Archive for the ‘Lake District’ Category

The Shorter Side of Wasdale   6 comments

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Last day always involves a good deal of packing. My trailer despite flipping open/closed quickly still takes a couple of hours to unpack and stow everything, empty water containers and the like. The windy weather helped out by taking my awning down for me the previous morning and bending my poles into interesting new shapes which was nice

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It was after lunch before all was done, leaving time for a short leisurely stroll to Wast Water. The kids decided to stay back and play footy. Like the day before there was plenty of blue sky and sunshine and it was nice to catch up with everyone without worrying about covering long distances or the kids happiness

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The lake-shore path at the SW end is the best way to experience the classic Wasdale view of Wast Water, Yewbarrow, Great Gable and Lingmell

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As well as the Wasdale Screes on the opposite shore (great to look at, awful to walk over)

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We sat on the grassy bank and chatted for a while, even daring to paddle in the chilly lake waters

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Alas we all had very long drives home so the walk was short yet perfectly formed. In fact a decent day until EWO drew a dark cloud over us all during a discussion about backpacking next Easter. I have no idea where this wording came from or what he was thinking but he said, and I quote ” how many more backpacking trips have you got left in you?” Both me and ED were stunned and momentarily lost for words until we told him we had a limitless supply. I intend to live forever for no other reason that to be an annoyance to every one who knows me for an eternity. Needless to say once we recovered our composure we saw the funny side and began what is likely to be an endless mickey take. Every conversation we ever have now, about anything will conclude with a “I don’t know how many (insert wording as needed) I have left”. Me and ED have a already started and it will probably appear as a regular guest phrase in most of my blog posts

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An entire weekend up here without significant rain is almost unheard of. Probably just as well we were there for this one because……

I don’t know how many more of these weekends I have left in me 🙂

The past 4 post photos all collected into a single slideshow with an awesome, Brian Cox endorsed tune for your pleasure

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The Smaller Side of Wasdale   6 comments

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I’ve often looked across the Church Stile campsite and thought that I ought to climb Irton Pike as it looked a suitably rocky and a well positioned view point. Well at least I would have thought that had it actually been Irton Pike I was looking at and not Latterbarrow that sits in front. Still the idea was sound and after another endless faff trying to get everyone together we set off

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Through woods and fields filled with bluebells

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And through the pastures below the wooded peak of Latterbarrow. There was some vague navigational muppetry and everyone seemed convinced there would be no path around the base of Irton Pike and we’d have walk down to the road at Santon Bridge and back up. I had faith and indeed there was a splendid path that traversed around the slopes to the very steep path to the summit

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And a very fine and extremely windy summit it was. Expansive if hazy views and after a bit of searching we found a sheltered spot for a lazy lunch. Another chapter for the “Small Hills with Disproportionately Good Views” book I’m writing – well sort of writing.

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On the way down, ED and TBH played the ” just looking at some art in the village hall” card. We introduced the kids to the delights of a pub drink (just lemonade!) while we waited. And waited. And waited. Seems they had no idea we were outside the pub they walked right past and were trying to catch us up. Yeah, right! Choosing to spend some quality time together by dumping their kids on us more like

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Luckily all the kids were in fine form, cheerful and enjoying the walk, a pleasure to be with in fact and we had a laugh as we enjoyed the long riverside stroll by the Irt back to the campsite, all taking a chance to poke fun at ED and TBH in their absence. That’ll teach ’em

Irton Pike

Cracking walk, nothing serious but almost 8 miles and good company equals good memories

The quieter side of Wasdale   12 comments

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With a mild hangover (spot the pun from the previous post) we spent the usual eternity agreeing where to go for a walk. Not fancying using the car or the crowds no doubt attracted to the honeypots higher up the valley, we hit the heights of Buckbarrow and Seatallan. Hills of contrast, one rocky, one grassy. A nice combination that see’s very few footprints if my experience is anything to go by

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Over the fields and a steep climb alongside the tautological Gill Beck.

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Buckbarrow is splendid summit if you can call it that. In reality, just the rocky end of the grassier Seatallan but littered with small rocky outcrops. I’ve climbed it several times in the past few years and its become one of my favourite places.

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DB Senior who apparently wasn’t all that keen on a walk had a whale of time scrambling up some pretty tough little routes. Always adds to the pleasure for me to see one of the younger members of the gang enjoying the mountains same way I used to. I feel like I’m passing on the baton as I get older (more of this in a couple of posts time!)

