Thursday 16 March 2017

First Visit of the Year to the Lakes.

The Windermere Camping and Caravan Club site at Ashes Lane opened it's gates on 9th March so it was time to open up the caravan for the first time this year.  As we store it at the site now we had arranged a mobile service for it.  This was the first time we had done this and so we were slightly anxious about it and we always find having the van serviced quite nerve wracking as everything is crossed that they are not going to find anything drastically wrong.  In the even all went well and we were delighted with the engineer who came out to do the job at a very reasonable price.

We had a good getaway on Sunday morning and the journey went well, although the weather gradually clouded over and became more inclement the nearer we got to The Lakes.  We managed to get set up and settled in in the dry though and it was wonderful to be back both in the van and The Lakes.  There is nothing like drinking in the smell of a caravan that has been warmed by the sun when you first go in.  It wasn't long before Thomas drove over from Ambleside to join us for our evening meal; it was good to be together again.

The next morning we were up early.  While the van was being serviced we borrowed the engineer's ladders, brush and hose and gave it a thorough clean.  It really needed it, the roof in particular being green with algae.  It was soon serviced though and sparkling like new.

Although the day had started grey and drizzly it had cleared and turned warm and sunny during the morning.  So service over we had a quick lunch and then set out for a local walk though the woods of Rather Heath.  I enjoyed looking for more possible images of footpaths for my final Body of Work Assignment for my degree and experimenting with taking long exposure shots whilst walking/running, as well as collecting images of lichen covered tree trunks which fascinate me.  All around are signs of impending spring.  Goat or pussy willow is in full bloom along with daffodils.  The hedgerows are starting to turn green as hawthorn bushes come into leaf and masses of bluebell leaves are showing through in the wood.  They are going to look a real picture when we return in May.  In the woods green woodpeckers were yaffling and above we could hear the plaintive mewing of buzzards as they soared above the wood.  In the fields curlew were singing their wonderful bubbling song as they establish territory and display to attract a mate.  To my mind this is the most beautiful bird song and makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  Just before our evening meal we wandered across the nearby fields for the sunset and to make some images of my favourite oak tree with the Kentmere Horseshoe in the background.  What a great end to the day.

Tuesday again dawned grey and drizzly but quickly cleared into a beautiful day.  We began by driving into Ambleside for coffee with Thomas and a potter around the shops before walking up the track that winds its way eventually up to the summit of Fairfield.  We turned off, though, to High Sweden Bridge over Scandale Beck where I enjoyed photographing it and Heather drawing.  Mind after scrambling somewhat precariously with camera and tripod down into the gorge to photograph the waterfall, I did wonder how I was going to get out again!!  Soon it was time to wander down the track back into Ambleside and heading home for a pot of tea and then I couldn't resist another trip over the fields to photograph 'the tree' in wonderful afternoon light.  We finished the day by meeting Thomas in The Watermill pub at nearby Ings for an excellent meal and a couple of beverages.  The pub has it's own brewery and the 'Ruff Justice' stout is deliciously bitter and chocolatey as it should be.  Marvellous!!

Our final day was beautiful from the word go.  We could hear buzzards, green woodpeckers and curlew and several blackbirds were singing their hearts out at the very topmost of the tallest trees.  All was still as if nature is waiting in the wings for the starting gun.  Sadly it was time to pack up the van, leave it in store and head for home.  I can't wait till we are back in May.

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Saturday 11 March 2017

The Yorkshire Wolds Way, Stage 2. South Cave to Londesborough

We had mixed fortunes with the weather today.  The original forecast was for heavy rain.  It then improved to light cloud in the morning to become heavy cloud in the afternoon.  In the event the heavy cloud turned to drizzle.  After the usual shuffling around of cars we set off from South Cave at 10.45, immediately climbing up to the delightful beech woodland of Little Wold Plantation which gave splendid views south across the Humber.  Shortly after leaving the wood we dropped steeply down a grassy slope into Comber Dale, one of the most serene parts of the walk.  We enjoyed the first of several red kite sightings here, the bird wheeling over the wood.  Soon we crossed and then followed the disused Hull to Barnsley railway line before heading up the beautiful, wooded East Dale.  Signs of early spring were all around: catkins, dogs mercury and primroses in flower.  We also spotted deer slots here, probably roe deer.  The path eventually climbed steeply out of the wooded dale and this marked the end of the route across the wooded slopes of the Southern Wolds.  From here the Wolds Way crosses wide expanses of chalk tops and follows deep, mainly grassy, dry glacial valleys.  It was good to see hawthorn coming into leaf up here, another sure sign of spring.  My mother, Lincolnshire born and bred, used to refer to these new hawthorn leaves as 'bread and cheese' and enjoy them as a snack when out playing in the fields.

A mile or so of walking over the high tops of the Wolds brought us to the steep and grassy Swin Dale where we came across a badger sett out in the open and, further down, an even larger one on the edge of the bordering woodland.  After exiting Swin Dale we climbed up to the highest part of today's walk, the trig point on Sober Hill.  Again on the tops, we passed the site of an Iron Age cemetery. This was the territory of the Parsii and excavation of the cemetery revealed chariots, horse harnesses, skeletons of ponies, bronze broaches, armlets and beads.  Soon we were descending once more to a valley known as the Market Weighton Gap, through which the North Eastern Railway constructed the Beverley and Market Weighton Railway.  This is now a bridleway, the Hudson Way,  named after the railway builder George Hudson.  Climbing out of the valley we reached Goodmanham and a welcome pot of tea at the Fiddle Drill tea shop.  This sleepy village was once the scene of a crucial event in the coming of Christianity to Britain when, in AD 626 Edwin, the Saxon king of Northumbria, was converted to the Christian faith by the missionary Paulinus.

The final few miles of today's walk took us again over the high country before descending through the beautiful Londesborough park and into the village where we had left one of our cars.  We were delighted to spot a couple of green woodpeckers searching the turf for food as we approached the bottom of the hill.The village seems to be 'out of sync' with itself as the large ornamental lake and parkland is overlooked by only the remains of a grassy terrace, two large pedestals, some gatepiers and some smaller pedestals.  The original house which would have backed the terrace was demolished in 1819, its materials used for an addition to Chatsworth.  It was replaced by today's red brick structure set further back in the trees.

My legs were feeling all of the 14 miles we had covered as we settled down in The Sloop in Barton for an excellent tea and a couple of pints.

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