Thursday 26 April 2018

Lake District, April 2018. Day 4

Inspired by Rob and Harriet Fraser's The Long View over the last few visits up to The Lakes we have been walking to each of the seven remarkable trees.  This week it was the turn of the Glencoyne Pine.  A magnificent statuesque scots pine reminiscent of a patriarch of the ancient forest of Caledonia it stands perched high above Ullswater on the edge of a precipitous slope down to Glencoyne Park on the shores of the lake.  Not wanting to tackle the diretissima from the lake shore I had planned a round walk from the National Trust car park at Air Force.  Picking up the others at Ings and we drove over the Kirkstone pass with sperb views down towards the Troutbeck Alder where we had walked in March and as we descended down to Patterdale, Glenridding and Ullswater itself.  Having reached the car park, the immediate necessity was coffee and cake in the excellent National Trust cafe.  Refreshed it was time to gird up our loins and climb up past the spectacular waterfalls of Aira force.  This is a beautiful spot and a couple of years I spent a happy couple of hours here photographing them.
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At the top of the falls it was time to stop for a team photograph before continuing up the climb towards 'our' tree.
Heading on the flat across the moor we crossed the road and then scrambled up beside an old quarry.  Linda began to question my route finding abilities at this juncture but I assured the party all would be well.  I have to say, though, my promises of a gentle ascent were not totally fulfilled (I fibbed!).  After my recommendations for a parking spot for John's car yesterday and the stiff climb of today my qualifications as a mountain leader have been called into question, especially when Helen fell into a bog.  Nonetheless as we climbed higher all agreed that the views were worth it.  The sun sparkled on the surface of the island dotted lake and steamers plied between Glenridding to Pooley bridge.  The eastern fells were spread before us with the long flat ridge of Racecourse Hill with the old Roman Road leading up to High Street being prominent.  Snow still gleamed here and there on the highest fells.

Despite the forebodings of all we eventually reached the location of the 'tree' and the beginning of our descent.  I soon spotted the pine, although I was still well above it.  Scrambling quickly and precariously down, I was aware of the cloud sweeping in from the west bring rain.  Perched in position I extracted the camera and quickly took a couple of pictures only to have the battery go flat.  No problem, replace the battery.  Unfortunately that one was also flat, an elementary mistake.  I quickly got the phone out but now it had started to rain.  Oh dear.  Fortunately the shot I took with the camera did capture the tree in lovely light!!

It was time now to make our way back down a delightful path to the car.  The sun came out again and we were accompanied by the cheerful yaffle of a green woodpecker.  The small beech wood at the start of the descent was absolutely beautiful; a splendid spot for a picnic if we return in the summer.  Primroses studded the banks and ramsons or wild garlic were just coming into flower.  We also saw bright yellow kingcups or marsh marigolds, swarms of violets, wild strawberry and insectivorous butterwort.  On our return to the car we were just in time to be rewarded with pots of tea.
An excellent day.

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Lake District April 2018. Day 3

A cold and breezy day of sunshine and very heavy showers today.  One of our reasons for visiting the van this week was to meet up with old friends who had come up and were staying in the local pub.  After a relaxing breakfast (aren't they always!) we packed for the day and drove to the nearby village of Stavely where we met them in the interesting Mill Yard for coffee at Wilf's, one of our favourite eateries situated in the Mill's old bobbin loft.

Once it had stopped raining (one of the frequent torrential showers had arrived as we ate) we set off for a walk along the river Kent.  It is always a very pleasant place for a walk and usually produces some pleasing photographs and interesting wildlife.  The light at times today was superb, in between the showers, and we saw pied wagtail, wood anemone, drifts of pale pink ladies smock, goosander and oystercatcher.  Goosander is one of my favourites; handsome large, black and white ducks and members of the sawbill group of waterfowl, the male has a glossy black head with glints of green and a superb crest.

