This month we treated ourselves to a long 9 day break at the caravan in The Lake District. We took our time getting there on Saturday 16th and Sunday morning was spent relaxing. As the weather was so good, however, we stirred ourselves and drove the short distance to Arnside for me to potter around on The Knott, which is a splendid location for butterflies, and for Heather to do some drawing. As we arrived I was able to chat to the two wardens that we had seen on our previous visit in June and they told us that there were plenty of grayling about but few fritillaries. I was delighted at the prospect of the graylings as I had not seen them before. I had hoped, though, to see high brown fritillaries, but in this I was to be disappointed. Once on the steep hillside graylings were abundant. Photographing them was a different matter, however. Firstly it was late in the day and they had warmed up and so were very active and secondly they rarely show their open wings and tend to settle with wings closed. Still, it was a pleasure to see them and get images. After a while, hot and sweaty, it was time to repair to Arnside itself for a well-earned pot of tea, before heading back to the site for a BBQ.
I love to see the seasons change and since our last visit here the bluebells had died down completely and high summer was upon us. One day we wandered across the luxuriant hay meadows with superb views up Kentmere with its famous horseshoe of fells to meet up with friends at Wilf's in Stavely, a wholefood restaurant with tantalising menus.
We always like to get in a day's walking when we are up in The Lakes as I am gradually working my way through all of the Fells mentioned in Alfred Wainwright's famous walking guides. Thursday was the turn of Wansfell which rises steeply above Ambleside. I had never been up this fell before as it has always been 'on the doorstep' and 'only a little hill' so it was somewhat of a surprise to discover how steep it was; it left us both gasping for breath. Once on the top of Wansfell Pike, however, this was not enough for the Wainwright 'bagger' as the high point and the actual summit was at the opposite end of the mile long undulating summit ridge. I made the effort to walk to it while Heather sensibly used the opportunity to do some drawing. The views from the Pike were fabulous, though, with panoramas along Windermere and up the Langdale Valley to the Pikes, Bowfell and Crinkle Crags in the distance.
On Friday it was good to meet up with more friends at the attractive water mill at Beetham for tea and stickies and a walk through the local woods before the ritual visit to the excellent fish and chip shop at Arnside. During the walk I discovered a ruined building that was slowly being reclaimed by nature; nature verses culture with nature winning.
On Saturday it was time to get the macro lens out once more as we decided to tackle a walk up and along Whitbarrow Scar looking for more butterflies. It is one of our favourites and the summit ridge with its limestone karst scenery is reminiscent of a moonscape. I was pleased to find some very cooperative dark green fritillary butterflies and more graylings and a few dark red helleborines (a type of orchid) hanging on this late in the season. As it wasour last evening we enjoyed a final BBQ with Thomas before heading for home on the Monday.
One final indulgence was to walk out onto the local fields to photograph 'my' tree at sunset.