Friday, 6 April 2018

Lake District, March 2018. Day 5, Friday 30th March

A night of rain heralded a damp and gloomy morning, but fortunately, as the day went on, the weather improved to give a beautiful late afternoon.  Thomas arrived early for post breakfast coffee and mega hot cross buns, heavy and wonderfully rich and spicy.  The aim of today was to climb up onto Holme Fell above Tilberthwaite for the views over to the Langdale Pikes and later to explore Hodge Close Quarry, one of our favourite locations for photography.
We were soon parked up at the quarry, after negotiating the very narrow and rough lane up to it.  Climbing up through the beautiful woodlands we came out on the open fellside with views opening up over the trees to the Langdale valley.  All of the higher fells were blanketed white, the night's rain falling as snow on the tops.  Holme fell is a modest hill of only 317m but it is a lack of stature in height only as the views from it, as from many other lower fells, are superb.  The best mountain views are often not from the summits where height diminishes that of others but from mid height.  We quickly scambled up onto the summit and enjoyed lunch on our lofty perch with expansive views all around.  There was a chill in the air, however, so we didn't tarry long.  Wandering back down we paused at the disused reservoir just above the tree line fascinated by the large numbers of amorous frogs.  Spring is definitely on the way.
Back down at the quarry we enjoyed a couple of hours exploring and scrambling down into its depths.  Hodge Close Quarry is one of many slate workings in the Tiberthwaite Valley between Coniston and Langdale.  Its original depth was 300 feet and it was worked from the 19th century until closing in the 1960s.  One end of the workings are filled to half of its depth with deep green water.  It is popular with cllimbers, sporting routes of the highest grades, while the 150 feet of flooded workings and tunnels are explored by divers.  It is a beautiful and mysterious spot with silver birch woodland growing over the old spoil heaps.  Sadly it is also a dumping ground for anything from cars to domestic refuse.  Why do people want to drive miles to a remote beauty spot to dump their rubbish when there are perfectly adequate public tips.  It makes my blood boil.
Our day ended with a pint in the excellent Watermill Inn at Ings on the way back to the caravan and pork cooked in the slow cooker with cider, apples, sage and cream.  Excellent!
To view large please click on an image





































Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Lake District, March 2018. Day 4 Thursday29th.

A beautiful sunrise this morning.  Again I was up predawn to enjoy the dawn chorus and the displaying pheasants, although I made a cup of tea and went back to bed with it!!
After breakfast I pottered about photographing the bark of some of the trees around the site and then we drove into Ambleside for a magnificent bath bun and coffee at the excellent Apple Pie Cafe.  The real purpose of the trip, though was to buy some of their excellent hot cross buns.  On our return to the site we relaxed before an early tea and then we walked across the fields to THE tree.  It wouldn't be a visit to Ashes Lane without at least one session photographing the beautiful oak up on the fields.  I love the way that it grows out of the rock just like a real life, full-sized bonzai.  By now though it was cold and overcast although the beautiful song of a curlew drifting across the fells lifted the spirit.
To view large, please click on an image.
Silver Birch
Silver Birch
Larch
Yew
The Ashes Oak


The Ashes Oak
The Ashes Oak
Add caption



Ashes Coppice
Ashes Coppice
Ashes Coppice
Ashes



Lake District, March 2018. Day 3, Wednesday 28th

Wednesday dawned fine; cloudy but bright.  The dawn chorus is well underway now and sounded glorious when I was out before sunrise.  Pheasants were displaying noisily and the large numbers of rabbits on the site were all out busily feeding.  
After breakfast we set off for Troutbeck to walk up to the Troutbeck Alder, one of the the seven remarkable trees mentioned by Rob and Harriet Fraser in their excellent project combining photography and text: the Long View.  The day continued fine with mixed sun and cloud and beautiful light later in the upper reaches of the valley.  It was periodically warm and spring-like but with a cold bite to the wind.  As we walked along paths and lanes into the valley of the tumbling Trout Beck River we noticed several plants heralding the early onset of spring: the bright green of dog's mercury, aromatic leaves of ramsons or wild garlic (no flowers yet but the leaves make excellent soup), yellow lesser celendine flowers and golden hosts of Wordsworth daffodils coming into their peak.  John Lewis-Stempel describes backen as the fronds first make an appearance as knuckles of bracken and that is exactly what they look like.

To view large, please click on an image.
A knuckle of bracken



 Walking along the lane towards Troutbeck Park Farm we relished the stone walls flanking the lane, each one a mini wilderness of mosses and lichens.  As we came in sight of the farm we found a fallen tree to sit on by a lively tributary of the Trout Beck.  The farm was bought by Beatrix Potter in 1923 when there was a risk of it being sold for development.  She kept it as a working farm and bred Herdwick sheep, 'Herdies'.  It was one of fourteen farms which Beatrix Potter left to the National Trust when she died in 1943, decreeing that each should keep its flock of Herdies hefted to the local fells.





Once above the farm we climbed steeply into the upper valley which we had completely to ourselves.  Leaving the oak and alder woods after the climb, we crossed a picturesque clapper bridge over the river.  Here the valley widened and the beck's sinuous path was marked by a line of alders enjoying the fact that their roots were able to grow down into the water.  This high mountain valley felt remote and peaceful.  It wasn't long before the Viewranger OS mapping on my phone and Rob and Harriet's description told me that we had found our tree.  As Harriet writes: 'The Trout Beck Alder is one of the last of a long line of alders overhanging Trout Beck.  It is slightly separated from them, as if leading a march away from the woodland towards the higher reaches of the valley and the birth of the river.  The tree stands where the beck runs wide and shallow and extends one long bough as if gesturing towards the eastern fells, while its other branches provide the bulk of its canopy, reaching westward.'  We spent a very happy hour with the tree, me photographing and Heather drawing.  Harriet mentions that Rob never comes away from this tree with dry feet so I took the precaution of carrying my wellies up there.  A rucksack loaded up with spare clothes and waterproofs, lunch, tripod and wellies is a cumbersome beast to carry.  Still it did mean I could get in the river and keep my feet dry.














On our return Heather wanted to stop to draw the lovely clapper bridge we had crossed so another opportunity to play with some long exposure photography.


As we wandered back down the valley we seemed to have been out a long time for our 8 miles; we are very easily distracted.  The investment in a slow cooker for the caravan seemed like a very good idea when we opened the door to delicious cooking smells at about 6.00 pm.