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It was an overcast day but a few glints of sunlight kept us bright and the clouds were off the summits making for pretty fine views

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We stopped for a very long lunch after a long stretch where we walked for almost one hour! We compared stoves (my Jetboil won of course), talked nonsense with a little politics thrown in and laughed at great deal

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Time to move on as OGS was getting restless. I compared middle aged ailments and injuries as we strolled to the broad grassy summit of Seatallan. The views from here are unusual in that you see hills and valleys you wouldn’t normally see or know of. Here we have Haycock and Caw Fell above the wonderfully name River Bleng. Looked a fine spot for quiet wild camp some time

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We could see the Isle of Man although its summits seemed to be in cloud

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The main Scafell Pike range looked impressively dark and forbidding

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The descent towards Middle Fell was impressively steep and I declined the offer of an ascent of Middle Fell in return for a very wet, soggy and leg grazing traverse around Greendale Tarn.

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The rest of the day was whiled away with the steep descent along Greendale Gill and the return across the fields to the campsite for a chilly BBQ in the ever increasing wind

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Quite a long walk in the end at 8 miles and a very one enjoyable one as well. Nothing to challenge the brain so the focus is just on enjoying being out with good company both young, old and very old (sorry OGS!)

Seatallan

Memories are made of this   10 comments

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May Day Weekend. Nether Wasdale. Camping. Cold. Snow. Rain That’s how things have worked the past few years. Most people would get the message and stay home. Me? I took a day off work and drove 6 hours to spend a late evening setting up the camper on my own until darkness fell and it was bed time. This did give a bonus day’s walking by myself. Skies looked gloomy but with some promise. I headed to Wasdale before the weekend crowds with a route to rekindle some old memories

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I took the same route as last year when had a fantastic day on Scafell Pike with the kids. Following the path along Lingmell Beck was as good as last time if not better. As I climbed the sun came out and abundant patches of blue sky appeared

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Its an easy grassy path to Sty Head and a sheer delight to climb with the spectacular view back to Wasdale

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Arriving at Styhead Tarn I drifted back in time to my very first wild camp here in – I think – 1987. It was another May Day weekend and there was snow on the ground. Me and ED pitched up on rather stony ground, with a rather smug looking EWO claiming his pitch was better with the immortal phrase “the pegs go in nice an easy here”. Me and ED wandered over jumped on the ground round his tent and watched it roll like a wave on the sea. He moved. Any campsite we stay on generates a “pegs go in easy” remark to remind him. Happy days

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I pushed on to reach Sprinkling Tarn, one of the finest anywhere in the UK. I’ve never camped here but I really should do. Stunning spot

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Up past the Ruddy Gill ravine to Esk Hause. Another memory of when me and ED (he features heavily in these memories) sheltered here on a foul day and decided that was enough of summits and headed down the Esk valley. It was our first view of this magnificent valley and its deep pools and waterfalls and would become a favourite spot for wild camping and swimming over the years

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I lunched on top of Great End with superb view down Borrowdale to Derwent Water, Skiddaw and Blencathra. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.

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Then a few wisps of cloud drifted down that became a blanket within minutes. It was a gloomy procession across Broad Crag and Ill Crag to Scafell Pike summit. To cheer myself up I took my mind back through the dark ages again to a time me and ED snoozed up here on a glorious summer morning back in the late 80’s. We’d been camping in Eskdale and swimming in the river but it was way too hot so decided a summit bivvy was called for. We spent a wonderful if uncomfortable and sleepless night right next to the summit cairn on Bowfell watching the thunderstorms over the Pennines. We had the whole walk along to Scafell Pike to ourselves the next morning and celebrated with a snooze at the top. Still one of the very best weekends in the mountains I’ve ever had. Happy days.

No such sunshine this day and I headed down. My plan had been to relive one final memory by climbing Lingmell and visiting the spot where I’d camped on the summit with my dog Harry. The fog was so dense and cold that it seemed pointless so I just plodded down, my afternoon further spoiled by finding a pile of human excrement and accompanying toilet paper right on the path. I despair of the people who frequent the hills some times.