Having finished the walk we were going back to Wilf's for tea and stickies but sadly John's car was stuck in the soft ground and took a great deal of extracting.  By this time Wilf's had closed so we retired to our caravan for tea before showers and an evening meal at The Water Mill at nearby Ings, where the others were staying.
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Monday 23 April 2018

Lake District April 2018. Day 1 and 2

After last week's superb weather on The Cleveland Way we were somewhat disappointed at the cooler more inclement forecast for our trip to The Lakes.  We drove over in the last of the really good weather and were soon settled in in the dry, although it quickly clouded over and began to rain.  It was lovely to see the motorway verges swathed in cowslips in places.

On the Tuesday morning we woke to a dry but windy morning and that was to be the order of the week: cold temperatures and a very strong wind making things uncomfortable on the site.  The weather did improve to give some sun but turned to rain again by 1.00 pm.  We treated ourselves to a lazy breakfast and a relaxing morning before going for a wander around Rather Heath Wood for some drawing and photography while it was still dry.  I enjoyed looking at and photographing the detail of the stone walls covered as they were with mosses and lichens.  The leaves of larch, beech and sycamore were opening as well as hazel with it's beautiful red bud scales contrasting with the bright, fresh green of the leaves.  Newly opened beech leaves are fine and delicate with an edging of soft downy hairs; they look totally vulnerable, having already been attacked by insects.  Wood sorrel was brightening up corners of the wood and the gorse, as always was a blaze of colour.
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Thursday 19 April 2018

Cleveland Way, stage 3. Osmotherly to Clay Bank.

If temperatures hadn't been so high today's weather would have been perfect for walking; the pint (of lime and soda!) at The Lordstones was very welcome.  Again the walk follows the steep scarp of the moors with first excellent views of the Vale of York gradually revealing vistas up to Teeside as the route turns east.  Shortly after the start we walked above Mount Grace Priory which we visited the next day.  Established quite late in the 14th century, the priory was founded by the Carthusian Order.  The monks made a deliberate attempt to reintroduce the solitary way of life as practised by the early religious hermits.  Nine Carthusian houses were established in England and Mount Grace provides the best and most extensive ruins of them all.  Today's stage is the most strenuous section of the Cleveland Way with so much up and down that it involves over 3000 feet of climbing.  As we began to turn east not only does the route provide the first extensive panorama of the Cleveland plain, the iconic hill of Roseberry Topping comes into view, but it will not be climbed until stage 5.
After the welcome respite in the pub at The Lord Stones the final section involves a climb up through a group of rocks called the Wainstones, used by local rock climbers and then along the top of Clay Bank before descending to the car.  As we approached the Wainstones we passed a sign informing walkers that a Eurasion Eagle Owl had taken up residence in the area and was known to be defensive of its territory.  Although found in much Europe and Asia it is not indigenous to England.  However there have been records of breeding on the Yorkshire moors over the past 30 years.  Commenting the "The chance would be a fine thing, it will be out of the sun in the pine forest!" I set off up the hill.  A sort while later walking with head down I suddenly heard a series of hoots.  Looking up I was amazed to see the sky full of 6 foot wings and gleaming talons and was so surprised I stumbled and fell over, bruising my ribs.  Heather and Dorothy who had seen all reported that the owl drifted up over the edge of the escarpment and headed straight for me after which it flew off down the slope again.  Annoyingly I never really saw the bird myself never mind get photos.  Nursing bruised ribs for several days afterwards I became used to having my leg pulled about my 'eagle owl injury'. 
Apart from the owl the wildlife highlights of the day were primroses studding the banks and woods, wood anemones wood sorrel and dogs mercury and the leaves of wild garlic or ramsons and bluebells now showing.  The leaves of wild garlic make a fine soup which I enjoyed one day whilst cycling the Way of the Roses coast to coast ride a couple of years ago.  Chiffchaff and nuthatches were calling in the woods and a red grouse allowed me to get close enough to capture a frame filling photo even with my compact camera.  Butterflies are now beginning to show, but I was amazed to see a painted lady high on the moors.
An interesting day!
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