Monday, 24 July 2017

The Lake District July 2017

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.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

The End of the Yorkshire Wolds Way and a Butterfly fest.

Only 26 miles separated us from our starting point at Settrington Beacon from the finish of the Yorkshire Wolds Way at Filey Brigg.  We had been keeping our fingers crossed for good weather for this last stint and we were not to be disappointed: ideal temperatures of around 20 degrees, plenty of sun and some interesting skies for photography.  For these last few miles we had booked into The Londensborough Arms in nearby Seamer and so were looking forward to an excellent weekend.

Our route initially continued north through the delightful beeches of South Wold Plantation and on emerging at a gate we were rewarded with superb views across the Vale of Pickering to the Yorkshire Moors beyond, looking  purple and brooding in the distance.
To view images large, please click on a thumbnail.

We now descended into the village of Wintringham with it's wonderful church, one of the best it has been my pleasure to look around.  It is built of the same Tadcaster limestone as York Minster and has a warm golden glow to its stonework.  The guidebook refers to the stained-glass windows of the ailse, each one depicting a fourteenth century saint on a white background stained yellow.  This rich glazing is rare outside York we are told.  As beautiful as these are, and I love stained-glass, the highlight for me were the beautifully ornate carved misericords on the undersides of the seats in the choir stalls.  Two of them are wonderful green man carvings which have long fascinated me.  Green men are representations of faces surrounded by vegetation which usually emerges from the mouth.  They are generally thought to be symbols of rebirth and associated with the cycle of growth each spring.  There were excellent floor tiles in a side chapel of this 14th century church.

So far our journey was from south to north and it was in Wintringham that we changed direction, the remainder of the route tooking us west to east. After lunch in the churchyard we continued uphill along a field edge and into Deep Dale Plantation before heading very steeply uphill; even the signpost pointed uphill!!!  This steep ascent ended at a field gate with yet more superb views across the Vale of Pickering to the Moors beyond.  Here was another Wander artwork called Enclosure Rites which celebrates the abundant archaeology of the area. 

From here the route followed the scarp of the Yorkshire Wolds, giving excellent views, before descending to Sherburn on the York to Scarborough road.

After a few pints of Black Sheep and a welcome meal we awoke to beautiful sunshine and clear skies on the Sunday morning.  It was time to don sunhat and cream!!  Our route took us along the foot of the escarpment between Sherburn and Ganton before climbing back onto the Wolds for a short distance and then turning back into the Wolds landscape at Staxton Brow.  On this final part of the walk we were graced with lush June vegetation along the paths and many rich hayfields in their prime.  Some of the fields of barley we walked through were nearly ripe; harvest will soon be upon us.  This richness meant that we experienced a butterfly fest.  We saw large numbers of red admirals and ringlets with quite a few meadow browns and peacocks.  We even saw several painted ladies, strangely all female.  The plum species, though, were the two marbled whites that we came across. Poppies, too, were in their prime and we saw several fields brimming with them.

On Staxton Wold we found ourselves in deep dale country once more, stopping for a well-earned lunch on the edge of Cotton Dale.  Lunch over we kept high and skirted North Dale and Lang Dale before a short road section.  We then descended into Camp Dale until reached a junction of dales at The Camp, the site of a deserted medieval village.  Stocking Dale, which was to be the last of the deep Wolds dales was thickly wooded and verdant and rich in butterflies.  Walking up from Stocking Dale brought us to Stockendale farm and the car.  Another cracking day topped off with very good fish and chips at Ingham's in Filey.  The views of Bempton Cliffs and Filey Brigg looked stunning in the evening light.

Monday again dawned bright sunny and warm and soon we were back at yesterday's finish point and making our way off the Wolds scarp for the last time and down across delightful fields with ripening crops and hay meadows to the clay soils of Muston.  We were treated to magnificent views across to Scarborough and its castle and the other way to the 300 foot high chalk cliffs at Bempton.

Once in Muston the final two or three miles took us through the streets of Filey to the sea front with its magnificent views of the Brigg and Bempton Cliffs, the geology totally different. Bempton Cliffs are made of the chalk that we had been walking over for so long and which continues under the Humber into the Lincolnshire Wolds and finally into The Chilterns, whereas Filey Brigg is composed of boulder clay. 
From the seafront we climbed up to the country park where the cars was parked and out onto the Brigg taking a team photo at the official finish and start of The Cleveland Way which is next in the pipeline.
Pleased with our success we completed the day with a visit to RSPB Bempton where we enjoyed the usual excellent views of the 250,000 residents of seabird city.  It was good to see good numbers of puffins and interesting to see the gannets and kittiwakes with large chicks.