I only emerged from the cloud at around 1500 feet but at least the final views across Wast Water were good

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The Gorse was also in full boom and scent

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A decent day of 9 miles and 3,500 feet of ascent

Scafell Pike

Back at the camp site (the ever wonderful Church Stile), all thoughts of cloud and damp were dissipated as the sun came out and I sat outside the tent with my shades on. I was joined by some of the gang and retired to the equally wonderful Strands Inn, a place of wonderful beer brewed on site and excellent food. With good company, good food and a pint (or several) of their Mild (still a Midlands boy at heart) I was very much in the holiday spirit and looking forward to the inevitable rain with a much happier frame of mind

 

Three Seasons in One Weekend   11 comments

The usual annual trip to the Lake District and our good friends at Church Stile Campsite. I drove up a day early through some pretty nasty weather but I still received something of a shock after I crested the hill on M6 near Lancaster. The Lake District was white. Plastered white. I heard it may be a little chilly with a chance of snow but this was full on winter. In late April.

I had planned a walk on the Friday afternoon but the weather was pretty miserable so I settled for a leisurely set up of base camp and an early pub meal in the mighty fine Strands Inn with UF and OGS, washed down by 3 pints of Porter, my favourite beer. Who needs to tick off summits and meaningless lumps on ridges when you can tick off local craft beers.

Saturday was forecast to be pretty good so plans were made for an ascent of Scafell Pike. TJS has been looking longingly at England’s highest summit for several years so I though it was time to fulfil my promise to climb it. It seems like all the adults felt an easier day was called for so I was accompanied by a gaggle of kids. TBF obviously took pity on – the kids – surprisingly, feeling they were not really equipped and experienced enough to deal with a full day barrage of sarcastic and pedantic remarks from the pack leader, and accompanied us

Despite the good forecast it was a showery morning and indeed to reinforce that message we were battered by a heavy hailstorm as we finished our faffing in the NT car park. The forecast was for a steadily improving day and in fact this was the last of the precipitation.

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Scafell Pike would be my last choice of mountain on a Bank Holiday Weekend, its popular and very busy at the best of times. However it does have the advantage of the Corridor Route from Styhead Tarn, one of Britains finest mountaineering walks and one which I hoped the kids would really enjoy.

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Its quite a long walk to Styhead, passing through Wasdale Head and its patchwork of fields before the climb to the tarn. All the kids were busy chatting about exams, computer games and the like and leaving me to my own thoughts. There was much laughter so I assumed they were enjoying themselves. The mountains were heavily clouded but there was enough visible to realise there was a good deal of snow up there. The Corridor route is wild and rocky and under winter conditions has real big mountain feel. I hoped the kids were up to the task.

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I find the walk up the main path to Styhead Tarn a bit of long drag. On  a whim I took the lower path for a change and it was inspired. Its a superb walk along the stream and away from the crowds. it climbs pleasantly and steadily with fine views opening up all around. Its mostly grassy and therefore much easier for older walkers with dodgy knees and feet.

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As we crested the rise we were suddenly seeing the first of the snow. Almost before we knew it we were in deep, wet continuous cover. A late start meant lunch was in order and I picked a pretty cold and wet spot to eat. Still the kids were loving the deep snow and were in high spirits.

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After sustenance gave us all a burst of energy it also seemed to perk up the weather. The sun started to come out and summits revealed themselves from the clouds.

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The corridor route was busy and populated with a mix of serious walkers and some seriously under equipped tourists. One party of Oriental people were dressed in high street clothes and wellies and one of them had a sound system in his backpack blaring out music. The Far East has given us many great things but high quality popular music isn’t one of them. We put on a burst of speed and left them behind

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Well, the Corridor Route was simply superb. It twists and trust over rocky slopes and buttresses and above several of the dramatic ravines that slice into the Scafell range. There was even some exposed scrambling that I don’t remember from previous visits but the kids weren’t phased. In fact they loved it, enjoying the sensational winter mountain views and messing about in the deep snow in equal measure. The snow and winter conditions gave it an air of seriousness although in truth it is just a path. I quite enjoyed it as well.

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The view across to the coast and the Isle of Man was marvellous. I recounted a very old tale when on a miserable day in the Lakes, the weather suddenly cleared to an expansive blue to reveal the IoM. EWO fervently disagreed and uttered the words he has regretted for 30 years, “That’s not the IoM, if they were mountains they’d 30,000 feet high”. He was wrong of course and ever since as soon as anyone sees a distant mountain on the horizon they immediately state with a grin “If they were mountains……..”. Well it always makes us laugh anyway

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Its a long route especially after the long approach walk. As we approached the summit the kids flagged a little, but the weather was improving by the minute and the closeness of the summit and clear blue skies spurred them on.

