Thursday 31 October 2019

Lake District, October 2019. Day 6

A frosty start again this morning and, although it soon clouded over in the Lakes, the closer we got to the coast the brighter it became.  Our first port of call was Silverdale and the lovely Wolf Hall Gallery with its excellent cafe where we stoked up on tea and scone.  Our plan was to visit Jenny Brown Point, but suspecting correctly, that there would be little parking space, we drove to the salt marsh car park at Leighton Moss.  This gave us a delightful 1.5 mile walk to the point, first over salt marsh and then along a path between the woods and shore at times clambering over great knuckles of limestone.  By now the weather was clear, sunny and quite mild.  The only sounds being the gentle soughing of the wind, the soothing lapping of the waves and the occasional bird call.  It was high tide and Morecambe Bay was brim full.  We stopped for a break at a tall chimney which, many years ago, served as part of a copper smelting works.  As the tide went out we could see the remains of a jetty where the ships would have tied up.  At one point a peregrine streaked across, splitting the sky, and immediately 1000s of waders,mainly oystercatchers, took to the air in panic.  Soon we had rounded the point and climbed up to where we had a view across the bay to Grange-over-Sands.  Our return trip was easier as the tide had receded leaving more shore to walk on.  Back at the car we continued to the hides overlooking the pools on the marsh.  Wigeon were plentiful and I love to hear their piercing whistling calls echoing over the marsh.  One or two pintails had arrived for the winter, but the best bird of the session was a kingfisher which gave excellent views, sitting on a post from which it dived for fish, a living jewel.  Beautiful. 
Our day finished with sunset photography and fish and chips at the excellent Arnside chippie. 
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Wednesday 30 October 2019

Lake District, October 2019. Day 5.

Another frosty morning today but by the time we left for Morecambe it had clouded over somewhat.  It was only my second visit, the first to start the Way of The Roses cycle trail several years ago.  This time though it was to photograph our third Time and Tide bell which had been installed last March.  We were soon parked up by the front and quickly found the bell.  I love these sculptures by artist Marcus Vergette.  This is our third and, at the moment, there are 4 more with another 8 to come.  We hope to visit the one at Berneray on the Isle of Harris next year and also perhaps the one in London.  They are designed so that they ring when the tide comes in and are to draw attention to the dangers of a warming planet  not just sea levels rising but sea temperatures rising too.  The average sea temperature in Morecambe Bay has risen by 1C in the last 100 years and is set to increase.  This poses a threat to all the species that thrive in the bay and to future generations' enjoyment of its beauty.  After photographing the bell we walked out to the end of the pier.  Views across to the Lakes were stunning.  The tide was up but on the ebb and I was amazed at the strong current and white water as it swept past the end of the pier.
It was time to move on to Leighton Moss RSPB reserve and the drive took us along the beautiful coast road and through Carnforth where we glimpsed some of the old locos in steam.  Once at Leighton Moss it was time for lunch and then a wander around the reserve.  I felt undressed without the big birding lens.  We climbed up the towering Sky Hide for wide views of the reserve in lovely light before moving onto the more conventional hides.  We stopped at the grit trays designed to attract bearded tits, but sadly there were none in evidence.  These birds eat grit which enables them to crush seeds in their crops.  In the hides it was good to have good views of water fowl.  Shoveler were plentiful as was the delicate teal.  Understated but beautifully marked gadwall were feeding quietly on the reed edges.  I particularly enjoyed the wigeon with their yellow-cream crown and piercing whistle which echoed over the reserve.  A heron stalked the reeds in golden light and marsh harriers made forays putting up all the birds on the water in a flurry of panic.  A possible bittern lurked in the reeds but none of us could decide if it was a bird or a trick of the light.
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Tuesday 29 October 2019

Lake District, October 2019. Day 4

We were up fairly briskly again today to a hard frost.  Breakfast soon over, we headed down the M6 to Galgate where my brother and his family had rented a cottage for a few days. We arrived nicely in time for coffee and cake and for the main event, our 1 year old great niece, just up from her morning sleep.  Apparently she had actually been up since 3.00!  Those were the days!!  The morning was spent Sophie worshipping and then we drove the short distance to the Stork Inn on the banks of the Lune Estuary from where we walked into Glasson Dock situated at the end of the Lancaster Canal.  From the canal basin was a sea lock which allowed exchange of goods between canal and sea transport.  The walk along the estuary was fascinating with excellent views into the Lakeland Hills, especially the Coniston and Langdale Fells.  Bird life was prolific with curlew, redshank, oystercatcher, egrets and flocks of wildfowl  too far away to identify.  The song and calls of curlew echoed over the marsh proving the usual thrill.
On returning to the car we drove round to the sea wall for the expansive views across Morecambe Bay to The Lakes and Barrow in Furness.  We timed things perfectly for photographing the small Plover Scar lighthouse against the sunset.
Later in the evening were excellent views of the Milky Way again.
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Monday 28 October 2019

Lake District, October 2019. Day 3

Although yesterday the weather had cleared, a constant series of brief showers blew through overnight, one of which we woke up to.  Undaunted we were, unusually, up briskly and ready for off early.  Traffic was incredibly busy on the way to Ambleside although we did manage to get parked on the Under Loughrigg lane.  Quickly ready, we set off up the incredibly steep initial road section which soon had me gasping.  Unfortunately I am fighting my medication all the time.  The beta blocker forces me into a low heart rate (half Thomas's) which means my legs don't get enough oxygen, leaving me breathless and heavy legged.  Uphill running does the same.  Nonetheless plenty of brief breathing stops sorts the problem out.  
The autumn colours were stunning: reds, oranges, bronzes, browns and gold,still with a sprinkling of contrasting green.  Views across the valley and up Rydal Beck to the Fairfield Horsefield Horseshoe were wonderful.  
Once onto the open fellside paths were everywhere and it was a case of choosing whichever suited best.  As we climbed higher we gained expansive views into Langdale with the Pikes, Bowfell and Crinkle Crags dominating the head of the valley.  Directly below us was Loughrigg Tarn from which there are noted views of the Pikes.  Above us soared and tumbled ravens, acrobats of the sky with their joyous cronking calls.  12.30 signalled the obligatory lunch stop for which we had bought magnificent Bath Buns from The Apple Pie cafe in Ambleside; delicious.
After lunch we quickly pulled up to the summit and with views over Grasmere and the main road pass of Dunmail Raise and to the north the high tops of Helvellyn.  At a modest 325m Loughrigg is a lowly summit but has, in my opinion, some of the best views in the Lakes.  Spread all around were all the fells I had climbed over a lifetime's association with the Lake District.  I was also delighted that this was my first summit since heart surgery in January.
All too soon it was time to descend the vertiginous slopes towards Grasmere and Loughrigg Terrace, the delightful undulating path that contours along the flanks of the fell above the lakes of Grasmere and Rydal Water.  The beach and oakwood in the valley glowed in the golden afternoon light.  Once back at the car it was time to return to the van and a Booths fish pie.
Later in the evening I went out to look at the night sky which was awe inspiring. Not only were the main constellations crisp and clear, there were myriad other stars and the Milky Way arched over the site.
A magical day.
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