windermere Camping and Caravanning Club Site.  On the way up we arranged to meet Thomas at Malham for a walk around Goredale Scar and Malham Cove.  What magnificent scenery this is, created by the action of acidic rainwater dissolving the soft limestone rock to form gorges, limestone pavement and the amazing Malham Cove itself, once a huge waterfall and now home to peregrine falcons and rock climbers who appear minute against the vastness of the cliff itself.

The next day Thomas was at work and Heather and I enjoyed a lazy day settling into the caravan and wandering across the fields to the hamlet of Ashes and indulging in photography of some of the wonderfully stunted trees growing out the limestone rock.  I saw my first mixed flock of winter thrushes of the year comprising redwings and the larger fieldfares.  These handsome birds spend the summer breeding in Scandinavia and northern Continental Europe and when colder weather arrives they migrate to spend the winter in Britain where conditions are easier and food easier to find.

Suitably rested, Monday saw us busy with a much more active day.  First thing we picked Thomas up in Ambleside and drove to the Grizedale Visitor centre to take in the excellent Environmental Photographer of the Year exhibition.  We had close views of nuthatch here, reminding me that it will soon be time to set up the winter feeding station to photograph these superb birds again.

After dropping Thomas off back in Ambleside (lectures called), Heather and I headed north over Dunmail Raise, newly repaired, following last winter's extensive flood damage, to walk up Cat Bells above Derwentwater and Keswick.  Autumn colours here were fabulous and, as we walked up through the woods, we were delighted to be able to watch a red squirrel.  As we climbed higher the views became increasingly extensive and we enjoyed the antics of ravens cronking and tumbling in the sky above the fellside.  The walk over, we repaired to the Theatre by the Lake to meet up with friends Nigel and Jackie for a meal and a performance of Sheridan's The Rivals to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  The large dog fox running along the midnight road on Dunmail Raise, completed a perfect day.

On Tuesday we decided to walk over Whitbarrow Scar where we had been last April.  It is one of our favourite places and the karst scenery of the limestone pavement on top of the fell has an other worldly air to it.  Again Autumn colours were spectacular and Nigel and I enjoyed examining the hazel coppicing in the woods on the way up.  There were still flowers clinging on up here: harebell and knapweed being particularly noticeable.  Our campsite is in a dark sky area and is excellent for 'star gazing' and we exulted in the myriad stars over head with the milky way arching over the sky.  Amazing.

Thomas and I had arranged a day Wainwright Walking on the Wednesday - I have challenged myself to walk all of the 'Wainwright's while he is at university, but I am well behind schedule. Thomas must arrange his days off lectures on days of better weather, however.  Although we completed the walk and added 3 more Wainwrights to my score, it was an exercise in extreme navigation with visibility down to about 10 metres.

On our final day we indulged ourselves in a walk we had long promised ourselves.  We wandered along Ashes Lane and then over the fields to Stavely for lunch at the excellent Eagle and Child.  After lunch  We followed the Dales Way along the River Kent until it was time to climb up out of the valley to make our way back to the caravan.  Dipper and a male goosander delighted us as we walked by the river.