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The summit was crowded as expected but not as bad as I thought. I imagine the deep snow had held many people back. We found a quiet spot for some more food and then headed down.

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There really was a quite extraordinary depth of snow, waist deep in places. Scafell summit is rocky and awkward to walk on so we followed the snow. The kids had an absolute ball running and rolling about in it and it gave me enormous pleasure to see them having such fun.

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This photo below of TJS seemed to provide enormous amusement to everyone

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This one I call “LAC Scissor-Hands”

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It would have put a spring in my step to watch the kids in full flight but my springs have long since sprung and rusted up like one of those old bed frames you see in some bothies. Still I metaphorically sprang.

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We paused at Mickledore to look at Scafell and Broad Stand, well out of my league in summer conditions and definitely for another day in winter garb

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The start of the descent from there is down a steep and slippery gully that paused the smiles for a few minutes. It was soon over and we continued to walk, run and roll our way down the snow

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As we descended the views over Wast Water to the coast were breathtaking and near the bottom the yellow of the gorse gave a final flourish to what had been a sensational day. To capture England’s highest point via a classic mountain route, in winter conditions under a sunny blue sky is rare treat and one I think and hope will live with kids for a very long time

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We finished the day off in fine style with a BBQ in front of an open fire. Chilly but convivial and we chatted until the lateness of the hour and the cold air forced us to bed. A classic day

And the rest of the weekend and the three seasons I mentioned in the title? We’d had winter. The less said about the Sunday the better. It was wet Spring. It rained for 28 hours straight although we enlivened proceedings with what seems to have become our annual Sunday trip to Mawsons Ice Cream Parlour in Seascale. It always rains on the Sunday but the welcome and the food always lifts the spirits. I came out stuffed and didn’t eat for the rest of the day. Monday? After it finally stopped raining we were treated to warm sunny Spring. The shorts were on and we took a stroll around the fields in the sunshine. Hard to believe I’d been wading in deep snow 48 hours earlier. Only in the UK.

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The weekend was finished off with the usual epic football match played with a mixture of skill, determination, family scores settled and for my part some inspirational goal-keeping.

A long time to wait to do it all again next year

The start of the Wet Season   10 comments

November started off with a gorgeous day down in Wales. It was the final two fingers up from the great British weather as its been utterly horrid pretty much ever since.

The following weekend we headed up to High Close Hostel in the Lake District for a gathering of some 60 people, all friends and family of my good mate Mad Malcs. Despite the fact it was a year late it was a celebration of his 50th Birthday. Despite being out of the country on business and holidays for several weeks beforehand, he made a superb job of arranging the whole deal including meals and breakfasts, ably supported by his other half (who I’ll now refer to as The Good Doctor) and many other people

There were friends going back to my University days who I hadn’t seen for over 25 years and it was nice to catch up albeit very briefly with most. As you can imagine, trying to look after my own brood and with people mingling everywhere, it was hard to grab more than a few minutes chat but it was nice to see everyone and in most cases their families. Quite scary really to see friends who I knew as walking and drinking buddies now with kids approaching GCSEs in some cases. I was a little sceptical about how the whole thing would work but it was great fun. I ended up wishing we could repeat the event and disappointed that it was all over so quickly. The weekend was helped in no small part by the fact that High Close is wonderful hostel, a huge rambling manor house with a stunning covered verandah (that I remember well from a long stay here doing my Degree Thesis) and expansive grounds set amongst the fells

Such a shame that the weather was so appalling. Saturday was wet and windy with only a few brief dry intervals. Sunday was much worse with heavy rain and stronger winds that heralded the start of the water deluge that continued through November and beyond causing the heartbreaking damage that we’ve all seen on the news. I managed a few photos from a wander up Loughrigg on Saturday in the rain, enlivened by a visit to a huge mine cavern on the north slopes that I had no idea was there. If nothing else it was relatively dry! The kids all went shopping Grasmere, worrying for those of us funding them.

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high close, skelwith force, loughrigg fell, grasmere

high close, skelwith force, loughrigg fell, grasmere

high close, skelwith force, loughrigg fell, grasmere

high close, skelwith force, loughrigg fell, grasmere

Sunday we took an enforced walk down through the grounds to Skelwith Force just to get out but whilst the falls were impressive the weather was truly awful and the camera stayed safely tucked up in the hostel.

A weekend for friendships and chat rather than the outdoors but well worth it for that. Huge thanks to MM, TGD and all their co-opted helpers for a really great time

Posted January 13, 2016 by surfnslide in Grasmere, Lake District, Walking

Tagged with , , ,

9 go mad in the North – Silverdale Rambles, Birkrigg Common and Roa Island   2 comments

Our last 3 days and very nice mix of local walks and a day out on the SW Lakes Peninsulas

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Along with the Northern Funsters friend and kids we took an en-masse ramble around the local sights. The air was clear and still cold but the showers of the morning had gone. It was really rather splendid.  All these little spots have names but I can’t remember most of them (Mark I’m sure will take pleasure in correcting me and putting me right!)

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

The kids had great fun exploring a very well hidden rift cave. Alas it was too narrow for middle-aged wobblies like me

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We went down to Woodwell, a very pleasant warm and sunny spot with a natural spring and pond. We spent a very happy hour sitting around and chatting, watching the myriad of insect life, fish and tadpoles that inhabit the surroundings.  Talk moved on to newts and how they are becoming increasingly rare in the UK. Mark has read that they do inhabit the pond but in all his many visits he’s never seen one. Luckily several pairs of eyes are better than one and we soon saw one, the two, then three, several in fact. It was a real highlight. I didn’t take any pictures for some reason but I think Mark did so you’ll have to wait for his blog reports. I haven’t seen newts since we bought some for our garden pond when I was a kid. We watched the swim into pond weed and never saw them again!

On the way home we went via The Lots. The views across the bay were simply magnificent as were the wild flowers and especially the orchids. The stiff breeze made it pretty difficult to get a decent macro shot alas but the wider views more than made up for that

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

Not hard to see why Mark and his family love it here so much when you have these views on your doorstep

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silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

Our last full day saw us take another trip to the beaches and commons around Roa and Piel Island. After stocking up on food we headed to Birkrigg Common for a picnic. Never heard of this place but it’s  a really fine area of open common land with expansive views across the bay. It’s perfect for al-fresco eating on a warm May weekend. Except this was a cold and very windy May weekend. Some judicious arrangements of cars and tarp created shelter and we did what we always do and ate far, far too much food, huge hunks of bread, cheese, pate, pies and the like. It was grand. I love a good picnic and this was a fine spot for future reference.

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

We had planned to take another trip to Piel Island but such was the length of time needed to eat all the food we couldn’t fit it in and went straight to Roa Island for some more tidepooling. Possibly due to the cold weather and water and the fact that it wasn’t an exceptionally low tide but it wasn’t quite as great as last year. However “not as great as last year” is not much of problem as this place is just crammed with stuff anyway. We saw the usual huge numbers of crabs, small fish, anemones, sponges, shellfish and the like and spent a very happy couple of hours poking about, turning over stones and the like

The highlight was this pipe fish that TJF spotted just swimming about in a shallow pool. A magnificent specimen. Never seen one in the UK and it was a special find.

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

Again for some reason I only took a few photos. Most likely that I was too absorbed in poking about. Like most other childhood activities I still love these sorts of things as an adult. I was distracted as I easily am, much like my errant children. Like father like son/daughter I suppose. The views across to Piel Island were still fine although not as sunny as promised.

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

The day was finished off in style with more al-fresco eating, a very fine Chinese takeaway in Ulverston, eaten in the park where the kids enjoyed a seriously bouncy zip-wire. Actually the day wasn’t quite finished. When we got home there were two small and I guess young deer in the garden nibbling on the shrubs. We spent several minutes watching them treat the garden like home, entranced.

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

A real treat, the only wild animal I’ve ever seen in my garden is a rat!

It wouldn’t be a week in  Silverdale without a trip to the Pepper Pot through Eaves Wood. To draw our week to a conclusion we took a last stroll up there before we headed home. The perfect family walk with trees to climb, rocks to scramble on and superb views.

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

silverdale, woodwell, caves, the lots, roa island piel island, peel island, birkrigg common, pepper pot, eaves wood

A fitting finale. Another amazing, fun, entertaining and hospitable trip so a huge thanks to our hosts for a wonderful time. I just wish I’d taken a few more photos 🙂

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